Showing posts from March, 2008

Preparation Part Two

Still in the grips of the mind-numbing prescription drugs (and dragging Andy along with me), the garden plots now have dirt
and what we think will work for a cold frame.

Sunday we got a few sprinklings of snow, so obviously this year isn't going to be a straight shot into spring, so an unprotected garden before May might be tempting Mother Nature a bit too far.

We have no intention of trying to grow all our own food--being adventurous but stopping just short of stupid--but we are hoping for large harvests of tomatoes and peppers to roast/dry/freeze/can as we head into 2009. Andy is also hoping for large amounts of pea pods and cucumbers--mostly so he'll get some of them. If he can steal covers every night, I feel no remorse at all over eating all the pea pods. Sharing can only go so far.

And in a very surrealistic turn--or maybe it's that decongestant again--I actually bought this

tonight. Corn syrup--that bane of my existence all of February. This weekend after making mo…


Chalk it up to the really powerful drugs, or perhaps my overwhelming optimism, but we have decided to try the "no-processed-foods" experiment for an entire year. Heaven help us.

I do at least have the sense to modify it slightly--we'll each be allowed 1 or 2 "forbidden" foods each week (probably 2 since the idea is to improve over-all health and not just to suffer for good blog fodder), and we will be starting this little brush with insanity in January of 2009, so we have some time to prepare (aka warn our friends).

Also in preparation, we need a larger garden as the existing garden is both small & in a spot too shady for most plantsnot to mention needing better soil & some more spring cleanup. I was a bit shocked to find how much of the garden survived the winter, The chives haven't even slowed down,

only part of the sage froze

same for the thyme

and the parsley.

Obviously, they enjoyed our snowy winter more than the rest of us did. I even found one …

Now if this isn't the oddest thing...

I know Bananas is excited about the pudding rollups, and I know that variety is the spice of life, but tonight I am trying to dehydrate cookies & cream pudding.

The toffee chips were bad enough, but I have no idea what the cookies will do. Would it be possible for Oreos to get any harder???

The text-message updates

There hasn't been much in the way of internet access for our AT hiker, Bananas, but we had a brief text-message exchange last night:

Bananas: Those rice crisy treats made my day! And that beef jerky is SO good!
Natasha: Yay! More beef jerky waiting in Gatlinburg, and I'll send more rice krispie treats. The package in Gatlinburg has pudding rollups as well!
Bananas: PUDDING ROLLUPS?!? Must hike faster!

We'll be dehydrating more rollups this weekend. :)

Germs 1, Toni 0

I finally had to admit defeat today and went to see a doctor for this bug. I really hate going to doctors, and they can't do anything for colds, but mine has actually been getting worse instead of better. The good news (I guess) is that the doctor didn't just say that it was a really bad cold and send me on my way with $100 less in my wallet. I am $100 lighter, but I am in possession of some insane drugs that I can only take every 12 hours and that I cannot drive while taking. These cheery little pills make one both dizzy and drowsy, so I feel like the 8th dwarf who didn't make Disney's cut. Thankfully, this little drug-induced stupor will only last for 4 more days and has either already cleared up my cough or I am too dizzy and drowsy to notice. I will be staying away from any lace knitting for the next 4 days--if I can't operate a vehicle I'm pretty sure I won't be able to operate small pointy sticks.

4 more days.....

Brief Updates

1. "Bananas" loved the Rice Krispie treats, which sort of helps with the guilt. She also received an award at the last mail drop for most packages ever received.

2. The backpacking book failed to mentioned that adding pureed vegetables to spaghetti sauce will irreversibly change the flavor of the sauce in a way that no amount of Italian seasoning can cover.

3. A crock pot is a good way to turn a 2-hour cooking project into one that ends at midnight.

4. If your health scores are straight-across-the-board better than your spouse's, it's hard not to be just a little bit smug.

