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Tuesday, July 22, 2014

That's what we're anticipating here today and . . . I'm ready. Wearing my very coolest cotton Liberty print sheath (and a jacket, for the office . . . bare legs, sandals: pretty darned informal really!!) That gazpacho (had some last night) is really totally delish and so so cooling.

Bouquet on my desk of meadow flowers: umbrellas of Queen Anne's Lace, bright blue spikes of bugloss, purple clover, intense yellow partridge pea (I think): all so pretty. Each Queen Anne's Lace has a coloured flower in the centre: purple, or deep pink. And they smell wonderful.

Love love love summer.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

NANCY- 7/23/2014 8:35AM

    I can feel your zest for living and your joy!

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    Sounds great!
Every time I try to bring in Queen Anne's Lace, I get the mysterious bugs that hide in the crevices.
Shake the flowers?

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SANDICANE 7/22/2014 10:17PM

    I'll bet you looked so fabulous today that no one even noticed it was a tich informal! Oh boy it was hot here! 92 degrees! Phew, thank goodness it broke tonight!

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1CRAZYDOG 7/22/2014 9:56PM

    Hot and humid here too! Drinking the water!!

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ONEKIDSMOM 7/22/2014 6:49PM

    While I was huddled in my sweater inside the office world... sigh.

A/C too high for me! Felt WONDERFUL to get outside into the "heat". emoticon

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MEADSBAY 7/22/2014 6:22PM

    People have a hard time believing me that it is cooler down here in the Caribbean than in New England some hot summer days!
We are enjoying fabulous weather this week on Anguilla.

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PHEBESS 7/22/2014 5:20PM

    Enjoy the weather, gazpacho, and the flowers! (And I wish it were warmer here - we have grey skies and a breeze. I want summer!)

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JANTHEBLONDE 7/22/2014 4:40PM

    Stay cool girlfriend! Your outfit today sounds darling.... and your bouquet of flowers on your desk sounds beautiful! Thanks for sharing! I hope you have a wonderful day!
Hugs and love!
emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon

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SQUIRRELMOMMA1 7/22/2014 3:44PM

    We're having a hot one too and I already plan on sleeping this evening in the cool basement. Thank goodness for basements!

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_RAMONA 7/22/2014 11:15AM

    You feel only as good as you look, and you look mahvelous Dahlink!

Have a wonderful day!

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KANOE10 7/22/2014 10:17AM

    Your outfit sounds cute and cool for that hot day. I had gazpacho last night and enjoyed it..inspired by your blog. Do you puree all of the vegetables or leave some chunky?

We are having thunderstorms today..it is muggy.

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_LINDA 7/22/2014 10:07AM

    Oh my! Love the way you paint a picture with words! Looking fabulous as usual and that bouquet sounds heavenly!
Enjoy your day! Just going up to 25 (77F) here.

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DDOORN 7/22/2014 9:41AM

    I see the heat of our western states has caught up with you! Going to be a pretty sticky one here today as well, upper 80's.


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SUNSHINE99999 7/22/2014 9:11AM

  stay cool. It is raining here which isn't bad as we haven't had rain for a couple of weeks.

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Monday, July 21, 2014

It's gotta be summer when there's gazpacho chilling in the fridge. Weather forecast said we'll hit 30 Celsius today . . . now it appears we'll be approaching that tomorrow (say, 88 to 90 F).

Tomatoes, green pepper, chili pepper, cucumber, fresh basil, a bit of balsamic vinegar, some sea salt -- all whooshed in the food processor.

Both vegan DD and DH love this one so I'll be fighting them off for every bowlful. Gazpacho generally disappears with dispatch-o (and yup, I've got a second set of ingredients lurking in the fridge to make a second batch-o as necessary: takes minutes).

Charlie enjoyed a wonderful romp in the woods yesterday, including a cooling swim in the stream . . . the wild bergamot was profusely in bloom. (Not my own pic but just like this-- and: the deer flies were making their presence felt!!). Bergamot smells glorious, like Earl Grey tea (which is flavoured with oil of bergamot . . . )

OK, another week and some interesting stuff to do!! All good.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

PHEBESS 7/22/2014 5:28PM

    Mmmmmm, love gazpacho!!!!

