Power Outage!

Our power went off during a storm last night around 8:30pm.  (Click the picture below for the news story.)  I didn’t think much of it and assumed it would be back on later in the night.  It was also the night before trash / recycling day, so everyone’s cans were outside and all ended up at the end of the street, tossing trash as they went.  What a mess!  It was pretty neat to see all of the neighbors come together outside after the worst had passed to try and help each other pick up the mess. 

3am and still no power.  The A/C is off, it’s 85 degrees in the house, our windows are open, and a psychotic mockingbird is working hard to keep me wide awake.  I manage to lay there a few more hours. I started to panic at 6am when the power was still out and I realized I couldn’t open the fridge without risking ruining the food in there.  It could be 2-3 more days before power is restored!  Thank goodness, our fridge was somewhat barren since I am doing detox and had not yet stocked up at the grocery, but there is still some valuable stuff in there! 

What to do?  First, I had a banana, almonds, and dry cereal for breakfast.  Later, I hatched the idea to get the valuable and pre-made stuff out of my fridge & freezer and take it to work (being a restaurant company, there are lots of refrigerators / freezers).  That basically consisted of a bag of frozen meat and seafood, and another bag of cheeses, lunch meats, and all of my pre-made yogurt parfaits, berries, and spinach. 

That still leaves quite a bit of veggies, fruit, ice cream, eggs, milk, and various condiments in our fridge at home.  So I’ve been thinking of how best to utilize these items tonight if we don’t get our power back.  My first thought was to have ice cream for dinner (hooray!) and cook off everything else on my gas stove or grill, then use them for meals over the next few days.  But then how would I store them?  I suppose I could get the ice that’s left and fill a cooler. 

Thankfully, we did not have any major damage to our house, just a broken patio umbrella.  Many of our neighbors were not so fortunate.  So I will count my blessings if the worst I experience is $100 of wasted food and some scattered trash.

Our Staycation!

With two upcoming trips planned (Savannah in May & Hawaii in June) plus a limited budget, my husband and I decided to use our long weekend to take a “staycation”.  Afterall, after 6 years in Knoxville, there is still so much we have not seen!  

My husband was such a good sport… going along with all of my crazy ideas.  We started out with 2 days of playing tourist.  Day 1 travelling to nearby Sweetwater and Athens to tour Tennessee’s dairy country, while also taking 3 hours of scenic back-roads all around East Tennessee.  Day 2, we checked out a couple of historic landmarks in Knoxville and the Italian Street Fair.  Then on Day 3, we went camping… in our backyard, complete with sitting by a chimnea campfire and making S’mores!  Day 4 we mainly relaxed at home.  It was lovely… and fattening.  We basically ate our way through the past 4 days, and thus today I’m back on Cinch Detox.

Day 1.  First up, Sweetwater Valley Farm, a farm that specializes in gourmet cheese and takes pride in the humane treatment of their cows.  Unfortunately we missed the tour, but still had a chance to walk through the little museum and see (and smell) the cows.  Plus, we got to taste (and later buy) lots of cheese!

(You can click on the first pictures in each group to go to the location’s website.)

Next up, Mayfield Dairy.  Anyone who has ever lived in Tennessee, or the surrounding area is familiar with Mayfield.  They are best known for the milk in the yellow jugs and their wide selection of ice cream.  As a milk-lover myself, I can confirm that their milk does taste better than the rest, and that is apparently because the yellow jug protects it from losing nutrients and flavor after processing.  We took a brief tour through the plant, saw an educational video, and then got to sample 5 mini-scoops of ice cream, plus a chocolate milk.  Yum, yum, yum.  The ice cream samples (shown below) included – O’Charley’s Caramel Pie, Mint Chocolate Chip, Candy Bar, Cherry Nut, and Peanut Butter Fudge.  We loved them all, but decided that the Caramel Pie was best.  It even had chunks of graham cracker crust! 

After touring dairy country and driving around for quite a while admiring the East Tennessee scenery, we somehow managed to have room for a bar-b-que dinner at one of Ruby Tuesday’s new franchise concepts  – Jim ‘n Nicks – before heading home.

