Drive! Just Drive!

My son who turned 16 last month drove his car by himself this past Tuesday (6/2/15).   He was driving to a friend’s house.  I watched him back out of the garage and drive off!  I kept watching until…I was left in silence and an empty spot in the garage.

 

backing out
This was moment of truth for me, the mom!  As soon as I saw my son drive off, I was instantaneously pushed to accept the fact that from this moment onward, the cord has been cut!  Cut by the law…I felt angry at the law.  The law no longer required a parent to be seated in the car with him.  He was now allowed to drive by himself out in the world.  And, believe me, he seemed perfectly happy about that fact.

I told my son two things that my Dad had told me when I was learning to drive – One, to keep two car distance between your car and the car in front of you, and two, to slow down when you see yellow light in order to stop on red.  My dad’s reasoning behind that was to simply teach us good driving habits – to drive with a relaxed mind!  He had said once that yellow means to slow down not speed up.  He had also said that it generally took only a minute for a light to change from red to green.   Passing down driving advice to my son has forced me to look into my own driving habits!

My car is my second home.  I am in it a lot.  While in it, I am generally tuning my radio to the news or music.   Less than frequently and more than rarely, I’m eating in there, too.  My favorite car food is a yummy peanut butter & jelly sandwich on toasted wheat bread slices.  I accompany that with a bag of  Frito Lays Corn Chips!  (You say, it is junk food. Yes. But please, I’d like to keep this habit going). This lunch is the best!  It’s a combination of sweet, salty, gooey and crunchy!  No fuss and no mess!  Also, I take a mug of hot tea.  I’m happy sipping on it as I drive to my next destination.  Everything is cozily placed right beside me…I like that!  My Dad would not like that at all.  He considered eating in a car to be a big distraction.  But I cannot help it.  So, as I am driving and eating and drinking and listening to the radio; I’m also, at the same time engaging myself into my thoughts.  I think about my day, my week, my year, and frequently about my life, and purpose of my being here on Earth.  My thoughts travel from my kids, my husband, my friends, my dogs, to the people who I have met momentarily, but who have had a meaningful impact on my life.  Sounds pretty deep!  And, definitely not what you may call – a relaxed driving:).  It is for me though.

Talk about a bigger distraction here!  Thomas and Dixie, the two family dogs,  are in the car with me more times than less.  They are my additional source of entertainment (or distraction),  however you may want to look at it.  (Dogs in the car would be a big No if my Dad knew about it).

 

Dixie, comfortable in my seat:)
Dixie, my pit-lab mix loves to lunge from the back seat to the middle front of the car between the two front seats.  She has come to maintain a great balance to avoid falling when I step on my breaks to slow down or to stop the car.  Her lean strong body is a constant reminder that I need to go up a notch on my strength training :)!

And, then I have my sweet beagle, Thomas, a royal dog by all means!  He loves to stick his head out through the back window and enjoy the breeze!

 

Thomas, enjoying the breeze
One hobby I’m mastering while driving is taking pictures using my iPhone.  I then post some good ones on my Instagram account.  It’s called earthproject101.  Please look at my gallery🙏🏼.

Picture I took while driving
One of the main reasons I drive a lot is because I take my daughter, five days a week, to a local animal shelter which is about 25 minutes each way.  She plays and walks these dogs who are awaiting adoption.  Driving my daughter back and forth from the shelter gives us an opportunity to have some quality time together.  Usually, she plays her music and then tells me about the dogs she spent time with.  She also tells me about the dogs she’d be walking the next day.  Occasionally, without any warning, a difference in opinion may catch fire and turn into a blazing disagreement.  If there was one CRAZY HUGE distraction, this one is it for me, this one is the ultimate.  This requires that I gently park my car on the roadside shoulders until all parties calm down.  Boy! This is easy said than done!

