7 Quick Takes About Fingernails (Again), Valentine’s Day, Clothes and Shoes

1.  I wrote a quick little review of Kisses for Katie, over at Mary’s blog, Atelier.  If you’ve read the book, I’d love to hear your thoughts.

2.  I followed Mary’s advice for a Valentine’s night in, almost to the letter, and it was really nice.


Valentine’s date night in: raspberry Belgian ale, flourless chocolate cake, and pina colada sherbet!

We watched Romantic’s Anonymous on Netflix, which both (!) Pat and I found entertaining.  I would have changed the ending though. (And does it bug anyone else that so many movies feature a male romantic lead so much older than the female romantic lead?) . . . Actually, never mind.  I just looked it up and the lead actress is only 7 years younger than the lead actor.  But man, she looks a lot younger.  Anyway . . .

It made me want to watch more French films.  It’s one thing to read about the Frenchwoman mystique, and quite another to watch it.  I get it a bit more now.

3. My first attempt to rejoin the world of fingernail painters was a bust.  I used Sally Hansen Hard As Wraps for a base coat (accidentally ordered the top coat instead of base coat), an old bottle of red Sally Hansen Hard as Nails, and the Vinylux top coat recently of Camp Patton fame.  It was chipping before 24 hours was up, and by the end of the second day it looked like this.


I never gave much thought to my cuticles, but they don’t look so hot close up, do they?

But a bottle a OPI Sweet Innocence, per Nichole’s advice, is on its way to me.

4. Amazon sends me an email every day, apologizing profusely for a shipping delay with the aforementioned nail polish.  It’s okay, Amazon, really, it’s okay.  Whole lotta snow out there.  I understand.


5. Pat was really sweet in how he ordered a Valentine’s Day gift for me.  He went to my web browsing history and specifically looked for what I had viewed on Boden’s website.  And he ordered me a dress.  Unfortunately, I already had ordered myself the same dress and returned it, because it didn’t look good on me.  But it was a really thoughtful idea.

6. I know I‘m not the only one excited by the newest Boden catalog.  I’m finding that a lot of their stuff doesn’t look as good on me as it does on the models (surprise surprise).  I’m hopeful to get at least a couple of winners for my summer momiform, though.

7. I finally replaced my old Sperry’s with a pair of pink Minnetonka Kilty mocs, for my requisite pair of casual-flats-with-which-I-can-wear-socks.  They would look better without socks, but I just really really need socks.  But anyway, I found them at our local general store for $7 less than Zappos!  I hesitate to jump on the “buy local” bandwagon.  When I see a “Do You Know Your Farmer” bumper sticker it just seems so smug and self-righteous to me.  And plenty of virtuous people don’t have the time or money to buy local but feel guilty about it.  And I hate that.

But every now and then you find just what you want locally for a good price, and it feels really good.

The end.  Click over to Jen’s for more quick takes.  Happy weekend!

I Say M&Ms, You Say Scrambled Eggs: M&Ms! Scrambled Eggs! M&Ms! Scrambled Eggs!

. . . And Calf Liver and  . . . Epsom Salt Baths

I’m finally reading the second edition of Perfect Health Diet (“PHD”).   I’m particularly intrigued by their advice on nutritional supplements.  Apparently deficiencies in copper, zinc, and magnesium are quite common, even for those following a healthy diet.  You know what contains all of those nutrients?  Chocolate.  You know what I crave almost all the time?  Chocolate.  Hmmm.

Dark chocolate also contains iron, which I might be deficient in also.  I’ve started taking Floradix.  It’s too early to tell for sure, but I think it’s improved my energy levels.  PHD warns against iron supplements . . .  except for menstruating women.  Well, guess what I am?  And guess what I crave at those particular times of the month?  Hmmm.

I must admit I tried to follow the PHD supplement recommendations early on, but I quickly tired of taking so many pills, especially as I have to stagger them throughout the day to avoid stomach ache.   According to PHD, it’s basically impossible to get enough copper unless you eat liver every week, or possibly a LOT of chocolate.  I just cannot do organ meat.  Not. Going. There.  And chocolate prices are on the rise.  So, supplementation it is!

