Friday, February 3, 2017

Catch Up Time, Late Jan., Early Feb.

Hubs and I have not been leading very exciting lives these last several weeks.  We've had roller-coaster weather, such that all the lettuces, spinaches and kales that I wintersowed have already come up and now have to be baby-sat, out in the garage.  Hubs helped me move one of the light stands to the garage and keep them out there.  I bought another timer at Walmart so I wouldn't have to be remembering to run in and out of there to turn stuff off.  The garage is unheated but it's attached to the house, we go into it through a door in the hallway that we normally keep closed.  So, while it does get closer to the outside temperature than the rest of the house, it has never actually gotten cold enough to freeze anything.  Oklahoma weather's like a box of chok-lits.  You never know what you goan git. 

I've hurt my right shoulder, I think from overuse making those knitted dishcloths, and then ignoring it.  It had gotten pretty painful and I was looking it up on the internet, what causes it, exercises to do, finally started icing it and taking ibuprofen.  Hubs had a little hissy and said I ought to see somebody and make sure I didn't have anything serious going on.  I knew the doctors around here would be insisting on doing surgery and I'd end up having to go to Tulsa and get my shoulder replaced after they did their thing to me, because that's how doctors here build their business.  I won't reward a doctor for messing me up by going back TO THEM for the repair.  Plus, if you go to your GP, the knee-jerk reaction here is always to put the patient on Prednisone, and that stuff just melts my muscles and wears me out.  I've worked so hard to get at the level of health where I am and I just was not wanting to take any steps back.  So I made an appointment with a shoulder specialist at Eastern Oklahoma Osteopathic, and they were able to get me on the schedule quickly.  We made the trip to Tulsa yesterday.  It was cold but not rainy.  Seriously, you do not want to get caught in Tulsa when there's moisture on the roads, especially when it's also freezing.  You'd think, since it happens several times every winter, people would know how to drive in it, but they do not.  Tulsa has so many hills that they get stuck every time they have to stop.  Don't ask how I know.  I really liked this doctor, he looked at the xrays they did and said he could tell there was a lot of swelling and inflammation but he wouldn't know if I had a torn place without getting an MRI.  He gave me several options and when I asked him what he would do if it was his shoulder and he said he'd get a Cortisone shot in the joint, and do some physical therapy, and see how it went.  I found that soooo refreshing to have him not be trying to build up his business at the expense of my medicare and my well-being. 

I had the shot, and seriously, I thought I was going to faint, it was so painful.  Then I was sent to Physical Therapy to get a sheet of exercises demonstrated to me and some stretchy bands to do them with it.  It's on my chart that it's an hour's drive from my home so they trust me to follow instructions at home.  A follow-up in a month.  I'm supposed to start feeling much better within two or three days of the shot and can start the exercises then.  It's obvious that working in the garden is not enough strength training for me and so I need to do more than just walking and bicycling at the workout center.  I have the yellow bands to start exercises with and when that gets easy there are red ones.  When that gets easy I'll take the exercise sheet up to the workout center and show it to Jason.  Maybe he can show me a machine I can use instead of tying those bands to a doorknob here at home.

While we were in Tulsa, we stopped at a health-food store called Natural Grocers.  Carole told me there's one going up in Joplin.  I had never heard of them so I researched and found two in Tulsa.  They look a lot like Whole Foods.  What I liked about them was that they sell 50# bags of organic whole wheat flour for $64.  I'd be hard-pressed to find it at that price anywhere else.  They keep it in the refrigerator case and I'd recommend repackaging it into ice-cream containers or ziplock bags, whatever you have, and freezing it.  We have friends that buy ice-cream at Walmart that comes in rectangular containers and they save the containers for me.  I use them for lots of things and that's what I use when I freeze-treat my newly-bought wheat berries, and then vacuum-seal them in half-gallon glass jars.  Most people don't know that flour loses its vitamins and minerals, just sitting out, which is why grocery store flour is enriched with artificial stuff.  It's shelf stable, and that's about the only nice thing I can think to say about it.  Oh, and reasonably cheap, still better to buy and make bread with than to buy grocery store bread, which has all kinds of stuff you wouldn't expect.  Be sure to turn the loaf over and read the label ingredients, you'll see....  It's even better to buy wheat berries, if you can find them, because they hold onto all their good stuff till they're ground into flour, if you store them well. 

They also sell packages of "ugly produce" at marked-down prices.  It's still organic, just mis-shapen and unattractive.  But that's how they come out of the garden sometimes and we shouldn't get so hung-up on perfect-looking produce, since it usually requires chemical assistance and/or the loss of profit from the ones that aren't pretty so often gets absorbed in the price of the ones that do pass inspection. 

