New LOOK!

I believe that it is healthy to change up, or rearrange your blog from time to time.  It brings good karma!  I love the rich colors of my new look and hope you will too.  Everything is still here just like before.  Check out the tab at the left of the title.  Thanks for joining me in my journey…

Enjoy this “Strawberry Daylily” from my garden.  It is going to be a spectacular day!

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My Journey Into “Gentle Yoga”

 

I recently read an article in “Prevention Magazine,” ( June 2014 edition, by Hillardi Dowdle) extolling the virtues of “Gentle Yoga.”  The article concentrated on Jillian Pransky, a New Jersey-based yogi.  What was completely amazing to me was the fact that scientific evidence now exists that 10 minutes a day of gentle yoga contributed to a significant weight loss for practioners.  This was on top of all the other added benefits of doing yoga on a regular basis.  I was enthralled!

yoga benefits 2

(I found the above image on Pinterest but could not find a working website for the image.)

Here is the link to the article on Prevention.com at http://www.prevention.com/weight-loss/weight-loss-tips/surprising-way-gentle-yoga-can-help-you-lose-serious-weight.

yoga and weight loss

(Image from Prevention.com at http://www.prevention.com/weight-loss/weight-loss-tips/infographic-how-yoga-makes-you-skinny).

Here is the link to Pransky’s Gentle Yoga video from Prevention.com at http://www.prevention.com/prevention-videos/easy-yoga-weight-loss.

~ ~ ~

According to Yogi Pransky, “One of the key aspects of making gentle yoga work for you is to close your eyes and set an intention for your practice.”  My intention is to get more flexible.  I walk about 2 and a half miles a day and sometimes stiffness plagues me late in the day.  As a beginner, I want to do my 10 minutes of Gentle Yoga in the afternoon to help me relax in the evening.

I have decided that anything that helps me lose weight and feel relaxed each day is something I want to participate in. Today is the first day of my yoga challenge.  JOIN ME for 10 minutes a day and try Gentle Yoga.  Then, comment on this post and let me know your progress and I will share mine.  Do something nice for yourself.

935915_10151534448378795_674441601_n

My Journey Into “Gentle Yoga”

 

I recently read an article in “Prevention Magazine,” ( June 2014 edition, by Hillardi Dowdle) extolling the virtues of “Gentle Yoga.”  The article concentrated on Jillian Pransky, a New Jersey-based yogi.  What was completely amazing to me was the fact that scientific evidence now exists that 10 minutes a day of gentle yoga contributed to a significant weight loss for practioners.  This was on top of all the other added benefits of doing yoga on a regular basis.  I was enthralled!

yoga benefits 2

(I found the above image on Pinterest but could not find a working website for the image.)

Here is the link to the article on Prevention.com at http://www.prevention.com/weight-loss/weight-loss-tips/surprising-way-gentle-yoga-can-help-you-lose-serious-weight.

yoga and weight loss

(Image from Prevention.com at http://www.prevention.com/weight-loss/weight-loss-tips/infographic-how-yoga-makes-you-skinny).

Here is the link to Pransky’s Gentle Yoga video from Prevention.com at http://www.prevention.com/prevention-videos/easy-yoga-weight-loss.

~ ~ ~

According to Yogi Pransky, “One of the key aspects of making gentle yoga work for you is to close your eyes and set an intention for your practice.”  My intention is to get more flexible.  I walk about 2 and a half miles a day and sometimes stiffness plagues me late in the day.  As a beginner, I want to do my 10 minutes of Gentle Yoga in the afternoon to help me relax in the evening.

I have decided that anything that helps me lose weight and feel relaxed each day is something I want to participate in. Today is the first day of my yoga challenge.  JOIN ME for 10 minutes a day and try Gentle Yoga.  Then, comment on this post and let me know your progress and I will share mine.  Do something nice for yourself.

935915_10151534448378795_674441601_n

Join Me in a Glass of Wine?

My favorite wine is Moscato. The aroma of rose, lychee fruit, and peach wafts from each glass.  I serve this wine chilled.  It is excellent with cheeses, desserts, and fruits.  It is a great compliment to Thai cuisine.  The sweet notes of the wine play off the hot spiciness of many Asian dishes.