Problem is, sometimes M&Ms call out my name like you would not believe.  The dark, more bitter stuff just doesn’t compete.  PHD mentions that cravings for sweets often indicate a need for protein.  I have noticed that if I’m craving sweets but eat protein instead, the cravings go away.  The hard part is force myself to eat protein instead of the sweets.

So, I’m hoping not be undone by M&Ms (or chocolate peanut butter) so much in the future.  Next time the cravings hit, I’ll quickly down some scrambled eggs, with a chaser of dark chocolate, and then jump in an Epsom salt bath for some extra magnesium-y oomph.

We’ll see . . . .

Reading PHD again also reminded me that I should be eating less chicken and more beef  . . . or lamb or goat or liver so . . . beef it is!  Here’s my menu plan for the coming week, with an extra helping of beef.  I’m  linking up with Org Junkie for Menu Plan Monday (better late than never):

Melt-in-your-mouth parmesan chicken breasts

  • Lunches: Leftovers, salads, and um, leftovers.  Oh, and plain yogurt with frozen blueberries.  Pat eats rice cakes with cheese a lot.
  • Dinners:

Monday: Paleo crockpot beef brisket (Really tasty and easy; I use chuck)

Tuesday:  Pan-fried salmon with rice and green beans


Wednesday: Yummy Baked Thingy (ground beef casserole)

Thursday:  Tilapia with spinach and tomatoes baked in foil

Friday: Shrimp stir-fry with rice noodles

Saturday: Parmesan chicken (using Greek yogurt instead of mayo)

Sunday: Crock-pot lime beef stew (trying out a new recipe)

Have a delicious week!

A Healthy Dessert For Your Weekend, Etc. {7QT}

— 1 —

On Monday, I promised to share the recipe for this:


All-natural, non-dairy, gluten-free, refined-sugar-free, really delicious chocolate tart from GI 365

— 2 —

It has no dairy and no grain.  It’s kind of expensive to make but well worth it for a treat that is delicious and nutritious (tho full of lots of maple syrup).  What do you think the secret ingredient is??

Did you guess?

Don’t cheat . . . .

Scroll down . . . .

— 3 —

 Avocado!  It’s amazing, it really is.  It doesn’t taste like avocado at all, just chocolate creaminess like an ordinary chocolate pudding.   The recipe is from GI 365, here.

Would you ever guess this:


Avocado (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Could become this??

— 4 —

On a completely unrelated note . . .

Girl 2 has taken to saying “Mama” and “Dada” a lot.  She correctly identifies Pat and Me.  She also, however, points and says “Dada” when she sees a picture of any adult male and “Mama” when she sees a picture of any adult female.

— 5 —


— 6 —


— 7 —

Have a good weekend! Thank you, Jen at Conversion Diary, for hosting today’s link up!

Five Favorites of the Day

My current five favorites, in no particular order:

1. This paleo chocolate mug cake. A few minutes to mix up the ingredients. One minute in the ‘crowave. Amazingly delicious. I just had one for dinner. Click the pic for the recipe. You can use peanut butter in place of almond butter.

2. This paleo/vegan chocolate mousse or “ice cream”: Pat and I will be eating it for dessert.

3. The scale. Not! Why is paleo not working for me??? I just don’t get it.

4. Sarcasm.

5. My brother-in-law, Ryan. He’s an acquired taste, though. Just warning you.

Thanks for guest-hosting the link-up, Jen! And good luck Hallie. My second was born at 42 weeks. I know how you feel right now!!


Cakes of the Pan and Salmon Variety (Menu Plan Monday)

I’m linking up again with Org Junkie for Menu Plan Monday.

I don’t have a whole lot new to report this week, and I don’t have another installment of The Beginner’s Guide to Good Enough Fish.  But, I would like to draw your attention to two recipes I’ve enjoyed lately.

The first is for these Fluffy Coconut Flour Pancakes from Nourishing Days via She Cooks He Cleans.  They are grain-free and (if you use the coconut milk option) dairy-free, and delicious.  They are much more pancake-like than my go-to “Paleo Pancakes,” which are really just glorified scrambled eggs.

