Sunday, January 21, 2018

Paleo What???

I just finished a workout.
I'll let that sink in for a minute...
Okay?

As I tapped the 'Congratulations! You did it!' button on the app I noticed an actual description of the workout I just completed.
This is not quite verbatim, but close:
Paleo Run
A series of targeted moves interspersed with one minute bursts of cardio, just like our Paleo ancestors use to do.
Really?
Our stone aged, paleolithic ancestors did thirty second rounds of squats, glute bridges and wall planks followed by one minute bursts of running?
I don't ever recall Wilma Flintstone or Betty Ruble doing a single triceps dip.
And the only burst of running I recall from that Paleo time capsule was Fred's tiny feet running towards that huge side of ribs.

But, trendy is trendy.
Thank goodness Wilma and Betty didn't try Brontosaurus Yoga...
I am guessing those creatures had even less respect for personal hygeine than do goats...



(As silly as this workout sounds, must admit, I really did like it. Plus it is only 10 minutes and there is a lot of research out there to support High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT). And because of that I will name the app – 8-Fit. It is free on the AppStore. Of course you can pay extra for the full features which include meal plans, shopping list and specific training plans. This is an unpaid endorsement. However, 8-fit did manage to make a few bucks off of me.)
According to JoeySaber-Tooth-TigerKatt, this is really how our Paleo ancestors made it through the winter.



Monday, January 1, 2018

No Plan

2018.

A New Year.
I have been pondering today for a while. Trying to come up with a clever 'word' for my new year. Attempting to find a new way to write that first post of the new year.
But I have been unable to devise a plan.

And in looking ahead at the blank Island calendar hanging on the fridge No Plan seems to be the phrase for 2018.

Ordinarily we have at least one trip in the works for the new year.
We have ZERO.
There is a very big maybe hovering over a possible California Wine Country train ride, but so far it is only a random google search for ridiculously overpriced hotels in San Francisco where I am pretty sure everything is coated in chocolate...

I find this lack of travel itineraries unacceptable.
Although I must admit, I am looking forward to many weekends on the fixer-upper boat with a new emergency motor and non-leaking port-a-potty which will allow us to venture past MM4.

I have no real fitness plan. Except to eat more fruits and veggies and avoid any more angioedema episodes which were plagueing me this time last year.

I have no writing plan. Except to really, really, really utilize the wonderful notebook my son gave me for Christmas. And post more routinely here. And post daily at the BRAND NEW Coast of Illinois Facebook page!

I have no dates marked on the new calendar, save for a dentist and hair appointment on the same day in late January.
There are no landmark events, outside of a 60th birthday for a dear friend in 4 short days....and Dad's 80th birthday...and my niece's high school graduation...and Mardi Gras Party day..
But no real plans on how to celebrate any of these things.
Except for Mardi Gras.
That just plans itself...

We entered into this new year with no real plan to celebrate New Year's Eve. The intended movie was sold out. There was no music playing at our favorite local place. It was too dang cold to drive up the coast to a favorite winery. So in an impromptu moment we drove across the rather thick – but not quite frozen – Mississippi to the Broadway Oyster Bar for a snack.
one of those rare days when the Muddy looks more Oceany
It was noted that Rob has been hanging out here for 37 of the 38 years in business claimed on the back of the menu. I am a more modest 35 years.
And in all that time BOB has not been a disappointment.
We wandered in, found a spot at the bar, discovered some interesting 'mountain' music played real strong by a woman on a ukelele and a guy on a drum, and dined on the best BBQ shrimp in the world.
food served on tin plates. has to be good. 
On the way home we both noted that when we don't have a plan we still manage to have the best time.

And it has now occurred to me that my word for 2018 is
IMPROMPTU: Living a life open and ready for anything.
That is exactly the sort of year I wish for each and everyone of you.