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FIFIFRIZZLE 7/22/2014 9:30AM

    Perfect liquid salad, I adore gazpacho.

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_LINDA 7/21/2014 11:45PM

    Sounds wonderful!! Got to love those processors that make food prep so wonderfully quick and easy!!
Great that Charlie gets a nice cool down on such a hot day!
Absolutely love the aroma of bergamont!! Unfortunately we don't have them here *sniff*
Stay cool!

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PHOENIX1949 7/21/2014 9:22PM

Lovely blooms.

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1CRAZYDOG 7/21/2014 8:34PM


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    Oh, yummm. I forgot to make that!
What, no onion?
I also love homemade borscht

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SLENDERELLA61 7/21/2014 2:11PM

    Enjoy your gazpacho! I'm not very motivated to make it as the last time I tasted it I just thought it was okay -- but of course you didn't make it -- and nobody here would even try it but me. So I'll probably just stick to cold salads and hot soups. Ho hum.

The romp in the woods with Charley sounds great. Love the flowers. I didn't know that fact about Earl Grey. Very interesting. I'm going to make a point to run Thursday in a scenic spot. Thanks for that encouragement!

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TRAVELGRRL 7/21/2014 1:21PM

    A perfect day! Thanks for the reminder about gazpacho; I had forgotten about it.

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_RAMONA 7/21/2014 12:23PM

    Love Gazpacho, love bergamot (won't grown in my yard, though)... and Earl Grey tea.

Nice blog for a summer day! I hope your day is as lovely as it promises to be!


P.S. Last week I searched Gazpacho recipes... I wanted variety... I found white, green traditional and WATERMELON! Have you tried it?


(I haven't tried it yet)

Comment edited on: 7/21/2014 8:38:32 PM

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JANTHEBLONDE 7/21/2014 12:14PM

    I love gazpacho! It's so refreshing especially in the summertime! Thanks for sharing! I hope you have a wonderful Monday!
Hugs and love!
emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon

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MANDELOVICH 7/21/2014 10:55AM

    My favorite!

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ALIIDA 7/21/2014 9:55AM

    I didn't know that about Earl Grey tea, and it's my favorite tea. I hope you're less worried about Charlie.

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NANCY- 7/21/2014 9:42AM

    emoticon ...

....on living the life!!!!

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KANOE10 7/21/2014 8:38AM

    I may have to try gazpacho. It sounds perfect for summer. I just made the watermelon
pizza with feta and fresh basil. It was delicious..such an unusual combination of flavors.Fresh basil is wonderful.

Glad Charlie got a romp in the woods.

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ONEKIDSMOM 7/21/2014 8:30AM

    You added to my education yet again... never kas new that Earl Grey was flavored with bergamot... love that stuff. emoticon

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SUSANNAH31 7/21/2014 7:52AM

    Gazpacho is a summer favorite for me too. I just finished a big jug of it and I'm getting ready to make some more.

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RIDLEYRIDER 7/21/2014 7:50AM

  Sounds delish!

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ROXYZMOM 7/21/2014 7:42AM

    Yum! That sounds good.

The bergomat is really pretty. I have never seen one before.

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2BDYNAMIC 7/21/2014 7:35AM

    emoticon ...... Yummo!! Sounds delicious for sure!!

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DDOORN 7/21/2014 6:58AM

    Love gazpacho! I also do other soups cold as well....my turkey chili turned out to be more of a soup and I love it cold in the warmer weather: chilly chili! :-)


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SANDICANE 7/21/2014 6:58AM

    Yummmmmmmmm, your gazpacho sounds wonderful...no wonder you have to fight the family off for it!!! Lovely flowers too and you must have a dog, unless your DH's name is Charlie and he loves to romp in the woods!


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OSDOWNS 7/21/2014 6:56AM


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Anticipating Happiness Part 2

Sunday, July 20, 2014

I recently blogged about current research which tells us that anticipating happiness is the best part -- planning for the vacation is more pleasurable than taking the vacation or remembering the vacation.