These are moderately time-consuming,  so I make them on weekend mornings or for dinner, not on busy weekday mornings.  I’ve made them three times now and I’ve tweaked them slightly each time.  The first time I didn’t have baking soda, so I used baking powder (I forget how much).  They were fine but not as fluffy as I would like and a little gritty.   Also I didn’t watch carefully enough and I burned them a bit.  The second time I used the called-for amount of baking soda and the texture was good but they tasted just a little like . . . baking soda.  Pat didn’t notice it though.

The last and best time, I halved the recipe (’cause I only had two eggs) and used canned, evaporated milk because I was out of the other milk options.  It was my best batch yet.  Fluffy, not grainy, and without a baking soda taste.  Oh, and I used rice syrup in place of honey.

No matter what the variation though, they were enjoyable each time and I will keep on making them.  It is important to read the directions carefully because coconut flour is peculiar and the texture of this batter is very different from ordinary pancake batter.

I’ve used Bob’s Red Mill coconut flour because that’s what I had on hand.  Nancy at She Cooks He Cleans recommends Coconut Secret Raw Coconut Flour.  I’ll try to find that when I run out of Bob’s and see if it improves the pancake texture.

This last time I made a strawberry topping out of frozen, unsweetened strawberries and a few spoonfuls of rice syrup (a Perfect Health Diet approved sweetener) simmered together on the stove.  Very tasty.

Secondly, I’ve made this recipe for salmon patties from Everyday Paleo several times now.  Really yummy.

From Everyday Paleo

The seasonings are great, though I left out the fresh ginger.  I only ever buy the powdered stuff, and I ran out of that.  Also, this last time I used frozen pre-chopped onions, which made the mixture a little watery, so I left out the lemon juice.

Because these don’t have breadcrumbs to help hold them together, you do have to make sure to cook them a full three minutes on a *hot* skillet before attempting to flip them.

I haven’t made the ginger mayo.  I just mix up a little yogurt, lemon juice, salt, and garlic and use that as a sauce.

Oh and this dairy-free, no sugar-added, paleo-compliant chocolate mousse??

Chocolate mousse (no added sugar)


But not Lent appropriate, so I’ll save the deets for later.

Here’s my menu plan for this week.  A lot of repeats are here from last week because I often come up with a different idea or have unplanned leftover nights.  That’s okay; the whole point of a menu plan is to avoid last-minute take out and extra trips to the grocery store, so it’s all good.

    • Monday: Tuna and rice noodles (with peas and cherry tomatoes and sesame seeds added)
    • Tuesday:  Leftover chili from Sunday
    • Wednesday: Salmon cakes described above
    • Thursday: Baked chicken and root veggies (try to cut down on white potatoes)
    • Friday: Salmon of some variety
    • Saturday: Chicken veggie stir-fry
    • Sunday: ??

Have a delicious week!

Menu Plan Monday, Back In the Saddle Again

I’m linking up again with Org Junkie for Menu Plan Monday.

We’re trying to get back on the wagon here with the Perfect Health Diet  (PHD).  The girls were sick for most of the last two weeks, and our menu looked a lot like this:

and this:

Best kind of therapy there is.

I’ve gone several weeks now without heavy cream in my coffee, and the result is that I’ve lost . . . my appetite for coffee.  A little.  It’s okay with whole milk, bad with 1%, and worse than death with the combo 1% and low-fat coconut milk I tried yesterday.  Ugh.

I just discovered there is high-fat coconut milk that might taste better:

But would this be any improvement, calorie-wise, over heavy cream?  We’ll see.

I want to make this delightful-looking recipe sometime soon:

Chocolate mousse (no added sugar)

Also sure to be a death-blow to my calorie count.

Here’s my menu plan for this week.

  • Breakfasts: Paleo pancakes , whole milk yogurt with fruit; Pat usually has an apple and some nuts and cheese
  • Lunches: Leftovers, cold-cut “sandwiches” wrapped in lettuce
  • Snacks: pistachios, fruit, rice cakes with cream cheese
  • Dinners:

Have a delicious week!  Wish me luck in the week ahead with no Chocolate Therapy!

Menu Plan Monday, Perfect Health Diet Edition, Part 2

I’m linking up today with Org Junkie for Menu Plan Monday.

Last Monday I gave some background on my husband’s and my decision to follow the Perfect Health Diet  (PHD).  Today, I’ll give a little summary of what we’ve done so far, how it’s going, and where we need to improve.

