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Someday this will make awesome stirfry, miso soup, and fake bacon, I hope

Someday this will make awesome stir fry, miso soup, and fake bacon, I hope

The Shiitake Mushroom kit I ordered last week was just delivered. A barking dog alerted me to the delivery man approaching the door, so I was able to meet him outside and not have the mushrooms left out in the heat at all. The UPS guy was a little bewildered by the package and asked me cautiously if these were for eating. I think if someone were shipping the other kind, they probably wouldn’t cover the outside of the box with photos of growing fungi and “live item” stamps, but I can understand his confusion. Not everyone knows the joy of Shiitake, but I do.

I opened the package immediately, and found a heavy block of something covered with what looks like fuzzy popped corn. According to the instructions, thismeans I need to pop the whole thing into the fridge for 3 to 5 days, then give it a 24 hour soak before it will sprout mushrooms. So if you come over and poke around in my fridge anytime this weekend, don’t be alarmed by the large bag of moldy popcorn sitting in there.

There’s rain in the works again today. Blech. I just hope it won’t be violent enough to wash away the seeds I planted yesterday, which included two types of kale, huazontle, beets, and broccoli raab. I want a fall harvest this year!

Here’s some things I spotted around the net while waiting out rain¬† storms this week:

  • To Go Green You Must Find Your Personal Balance. An eco-host spills the beans on his un-green car, and discusses the need for balance in our approach to going green. Most of us can’t do it all, but we can find some green habits that we can live with.
  • 11 Unusual Things You Can Compost. This is a nice list of inedible things that can be composted, though few of us think to.
  • Chickens in Suburbia-One Couple’s Foray Into Urban Homesteading. This is a short profile of another family that lives a homesteading lifestyle in suburbia. If Denver were closer, I’d have them over for dinner (homegrown and homebrewed dinner). They do have one thing I covet: chickens. Hubby just isn’t ready to make that leap yet.
  • 101 Simple Salads for the Season. What a wonderful list of easy meals for the lazy cook. Don’t miss the links to the dressings in the side bar.
  • More Food Less Lawn-Save Money with an Edible Landscaping Plan. One of these days I’m going to rip out the front lawn and make that space useful. And when I do, I’ll post photos of it here.
  • Homemade Weed Killer Recipes and Tips. I think I may try some of these over areas that I’ve already weeded to prevent that crabgrass from returning.
  • Lavender Recipes. I picked up a pound of culinary lavender at the Atlantic Spice Warehouse, and here’s a bunch of things to try with it. Those Quick Lavender Cinnamon Buns look promising…if not the best thing some someone whose trying to shed a few pounds.
This is not the rear end I want to have. I saw this photo last month, and I realy upset me. Hubby swears it's just a trick of the camera, but I think it's all the donuts and french fries from vacation.

This is not the rear view I want to have. I saw this photo last month, and it shook me up. Hubby swears it's just a trick of the camera, but I think it's all the donuts and french fries from vacation.

With all this time spent daily in the garden, my other fitness plans have gone down the drain. Thing 1 and I never really resume our running program after Cape Cod, and it showing for both of us. My pants are all tighter, and she’s getting tired earlier.¬† I’m tired all the time now, and even a cup of dark coffee can’t seem to jump start my engine. I’ve spent much of the past week feeling chubby, sleepy, and lazy, which is not really who I want to be.

I weighed myself this morning, and I am now just a hair under being obese. Ouch. That is a line I do not want to cross, especially not with the minor heart defect that I don’t want to ever let become a major heart problem. I am setting the goal of trimming off 10 pounds by the end of August, and another 15 by the end of November.

So it’s time to revisit, revise, and recommit to taking care of my body more fully than I have been. Prior to vacation I had been tracking my calories in and out using Calorie Count, but to be honest with you (as well as with myself), that tool isn’t working for me. I tried using it again today, and I just resent all the extra work it takes. Logging the nutritional value of every bite is too much of a chore, especially given my tendency to cook free-style. Doing half an hour of math before or after each meal isn’t something I enjoy, and this site seems to reward convenience eating over home cooking since it is so much easier to log a restaurant meal than one you make yourself. This isn’t working for me, so it’s time to discard it and find something that does.

One change I think I can live with is eliminating (or at least dramatically reducing) prepared and processed foods from my diet. This means things like garden burgers and tofurky as well as candies, ice cream, and sugary cereals. I can have treats, but only if I do the work to make them. Other changes I plan to make include reducing my consumption of white sugar and wheat, finding some treats which are not variations on the basic formula of butter+sugar+egg+wheat, and kicking the coffee habit again. But I’m not going to give up the occasional Italian Ice bought out the side of a Weazer truck, because some calories are always worth it.

On the fitness front, Thing 1 and I have decided to start training again Monday, but we’re going to follow a 5k plan rather than the 10k one. We’ll tackle the 10k once we’ve finished the 5k program. I’ve also started doing daily yoga again, sometimes just 10 minutes when I first get up, but also some 30 minute sessions when I have the house all quiet to myself. I have also set my bike up on a trainer inside, so I can still get some nice rides in despite the overwhelming summer traffic outside. (This also lets me listen to podcasts while I ride, so the time can be used for professional development, too).

I may even consider doing the situp or pushup companions to the 200 Squats program, though I’m not really sure. I may instead include sets of all three a few times a week, gradually building up strength rather than pushing myself through another grueling 6 weeks. We’ll see how the running goes-I can only climb one mountain at a time.

The goldfinches have found my window mounted birdfeeder. The cat has already face planted against the window twice trying to get them.

The goldfinches have found my window mounted birdfeeder. The cat has already face planted against the window twice trying to get them.

The wet muggy weather continues here in NJ, and I am finding it hard to motivate myself to go outside to work in it! I focused my effort yesterday and today on weeding out portions of the back patio, since those area dried faster and were less muddy than the rest of the yard.

I came to a realization today. My efforts are producing 3 big cans of debris each week, which is going out with the rest of the trash because I lack the facilities to compost that sort of volume here on my lot. This represents a lot of my yard’s biomass and soil value being carted away to the landfill. Tonight I am going to talk it over with hubby to see if we can’t come up with a way to accommodate a big compost heap tucked away somewhere in the yard so we can stop wasting so much valuable material.

I also realized something else: I can only be relied on to do a good job of patio weeding for about 15 minutes. After that I get sloppy and start leaving too much root behind. So from now on I am limiting myself to 15 minutes of patio weeding daily, and I’ll find other things to do with the other 15 minutes that don’t involve squatting and grabbing at those nasty little weedies and feeling like Gollum.

My volunteer sunflower has opened up and revealed a lovely orange-dusted blossom.

My volunteer sunflower has opened up and revealed a lovely orange-dusted blossom.

We’ve had a few rainy days here, which has made it hard to get much done outside. I tried to get out both Sunday and Monday, but between the wet everything, muddy soil, muggy air, and aggressive mosquitoes, I didn’t accomplish much.

This morning I headed out into bright sun but wet plants and ground. The seeds I ordered last week are here (though the mushrooms are not), and decided to spend some time clearing space in the veggie patch for the new goods. A lot of the older lettuces had bolted up and gotten rubbery, so removing them was the logical place to start. A few seemed like they might still be good eatin’, so I cleaned them up and stuck them in the fridge for tonight’s dinner. (While I generally think food tastes better if it hasn’t been in the slammer, I make an exception for summer lettuce. A few hours in the fridge can help return limp leaves to crispy.)

I got a lot of space cleared, so hopefully the ground will be something other than muddy tomorrow, and I can start sowing the seeds. I am really eager to see what the huazontle tastes like!