Despite those hard moments, driving does give me a sense of peace!  It happens when I finally find myself alone in the car!  I have complete control!  Complete control of the music being played, the volume, the thermostat, and the fan speed.  But the icing on the cake is having the control to choose silence in the car.  The sounds I do hear in that silence are the humming sounds from the approaching cars whizzing by me, leaving me behind.  Soothing to my ears!  (Crazy but true).

 

Cars that just passed me in my car
Admittedly, I lead a distracted life inside my car,  but I make sure I follow core rules to be a safe driver.  Those core rules my Dad lovingly instilled in me, and those same rules I’d pass on to my son, and my daughter when she drives.  Core rules:  To keep two car distance between my car and the car in front of me, and to slow down at yellow light in order to stop at red – (Because in about one minute the light will change to green).  At the end of the day, my car is a place and a space I wholeheartedly cherish.  And, at the end of the day I would like for my son to be a safe driver!  By the way, when my son returned home from that first solo drive from this past Tuesday, his first words to me were, “Independence, finally!”

🙋🏻 until next time…

Never thought!!

sun set on the ocean

(The sunset photo is unaltered. No editing, just the way I saw it.). I took it from the cruise ship I was on!  It all began with my husband proposing the idea that I go on a cruise with my daughter, I agreed and we sailed!  He couldn’t go & neither could my son.  Initially, the idea of such an adventure got me excited.  However, as the day to depart got closer, I was unsure and I was a bit nervous – I thought what would I do by myself?   All our vacations have been family vacations.  This time I would be accompanied by two minors – my daughter and her friend.  Two teenage girls!  Of course, nothing to worry about there!  

So the day arrived and we made it on the ship!  The vastness of it suddenly made me feel all alone!  I did not know anyone in the big crowd of people!  But I held my posture straight and strong realizing I’m the adult here!  I’m the parent and the decision maker!  The girls just followed me as we made our way to our stateroom.  Once there, I took a deep breath and felt relaxed in this tiny quiet space – our home here on the ship.

Decisions! Decisions! Decisions!

Decision one:  To get the girls registered in the teen club.  Did that! The girls, excitedly went to visit the club while I figured my afternoon.  I walked, ate and watched the ocean until we sailed.

Second day came fast!  I asked the girls if we could eat breakfast together before they left  for the teen club.  They said they’d like to sleep in and would eat later, and that they would not be going to the teen club because the teenagers there were up to no good! They said they’d do activities on their own.  I was cool with that!

Decision two:   I wanted to do things that energized me!  Did that!

Food is energizing anytime 😋.  My first meal was a big bowl of cool salad.

first meal: salad!

To the fresh green spring mix I had added raw broccoli, garbanzo, beets, tri-colored bell peppers, sauteed zucchinni, sauteed onion, sauteed squash and sauteed eggplants.  I had taken extra eggplants.  I love eggplants!  To all that, I added an ounce of baked chicken.  No salad dressing!  The sauteed veggies, I thought, already had just enough oil and spices.  I sat where I could get an ocean view. I was romancing the ocean!  And, my delicious salad! That salad really hit the right spot!  It was now nap time for me.  I was quickly getting comfortable here…in this huge space.

Tantalizing ocean view

Decision three:  I wanted to see this big ship.  I needed to walk everywhere!  (What other option did I have😀?)  Did that!

Alone, but not lonely, I walked the decks!  I would run into my child and her friend once in a while.  I did not stop, neither did they want me to stop.  I waved at them, blew kisses and kept on.

Decision four: Wanted to live it up on the ship!  That meant doing stuff! Workout, eat and live the ship life!  Did that!

Each morning, after a great breakfast I would head up to the SPA area, where the exercise room was located.  Upon my arrival to the exercise room the first morning, I was a bit surprised to see every exercise machine occupied.  Instead of leaving, I decided to hang around and watch people on these machines and familiarize myself with the room.  I had all the time!  I had no groceries I needed to run get, I had no laundry that I needed to throw in the drier, and I had no kids who needed to be dropped off or picked up from any where.  I really did have all the time!  I sat there watching more people and scanning the place for restroom, towels, mats and for a good spot for stretching!  Every morning thereafter I noticed less and less people.  By the last day of the cruise, I was the only one in that workout room. (Worked well for me👏).