Just to recap, PHD is a low-carb, high-fat, moderate-protein diet.  It eliminates all grains (except rice), legumes, sugar, and most common vegetable oils other than olive oil.  It is basically a “paleo” diet except that it includes dairy.

Changes We’ve Made

  • Cutting out grains, other than rice and some occasional quinoa (which the PHD authors say is a maybe-occasionally-alright food, and which I just love): no cereal or English muffins for breakfast, no bread for sandwiches at lunch, no pasta for dinner.  It’s been hard, but not too hard.  Fortunately, neither of us was a bread junkie before.  Mainly, it eliminates a lot of quick, convenient meals and snacks (sandwiches, crackers, granola bars).  Menu planning has gone a long way in overcoming that hurdle.  For the most part, we’ve gotten used to being grain free.
  • Cutting out sugar: this has been hard from me.  I definitely am a sugar addict  About a year ago, I tried cutting sugar out for a week, and I felt like life had no joy left in it.  Seriously.  That’s when I knew I really had a problem.  I lasted maybe 6 days.  This time around, it’s been soooooo much easier.  I’m guessing that cutting out all grains helps curb sugar cravings.  Also, eating a lot more yummy fat like heavy cream makes me miss sugar less.  Finally and very fortunately dark chocolate is not only allowed but encouraged on the PHD, as long as it’s the very dark kind.  We stick with 85% cocoa or higher, and it’s heavenly!
  • Cutting out omega-6s: unhealthy fats, including almost all common vegetable oils like canola, peanut, soybean, corn, safflower, and sunflower. We now use only butter, olive oil, and coconut oil.  This isn’t hard at all when I’m cooking something from scratch.  It does make finding good packaged, prepared foods difficult.  Things that otherwise would be allowable–say, french fries or rice crisps–are off-limits because of the oils used in them.  This has required us to eat almost no prepared foods.  Instead we snack on nuts, fruit, and cheese . . . and chocolate.

Changes We’ve Seen In Ourselves

  • The biggest improvement for Pat has been that he lost about 10 pounds in the course of 5 weeks, with no effort to cut calories.  He was occasionally hungry for the first few weeks, simply because it took some time to find new PHD replacements for foods that were off-limits.  So, that might have accounted for some of his weight loss.  These days, however, he’s never hungry but he so far is maintaining his new, healthy weight.
  • I, unfortunately, have not lost any weight.  In fact, I think I’ve gained a pound or two, which is a bummer.     I don’t have a huge amount to lose but I really want to lose it . . . without being hungry!   I’m trying to stay positive, however, and focus on good nutrition first and weight loss second.
  • I think I’ve noticed an improvement in my mood and energy levels.  Other factors probably are contributing here, so I need to observe more before I’ll know what role the diet is playing.
  • I have noticed an amazing decrease in my food cravings.  My addiction to sugar has all but gone away and I’m much more able to avoid the grazing at night that I used to do.  That being said . . .

Improvements We Still Need To Make

  • Pat and I were pretty gung-ho and stuck to our diet quite strictly for the first 6 weeks or so.  We fell off the wagon about two weeks back and we’re not 100% back on.  At the same time, I’ve felt my snacking/sugar cravings come back, which makes it harder to get back on track.  It’s a vicious cycle.  Because of the holiday season, we’ve decided not to get all bent out of shape about this.  We’ll eat as well as we can but not beat ourselves up for “cheating” occasionally.  In the new year, when all the holiday goodie temptations are gone, we’ll step up our game.
  • Even when I am really “good” with my food choices, I struggle with mindless eating.  When I sit down to eat a meal I often have second or thirds even if I”m not really hungry.  I think, subconsciously, I eat to avoid geting up to do the dishes!  Also,  I pop food in my mouth as I’m preparing it, and since I make nine meals a day, that’s a lot of time spent preparing food!  The PHD authors say snacking isn’t a bad thing, but I know mindless snacking, disconnected from hunger, can’t be good.
  • My snack of choice these days is fruit.  Fruit is allowed on the PHD but limited.  I’m not up to measuring or weighing or even tracking the food I eat, but I’m sure I’m eating more than the 1/2 lb. of fruit that is recommended on the PHD.  Additionally, the PHD authors list apples as one of the less-healthy fruits, with the newer, sweeter hybrid varieties being the least healthy.  I guess that means I need to give up my beloved honey crisps!  😦
  • We still need to add more of the PHD recommended foods into our diet: more coconut oil, more fatty fish.  Organ meat also is highly recommended but I just don’t think I’m ever going to go there.
  • PHD recommends limiting your eating to an 8 hour window and fasting the other 16.  This was getting more feasible as my nighttime snack cravings went away but is less so now.  I still need to work on eating breakfast later and dinner earlier.  Some PHD followers advocate skipping breakfast altogether, but I’m hesitant to do this.  I’ve always heard that breakfast is crucial for getting your metabolism and blood sugar levels off to a good start. But then, every other aspect of the PHD turns mainstream nutrition guidance on its head, so why not this?

