Graduations and the lake

All the area schools had their graduations this weekend. School officially out!  My niece graduated high school from Saratoga.

I think there were about 500 students graduating. That made for a loooong ceremony LOL!  My niece getting her diploma!

She is off to college this fall and going to my alma mater! SUNY Potsdam. I went to Crane school of music there. Logan is going to be a biology teacher.

There was a nice little party afterwards. We picked up some cute cookies to bring:

Very proud of Logan and hope she loves college as much as I did!

With everything that has been going on and poorly timed weather, it’s been a couple of days without biking. Lots of walking, but it’s not the same 😀

Sunday was picture perfect. Sunny, not too hot and no humidity. Our ride this morning took us to Lake George. I know I post a lot of pictures of the lake, but it just is so beautiful.

The only problem is no swimming right now at the beaches because of E. coli in the water, which is usually the result of too many ducks and geese on the lake. Looks pretty inviting, though!

I do so love this area. Never get tired of this view.

We have missed our cupcake ride lately. Hopefully we can get one in soon!

What’s Blooming!

Yay Friday. It’s been a tiring week. Shortly after posting this, we will be walking downtown for our Friday night beer, which is most needed.

With all the rain that has been coming, green abounds. This is more of the Fair Bianca:

I caught those blooms a little late. There are plenty more buds, though.

New hardscape:

The house across the street from my parents put two of these planters out at their curb. I asked my folks to fetch them and they would be my birthday present 😀  Turns out these are dang heavy! I think they have to weigh about 50# each. One had some pieces crack off during transfer, but I used epoxy to put them back. I’m not quite sure where these are going to go, but hey – free!

My multicolored snapdragons:

The colors are different every year. This is my favorite one so far:

The front bed is a sweet spot for the snaps. I’ve never had so many babies!

I’m still enjoying the allium:

That was the purple sensation. Allium are such great plants. They come in a huge variety. Here is another allium, the little blue flower:

They are tall with small flowers at the top. This picture has a lot going on it, too. There are coneflowers, a butterfly bush (mini) and some self-seeding cosmos. I’m not sure if I will keep the cosmos there or not. I might move them somewhere else.

Then there is the star of Persia allium:

It’s definitely my favorite and the flowers are huge! They grow about 2 feet tall. I have these in several spots in the front and the back.

When I was working on a project for making some light posts, I had extra cement and pulled out an old stepping stone mold I have for the extra mix. It came out really nice:

It’s a big stone. I have another mold and I might make some more stones at some point. I forgot how pretty they were. Tack that onto the never ending project list, I guess.

This is a weed:

I just took a picture because the flowers are pretty. 😀

In the back, I’ve got several potted plants. This one is million bells:

This is an annual and will bloom all summer long.

This picture I took because it looked so funny to me:

Little Shop of Horrors anyone? Grrrrr…… LOL  This is my shasta daisy. It looks prettier when the buds are all the way open 😀

My oldest plant, which I refer to as my old friend:

Somewhere around 15 years old. It has this one tall stalk on it and the rest of the flower buds are lower down. Razzmatazz coneflower.

White swan coneflower:

More white in my shade bed with astilbe:

And lastly a foliage shot. Heuchera Spellbound:

Such great foliage plants. They do bloom, although this one may not be old enough to bloom yet. We’ll see.

Now it’s off for a beer! Have a great weekend!

Veggie fries

First, thank you so much for the nice comments on my fativersary post. Everyone’s maintenance is different and it’s always good to hear other people’s stories. 😀

I’ve been getting a lot of morning riding done.  I usually work for a while and then ride after I get the morning shipments out for pickup, although Wednesdays are the usual bagel for breakfast ride!

The coffee cup is a 20 ounce cup. This place had only 2 of the big mugs for a long time and then they broke, so we were bringing in our own travel mugs since we avoid takeout cups when we are dining in. They finally got some replacements and I overheard one of the employees say to another one “These are the big cups. We only have a couple of these because nobody gets that much coffee for here”. Well, we do.  I wobbled between laughing and being annoyed.

Anyway, on to the title of the post. Not a recipe, but a food find:

I have had veggie tots, which are pretty good, but these were new. Since they had broccoli, John passed on them LOL!  This is a serving of 3 ounces weighed out. Cooked in a toaster oven:

These were puffy and a bit crispy. They tasted like broccoli in mashed potato form. I actually think they were pretty decent and a nice change up to my usual broccoli!