I wanted to share with you my wheat grass experiment. 

I planted some of the wheat berries that I grind for our bread.  It is Turkey Red, originally from the Ukraine.  I think I've written about it before, along about the time we went to pick it up from the family in Coffeyville, KS that grows it.

The first thing is that I apparently didn't plant them close enough.  To end up with a good stand of wheat grass, I guess I would have to cover the surface of the soil with them.  I thought, at the time, I was planting them too close.  I have no experience with this.  Though sometimes birds will "plant" an occasional wheat berry and I'll find the plants in strange places.  Sometimes I just wish I could find out where these birds have been.  Could be anywhere, actually.

The white stuff is perlite, which I spread on top of the seeds to keep them damp while they germinated.  That was kind of an experiment, too. 

In the above picture, I have cut the top two or three inches off the grass because I wanted to process it and taste.  It's better, I found, to cut them in 1/2" pieces before putting them in the blender, as they tend to wrap themselves around the blades if they are long.  Also I added a little filtered water because, fresh, they just wanted to "gum up the works".

This looks very much like the Ceremonial Green Tea that Dr. Oz made, several programs ago.  When he drank it, he said, "Hmmmmm.  Earthy."  What I said when I drank wheatgrass juice was, "Hmmmmmm.  Yuk."  Maybe I'd say that same thing if it had been Dr. Oz's green tea, as it was a strong chlorophyll taste, and that's the stuff that makes things that healthy-looking green.  And not sure if the tea would have been, but the wheat grass had a bitter taste.  In my research, I read that foods that cleanse the liver should have a bitter taste.  Like dandelion greens, for instance.  So I mixed some of the Wheat Grass Tea with my regular cup of green tea, and I was able to drink it that way.  What remained, I refrigerated and dumped into my next banana smoothie.  That made a green drink that, after one quick look, Hubs shook his head and rolled his eyes.  He thinks I'm a crazy woman.  However, he takes prescriptions, daily, that I wouldn't take.  For one thing, horribly expensive.  For another, hard on the body and full of side-effects that sound a lot worse than the malady they're supposed to treat.  I don't interfere in what Hubs chooses as his method of healthcare.  I slip in a little information when the opportunity presents itself and he watches Oz with me.  But he is difficult to change.  He doesn't eat as much sugar as he used to, because I don't bake all the time like I used to.  We keep fruit on hand.  Apples, bananas, oranges when we can get nice ones for less than a king's ransom, berries, peaches and plums in season, and some that I have canned or packed away in the freezer.  I have finally convinced him to quit eating that fake-food "wheat bread" and now he actually is busy spreading the word about how much healthier 100% whole wheat, grown locally, is.  It makes me smile.  He has celiac in his family and three siblings have had celiac and died.  High blood pressure also runs in his family.  (Unmarried women, heed a little advice:  before you fall in love with and marry a man, look very carefully at his family.  They do this, secretly, to find out what we're going to look like when we've aged a little, so don't feel guilty about it.)  Back many years ago when we didn't know he could get his meds hrough the Veteran's Administration for much less, we were spending $500 a month for them.  Gotta tell ya, that was just overwhelming.  When the Feds announced the roll-out of drug insurance plans, we were really excited but then disappointed.  The monthly premium was very high and didn't EVER pay very much, so we found ourselves getting double-dipped.  Once by the drug industry, again by the insurance industry.  I take no prescription medications and doctors are always surprised whenever I say that.  I do have high cholesterol, but I have blood pressure that is very good. I don't see it as a big risk for me, considering that taking the meds is such a big risk. Plus, they keep fiddling with those numbers and I'm not convinced that anybody's cholesterol needs to be as low as they say.  I suspect they're just busy marketing statin drugs.  I took Lipitor for a very short time, hadn't been told I wasn't supposed to drink grapefruit juice with it, and had the first of many impressive muscle spasms in my back.  If you like grapefruit juice, please do check to see what drugs it interacts with.  You'll thank me later.  I limped away from statin drugs (AND grapefruit juice!) then and I will not go back.  Although my doctor did not believe Lipitor caused what happened to me, I believe it did.  And it's something I will have to deal with for the rest of my life now, off and on.  I have not had full-blown spasms since I retired almost ten years ago, but I've come close.  I can feel them coming on and that's when I slap on the heating pad and drink a nice glass of wine.  I'm not particularly fond of wine, it has to be sweet or it feels like drinking vinegar to me.  And really, I'd just rather drink grape juice and/or diluted raw apple cider vinegar.  But I need the alcohol component to relax my muscles.  I don't think I have to worry about being an alcoholic.  I couldn't stay awake long enough, for one thing.  My mother's dad was an alcoholic, and my mother would not drink because she said she loved the taste and was afraid she would get addicted.  Whatever else I might say about my mother, I would have to admit that she was, about many things, very smart.  They say if alcoholics cannot get alcohol, they want sugar.  Mom had a terrible addiction to sugar and chocolate. 