Well, there is a lot more to say about our PHD experience, but those are the highlights so far.  Here’s the menu for the rest of the week:

Stay tuned next week when I relate my bone-broth making experience and discuss whether this will hamper Girl 1’s chances with her one true love . . . .

P.S. Thank you to everyone who responded to my post about Girl 1’s picky eating habits.  Your comments were very encouraging and helped me realize the struggle we were having just wasn’t worth it.  She does eat fruit and some vegetables and other healthy foods so she’s not malnourished.  I’m taking a step back and letting her eat peanut butter and chocolate sandwiches to her heart’s content for a little while.  Making her a sandwich isn’t nearly as hard as trying to get her to eat other things, and she’s almost to the point that she could make her own sandwiches.  Eventually we’ll work on introducing new foods.

Menu Plan Monday, Chocolate Banana Mortal Sin Edition

I’m linking up with Org Junkie for Menu Plan Monday.

We’re now on our sixth week of following the Perfect Health Diet (PHD).  Pat is down about 10 pounds now, and that’s a lot of weight!  Hooray for him!

He’s lost this much weight!

. . . .

Okay, nothing more on that topic folks, moving on.

Last week I mentioned that bananas truly are the world’s perfect food.  Not only are they an essential part of  two-ingredient, paleo pancakes, they also are essential to today’s feature recipe:


So, back story on the name: before PHD, Pat’s and my preferred route of relaxing on the weekend was to split a pint of chocolate double-fudge brownie ice cream, or one of Ben & Jerry’s many variations on this theme.  Very bad for us, we knew, so Pat dubbed it “chocolate mortal sin.”

After I found this banana “ice cream” recipe on Pinterest, I really felt it was a sign from God that I could go ahead with the Perfect Health Diet.  I seriously didn’t know how I would do without ice cream.  (As it turns out, the PHD book gives a recipe for homemade ice cream made with lots of cream and egg yolks and chocolate but with minimal sugar.  I haven’t tried it yet, but I’ll post on it when I do.)

So here is our version of banana “ice cream”:

Take 2-3 well-frozen bananas broken into chunks and put them into a food processor.

Add about a tablespoon of unsweetened cocoa powder and a square of dark chocolate (unsweetened or barely sweetened).

Then blend, baby, blend.  It’s going to take a while.

You’ll have to break up the chunks a few times.

Now here’s where I go back and forth: you can add a splash of heavy cream at this stage, to help the blending process and make it a bit creamier.  I’ve tried it with and without the cream a few times now, and I think it’s slightly better without.  It makes the bananas melt a more quickly and, paradoxically, makes the end result more banana-y and less ice creamy.

So anyway, keep blending away for at least five minutes, and your end result will look like this (note the yummy little bits of chocolate):

and this:

You’re not gonna like this recipe if you absolutely hate bananas, but if they stay very cold and as frozen as possible (but still blended smooth) the end result tastes a lot less like bananas than you might think.Highly recommended.


This week’s menu will be something along these lines:

Monday: Leftovers

Tuesday: Steak and rice

Wednesday: Baked chicken (either rotisserie style or with vegetables à la Jen)

Thursday: Thanksgiving!  Dinner with Pat’s family.  I’ll bring rice “stuffing,” (hope it’s good; haven’t made it before) paleo apple crisp, and broccoli with cheese.

Friday: Probably leftovers

Saturday: Salmon chowder (recipe in the works, stay tuned)

Sunday:  TBD

Have a delicious week and a happy Thanksgiving!