Things with the soap business have been picking up speed. I’ve added 3 new wholesale accounts and 2 more have requested samples since mid May. I’ve been working with a wholesale business coaching group and it’s been helpful keeping me on task. You have to be  way ahead of the game for retail and now is the time to start working on holiday stuff, which is a little annoying since summer just started LOL!  Product design samples are done and I’ve ordered my labels to get ready for photography in July to make my promotional materials to send to stores, although full production on those products won’t begin until August. Here is one of my labels that just came:

I’ve tinkered a bit with font and logo and those will be rolling out over the course of the year.  It’s nice to have a set game plan to follow, I have to say.

Another think I can’t believe is coming up is my niece’s graduation from high school on Friday! Holy moley time zooms by.

My Fativersary – 9 years

I was going back through some old blog posts and got to thinking about hitting 100 pounds lost. That wasn’t the end goal I wanted, but that was a huge milestone for me. When I looked for that post, I went all the way back to 2008!  I cannot believe it was that long ago.

I’m standing next to 100 pounds of coconut oil in that shot for comparison.

Today, I am 10 pounds heavier than that, but that means that I have kept the majority of the weight off over 9 years. My weight has gone up and down a bit over the years, but never back up to where it was or even anywhere even close to that. Also not down to my very lowest point, either.

I thought I would do a winter coat comparison as I don’t have too many current full body shots.  This was old 250-pound me:

Then back in March or Feb of 2017:

Just a little different – even though some days I still feel really big. I would have thought after all these years that feeling would be gone, but it still pops up now and again.

My blog has certainly changed a lot. I don’t post my daily eats anymore and put more of my life on the blog. Maintaining has been a struggle at times and then sometimes not a struggle. I will always love food. There are going to be times when I overeat food. I accept that and am okay with that. I will stress eat again. That’s just me. I also will bounce back and rein things in. I’m pretty confident that I will always do that now. Sometimes it just takes me a little longer than I would like LOL!

I won’t lie and say that I don’t miss eating whatever I wanted whenever. Sometimes I get really tired of weighing the pros and cons of eating – and I do really have to think about it every day. That part hasn’t gotten easier because you can’t just not eat. It’s not like quitting smoking.

I am so much more physically active now, which is great. Now that I’m 49, I find I have gotten more injury prone – very annoying. I want to age well, though. Activity is going to be a huge part of that and I’m going to stay as active as I can for as long as I can.

Maintenance is not impossible. It takes as much, if not more work than actually losing. And it’s pretty mundane. You don’t get the excitement of seeing a loss on the scale to celebrate and keep you motivated. You just have to do it day in and day out.

Thanks for hanging around with me all this time!

What’s Blooming!

Welcome to the lush green that is the Northeast right now with all the wet weather! Lots of plants are very happy with all the rain.

Some plants got a little battered, like my peonies:

You can see the cage peeking through the plant. The whole thing would have flopped to the ground if I didn’t have the cage in there.

Foxgloves. Candy Mountain

The snapdragons are proliferating like crazy. I’ve said in the past that I buy snapdragons once and then I have them forever because I deadhead them right into the garden. I will toss some seed heads all around, too.

These are all from the plants I bought back in 2015.

I may actually have to thin some out. They are one of my favorite flowers.

This is the Calycanthus bush, Aphrodite:

When you get a baby plant, the saying is the first year they sleep, the second year they creep and the third year they leap. Here was 2015 when this was just a baby plant:

Look how dark all that mulch is, too.  The Caly will grow all summer and I will be pruning it more than I did last year to keep it under control.  The blooms are fragrant and kind of smell like apples.

The roses are all starting to show off now.  I have 2 David Austin roses. One is Othello, which I bought last year. The blooms are very short lived. Here is a bloom open:

Two days later:

They still look pretty, though.

Also Fair Bianca, my white beauty:

I *love* this rose. It has 2 dozen buds on it right now, so you will see a lot more of it.

This is my climbing rose, Zephirine drouhin:

There is another one on the other side and they really aren’t climbing all that much. Maybe this year they will grow more? They are supposed to tolerate some shade, but this spot might have a bit too much maybe.

The Othello lives in the bed we created last year, which is starting to fill in pretty well.

In the back is the other section that has been tough to grow stuff. It’s dry shade with morning sun. I have a baby hydrangea back there and 2 Diervilla, which are native plants that are supposed to tolerate that condition. I just put those in this spring and they haven’t died yet LOL!