Happy New Year 
from the 
Coast of Illinois

Sunday, December 24, 2017

A Very Merry

It is 7:02 AM on Christmas Eve and I am sitting alone in the kitchen. The Christmas Tree is lit, the kitchen holiday lights are on. Yesterday's very heavy, very wet snow is practically melted away although from the color of the sky this will be rectified. If you have ever lived where it snows you know the color I mean – that grey white color which blends perfectly into any existing snow giving the impression that we are just a giant snow globe covered up in a heavy blanket of white.
The weatherpeople have promised a white Christmas here on the Coast of Illinois.

I am holding them at their word.

I want a snow covered Christmas.
I know people are traveling and weather can be dangerous. My parents are getting older and are just waiting to take a nice slide on a patch of ice. I don't even have the required fixings for French Toast. But I don't care.
Its Christmas and I want a blanket of snow.

Why this sudden selfishness?

Well. This is the first year my little family won't be all together on Christmas. Our girl is off to spend the holiday with her special person. And that's okay. We love him like family. His parents are delightful and I know his mom will take good care of 'our' girl. Plus we got him for Thanksgiving...

I keep telling myself its okay that she is away. I remember very well that first Christmas I spent with Rob's family. It was different, and slightly weird but wonderful all the same because he was the person I wanted to be with.
And that's how it should be.

We raise our children to become self sufficient adults and want nothing more than for them to be happy.

And really, that's the best Christmas present I could ever hope for.

I would like to leave you all with a paraphrased quote from musician Peter Mayer, spoken during his Stars and Promises concert earlier this week:

Home is where you go to find peace, love, joy, hope.
May each of you be that place...

Happy Holidays
from

the Coast of Illinois

Saturday, December 9, 2017

If All the Kids Ate Kale Ice Cream....

I admit it.

I am a 'foodie'.

I love food – eating it, reading about it, shopping for it...

Okay, that last one may be an exaggeration, although I have been known to drag people to farmer's markets while on vacation in hotel rooms where there is no hope of cooking that artisinal, heritage, kombucho-tomato-peach hybrid.

You give me a Buzzfeed list of TWENTY-THOUSAND CROCKPOT DINNERS UNDER FIVE MINUTES or a Tasteeee list of BREAKFASTS THAT WILL REVOLUTIONIZE YOUR MORNING ROUTINE AND MAKE YOU LOSE FIFTEEN POUNDS IN FIVE MINUTES

and I immediately pin-it, make a list, plan meals for the next seven months and spend way too much money at the grocery.

All to forget where I hid the list and wind up making my famous ground beef and broccoli with garlic salt.

I do pride myself on actually being somewhat ahead of the game:

Greek yogurt? First person to request it at our local market.

Hummus? Tried making my own with garbanzo beans and peanut butter for some vegetarian friends in the late 80's.

I even made borscht way back in 1979, long before it was politically trendy to be associated with Russia.

But all buzz about 'overnight oats'?

I have resisted whole-heart-healthily. There was nothing about 'overnight oats' that appealed to me. Oats, milk, fruit mixed and placed in the fridge for twelve hours, then eaten cold???

Sounded like the fixings for a container of cement at worst and a soggy bowl of cold soggy grain at almost worst.

I am that person who barely pours milk on regular cereal, let alone marinate my flakes in it.

Frankly, oatmeal in my opinion is best hot, and as cookies.



It took Ree Drummond, the Pioneer Woman of Food Network fame, to convince me to attempt 'overnight oats'. Her pleasant, sweet optimism as she poured heavy cream, fresh chopped strawberries, half and half, brown sugar and oats into a mason jar, tightened the lid, shook it up and place it in her perfectly organized refrigerator gave me hope that if I too gave 'overnight oats' a try, my morning would greet me with a lovely pink sunrise over a beautiful field of horses.



This is what my breakfast looked like: 
There is not a photo filter in the world that could improve on this picture.

I concede, I did not use a mason jar and I did not have fresh strawberries. And while I did have heavy cream in the fridge, I opted for slightly lighter almond milk and a splash of half and half with blueberries and banana standing in for the fruit component.
You can never convince me that there is some special Mason Jar Alchemy that magically turns this pile of goo into a creamy bowl of deliciousness.
And its ice cold.

