Home In Disarray

August 25, 2012

Juniper Project: Phase II Commencing

40 year old junipers

Alrighty, so last August, we tore out the old dead lawn & half of the junipers that appeared to be eating our lawn, then put in a whole new lawn and some small & drought tolerant perennials. This year, phase II begins. Phase II includes removing the remainder of the junipers, trucking in more topsoil, and putting in some bigger and more expensive plants.

IMAG0234 40 year old junipers IMAG0261

Tomorrow I get started on the first part of phase II, removal. In case you haven’t had the fortune of coming across the inner workings of a 40 year old juniper bush, now’s your chance. They are a pile of spikes, confusion, and horrors. A branch will start going one way, and seemingly without reason, it will double back on itself. All of the cast off needles accumulate under and within the structure of the bush.






The spiky needles are SHARP. Really. They’ll embed themselves in bare skin given the chance. And there’s all sorts of creepy crawlies living in them. I’m not sure if it’s visible in the photos, but there’s a really cottony looking spider web around the base of this particular bush. There is a several inch deep litter of dead spiky needles waiting to attack. The best part of this is that every one of the junipers we’re removing is planted along either power or communications lines so pulling them out with a truck is a no-go. They get to be carefully dug up, roots severed with compound loppers and pried from the ground using a 6′ pry bar. Last year, the 6 (out of 9 total that got cut down to nothing) that I dug out took me a week’s worth of evenings, working until it was too dark to see. This batch looks like there will be more and I’ll be working on a much steeper slope. Wish me luck.

August 19, 2012

Artichoke Jalapeno Lettuce Wraps – Low Carb!

Jalapeno Artichoke Turkey Lettuce Wraps

Here’s another tasty and easy low carb creation that took shape yesterday. In the photo, the meat is a turkey burger that’s been cut up into pieces, but it would work just as well with steak, chicken breasts, or thighs, pretty  much any meat you could imagine.  Cook up the meat, cut it up into little pieces, top with a few tablespoons of Artichoke Jalapeno dip, mix, and stick in lettuce leaves (these are mini-romaine leaves from good old Costco).  Delicious, tasty, satisfying, and super fast to make.


Posted in: Cooking, Food
August 14, 2012

Induction Ham Roll-Ups!

Atkins Induction Cuban Sandwich Roll-Up Snack

Between settling into a routine, getting better at regularly cooking meals, being more mindful about eating “real food,” and hormonal changes when I hit 25, I’ve packed on a few pounds. I’m pretty serious about getting back down to my “goal weight” which is about 30lbs off from where I am. This post (and any other posts that I may make about low carb food) is not for you to judge me. I have done the research, I understand the risks, and I also understand the benefits. For me, with my age, health, cholesterol, etc, I feel that it is a good option. Anyway, I’m doing this 40 day weight loss challenge with one of my coworkers where whoever loses the most percentage of body weight wins and the other person has to take her out to a nice lunch. This way of eating is working for me because there are no “ifs,” “ands” or “buts” about what I am allowed to eat. Previously when trying to eat healthier, I got into habits where I could justify anything I felt like (“well it’s LOCALLY PRODUCED ORGANIC CREAM!” “But I made this pie from scratch with lard that I rendered myself!”) and here, there is no option to justify. The fact is that the carbohydrates are there and I am not allowed to eat them.

I’ve decided to do Atkins, and the starting off point of Atkins is the induction period, which according to Dr. Atkins is safe to do for up to 6 months, but people generally do it for 2 weeks. I just finished the 2nd week and lost 6.7lbs in those 2 weeks. I plan to continue until I make it to my goal weight or I hit 6 months, but I have a feeling that the former will come before the latter as long as I don’t cheat. The purpose of Induction is to drain your body of stored glucose and get it used to burning fat for energy(also, when it doesn’t have an insulin response from carbohydrates, it’s not able to store fat – it’s a use it or lose it situation). The process of burning fat for energy (in the absence of glucose) is called ketosis(totally simplified explanation). The induction period limits your carbohydrate intake significantly, down to 20 grams per day. Now you may believe that it’s not that bad, but a sausage mcmuffin has 33grams of carbohydrates, a glass of 2% milk is somewhere around 12 grams, and pretty much anything (that’s not all out hardcore meat) has some carbohydrate content. Even packets of splenda have carbohydrates in them (the anticaking agent has carbohydrates)as do eggs. A TUMS has 2g carbs. That’s 10% of the allowed daily intake on induction. You get the picture, everything has carbs in it.

I nearly blew it one day when I ate a cucumber as a snack prior to researching it. It had somewhere like 7 grams of carbohydrates in it. Snacks are one of the tougher things to deal with on induction as almost any snack food has carbs. Nuts are prohibited because portion control is tough and they’re not as low carb as you might imagine. Pork rinds are an option, but srsy, who wants to eat them? Gross. Pickles are fairly safe as they clock in at only about 2g/pickle. Sugar free jello is a good bet, but it’s so full of weird chemicals that it’s not really a good “all the time” option, though I do have snack packs stashed in my purse and car (and they hold at room temp!!!!) with a plastic spoon. With a limited number of acceptable snack options, it’s important to not overdo any one item as not eating it severely limits your stockpile. Being the compulsive researcher that I am, I found a mention that someone made about wrapping a dill pickle spear in cream cheese(higher fat cheese is safer than lower fat cheese as it’s lower in carbs) smeared ham. So I figured it sounded like a Cuban sandwich and I’d try it! I added a little mustard to be extra authentic.

Atkins Induction Cuban Sandwich Roll-Up Snack

The verdict? Pretty damn good! One of those could easily satisfy a grumbly stomach and clocking in at 1.8g carbs seems like a pretty decent deal. I cut them in half so each piece is about .9 carbs. I used 1 slice Black Forest Ham from Costco(2oz), 1/6 of a Farman’s Kosher Dill Pickle, and .4oz full fat cream cheese. Sorry about the crappy cell phone photos, I’m too lazy to pull my real camera out.

Posted in: Cooking, Food
August 8, 2012

Tomato taste test – stupice, taxi yellow, & glacier

Tomato taste test – stupice, taxi yellow, & glacier

I am growing almost all new tomatoes this year. I focused on extra early varieties due to the horrific and cold weather last year. And I’m glad I did! It’s been super cold this summer. I was able to get 3 different varieties off the vines this evening and decided to do a side by side taste test.

Left to right- stupice(pronounced stew-peach-ka) is a Russian variety, taxi yellow is the only yellow tomato I’m growing this year, and Glacier is another super early red. Neither Craig nor I were particularly impressed with the taxi yellow. It was fine but not nuanced. The stupice was bright, clean and very fresh and we would make a caprese salad with it. Comparably, the Glacier was sweeter, more robust, and tasted of tomato sauce or ketchup. We both think that it would be great with a hamburger tomato…. except for the size of course, each of these tomatoes was only about an inch in diameter. An interesting aside, I chopped up some dill on this cutting board earlier this evening and Craig noted that his slice of tomato tasted of dill. Whoops.

Posted in: Food, Garden