The tall white flower is Campanula alba. It has a low mounding habit, but sends up tall flower spikes.

This is one that I brought from our old house and for 2 years it did nothing but sit there and this year went crazy.

In the back bed is the rose that makes me break out in song – Enchanted Evening:

The color is just fabulous on this one.

Here is a long shot of the back bed, which was an overgrown nightmare when we moved in. I’ll have to find pictures of that.

It’s actually beginning to fill in quite nicely. Now it gets even more sun since the fence was taken down. I wish this were closer to the house, but it gives me an excuse to walk out back every day.

Lupines:

It keeps getting more blooms – yay!

I do have some potted plants on the patio and this year I got something different. This is heliotrope:

It’s gorgeous and smells like vanilla.

One last survivor. Remember how I thought my 100-pound rose was dead? Check it out!

It didn’t even send a sprout up until a couple weeks ago. You can see all that woody dead cane at the bottom. I had plans to dig it up and then I hurt my shoulder. That weekend I asked John to dig it up for me. He put the shovel in the ground and started lifting when I noticed a baby sprout on it! So, we pushed it back into the ground and now here it is. Better late than never!

 

 

Diet To Go – last day of samples

How can it be Thursday night already? I have been neglecting my blog. You might see some changes in the appearance of the blog. I handed John the reins to fiddle with stuff. I just don’t have the time to make sure the layout and links are up to snuff.

I’ve come to the realization that just because you can do something doesn’t mean you have to do it because time is just as valuable – or more – as the money you would spend to have someone else do it for you.

I guess that’s a good segue into the last of the Diet To Go meals LOL!  You can review Day 1 and Day 2 with those links. I was shipped the meals last week. The literature says they are good for 7 days or you can freeze. Since I wasn’t going to eat the last day until Monday, I decided to freeze the last 3 meals and let them thaw in the fridge the day before.

Breakfast was a cheese omelet topped with roasted tomatoes and vegetables:

The cheese kind of melted out into the tray when I was heating it, so I poured it on top of the omelet. This was pretty good. The eggs didn’t taste fake or anything and I really liked the roasted tomato topping. It added a nice punch of flavor to the omelet. I have to try doing that.  The side veggies were standard. I was fine with all of them except for the bell peppers. Not sure why, but those just were not for breakfast. Too strong a flavor maybe.

I swapped out lunch and dinner because the burrito seemed more “lunchy” to me.  This took a while to heat up as it was pretty cold still from being frozen. Now this was called chicken fajitas, but to me it was a burrito.

That little white cup was sour cream. I should have checked the package because I didn’t notice it before the tray went into the freezer. In case any of you don’t know, you can’t freeze sour cream. It curdles on thawing. I was kind of bummed because it would have gone great with the burrito.  I should have taken a picture of the inside as it was stuffed with a spicy chicken mixture. Man, this was tasty.  And I even ate the refried beans! I have a thing about beans. They usually seem so grainy to me, but these were super smooth. Go me!  The carrots were cooked. They look raw in the picture, but they were cooked. I’m still undecided as to whether I would have liked them to be raw or not.

Dinner was a basil parmesan chicken.  Holy green Batman!

The chicken was covered with the pesto on a bed of spinach (which I moved out for picture purposes).  I think this is the same pesto that was on the pita from the other day. It has a really good flavor. The veggies were maybe over cooked. Broccoli is just one of those veggies that doesn’t do well the next day after being steamed. It was okay, but you guys know how much I love broccoli. The spinach was spinach LOL. Pretty much what a frozen spinach mixture tastes like. The chicken was a large portion and quite tender and moist. Again, they seem to have the chicken down pretty well.

So, my overall opinion over the few days? I would give a thumb’s up to pretty much all of them. They seem quite balanced and you certainly get in your vegetables! Again, my biggest beef is all the packaging. If they could use biodegradable plastic wrap around the trays, that would be great.  Each day was around 1200 calories and the lunches and dinners were really filling. Surprisingly so.  Note – I did supplement with snacks. I did Nutrisystem for a while probably 7 years ago?? This is leagues better than that LOL!  I think this would be an option not just dieters, but for people who either don’t have the time or desire to cook, but want something fresher than a Lean Cuisine or takeout all the time. Like I mentioned above, sometimes it is worth it to pay for a service.

Tomorrow is What’s Blooming and here is a preview of one of my favorite types of flowers in the garden!