And yup: right away I booked two weeks (TWO WEEKS) of consecutive vacation many many months from now. First time for two consecutive weeks of vacation in over 10 years. And certainly I am looking forward to it. Of course I am.

But: I've also been thinking about "anticipating happiness" a bit -- and have decided that for me, it's only one strategy and probably not the most important one. It truly is the "carpe diem" stuff that helps me most with happiness and with weight loss maintenance (and sure, they're connected).

The good ol' hippy dippy "Be Here Now" stuff (DD made me a hanging with this saying on it: apparently it's something I told our kids often when they were tiny and it stuck for her).

Particularly it's "carpe diem" that counts most for me with weight maintenance.

Not that "anticipating happiness" thing so much.

Not, "I will be happy when I get married" (so I can't be happy now and I'd better console myself right now with a hefty snack while I wait).

Not, "I will be happy when I have a baby." Or, "I will be happy when THIS baby isn't quite so sick, when I'm not rushing back and forth to the hospital" (so it's understandable that my present unhappiness could be cured with an infusion of doughnuts).

Not, "I will be happy when I get through school" (so the chocolate croissant is looking good in the meantime and I really deserve it. . . that was the attitude which ballooned me up to 230 pounds!)

Not, "I will be happy when I get through this cancer treatment . . . ". Nope, that was the experience that actually drew the line in the sand for me. I knew that continuing to overindulge with food made it much more likely I'd NEVER be finished with cancer treatment. That comfort eating meant I was actually courting recurrence of my particular cancer type (estrogen positive).

"I will be happy." That's a future tense verb, right? It makes us tense. Yearning. Wondering if our longed-for future will arrive. And in what manifestation. Shelley: "We look before and after/And pine for what is not./Our sincerest laughter/With some pain is fraught."

So instead of "I will be happy", how about "I will myself to be happy." Right here. Right now. Carpe diem instead of carping my way through my life. . . given anticipation always focuses on "what is not" in the present. And that the present is all I am ever sure I'm going to have . . . .

I can will myself to be happy, a lot of the time. And I do. (No, not always: not when I'm dealing with a genuine crisis. But, a lot of the time).

I can choose to be happy. I can't choose what happens to me, but I can choose how I interpret it. I can cultivate a willed optimism.

For me, a great method of being happy in the present is simply noticing the good stuff all around me. That good stuff which is always there, whether I'm noticing it or not.

Just like my body is always tracking the food I eat, whether *I* am or not.

And one thing for sure: when I'm happy (deliberately, consciously, wilfully happy) -- I sure do eat less!! And eating what I genuinely need in the present to fuel this body, not more . . . . makes me happy!!

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

NANCY- 7/21/2014 9:40AM

    You have a beautiful mind.

Finding a balance between the present and anticipation seems to work for me. My actions in the present determine the future (to a degree, as we all know stuff happens). The anticipation (desire) helps give direction to the present.

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SPINNINGJW 7/21/2014 8:53AM

    Actually, the "I will feel better when...." thoughts are what prompted me to seek help following my now 19 yr old's birth. Diagnosis: Post partum depression. After a year and a half on anti-depressants, weaned myself off of them. Within a year the "I'll feel better when....." thinking returned, and again, I sought help from the medical profession.

I am presently doing a lot better with "Living in the moment" right now. Hopefully, I can continue to do so.

emoticon for an informative and insightful blog.

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BOILHAM 7/21/2014 8:18AM

    Great blog. Will yourself to be happy now. emoticon

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_LINDA 7/21/2014 2:18AM

    Two week vacation? Awesome!! Choosing to be happy in the present? Golden! A happy person is one who doesn't emotionally overeat. A person who looks at the glass half full is a person who is grateful for all the good in their life.
All describes you, a well adjusted sensible maintainer enjoying the sparkles of life!
Keep on being fabulous!

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SWEDE_SU 7/20/2014 9:31PM

    your words resonate - it is indeed important to focus on the now - right now!