5. It might be hard to explain to a retired couple why calling you "T & A" is perhaps not the best choice for nicknames.

6. Last week marked the 3 year anniversary of our first date, and we're the kind of nauseatingly romantic couple that celebrates such a thing.

And a little more obsessed ex wife repellent:

Coping With a Hostile Ex-Wife, Part Two

Again, let me reiterate, I am not a legal professional nor a counselor of any kind. These suggestions are from my own experience and that of my friends.

1. If your ex wife is not following the visitation schedule laid out in the divorce decree, she is violating a court order, is in contempt of court, and can be sent to jail. If you do not have an attorney or cannot afford one, you may fill out the forms yourself. Visit this website for more details.

2. Accept what you cannot change. While I firmly believe that an argument could certainly be made that custodial parents should be required to use child support ONLY for the benefit of the child, this is not how the law works and there is nothing you can do about it. Not paying child support as specified is a violation of a court order. That your ex-wife chooses to spend the child's money on herself--college, a new car, a boat, furniture, clothes--is not something you can do anything about. If your ex-wife starts telling your ch…

It's Still Hanging On

Even after a night of sleep uninterrupted by clingy cats, my cold is worse today and I worked from home today smothered in Vicks and gargling salt water. Nice way to celebrate spring, dang it.

The next box was shipped to Bananas today and coincidentally, she picked up the last one today. It's a little like being in a time warp--our packages are about a week ahead of her, and her letters back with what worked/what doesn't/what she'd like more of are about 3 weeks behind, so the fourth package made adjustments from the first package--all very confusing if you think about it too long, or while drinking a white chocolate martini.

And in token of our honorary trail names, Boris & Natasha, a line from season 3 of Rocky & Bullwinkle that made me laugh out loud:

"Now there's something you don't see everyday, Edgar."
"What's that, Chauncey?"
"A squirrel in Congress."
"Oh I don't know, Chauncey. It was just a matter…

Happy Easter!

And in observation of the religious holiday, I will refrain from discussing the bean/crock pot episode/fiasco until another day.

Natasha hard at work

Andy is away for the weekend, so I am getting things done. I don't know what it is about having the house to myself, but it is not yet noon on Saturday and I have gotten more done than I generally do all weekend. I love him dearly, but obviously, I need to send him away for a weekend once in a while--at this rate I could even get caught up on "dem fischer sin fru!"

Our next food drop for Bananas will be in Gatlinburg, Tennessee, somewhere around April 2. We send the packages to general delivery with an ETA, and I usually let her know ahead of time where we are sending packages. Since I have a little extra time on this, I have branched out a little. I still have the taco-flavored black beans to package up

To be fair, they didn't look much more appetizing before they were dehydrated. Still, starving+wilderness = EDIBLE!

I have red beans soaking right now

which tonight will be thrown into a crock pot with spaghetti sauce and pureed mixed vegetables. ( And for those of…

Spring? Maybe

But it's still cold and flu season. For the last several days, I've been dragging around with some invading bug that has given me a cough, sore throat, and the voice of a 1-900 "entertainment hostess." While it has made it easier to set up appointments with prospective clients at work, I'm not sure I really enjoy the "telephone system BABE" approach to business. Still, always a pragmatist, I did call on the biggest companies I'm pursuing. An edge is an edge.

The first results are in!

The third package to "Bananas" went out yesterday--the two week mark for her through-hike of the Appalachian trail. If she makes it all the way, it will take roughly 6 months & she'll travel over 2000 miles. Not exactly my idea of a good time, but then again, if you want to experiment with food dehydration, there's no one better to practice on than someone stuck in the wilderness!

We received a letter today with the first "results" of our packages. Andy's "calorie bars" (known as breakfast bars in the backpacking cookbook but sporting 170 calories per 1-inch square!) are really messy and crumble everywhere, Andy's Jambalaya is fabulous--we're going to have to try it ourselves now--and backpacking stoves aren't hot enough for pancakes but produce a slow-cooked gluey mess pretty nicely. The bean-cooking experiments started with the second or third packages, so we'll see how my first attempts at beans as food turn out. It&…

Happy Saint Patrick's Day!