Remembering my second day – Second day, after a killing workout, I had planned on rewarding myself later that evening by going dancing – of course, all by myself!  But I needed some rest first.  I went to rest in my nice comfy bed after dinner only to wake up bright and early the next morning😉!  I kindly accepted the fact that I may not ever make it to the dance floor after my active day.  

Loved my breakfast

Healthy and yummy breakfast got me going each morning.  All five mornings!  Workout after that breakfast was nothing but the best!  A quick shower after workout was refreshing.  Energized everyday, I walked on the Sports Deck…played putt-putt golf; walked on Promanade Deck…watched people getting pictures made,  kids of all ages going up and down the glass elevators; checked out the theater, the library, and the coffee shop. I watched people! People laughing, talking and having fun. Everyone seemed very content and happy!

All five days for me turned out to be “fun-tastic”.  I realized that I didn’t need too much to make me happy!  Every afternoon, after lunch, I found a comfy spot with a great ocean view where I read a novel that I had checked out from the ship’s cute little library.

Looking back, five days of cruise life went by quickly.  Crew members whom I met regularly on the ship came to know me well.  We chatted a bit each time we met, and they made sure that all my needs were met.  I appreciated them a lot.  And, they loved talking to me!  

I woke up really early on the last morning of my cruise.  I peeked out of my window to see if we were still sailing.  To my surprise the ship had made it back safely to the port from where we had departed earlier in the week.  I met a few crew members while I ate my last breakfast.  We said goodbyes.  They wished me a safe journey home, and asked me to come see them again.  I felt close to them at that moment.  But, I needed to get off the ship!  Once out of the ship, the land world hit me hard…it was a hot day, and I needed to get started toward getting back home.  The girls… I didn’t forget them:). They were too exhausted to say anything.  We were a quiet bunch rest of the trip.  And, I was fine with that.

Will I do a trip by myself?  Absolutely!!! (Girls were with me but really not!)




The Cool Cucumber!

Cool droplets!

If you came to my house any time during summer and opened my refrigerator, you’d find a cucumber in the vegetable bin.  No one in the family cares for it much, except my husband.  He loves eating them in his sandwiches.

Yesterday, as I was cutting a freshly bought cucumber to make a sandwich for my husband, I noticed tiny crystal balls oozing out of the cut end…I was totally amazed by these crisp, clear, round droplets.  I never quite noticed them this way before.  I got my phone and took a close-up shot of them.

These water droplets steered me to find out more about the vegetable itself.   After reading several sites I felt like cucumbers are not getting a good deal from us.  We definitely NEED to consume more of this fully hydrated vegetable!  They are HIGH in water content…obviously:).  See for yourself, buy one, cut it crosswise & you’ll see those droplets making its way out!

I found out that cucumbers are rich in phosphorus, magnesium, calcium and potassium.  Rich in vitamin K, too.  Only 8 calories in half a cup!  Good snack food, for sure! I enjoy getting my information from going to several sites, but I love http://www.livestrong.com.

To make this sandwich I start with one slice of a sourdough bread which I cut in half.  Then I spread lowfat olive oil mayo on each slice.   

Next, I thinly slice about 1/2 a cup of cucumber and arrange them on one slice of “mayoed” bread.  After that I sprinkle a dash of black peppers over them. 

Then I add 5 slices of gherkin pickle (sweet & salty cucumber pickle). Most grocery stores have them.  (I plan on learning how to pickle once I get the hang of this blogging😃!!)    I bought this one from Aldi.

 I add a slice of cheese: cheddar, parmasean, mozzarela or any that I have at home.  Here I have added Parmasean with black peppercorns from Trader Joe’s.  It’s deliciously buttery in taste.  