I took a couple tastes straight from the fridge before dumping my Rubbermaid container into a bowl and microwaving for a few minutes.

Which succeeded in putting the missing component of heat into this messed up experiment and turned the cold bowl of goo into a warm bowl of slightly banana scented plaster. And since I was short one monkey with a broken leg in need of casting, or a fracture in the New Madrid Fault line in need of shoring up, I tossed the entire mess into the trash and opted for what may be the new breakfast trend: 
Peanut butter and those fantastic cookies Southwest Airlines passes out with Pour Over coffee on the side. That's right, I am that person...

Rob took the trash out later that day and commented on the heftiness of the bag comparable to the actual amount of trash in the can.

I kept my mouth shut and read up on SEVENTY TWO INGENIOUS WAYS TO USE KOHLRABI. 


*Those 'Southwest' cookies are made by belVita. They boast a hefty dose of protein to keep you full all rolled into a delicious cookie. This is, in fact, true.

 
***I am very excited to announce that Coast of Illinois will be included in an upcoming list of Best Blogs to Follow in 2017! by Wendy Dressler. And if you are a blogger go on over to my Because Friends tab for info on her Guest Posting Sites guide.
You can find Wendy at http://www.outreachmama.com.****



Thursday, November 23, 2017

Thanks

It's Thanksgiving.

Which means that even though we are going to my sister's home today for dinner, I have been up since 5:30am, wrestled a minimum 14 pound turkey from its briny soak into the sink, washed it, patted it dry, oiled it and gently placed it into the World's Largest Roasting pan, gently tucking turkey's wings under that gross piece of skin at the neck opening and sliding it into a pleasantly warmed oven. Because it HAS to smell like Thanksgiving when everyone wakes up.
The cat is now guarding the oven door.
I got this.
 I don't think either of our children got such 5-star treatment at bedtime...

This is my favorite holiday.
No pressure with gifts, no blazing hot BBQs, no random forgotten dyed eggs escaping discovery...
Only food and family and sometimes extra friends.
Oh yes, and thankfulness.

The fact that there should be one day set aside to be 'thankful' seems rather wrong. Oh sure, since the advent of social media the #BLESSED flies around willy-nilly, proclaiming blessedness over all things large and small. But with such constant blessings over co-workers, great kids, a steal on boots are we really truly thankful?
Or are we semi-taunting others with our good fortune?

Lets face it, it has been a rough year here in the good ole US of A.
Political and social unrest, terrorist acts, natural disasters.
There are those who would question the ability to feel thankful for anything.

But I am that Half Glass Full sort of person and while I do feel the #Blessed is way over-used, I will admit, I am thankful every single day.
It helps that I work in an environment that reminds me every minute of my shift that there is someone out there less fortunate than I.
Which is why I will never complain about that 5:30am wake up call to bake a giant poultry.
Besides, I wouldn't want to know what Joey would do if there were no turkey....
He has been sitting in the kitchen since 6am. I am hoping he is thankful for his warm home and his people. I fear he is only thankful for turkey.
Wishing each of you a Thanksgiving full of many large and small #Blessings.
Eat all you want, take a walk, drive safely, pass on your good tidings and do not forget to feed the cat.

Happy Thanksgiving from the Coast of Illinois!

Monday, November 6, 2017

Farmer Gene



I grew up on a farm.
Surrounded by farmers.
Autumn was a time of much activity. Corn and beans were picked, with combines and grain trucks running late into the evening. The slightly musty smell of dusty cornstalks and freshly tilled earth filled the air and settled on all the furniture. The grain bin fan was my lullaby.
Consequently, even though my 'farm' consists of four raised beds no larger than 6x8 each, when November rolls around, I have the uncontrollable urge to put up 'crops' and put the farm to bed.
I manage to refrain from the desire to run out and buy a pair of overalls...