Aldi had Brussels sprouts on sale last week and I bought some.  They were quite large and very dark green.  The ones that most grocers sell, frozen in 16-oz bags, are at least half the size, and they are sweet and quite delicious when cooked lightly in a little butter.  These.....  not so much.  There was a bitter component.  But hey.  Good for the liver, eh?  I have ended up being the one to eat them, as Hubs doesn't like them and is probably turned off even the small ones now, after tasting these.  He is not adventuresome at all.  If it's not corn, green beans, okra or peas, it's not a vegetable worthy as a side-dish.  I have been able to get him to eat cooked carrots if they are mixed with peas.  And he's decided he likes cabbage if it is fresh out of the garden and sautéed lightly with butter or bacon fat.  The only way he'll eat squash is if it's sliced, dredged in flour, and fried in oil.  He'll eat sweet peppers if they are cooked with onion and mixed into other ingredients, like in Sweet And Sour Pork, and slipped into certain ground-beef dishes. 

When I make salad, I have to add things I like after I've taken out enough for Hubs' simple salad of anemic head lettuce, red tomato and maybe some shredded carrot.  I feel like he's really missing out on a great salad.  To my salad, I add chopped cucumber, sweet or green onion, summer squash, red or yellow sweet peppers, raw or frozen peas, spinach, kale, cabbage, other leafy greens if I have them, sprouts or plant thinnings if I have them, drained cooked black turtle beans if I have them, peeled and sliced Jerusalem artichoke, seeds such as sunflower, amaranth, sesame, or chia, or nuts such as pecans, slivered almonds, cashews or English walnuts.  Now, THAT's a salad.  And a full, power-packed meal, in itself.  Annnnnnd, plenty of extra to have for the next several days as long as I put the wet stuff in the bottom or save it to add right before eating.  I don't generally use a salad dressing.  Maybe a spritz of cider vinegar or lemon juice.  Salt and pepper.  Hubs has to have KRAFT Thousand Island and my attempts to make something like it have failed so often that I've just given up.  So he pays $3 for a little bottle of artificial flavors, colors, and corn syrup, and ruins his crappy little salad, to my mind...... 

On a recent Dr. Oz show, I found out that peas are high in protein and in calcium, as well.  They even have a milk substitute made from peas.  He did a taste test of some of the milk replacements on that show, and had dairy farmers there, in their overalls and flannel shirts, to do the sampling.  It was entertaining.  Yeah, no milk replacement competes with real milk, but if the food industry doesn't quit tinkering with it, at least there might be some alternatives. I'm going to be using more peas and I'll grow them in larger amounts from now on.  I don't have very good germination sometimes but I bought some Pea and Bean Booster at Tractor Supply.  It contains Bradyrhizobium sp., Rhizobium phaseoli and Rhizobium leguminosanum biovar viceae.  Always check the expiration date.  I also realize I've been composting some really good healthy stuff in those pea pods.  Might experiment with whirring them around in the food processor or blender, or juicing them, and then freezing that juice in ice cube trays to be used instead of plain ice in smoothies.  Here's information about peas:

Hubs thinks he's eating a "Chef's Salad" if I add chopped hard-boiled egg, grated cheddar cheese and maybe some shredded rotisserie chicken or chopped ham to his.  I don't like meat in my salad so in that case I don't put it on mine.  Some people will add pickles or pickled beets but I'm not a fan.  But I've been reading about what a super food beets are and I do like beets as a side-dish, hot OR cold.  I'm thinking maybe I could get used to some chopped cooked beets in my salad, too.  Not pickled, though.  I don't have any from the garden but I picked up some plain canned beets during the last trip to Homeland.  I've already opened one of the cans and ate the whole thing for a snack.  Even drank the juice!  I was disappointed to find out Aldi stores don't stock them. 