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DDOORN 7/20/2014 9:18PM

    Cycling has been one of the easiest, surest methods for me to tune out all the "noise" of life and immerse myself in the moment and be happy. I need to be better able to achieve that through other times in my life...!


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    I AM happy.
I am happy things that are good for me are there for me. I am happy the things that are not so good in my life can be overcome, no matter how long it takes.
They best days I've had are when I seized them by the "low hangers" and ran with it!
I haven't found waiting for something to make me happy works.
No one knows better than me!

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PHOENIX1949 7/20/2014 8:36PM

    Very emoticon

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1CRAZYDOG 7/20/2014 7:45PM

    I think it all boils down to us taking ME-sponsibility for our happiness. It's not a person, situation, thing, etc. that is responsible for making us happy. It is US who is responsible. And what better time than right now!

2 weeks of vaca . .. . awesome!


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ROXYZMOM 7/20/2014 7:25PM

    Trace Atkin's song "You're Gonna Miss This" came to mind as I just read your blog.
Enjoying the moment is so important, and in most instances, we can do that. I am an eternal optimist, which, at times can drive my husband nuts!

You are so lucky to get a consecutive two week vacation! It's hard for me to get an entire week off in a row.

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TRAVELGRRL 7/20/2014 6:08PM

    I choose to be happy, too!

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JANTHEBLONDE 7/20/2014 4:50PM

    I choose to be happy! Thanks for sharing! I hope you have a wonderful day!
Hugs and love!
emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon

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PHEBESS 7/20/2014 4:12PM

    Definitely! I've chosen to be happy about most things, and it makes emotional eating a thing of the past. Well, most of the time anyway.

So where are you going on this wonderful two week holiday?

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_RAMONA 7/20/2014 2:36PM

    I agree wholeheartedly with your carpe diem blog, and I do believe that choosing happiness NOW is a key component of overall happiness .

However, I see the anticipation benefit differently (than you've described it)... I don't think 'they' are saying that happiness and anticipation are characterized by a 'happy when' relationship, but by a 'happy because' relationship (I am happy because I am looking forward to)... the happiness that comes from anticipation is a counting of blessings before they actually happen, and using the energy this creates to build forward momentum and an overall sense of a full and happy life.

In conjunction with a carpe diem attitude and approach, I think we do need things to look forward to (anticipate) in order to be truly and sustainably happy.

I've seen this most directly in my FIL at the moment. He is in failing health and fully n the grips of dementia. His best days, and most in a row, always happen when he is anticipating an event important to him, and very much connected to his wants and needs. Often he does not actually get to the event, but the anticipation of it is enough to synergize daily happiness.

Isn't this really the cornerstone of goal-setting?

Because of how mercurial life can be, not every day is a 'carpe diem' day, but if you can anticipate that another day soon will be, that happiness is a state of being not a by product of your immediate experience, you are then truly able to be happy NOW despite the circumstances.


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ONEKIDSMOM 7/20/2014 1:38PM

    Preach on, my friend! LIFE is good. emoticon

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MANDELOVICH 7/20/2014 12:49PM

    "So instead of "I will be happy", how about "I will myself to be happy." Right here. Right now. Carpe diem instead of carping my way through my life. . . given anticipation always focuses on "what is not" in the present. And that the present is all I am ever sure I'm going to have . . . "

Thank you for this Ellen. Thank you for your goodie as well.

In this moment, all is well...

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KANOE10 7/20/2014 11:53AM

    I forgot to tell you that a two week vacation sounds wonderful!

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KANOE10 7/20/2014 9:39AM

    I like "willed optimism." I love the focus on Be Here Now. In my yoga classes they really do try to get you to focus on your body and on being conscious of the present.
The happier we are in the present, the more success we will have in maintenance.
I love your blogs as you are always sharing the small joys in your life.

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LOVELESMILLS 7/20/2014 9:26AM


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Carpe Diem: Glad I Did!!

Saturday, July 19, 2014

It's cool and cloudy here today, with rain threatening -- and more of the same tomorrow!