 

****Disclaimer: I was sent this product free for review. Opinions are mine. I am not compensated in any way if you click on the links in the post or if you order from them.

Diet To Go Sample day 2

Here is day 2 of the Diet to Go meals that I was sent for review.  You can read about day 1 and the company here.

Breakfast was called Whole Wheat Monte Cristo. If you’ve never had one, it’s basically a ham and cheese sandwich dipped in egg batter and cooked like French toast. Or sometimes it is deep fried.  Usually served with raspberry jam. This was an open face one:

It’s cold in that picture. The side dish is plantains. I don’t know if they were roasted or what, but I did like it.  For this one, I chose to toast the sandwich rather than microwave it.  I heated the plantains in the microwave.

Looks better plated up!

This was surprisingly good. I wasn’t sold all together on the cheese, but the French toast slice was good and I loved the raspberry maple sauce.  The plantains also were tasty as I noted above. I need to try more plantains.  This breakfast was 280 calories. Seems like all the breakfasts were right around that.

Lunch:

This one I heated up in the toaster oven since it was on a pita and had cheese on top. I heated the apples in the microwave.

I honestly was going into this think I would not like it since I am not a big raw tomato fan. I think the pesto is what made this.  It was really flavorful. Plus the tomatoes were sliced thin, which helped. Again, not sold on the cheese. Maybe it is low fat? I definitely would not heat this in the microwave. The apples were a cooked spiced apple. Kind of like pie filling, only drier. Nice side.

Dinner was roasted turkey with mashed potatoes and gravy, side of green beans with almonds:

Again, the dinner was huge! That was not even all the green beans. I gave some to John LOL.  The instructions were to heat this in the microwave for 90 seconds, but I had to heat it up for several minutes and remove the green beans.

The turkey slices were really thick and like real turkey, not a rolled and pressed meat (if you know what I mean). It was surprisingly moist. I would have liked a little more gravy, but I am a gravy lover 😀 .   The green beans were not seasoned, just steamed. I added some salt to them since they were a little plain. They were fresh tasting. I’m not a big fan of green beans so I will just note that they seemed fresh and crisp/tender. This meal was really filling and calories were around 480 if I remember right.

 

Day 2 down. There hasn’t been anything so far that I really haven’t liked. Some not so much as other and some I really did like.  Day 3 coming soon!

 

**Disclaimer: I was sent this product free for review. Opinions are mine

What’s Blooming!

It’s time! Yay!  Can you tell I love doing these posts? I never get many comments on them, which is weird because 300-400 people visit my blog daily. Lots of lurkers.

Anyway, it’s time to say farewell to the irises.

.

Brindled beauty actually might have a couple more buds on it. We’ll see.

New alliums opened up. These are Star of Persia:

You may remember these from last year and how I fell in love with them. I proceeded to buy a bunch of the bulbs for other places in the garden.

In my non-thinking, I  put some behind the irises, which block their view from the front since they are short.

Not sure what was going through my head when I put these in there.

The other allium have lost the petals and leave behind a cool seed head:

I love how these look, so I will just leave them up until they completely dry out. Those 3-balled things are the seed pods. I’m not really sure if these will self-sow or not since I always get them as bulbs. Guess I’ll find out.

Last of the rhododendron:

I have not seen as many bees as I had hoped this year. There are definitely less. 🙁

The wave petunias in my tippy pot have started growing.

The color on these is very cool. John’s favorite color is purple, so I got these for him.

The peonies that flank the front walk are opening up. They are Karl Rosenfeld.

This is about as big as they will get, which is okay for the front walk. I can’t even begin to imagine how many times a dog has peed on these…

These got horrible powdery mildew last year, so I have been spraying them with neem oil, which is supposed to help. You do have to apply it again after rain.

Baptisia with more flowers on it.

It’s getting nice and bushy. I think it will end up a foot taller or so at maturity.

Foxgloves:

I think that is some kind of viburnum behind them. Last year I really cut it back and the foxgloves had room. I forgot this year and it already is crowding them out. Oopsie.

 

And lastly the lupine:

I have not had the best of luck with these. I think I have planted 10 baby plants over the last couple years and this is the sole survivor. I don’t always have a green thumb.  I wish they would take because I love them.

Those plants in the background are my neighbors. I really want to put up at least a decorative fence between our properties just for some kind of separation. We use different kinds of mulch, so that pretty much divides the beds LOL!