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Happy Saturday friends…

A Garden Breakfast

I am obsessed with breakfast!  I know, I know, it is the most important meal of the day! Of course it is, however, I have found that it is more than that to me.  Since I began my weight loss journey a few years ago, I find myself with breakfast as the largest meal of my day!  And guess what?  It keeps the weight off!  At least it does for this silver haired middle-aged goddess!

I fluctuate my breakfast days – oatmeal one day, egg beaters the next, and so on and so forth.  I try to make my egg days more than just about the eggs.  Nothing dull and boring here. I have that garden out back and it has supplied me with numerous ingredients to make my breakfasts special.

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I use 3/4 cup of egg beaters (Weight Watchers Points Plus Points = 3) and add whatever I have in the house or garden… mushrooms, kale, long onions, zucchini, tomatoes – whatever vegetable you like, add it.  I only count the points values of things with points: eggs, meat, cheese, etc.  I do not count the points values of fruits or vegetables.  This keeps me eating more of them and less of the other stuff that packs the pounds on.

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I chop the kale quite fine so that it binds with the eggs.  I find it helps to thicken the eggs and hold them together with the other vegetables.

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Chop all the vegetables and put them in your non-stick cooking pan.  I use Pam with olive oil as it adds a special taste to the eggs and makes it easier to cook the eggs with no sticking.

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Add the egg beaters to the mixture and cook slowly over a medium flame.  Cook it until the vegetables are done the way you like.  I like my eggs to be cooked through, not runny.

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Put your finished eggs on a plate and serve it immediately.  There is actually enough here for two servings if you wish.  Add some fruit to your plate and you are ready for another spectacular day!  Enjoy!

The Bus Stop

One of the great things about writing a lifestyle blog when you have retired is that you also have many memories to share.  It is another hot, humid day in my garden so I thought some story-telling might be in order…

The Bus Stop is a story my husband told me years ago about his time in the Air Force when he was stationed in Thailand.  The Vietnam War was raging all around him. He was in his early 20’s, trying to make sense of the whole war thing.  This is one of my first creative writing projects and I would appreciate feed back.  I decided to tell the story from his point of view.  Please CAUTION… there is some profanity.

 

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(Map of Thailand, from http://jacquioakley.com/thailand-map)

*  *  *

It was 0500 hours as I started my walk to the bus stop. The air was cool by Thailand standards, only about 75 degrees, and the dirt road through Korat Village was dusty under my combat boots. I glanced cautiously around me, always wary of who might be about. I found myself that December of 1971, a sergeant serving in the U. S. Air Force, stationed at Korat Air Force Base, Thailand. The Vietnam War was still rearing its ugly head, and I was a crew chief working Transit Alert on the base. Every jet that flew sorties, I serviced and sent on its way to perform its required missions. I was there to do a job, and for no other reason than to serve my country.

Every morning, I took the bus from the village to the base and then back again each night. In good weather, the ride took about twenty minutes. There were no other people on the road that morning. The surrounding jungle was quiet and dark. It was strangely silent, and I did not even hear the insistent chattering from the monkeys. I could see the bus stop ahead. It was a roughly constructed bench with a bamboo top covered with banana leaves. The sides were enclosed, and during the rainy season, the bus stop was adequate to keep the rain and wind out. The enclosure was large enough to accommodate five or six people and would even shelter pigs or chickens if need be. Mostly, it just kept the sun off your head.

I looked around again and found it strange that there were no locals in the area. Our military superiors told us to be extra careful when living in the village because you could not tell who your enemies were. Saboteurs were everywhere and the Viet Cong traveled freely between the borders. Just last week, a sergeant had been stabbed in the village, and he did not survive. I was not taking any chances, and I watched where I was at constantly. I even sat facing the door whenever I was in restaurants and bars so I could always see what was going on at all times. I trusted no one.