And me with a great-grandfather from Ireland, I forgot to wear green today. Luckily, adults don't pinch. Well, some men still do, but they tend to get arrested for it.

Happy Saint Patrick's Day to all!

Sunday - Various Updates

Today we learned:

* You can dehydrate cheese, but it needs to be on lower temperature setting:

* Cheese stalactites are REALLY difficult to peel off dehydrating trays:

* It may be the oils from the cheese, or the nonstick cooking spray, but spending 39 minutes peeling hardened melted cheese off a dehydrating tray leaves your skin really soft and smelling faintly of cheddar.

* After a month of no-processed foods, making Rice Krispie treats for a care package feels like a criminal offense.

* A cinnamon bear is worth waiting for.

* Sharing keeps you from eating all the cinnamon bears yourself.

* Dried curried chickpeas make a pretty decent snack.

* If you're making up a recipe for curried chickpeas, it would be a good idea to write things down, just in case it turns out well.

* Ziploc must make a fortune off the friends of Appalachian Trail hikers.

* It's hard to keep your kitchen clean and be supplying regular shipments of backpacking food.

* The most surprising foods can be deh…

Date Night

I married a saint.

Thursday we went to Menopause the Musical. If I was out of place being 37, you can imagine how Andy felt being one of about 10 men in the theater and by far the youngest one. There were a few jokes neither of us understood (and I really hope I never understand), but overall, it was a fun show that took well known songs and replaced the lyrics with witty takes on aging--"Puff, My God I'm Draggin', "If You Wanna Know Where the Fat Grams Go, It's on my Hips" (Shoop Shoop), "Good Vibrations"--very clever stuff.

Andy is off to kayak today to get back in touch with his testosterone. After that show, I'm guessing it will be an all-day affair.....

Sin City - Without Technical Issues

Even a town built on greed & loss and offering prostitutes at every turn has some beauty. Vegas's is in the Bellagio. We saw the Chihuly glass display

which is quite lovely and incredibly expensive, and the Conservatory, which was sporting an Asian theme this time:

Can we guess which of us takes better pictures?

After all the snow & cold we've had this winter, it was wonderful to experience some 75-degree temperatures
which is what we told everyone about on Monday, conveniently forgetting that we were inside most of the time.

Vegas has gotten very expensive over the years--2 cups of black coffee set us back $7.00 and we're still not admitting to what lunch on Saturday cost us--which is sort of surprising. I thought the whole point of Vegas was to get people there to gamble away their money, but since everything cost so much, we could only afford to play the penny slots, which I had never seen before. Andy lost his $1.00, but held out long enough to get a diet soda f…

A Weekend in Sin City - Technical Difficulties

(Alright Google--do your best with that title)

I would be showing you pictures from the weekend in Vegas, but Blogger still isn't working, so we'll save that post for later.

Today is the 11th day of being able to eat whatever we want, but knowing how much of a difference it has made, we haven't gone back to "normal." Don't get me wrong, white chocolate martinis are SOOOOOO allowed again and today I had a southwestern chicken wrap without a second thought about the preservatives that might be in the flour tortilla, but tonight's trip to the grocery store still stuck to the perimeter of the supermarket. Last month was really a "test run" for us--we wanted to know if it would be possible to have no processed foods for an entire year. The short answer is a definite "no." If you were truly to let no processed food pass your lips you would A. starve to death if you work full time and B. have no friends (dinner guests have started checking …

Google Enjoys Messing With Me

Even though I've used Google as a search engine for years, I don't fully understand how it works. I know it will randomly pick off words and include this blog in searches for Canadian female impersonators, knitting, stalkers, divorce, cats--and my personal favorite search, "knitting divorce stalker blog cats," which I just can't even figure out. Are they being stalked by divorced cats that knit? Are they stalking divorced cats who knit? In what scenario would you put those words together for a search??????