Our garden was pretty sad this year. I got a passable crop of lettuce and radishes. I think we managed to find about 8 grape tomatoes. But where Miracle Grow dirt failed at zucchini and peppers, it excelled at carrots.
Weird, toe-shaped carrots.
But no matter their anatomical shape, they remain sweet and crisp.
Which is why I am roasting them for dinner.
I am just not sure how much longer I can open the crisper drawer and see that zipper bag full of orange tarsals.
 Roasted Carrots
as many carrots as will fit on a baking sheet
toss with enough olive oil to coat
sprinkle with salt, pepper and around 1-2 Tbs of fresh, crushed thyme and rosemary
roast at 400 for 20 minutes or until of desired doneness.
Drizzle with balsamic vinegar reduction

I had better luck with my herbs.
If you have never gardened and have the tiniest desire to give it a try, I highly recommend herbs. They are forgiving of most transgressions – failure to water, feed, weed, water... And there is nothing better than adding a fresh picked handful of basil to spaghetti sauce or lording it over a co-worker that you have fresh tarragon on the sauteed mushroom...
I mean adding some freshly picked rosemary to homemade bread.

As it was, I nearly missed getting the last of my basil picked.
Thank you 39 degree day last week.
But the basil stood strong with only a few brown leaves. And once it was picked and cleaned there was just enough for one last batch of pesto. 
 Pesto
1- 2 cups fresh basil
1-3 cloves of garlic
1/4 or so cups of pine nuts
drizzles of olive oil
blend to a paste
Add to pasta sauce, salad dressing, or use as a topping on toast when the hipsters have nabbed all the avocados.
(As you can tell, pesto is not an exact science. But, it tastes wonderful and smells even better. You can keep it in the fridge for around a week or bag it in small zip lock baggies and freeze for later use. Preferable in the dead of winter when the scent of fresh basil makes you forget the fact that you haven't seen the yard flamingo in 3 weeks as its buried under twelve feet of snow.)

Rosemary also outperformed this year. 

Sadly, rosemary does not over-winter on this Coast. I have tried repotting and bringing it inside but I just can't bear to watch as those beautiful fragrant leaves pine for the great wide open and slowly shrivel and die.
This year I cut the plant back to about 6 inches in height, mulched it with half a ton of leaves (leaving only 17.5 tons on the grass to be mulched) and brought the remaining stalks in to dry. Where I can watch it shrivel and turn brown but without the guilt of seeing the entire plant fade to a pitiful twig.
I have only recently arrived at a love of rosemary. But I am making up for lost time. I love adding it to roasted veggies (see carrots above) and homemade breads.
Or if you are short on the homemade bread department, you can add it to softened butter and spread it on whatever bread type product you have.
Plus it just looks so homey hanging in the window. 


I managed to finish up my tiny harvest just in time to watch as the storms began to blow in.
See all those leaves on those trees?

Tomorrow morning they will all be in our back yard.
Even though they are on the neighbor's trees.
Across the street.

And I will enjoy watching Rob push the mulching mower over them as I eat pesto toast for breakfast and prepare to clean all the furniture which is coated with leaf dust.
Its not grain bins and combines, but it will do.


Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Haunting

The house was quiet, save for the muffled thud of clothes in the dryer. Outside autumn blustered its way in with gusting breezes which sent falling leaves into a frenzied swirl. The kitchen was warm and smelled slightly of pumpkin as soup simmered on the stove.
All in all a pleasant morning.
But the woman was restless. She drank her coffee and glanced cautiously at the phone. It lay on the table in a mocking silence. The minutes passed. The phone remained still. The woman grew nervous, afraid to consider the consequences.
Still the phone refused to ring....

Welcome to my morning.
I am off but on-call.
Every hospital workers' nightmare.

On-call is a mixed bag.
Get called in – it's time and a half. And sometimes a bonus on top.
But
Get called in – and it's no longer a day off.
Do you know how many things I can think to do on my on-call day?
Five. Just off the top of my head.
Get called in and you know how many things get done?
ZERO.