OK then, makes me even gladder that I took off from work yesterday and enjoyed the sun and went to the beach and played golf and ate a great supper at home and . . . .all that while I could!!

And -- since weight loss and maintenance is our Sparkie theme -- are there any connections between seizing the moment and keeping weight off? I think so, really I do!!

If I "seize the moment" by grabbing onto a whole range of available small pleasures (stopping to really look at a stunning pink zinnia in my garden, or to enjoy watching our resident chipmunk rebuilding his burrow after a rain storm, or to bask in the sunshine on the beach . . . ) then I'm so much less likely to grab a big bagful of potato chips. Much less likely to indulge in foods I truly don't wanna be eating.

That's true for fast foods like fries. And it's even true for "special occasion" type foods ("You gotta have some, I made it just for you." Or "You gotta have some, we only do this for Thanksgiving." etc. etc.) It's only when food is the single prominent focus of pleasure in my life that it becomes far far too important and far far too irresistible.

We consciously decided not to eat at the club last night when we were ravenously hungry(where I knew I might order something not so optimal) because we knew we had those healthier options all ready at home: the salmon, the Swiss chard, the wild rice, and some fresh raspberries and blueberries too . . . .

Non-caloric sources of contentment. They're available. Most of 'em are free, just for the taking. Just for the noticing.

And when I don't take advantage of 'em, I'm waaaaaay more likely to overeat. Yes I am!!

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

SWEDE_SU 7/20/2014 9:27PM

    great point - it really does make a difference to seize the moment, and to have those healthier options waiting!

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BA5454 7/20/2014 11:04AM

    I like the thought of building experiences *not* around food. So many things revolve around food as the primary component--it's nice to start thinking the other way around!

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NUOVAELLE 7/20/2014 3:41AM

    This is so true! I always say to friends who ask me about weight loss that one of the best ways to deal with emotional eating and bingeing is to focus on all the other things we enjoy in life and do so passionately. Seek for beauty around us and enjoy every little bit of it wherever we can find it.
Nice blog, Ellen. Let's seize the day!
Happy Sunday!

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PHEBESS 7/20/2014 1:30AM

    Enjoying the moment is definitely the way to enjoy life!

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MANDELOVICH 7/19/2014 10:18PM

    Hi Ellen. I just have to say that you're my hero. You are always making the choices I dream of making. Sometimes I'm able to make them, but so inconsistently. I'm here post binge, hating myself, thinking, now why didn't I do what Ellen did and focus on the non-food treats of the day.

But Ellen, I think part of it is this horrible sadness at being so alone...anyway, you are always so inspiring!

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ALIIDA 7/19/2014 10:02PM

    Great way to think when those cravings hit. I'll add it to my tactics. Thank you!

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_RAMONA 7/19/2014 9:02PM

    BRILLIANT!!! Exactly how I'm building success into my life!


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1CRAZYDOG 7/19/2014 6:24PM

    emoticon emoticon

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ROXYZMOM 7/19/2014 5:14PM

    I love your "seize the moments". That is what I look for...the eagle flying by, the turtle crossing the road = awesome!

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PHOENIX1949 7/19/2014 2:31PM

    emoticon emoticon

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JANTHEBLONDE 7/19/2014 2:01PM

    I am so proud of you choosing the healthier option! Way to go girl! I find when I eat out anymore... I really don't enjoy the food like I used too! Thanks for sharing! I hope you have a wonderful day! Hugs and love!
emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon

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ONEKIDSMOM 7/19/2014 12:37PM

    emoticon that this is true for me, as well. emoticon

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    Yep, same thing for me.
Now that I have my new freezer, I'm back in the business of creating healthy lunches and quick dinners that I won't be deciding what to make while hungry!
Gotta love watching chipmunks!

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NANCY- 7/19/2014 12:07PM

    WTG on opting for the healthier and most likely tastier option.
As for those "special occasion" type foods I have found that they are not really all that pleasurable any more. Oh no... I'm a food snob. No, it's just that we know what our body truly needs.

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BABYSTEPS123 7/19/2014 11:45AM


So true! And something I need to work on ... finding those "non-caloric sources of contentment."