After yesterday's post, I was a bit concerned about what sorts of searches my blog would surface in, but I was unprepared for this one--if you search on "a little off the beaten path," (with or without the quotations), it obviously finds my blog, but instead of excerpting the first sentence as normal, Google, free-thinking as always, went this:

A Little Off The Beaten PathOh yeah--right after I strip off all my clothes, don a pirate hat, and run…

Vegas, Baby!!!

This weekend we took a quick trip to Las Vegas to see Phantom of the Opera--the Vegas version. Being Vegas, the show had to be chopped to 90 minutes and a few special effects had to be added, but after 24 hours in Sin City, we were relieved that during the entire 90 minutes, no one offered us a prostitute, time share, nor mentioned the slogan "What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas." Believe me, there was no other 90-minute period that could make such a boast. Every 20 feet on both sides of "The Strip," scary looking little men tried to hand cards and fliers offering every variety of "escort" conceivable. I can't decide which I find most offensive--the whole concept in general or that for some reason the little minimum-wage pimps seemed to think that even though we had just rebuffed the one 20 feet away, and the last 30 before that, that we might yet decide to take them up on their offer. Oh yeah--right after I strip off all my clothes, don a pira…

Coping With a Hostile Ex-Wife, Part One

Note: I am not a psychologist, psychiatrist, or a counselor. Knowing what we have been through and talking with friends what have also been through this, these are my own personal suggestions for whatever they are worth.

1. Understand her motivation. Stop and think about what is driving your ex-wife's behavior. In the cases I have seen, the ex-wife is angry and bitter that the ex-husband stopped loving her and has, most likely, moved on with his life. NOTE: Understanding is not the same as excusing. There is no justification in the world for nasty behavior, no matter who hurt who. But if you can understand that her behavior is completely based on emotions and hurt, you will be better prepared to cope with it.

2. Deal with your own anger first. Your ex wife can no longer make you love her, but if she can still hurt you or make you angry, she is getting a little sense of victory over you. No matter what she has said, no matter what she has done, you have moved on with your…


1. So Far, So Good
Bananas has made it safely to the first mail drop and has updated her journal here. She has met a lot of other hikers on the trail, including one with the inexplicable trail name "Cannibal." I'm sure there's a story behind that one, but all the same, I think I'd be sleeping with one eye open.....

2. Dem Fischer Sin Fru
The final clue came out today. Good thing, too, because when I finally get past clue 1, I'm sure I'll just tear right through the next 6. It's a beautiful pattern (I will post pictures of the final project eventually--can you hang on until 2009?) based on/inspired by the old fairy story, The Fisherman and His Wife. That was my favorite Grimms Brothers story--the old man frees a flounder from his net & it grants him wish after wish, at his wife's request, and she's never satisfied & just gets more demanding. Finally the flounder takes everything away from them.

3. Ex-Wife Issues
I have no idea if t…

The First Stop

Bananas, our intrepid Appalachian Trail hiker, should reach the first mail stop today & receive the first care package we sent her. The second package has been mailed already, and the food dehydrator is merrily humming away--this time with brown rice and a spicy tomato-bean mixture. Doing all of this, we have learned

* You can make your own Minute Rice by cooking rice, then dehydrating it. The end result takes far less time to cook. Finally!!! A way to work with brown rice that does not involve postponing dinner!

* Always, always, always spray the drying sheets with olive oil or cooking spray before putting anything on them.

* Measure the volume & weight of everything before AND after cooking & dehydrating. There is no other way to figure out how much dehydrated rice really makes 1 cup when rehydrated.

* Wash dryer trays often, especially after anything strongly flavored.

* It's easier to experiment when you're not eating the results yourself.