Day 2.  The plan was to check out some historical sites around Knoxville,  however we got a late start and only made it to two.  First was James White Fort, original home of Knoxville’s founder, James White.  However Knoxville was not named for him (obviously), it was actually named in honor of the then U.S. Secretary of War, Henry Knox.  The pictures show a beautiful landscape within the small fort, but that was not the case when it was inhabited in the 1700’s.  In fact they could have as many as 30-40 people, plus livestock and domesticated animals living within that small space.  (For more history, you can click on the first picture.)  It was neat to walk among the 7 different buildings within the fort and learn about what life must have been like back in those days.  Did you know that people used to soak the ends of their bed-clothes in kerosene and rub lard on their bodies to stave off bed bugs?  It makes me very grateful to have been born in modern times!

Bill having a little fun right outside James White Fort. That is the Women's Basketball Hall of Fame across the street, which I also blogged about recently.

Next up, the Blount Mansion, original home of William Blount, our first Governor, author of our state’s constitution, and signer of the U.S. Constitution.  It’s really interesting to note that both of these historical sites were right next to downtown Knoxville, and you can see the tall buildings in the background in a couple of the pictures.  As we walked through, I tried to imagine what it must have been like back in those days.  Both the homes in the fort and the below “mansion” were considered elite living in the frontier days.

Day 3 – Camping!  9 years ago, in the Spring before our June 2002 wedding, my husband had a “Man Shower” that basically consisted of lots of camping gear and other manly stuff.  We tried several times to go on a real camping trip, but somehow plans never worked out.  So then we got worried about whether or not we’d even know how to put up our tent when the time came, and thus the idea to camp in the backyard was born.  We had a little trouble at first since the directions were quite vague, but finally figured it out.  Thankfully there was no chance of rain, so we skipped the outer-shell that is supposed to go under and over the tent.  We were actually surprised at how spacious and nice it was; it even had a mesh roof so we could gaze at the stars from inside.  Although it dawned on me in the middle of the night that I wasn’t sure the mesh would protect us from bird poop… for whatever reason, our yard is like a bird sanctuary. 

We made a campfire in our chimnea and later made S’mores, which were delicious and definitely not diet-friendly.  I had no idea that there were 5g of sugar in every big marshmallow.  Yikes!  Our fire did not last very long, so we spent the next hour gazing at the stars and talking… and yes, occasionally looking around at our neighbors and wondering what everyone was watching on TV.  The Nielson Company reported in 2009 that the average American watches 151 hours of TV per month / 5 hours per day.  Judging from the TV glow coming from every single house in sight, I’d say they’re right.  Sad.

Sorry to say we did not make our breakfast over the campfire.  That was a definite plus to backyard camping – a nice bathroom and kitchen in easy walking distance.  We were wide awake from all the bird-chirping by 7am and came in for one last diet-busting breakfast in our seemingly-luxurious kitchen.

So we basically ate our way through the 4 days; clearly I have not yet overcome my diet demons.  However, I have learned a lot this year and am much more in-tune with my eating emotions these days.  As I was eating my way through the weekend, I was surprised that what I felt was not guilt, but rather simple recognition of my gluttony.  I recognized that I was not eating healthy food for my body, but rationalized that I was on vacation and eating was half the fun.  What’s wrong with this picture?  Sure,  a splurge is OK sometimes, but I found myself seeking out food constantly over the past 4 days, as if being on vacation was a license to eat anything and everything in sight as often as possible.  And thus today I am back on Cinch Detox for 3 days to de-bloat and get back on track.  I’m on Day 2 now and so far, so good (more about this tomorrow).

Adios!

Weekend of Food & Fun

It’s been a very nice weekend.  Yesterday, my husband and I spent the afternoon in downtown Knoxville.  First stop, the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame, which amazingly we had not been to in the 6 years we’ve lived here!  It was very cool.  Having grown up playing basketball, it was neat to learn the history of the sport for women.  Did you know they started out playing in skirts and weren’t allowed to dribble, just catch and pass or shoot?  Yikes!  At the end of the tour, there’s an indoor basketball area with separate courts designed to look like it did in that era (1920’s, today, and a kid’s area).  So naturally my husband and I had to play a little game of H-O-R-S-E, and I WON! . . . in heels!  That was definitely a nice end to our tour before heading off to lunch and a movie.