I didn't raise picky kids, where food is concerned.  I asked Hubs to keep his food preferences to himself where the kids were concerned, when we were raising them, because I didn't want them growing up with such limited tastes.  Kids will like a lot of things as long as somebody's not sitting in front of them saying, "I don't like this, I don't like that."  I try to be nice to picky kids, but seriously.  One kid that was at my house at mealtime said he didn't like grilled cheese sandwiches, which was what I was making for his sister and my grandsons at the time, so I asked him if he liked peanut butter and he said he did.  So I made him a peanut-butter sandwich.  "No jelly..." he said.  Well allrightie then.  Made the mistake of using crunchy peanut butter, which was all I had, and he took one bite and then sat there behind the remains of the sandwich and the crusts he tore off it.  I looked at him and he smiled, like he thought he was just adorable, and said, "I don't eat peanut butter with seeds......"  I seriously don't know WHAT that kid ate at home.  He was being raised by his grandmother and when I told her about what happened, she laughed and thought it was cute.  I didn't.

I guess everybody's groaning about Amazon's new method of collecting sales tax from us when we buy something through them.  This just really disappoints me because I don't think it's fair.  I mean, My mother bought a lot of things by mail order when I was growing up, and I have, too, over the years.  Most of the catalogs I get in the mail do not collect sales tax.  I believe the rule is, if they do not have a facility in your state, you don't have to pay sales tax on their goods.  This sales tax savings helps make up for the fact that you might have to pay shipping costs to some of these vendors.  But anyway, Amazon doesn't have anything in my state and so I think they should be able to fall under that rule.  I kind of think they'll all start looking at mail-order vendors now that they've been able to bully Amazon, and they'll all have to make the change. 

Amazon is big business and because they don't have a brick-and-mortar store, they don't have the costs involved in running stores, or keeping up a store building and a parking lot.  They also don't have to deal with shop-lifters.  So when they incur less costs, they can afford to offer merchandise at lower prices.  We enjoy that, and the ability to compare various vendors, and the reviews from people who have bought the product before, and the convenience of being able to order stuff while we sit in the privacy of our own home, at any hour of the day.  But we have to have electronics and the internet to access them.  So that's an expense we incur.  Most people use their electronics for a lot more than shopping and so it's not a noticeable expense.  There's the shipping expense, too, but Amazon has free two-day shipping on lots of things and same-day shipping if you pay the annual fee for their Prime version, which also offers price breaks on certain things.  But the thing about shipping is, somebody has to pay for it.  And our government postal service sometimes benefits from that.  It makes up for the fact that we're not hardly writing any letters anymore, or getting our bills in the mail.  I don't know about anyone else, but I'm boycotting Amazon.  I feel like they should've fought this instead of just rolling over and setting a precedent that might affect a lot of little people down the road.  Plus the post office is already in trouble, they keep having to increase their postage prices, and they're caught in a price war with some of those package delivery services that, when they first came into being, were very, very expensive.  They've gotten the business down to a science now and have been able to reduce their costs and pass some of that savings on, so now they are in direct competition with our government postal service, which routinely increases prices.  The gap has been rapidly closing.  Amazon is now looking at drone delivery and I'm not sure I'm very happy about that.  Drones can carry all kinds of things, including bombs and cameras.  So how do you know, when they're buzzing around overhead, whether they're good guys or bad guys?  Scares me.  I don't guess I could even have Hubs shoot them out of the air, if they got over our house, because they'll probably have cameras on them that transmit back to Amazon.  But it gives me dark pleasure to think about it.

I also have concerns about the presence of knock-offs from China in Amazon stock, and I have heard that many times they are marketed as the real thing, so you can't tell.  I think this might be happening to New Balance shoes sold on Amazon because in the last two or three years I've noticed a real decline in their quality.  The shoes already run so narrow that I have recently started getting them in wide, like Hubs has always done for his shoes.  But recently I compared the soles of a pair that I got in a wide width with an old pair, same style, but in average width, because I thought the tops of the shoes were kind of puffy in the wide width.  Well, guess what?  The soles are the same width.  Also Hubs has been having trouble with the tops coming loose around the edges where they are glued to the soles.  So, it's time to either change vendors or brands, depending on where the problem actually lies.

I like to use Amazon for used books and lately I've found some places that might be good options here:

There might be lots of others worth looking at.

That's about all I have to share this time, but maybe it'll be enough to get your wheels a-turnin'.  I could do a whole political post about now, because there are a lot of things going on that are just scaring me to death, and I'm just in awe over how a man that's supposed to be so smart absolutely has no control over the things that fall out of his mouth, but maybe soon some of those high-IQ folks he's hiring for his cabinet will be able to find some way to modify this without losing their jobs.  And that's all I'm going to say about that.

Y'all stay safe, comfy, happy, well and healthy....  Hugs xoxoxo

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