Diet To Go Sample #1

A few years ago I was contacted by Diet To Go about reviewing their products, but then they didn’t have delivery to my area. Now they do, so I agreed to try a few sample days.

Diet To Go is a home meal delivery service. It’s fresh cooked food, vacuum packed and shipped in a cold pack box.

They have pick-up locations in several major cities across the US, so that is an option if you live near one. You can find distribution sites on their website.  If you have it shipped, it is about $20 for shipping.

The 21-day meal plan costs $142 for 21 meals, although I think that can change depending on your menu.  There are several meal plans to choose from such as balanced, carb controlled, and vegetarian.  I chose the balanced meals.

I’ll be reviewing the 3 days separately as it’s just too much for one post.  My initial thought on this program is the packaging. The environmentalist in me cringes at all the packaging. Now the trays are recyclable, but the wrap isn’t and then there are the cold packs. You can only keep so many.  But on to the food.  Here are my menus:

The balance meals alone are 1200 ish calories. I had to add more food since we are in biking season and after a 17-mile ride today, 1200 calories isn’t enough LOL!  My choice for breakfast today was the apple pancakes.  It came with 2 rolled pancakes with apple filling, 2 turkey sausages and a little pack of imitation maple syrup:

Calories for this meal were 280 and I supplemented with some apple compote and my coffee.  This tasted pretty good. The directions were to microwave for 60-90 seconds. I think in the future I would actually  pan cook the sausage rather than microwave it to brown it a bit. The pancakes were soft and I liked them. Not a fan of the imitation syrup, though. Real maple gal here.

Of note, the literature that came with it stated to plate the food nicely for yourself, so I did. I would have anyway. 🙂

Lunch was Waldorf salad. Calories around 450.

The stuff in the bowl is a crispy snack mix:

I did not drink the V8 as I hate tomato juice. I’ll save that for someone who likes it.  This was my favorite meal of the day. The chicken salad was really good! Tasted very fresh. It was real chunks of chicken and not what you might find in, say, a Lean Cuisine. There were bits of celery and dried cranberries (?) . I actually ended up dumping the snack mix on top and eating it together which gave a great combination of soft and crunch, sweeter and saltier.  If I did this program, I would definitely keep this one on the menu.

For dinner I had the blackened salmon:

The instructions were to heat for 2-3 minutes. I found that the sides were really hot after that, but not the salmon, so I removed the vegetables and continued heating the salmon for another couple minutes. The filets were thick.  Plated nicely:

This was a *lot* of food. I seasoned the brussels as they were just steamed. They were small and tender. Maybe a bit on the bitter side. I really enjoyed the spinach and cauliflower souffle. That was tasty and very fluffy. The salmon was pretty good. You all know I have that love/hate thing with fish and I was concerned this would taste really fishy. It didn’t. Not as good as freshly cooked salmon, but way better than frozen. It was quite moist, too. That surprised me. Very lightly seasoned – I could have used more blackening seasoning. I was stuffed after eating all of this meal! It was so filling, probably because of the fatty salmon. Lots of veggies with that meal, too. Go me!

I burned about 600 calories on my ride today, so on this day, I supplemented with the apple compote in the first picture, a protein bar split before and after my workout, my afternoon latte and (being honest) some pretzels while heating dinner. Plus a couple peppermint patties for my snack.

I’ll recap the other 2 days next week. Overall first impression is pretty good.

 

**Disclaimer: I was sent this product free for review. Opinions are mine

Wednesday

What a post title, right? Better than “untitled” I guess 😀

It finally stopped raining and the sun came out today. I had my first ride since the 49 miles done on Sunday.  I got to test out my birthday gift of new riding shades. My old one were falling apart. The ear comfort pads were gone and the nose pads were coming off. Now I am styling:

I had a pretty low-key actual birthday. Working and going out for dinner as we had all gathered on Sunday.  Here are a few of my gifts.

Garden flower:

Lularoe leggings:

Those are bees and roses on these. They are quite comfy.

Outdoor solar lights for my planned little project that will hopefully work out LOL!

Plus some gift cards to Lowe’s and a local garden shop.

A gift of another sort arrived today.  I am doing a review of a product called Diet to Go, which is a fresh meal delivery service with different meal plans. The box came packed with ice:

There are 3 days worth here and I’ll be reviewing these on separate days starting with tomorrow. Breakfast, lunch and dinner. They look pretty good!