I strolled into the bus stop enclosure and there, crouched in the shadows in the back corner, was an old man. Stooped in the classic flat-footed Thai squat position, he looked to be about forty-five or fifty years old, which is old for a Thai. He had almost no hair on his head and had a leathery wrinkled face. He was barefoot and wore a white silk shirt. His sarong was pulled up between his legs and tucked in, which was the customary garb for elderly men. I noticed that he did not have a walking stick with him. For someone of his age this was highly unusual, and I felt myself hesitate in the doorway. The old man did not move, and he continued to watch me with those sharp, clear eyes.

I was startled and felt my breath catch in my throat. My heart pounded, and I looked around for any other signs of human life. There was no one in the area of the bus stop in either direction. The old man continued to stare at me with that keen gaze, and our eyes locked. He spoke to me in his native Thai and said, “Sawae dee dong chow.” I was afraid and defiantly called out to him in English, saying, “Fuck you old man!” I then gave him “the finger,” which was my feeble American attempt to intimidate him.

The old man still did not move. He just sat on his heels looking at me with those sharp eyes, taking in every detail about me. In my alarm, I did not hear the bus coming, and it suddenly appeared out of nowhere. I actually smelled the bus before I heard it, and I swung myself onto the ancient vehicle filled with farmers heading to the local market on the way to Korat Air Force Base. Old women with teeth stained black by beetle nut spit red juice at my feet as I walked down the aisle looking for a seat. Chickens in cages and pigs strapped to the back end of the bus started to squeal and squawk as the bus slowly pulled away from the bus stop. I continued to stand on the bus, swaying back and forth while the rhythm calmed my heartbeat. I began to breath normally again. I looked all around for the old man, but he was still back there in the bus stop enclosure. He had not boarded the bus. We lumbered along in the bus, and I was safely dropped at the front gate to the base.

I worked with Thai civilians in Transit Alert at the base, and since I was still shook up from my incident at the bus stop, I knew they could help me understand what the old man was up to. The cultural differences between the Thai people and I were extreme. The majority of them lived in huts on stilts with their livestock sheltered underneath. They were farmers and lived off the land. In comparison, I had grown up in Southern California in an upper middle class neighborhood where I had been drafted by the Twins Baseball Club right out of high school. I pitched for them for two years before Vietnam came along. I knew nothing of cultural differences. I knew baseball and airplanes, and not much else.

My Thai civilian friends liked that I wanted to know about their culture. Their English was good enough that we could communicate and understand each other. I told them of the incident at the bus stop, and they asked me to repeat what the old man had said to me in their language. I told them that he had said, “Sawae dee dong chow.” I also told them how terrified I had been to see that old man crouching in the shadows at the bus stop. I explained to them that I did not know if he was going to jump out and stab me, or what was going to happen! I had been in fear for my life.

It was quiet for a moment as the Thai men looked at each other and then again at me. Their brown faces crinkled and their slanted eyes seemed to disappear in their faces from laughter! They pointed at me and held their sides as they laughed. I was incredulous! I could not believe they were laughing at my predicament. I had been scared, and they found this funny. Finally, Lang, who was clearly the elder in this group of men, wiped the tears of laughter from his eyes and explained that all the old man had said was, “Hello, good morning!”

I was appalled that I had not read the situation correctly. I had not been raised to treat people in this way, but war made me look at life differently, and I was afraid of what I had become. I knew then that if I was to survive in Thailand, or anywhere else, I needed to learn the language and the customs of the people so that I would not have misunderstandings like this again. I knew that I must never judge people based on my fears alone. I felt terrible and knew I had to make amends to the old man.

Lang taught me some of the Thai customs, and he explained that it showed proper respect to bow and fold your hands, as if you were in prayer, when you met people that you did not know in Thailand. He suggested that if I saw the old man again, I should bow and say the same thing to him that he had said to me, “Sawae dee dong chow.” That showed proper respect and was simply the nice thing to do.

The next morning at 0500 hours, I started out on the road to the bus stop much the same as I had the day before. Still cautious, I looked around and surveyed the road ahead. I was still guarded but kept my wits about me. Little dust devils swirled under my combat boots as I trod along the road. There were no locals visible again today, and I could see the bus stop up ahead. It looked the same as it had the day before. The dried banana leaves on the roof rustled in the light breeze. I approached the enclosure slowly and glanced inside. There in the shadowy recesses, just as before, crouched the old man.