 

Today (Sunday), I have been cooking up a storm!  Sometimes the mood just strikes me, and it usually starts with a trip to the grocery, and then getting inspired by all of the great food I just bought.  So basically I’ve now prepped or cooked almost every meal for this week, which is good because I rarely feel like cooking after a long day at work.  The past week has been a bit of a struggle for me – sugar galore.  It started with girl scout cookies, then a party at work, then a big box of gourmet desserts in our break area… you get the point.  Every day I started out determined to stay on track and most days went off the deep end.  I was pretty good this weekend, especially after my final 12-mile pre-marathon training run.  I probably had a little too much for dinner tonight, but I’m about to go for a long walk and burn it off.

So in my effort to get back on track, here’s my menu for this week, along with recipes and description of the ones in bold font:

Monday

  • (5am) Pre-Workout Snack:  1/2 Banana
  • (7am) Breakfast:  Egg, toast, and fruit
  • (11am) Lunch:  Tropical Salad
  • (3pm) Snack:  Hummus with veggies & crackers
  • (7pm) Dinner: Sweet Potato Soup, cooked cabbage

Tuesday

  • (5am) Pre-Workout Snack:  Fruit & Nut Bar
  • (7am) Breakfast:  Yogurt parfait
  • (11am) Lunch:  Pineapple Chicken Salad sandwich
  • (3pm) Snack:  Hummus with veggies & crackers
  • (7pm) Dinner:  Book Club / veggie wraps

Wednesday

  • (5am) Pre-Workout Snack:  1/2 Banana
  • (7am) Breakfast:  Fruity Waffle Sundae
  • (11am) Lunch:  Tropical Salad
  • (3pm) Snack:  Hummus with veggies & crackers
  • (7pm) Dinner: Sweet Potato Soup, cooked cabbage

Thursday

  • (5am) Pre-Workout Snack:  Fruit & Nut Bar
  • (7am) Breakfast:  Yogurt parfait 
  • (11am) Lunch:  Pineapple Chicken Salad sandwich 
  • (3pm) Snack:  Smart Pop popcorn with carrots
  • (7pm) Dinner: Sweet Potato Soup, cooked cabbage

Fridays are left open for leftovers, or eating out with co-workers / hubby at lunch. 

I have several recipe variations for the Tropical Salad.  I’m not a huge salad fan, but I do like ones with fruit, nuts, and fruity dressing.  Today I decided to try one that includes mixed greens, sliced strawberries, mandarin oranges, unsweetened coconut, almonds, and a homemade dressing mixed from 1 T coconut oil (melted), 1/4 cup strawberry yogurt, and 1 tsp balsamic vinegar (2 total servings).  I’ll have to report back tomorrow on how it tasted, but I sampled the dressing and it was quite yummy. 

I found the Sweet Potato Soup recipe on the foil-liner of a Dannon Plain Non-Fat Yogurt tub during the 5-Day Fast Forward.  I love sweet potatoes and had never thought to use plain yogurt in place of heavy cream for a creamy soup.  So I gave it a try today and plan to have it as a light dinner most nights this week.  I tried to make a smaller version of the recipe and think I used too much yogurt because it was not as thick as I expected, but it tasted great!  I also used a little bit of Chipotle seasoning for an extra kick and really liked the flavor combo with the Cumin.  You can check out the original recipe on the Dannon Website.

As you can see, I made the Fruit & Nut Bars again.  My husband and I LOVE these things!  I will probably never go back to store bought again!  The only thing I changed was using pistachios instead of almonds and using a chopped Lindt 70% chocolate bar.  Yum, yum, yum.  They also make an amazing pre-workout snack with all of the fruit and whole-grain carbs.

Now for the Pineapple Chicken Salad.  I found this recipe in my bi-weekly Kroger mailer.  I don’t eat a lot of meat, but this one just looked too good.  I ended up using canned chicken instead of freshly cooked chicken breasts, and skipped the relish and celery.  I also subbed light Miracle Whip for the Mayo and only used a 1/2 cup.  I forgot to take a picture of the final product, but did snap one of the recipe!

That’s all for today!  I’m definitely motivated for a week of healthy eating with a fridge full of healthy prepared foods.  Now off for a long walk to burn off my dinner, my husband’s specialty – “BBQ Billy Burger”. (I only had half!!)