If she makes it …

At Least We're Not Alone

I just got back from having dinner with a friend who is preparing for a court battle with his ex-wife. So far our court system has allowed her to violate most, if not all, of the points in the custody agreement, and yet he as had to continue to pay FULL child support. While there are many decent exwives and divorced mothers who really do care about their child's best interests, child support and custody is too often used by a bitter ex-wife to take revenge on an ex-husband who has moved on and is happy in his new life. This is excerpted from an article from The British Second Wives Club. America doesn't seem to have a lock on the loonies.

Bitter Ex Wife Pattern Some examples to help you identify the bitter Ex! by a BSWC Member.
It is recognised and accepted that Divorce is a painful, emotional process and it takes time for both separated spouses to recover and get on with their new lives. The BSWC has found, and many health professi…

The Best Laid Plans

As you have probably noticed, the blog is public again. It turns out that Google will only allow up to 100 readers per "private" blog (believing that 350 or so people really qualifies as "public"), so I was either going to need to make duplicate copies of the blog & post to each of them, take bids for the 100 spots, or learn to hack into Google's software. So, until I think of something different, we're public again, but with a sprinkling of obsessed ex-wife repellent:

Our wedding was a year & a half ago, and the divorce was over 4 years ago, so yes, as one person put it, we are dealing with "a special brand of crazy here." I thought that summed it up nicely.

It's nice to be in a "normal" month, but except for a few exceptions (a white chocolate martini, Diet Pepsi, and each getting one stick of a Kit Kat bar), we've mostly stuck with the new eating habits. Sad confession--I still haven't finished reading In Defense…

How We Think We Did

Here it is, day 3 of eating like "regular" people, so it's time for a little reflection on our experiment:

1. The thing we missed most was diet soda--no contest. I am now drinking them only in moderation, but I'm noticing that they now make me really thirsty. We're thinking perhaps it's the level of sodium or maybe the carbonation? I'm still sticking mainly to water & coffee.

2. Being a human lab rat is a strange experience--made even stranger by the fact that it was totally voluntary.

3. The thing I am actually most thankful to be able to eat again--Grape Nuts. Since I hate eggs in any form & sweets for breakfast make me sick, I am pretty dependent on cold cereal for breakfast. Leftover roast beef was a very strange substitute.

4. I have been experiencing some headaches this month, which are generally caused by my allergic reaction to milk. The headaches were surprising because I have lived with the milk allergy for so long that I can gener…

You Can't Go Home Again

Today's lesson: You can't switch back to "eating as normal" without penalty.

We survived the pizza last night with no problems, but after reheating the leftovers for us for lunch, I ended up with a really upset stomach. I don't know if it was related to the whole processed-foods experiment, but I have not ventured into the cinnamon bears yet.

Our intrepid Appalachian Trail hiker, "Bananas," hopped on the train yesterday, and we put the first parcel in the mail today. Our kitchen has been turned into the Boris & Natasha Supply Depot:

and the food dehydrator has been going nonstop for the last couple weeks. We've made breakfast bars, several soup variations, jambalaya and Balti rice combinations, instant smoothies, several varieties of pancakes & bannock, several flavors of dried chicken, and variations on that ever-popular crowd pleaser oatmeal. Bananas will be the first AT hiker to be supplied by caterers!

And since the ban is over and we c…

Forbiden, Foods

IT'S OVER!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

This experiment was SO much harder than the "Month of Not Buying Anything New." One really can just not buy things--stamps, epoxy, that darned fabric that I still can't find--but one can't just not eat for a month, even if that would be preferable to facing oatmeal every morning.

I bounded out of bed at 6:08 AM this morning, giddy at the very thought of

Getting food from a box was a surreal experience--food that doesn't look like food. Grape-Nuts do only have one polysyllabic ingredient--an emulsifier (so weirdly enough, that texture is on purpose), so they were the only boxed food that came close to making the "allowed" list this month, but at the final cut, they were out as well. According to our experiment, the only "food" we could have eaten from a box was the box itself, and even oatmeal tastes better than that!

At noon:

To drink something besides water or coffee was positively heavenly. Having n…