I approached him with a smile on my face and bowed low to the ground, and said in my best Thai, “Sawae dee dong chow.” He looked at me with those sharp eyes and said in understandable English, “FUCK YOU!” and then he promptly gave me “the finger!” He smiled at me and I watched his brown eyes disappear in the creases of his face.

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(Image from “Family Life in Rural Thailand and Australia,” http://www.memock.com/tag/history-of-ubon-ratchathani/) – A bus similar to the one my husband rode back in 1971.

15 Things to Eat in Bangkok Chinatown, Thailand

Here are some examples of fine Thai cuisine… check it out, don’t be afraid!

Always Travelicious !

As always, Bangkok’s Chinatown is one of the best places to find good food.  Besides the uber affordable food, the most extraordinary part is you find gourmet ingredients such as bird’s nest and fish maw, prepped on a mobile cart by the roadside. Thanks to my bestie, Kat from SpoonSpatulaSaturday, we went on a gastronomic adventure and tried more things than we could stomach and still wished to try more.   You will be able to find most of the food featured in the post along the main road of Chinatown, Yawarat Road, except for No. 8, which is hidden in a small lane.   

View original post 1,479 more words

Japanese Eggplant Stir Fry

One of my favorite things about gardening is the abundance of vegetables that you get swamped with during a successful growing season.  I am lucky enough to have a neighbor with a garden to die for, which is much bigger than my small garden areas.  She has a larger lot than we have, as they sit on more of a triangle shaped plot of land at the corner of our subdivision.  This has enabled her to have a triangle shaped garden which could easily feed 3 families all summer long.  On top of that, her garden gets full sun and does not have to compete with the shade from the tree line that rims the entire backside of our subdivision.  Lucky her, and lucky me.

Last week, Su, who is from Okinawa, shared her Japanese eggplants with me.  I was ecstatic!  These eggplants are deep purple, long, and slim with few seeds inside. They have a delicate flavor and are especially good when cooked with other vegetables, as in a stir fry.  Our American eggplant are much wider and denser in shape.  To me, our American version seems to have a stronger flavor and thicker skin which I am not as fond of.

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At the same time, Su gave me some of her banana peppers which I decided would make an excellent and quick stir fry for dinner.  In fact, there were so many that I cut them up and put them in individual sandwich bags for the freezer.  Banana peppers are fabulous in eggs and freezing them does not affect them in any way.

Since I already had some left over turkey breast and steamed fresh green beans, I used a green pepper from my own garden, and added some garlic.  I had everything I needed for a quick feast.

I sliced all of the eggplant, peppers, and turkey and placed them in the pan.  I used two large cloves of garlic by squeezing them through a garlic press.  Garlic is such a healthy spice that I try to use it for as many meals as possible.

I then added about a cup of fat free chicken broth and cooked the stir fry over a medium high heat.  I love to let all the juices simmer together a bit before I put the lid on and turn the heat down.  To me the object here is to get all the vegetables just barely tender… not too well done or their end up mushy.

2014-06-23 14.19.12I helped my husband raise his two half-Thai daughters, so I like to cook with quite a few Thai seasonings.  If you have not tried this before and are more comfortable with more American flavors, by all means use the seasonings you like best.

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As you can see, I used crushed red peppers, Thai Fish Sauce (Nam Pla), and some turmeric.  One thing about Thai food is that it is usually VERY hot, so season this stir fry to your own taste.

I added all the spices and fish sauce to the stir fry, stirred it, and continued to let it simmer for a few minutes longer.  I then put the lid on the pan, and turned the heat down to medium low to cook for an additional few minutes.  When the vegetables are tender to your liking, stop cooking.  With a stir fry you want to cook it quickly so that it is hot throughout, but you never want to end up with limp vegetables.

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There you have it! Japanese eggplant stir fry.  Low in calories and good for you!  From start to finish, cutting the vegetables and cooking only takes about 20 minutes.  If you do not have any meat on hand already cooked, you might want to add some time to your dinner plan to accommodate that.