But so far, it is 1050 and that phone remains silent.
I started a load of wash.
I put a pot of soup on.
I messaged our son to stop by for dinner.
Contingent on the silence of the Phone....

Now I am flying in the face of all that is evil and work related and have started a new blog post...
It's nearly Halloween. According to every scary movie I have ever watched, no good can come of this. 
This is NOT my house. Because there is clearly a little girl ghost in that attic window...and I draw the line a little girl ghosts...
Why oh why is it so fun to be scared?
Not real life scared: Will the kids get home safe? Just what will that biopsy show? Which line will our political leaders cross today?
Oh no. I am not talking that sort of scared.
I'm talking that reading a Stephen King book right before bedtime after watching the Walking Dead sort of scared.

Scary movies are on a continuous loop around here in October if I am in charge of the remote.
My husband hates them. Too much shrieking and silliness.
Thankfully my son loves them. Together we watched that poor woman get sucked down the well in The Ring. We discovered that daylight is the best time to watch a bootleg version of Paranormal Activity. And covering your EARS is way better than covering your eyes when watching The Grudge.
(Although it is still possible to scare the beejeezus out of each other by making that ehehehehe sound as you creep down the dark hallway.)

I am fairly certain my first truly scary movie was The Legend of Hell House circa 1973. I would have been 12. I remember sitting in my Grandma's living room, mesmerized by a handsome Roddy McDowell. I have no idea why I was watching this movie in my grandparent's living room. We rarely watched TV at their house and we certainly wouldn't have been allowed to watch something with HELL in the title. I don't know where my siblings were. Or my parents. I do recall it was night time.
The movie was scary and awesome and I have been hooked ever since.
Keep in mind, I am talking scary. Not slashery.
I have no use for torture and murder.
Give me good ghost story any day.

Which makes a lot of sense.

St. Louis has a rich history of hauntings: The Lemp Mansion, The Bissel Mansion, the library at UMSL, Alexian Brothers Hospital... This is just the beginning.

I have had dinner at the Lemp Mansion – the former home of the Lemp family of brewers in the 1800s. Several family members killed themselves in the house, it was rumored that a 'monkey boy' was housed in the attic, a sister was certified insane and there may have been a murder...
The place was creepy from the start. Lights flickered and the hair literally stood up on the back of my neck when I walked into the ladies room. You can stay at the Lemp, IF YOU ARE INSANE!

I worked at Alexian Brothers Hospital for nearly 15 years. The current building sits on the grounds where the original hospital was built and where part of the exorcism in the movie The Exorcist occurred. Several of the brothers who were involved in that event still lived and worked on the grounds. We were told in orientation to NEVER ask about the exorcism. So I didn't. But I can tell you that many evenings, while working in the OR suites with one other nurse, there were mysterious doors slamming and footsteps where there were no people.

We live in a haunted house. Mrs. Durbin passed in our kitchen and she stops by every now and then to open a cupboard door or have a smoke in the basement. No one would support my opinion on this guest until the evening my husband and I both felt the cat walk across the back of the sofa. The cat who was asleep in his box on the opposite side of the room....
This was in the rafters of our basement. Wisely, Rob made it into a tray, coated it with many layers of mod-podge to seal in the evil and then we gave it to our daughter's boyfriend's parents. I think that makes us ecto-plamically related now...
But its okay.
Maybe it's because I have spent most of my life in hospitals where the line between life and death is all to clear.
I have heard that these 'hauntings' are just the energy left over from previous lives. In a weird way I find this comforting. I like the idea that some energy is strong enough to remain behind and touch the future.
Some would argue that not all that strong energy is 'good'. True, there is a lot of bad energy in the world. I want to believe that bad energy burns itself out over time, provided it is not allowed to gain momentum.
Which is all the more reason to put only GOOD energy out there. Embrace that energy from previous lives and roll it into one big monumentous wave.
And think how wonderful it would be to be described as haunting...