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KANOE10 7/19/2014 11:02AM

    I think there is a correlation with nurturing yourself outside of food and being a successful maintainer. The more you celebrate your life and find joy in daily events, the less likely you are to turn to overeating.

My husband has planted lots of swiss chard. We are cooking some as well. Good plan on eating a healthy meal at home.

I am having 12 people to dinner tonight so it is going to be a busy day of cleaning and cooking. But first I am going to get a walk in!

I have been seizing the moments by playing with my cats!

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Summer IS Blissful!

Friday, July 18, 2014

Worked till about 11 am and then slunk out the door. Had a bowlful of my Italian farro and lupini bean soup on the back deck with Charlie, and some gorgeous sweet black cherries for dessert. Spent an hour or so on my high "tree fort" deck listening to the wind in the leaves and reading in a Muskoka chair. Went to the beach (my goodness, the water is still so cold!!) for another couple of hours. Out to the golf course for 9 holes: what a gorgeous evening. Back home for baked tarragon Dijon salmon with Swiss chard and wild rice, and a glass of rose wine. Mmmmm.

All right then!! I can use some of this kind of summertime any time!!

We've worked our way through all the Mad Men episodes and are now going to try The Good Wife!! Should be interesting for us . . . .

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

NANCY- 7/19/2014 12:02PM

    "listening to the wind in the leaves " I can feel your"Ah!!!"

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BROOKLYN_BORN 7/19/2014 7:49AM

    In summer I wish I lived further north. Your day sounds lovely.

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PHEBESS 7/19/2014 6:57AM

    I think fruit is one of the many things I love about summer. (I splurged on Rainier cherries at the market, ate half the bag last night)

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SWEDE_SU 7/19/2014 12:59AM

    sounds absolutely lovely! enjoy!!

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ALIIDA 7/18/2014 11:00PM

    I just love to hear about your gourmet cooking, and about your summer, and your leisure activities. We've had "The Good Wife" here but not "Mad Men." Your summer sounds like England - not quite enough of a good thing. Here it's too much of a good thing - sweltering for two to three months, jumping from puddle to puddle of shade.
I'm going to cook that salmon!

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ROXYZMOM 7/18/2014 10:45PM

    Very nice day! Good for you!

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PHOENIX1949 7/18/2014 10:05PM

    I would love to have traded days with you !!

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JANTHEBLONDE 7/18/2014 9:03PM

    Sounds like you had a wonderful day! Thanks for sharing! I hope you have a nice and relaxing evening! Hugs and love!
emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon

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2BDYNAMIC 7/18/2014 8:47PM

    Now this sounds like a day in Heaven ......... Wow .......... I wanted to come thru the page and 'be there' ............ ha ................. all sounded delightful! ........... emoticon ............... btw: I am sending you a special goodie cause you were #1 to post on my Yabba dabba do blog! ............ Thanks! emoticon

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DSHONEYC 7/18/2014 8:35PM

    Sounds heavenly...I on the other hand spent an hour at the airport only to miss my flight because "our policy is to close the gate 15 minutes before take off" at which "time we give your seats away to people on standby". We were sitting 30 feet away having a relaxing glass of wine and decided to hit the gate via the ladies room. Two minutes...tough luck. Next flight is full. New reservations had to be made and of course there was a charge...1/2 the price of the flight we were excluded from. This really sucks.

Will try it again tomorrow and plan to be standing at the gate when the airport opens at 5AM.

By the way my emoticon is in final descent about now. The last time I flew into Portland my bag never made the flight and never was found. At leave I know the way to "lost luggage" claim. Hope it doesn't get stolen again.

I am ready for summer vacation to start!

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1CRAZYDOG 7/18/2014 8:34PM

    Sounds like a good day all-in-all!

Have a wonderful weekend. HUGS

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ONEKIDSMOM 7/18/2014 8:23PM

    Enjoy your Summer evening!

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    Hmmm a perfect day.
I had a rough day at work, came home to leftovers and a cold beer.
Doesn't sound as romantic but it feels as good!

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