  

 Usually, my husband does not want any meat on this sandwich.  Lastly, I put the other slice of the sourdough bread over the layered side.  My husband’s sandwich is ready to be devoured:). Cool, light, healthy and delicious sandwich!  I serve a handful of chips and about 2 cups of salad with it.   

My husband thinks this is gourmet😃!

Recipe:

Ingredients:

1 Slice sourdough bread

1 Tablesoon mayonnaise (lowfat Olive oil mayo)

1/2 Cup cucumber thinly sliced

1/8 Teaspoon ground black pepper 

5 Slices Gerkin pickle slices
1 Ounce cheese, sliced or shredded

Slice bread in half.  Spread mayo on both halves.  Arrange sliced cucumbers on one half slice bread.  Sprinkle black pepper over cucumber slices.  Add the pickle slices.  Next, add cheese.  Put the other slice of bread with mayo side down over the layered bread.  Cut sandwich in half.  Enjoy!!

Nutrition:

Calories 315; Total Fat 16.5g; Saturated Fat 6g; protein 11g; carb 30g; Fiber 1g; Chlesterol 30mg  

“Food is for eating, and good food is to be enjoyed…I think food is, actually, very beautiful in itself.” — Delia Smith

Until next time…

Whole Wheat English Muffin with Avocado

Love eating this:)…it’s good food! Healthy & yummy!
My sister and I frequent Trader Joe’s  for some of our food shopping.  I love a lot of their products.  On one such venture, my sister suggested I try their whole wheat English muffin.

I loved the taste of it when I tried one the very next morning with avocado slices.  My sister loves to eat this for her breakfast!

Take an English muffin and toast it.  Smear cream cheese, plain, chives or sour cream onion.  The one I made this morning, I used Brie.  Cut avocado in half.  Save half for next time:). Take pit out & place cut side down on a plate and cover with plastic wrap.  Peel & slice the other half.  Then layer them on the two muffins.  Slice fresh tomatoes, and layer over avocado slices.  Must add onion for that great taste.  It’s morning and I’m eating raw onion!  But on this it really tastes good because I only add a little bit.  Salt and pepper and a bit of lemon juice squeezed from a fresh lemon.  Juice it right over the onions!

I love that this is a hearty breakfast.  It’s high in protein, high in complex carb and high in potassium.  And, it is packed with good fat.  I totally enjoyed every bite of this breakfast.

Recipe:

1 – 1 whole wheat English Muffin toasted

2 – 1 Tablespoon Cream cheese or Brie 1/8 wedge (Soy cheese is a good option if you do not want dairy product)

3 – 1/2 Fresh avocado, peeled & sliced

4 – 1/2 Roma tomato sliced

5 – 2 thin slices of red onion

6 – 1/2 teaspoon fresh lemon juice

7 – Salt, pepper

Layer everything from #2 to #7 (in this order) over the muffin sides.  Enjoy!!

Nutritional Information:

Calories 414; Fat 23.5g; carbohydrate 32.5g; protein 15g; Cholesterol 30mg; potassium 425mg

Next blog …coming tomorrow!!!

Life: it’s my sweet life!

  

Meet Thomas!  He has lived with us for six years now.  Needs training, but the trainer said Thomas was untrainable.  Thomas listens to Thomas!  We love him because he is too adorable.  

Let’s meet the other:  

Hi Dixie👋.  Gentle, great listener, and runs like a bullet!!  She’s two.  Needs no training.  A trainer would probably love to train her anyways:)

I love having them with me when I drive around town.  They poke their heads out the back window to feel the breeze, and I can’t help but smile seeing their eyes closing as the breeze hits them.  They are calm, serene and taking life easy!

We come home, I open the door…they dash inside the house, out to the backyard through the doggie door – They pee, they bark, they run!  They bark at the squirrels, deer (sometimes they are in our back yard) and our neighbor’s dog!  Then they come inside and hit their beds (our couch). And doze off.  I look at them – they seem calm, serene and taking life easy!

Next post about food,😋.  

Spring bells:)  Happy I could take this picture!

When we adopted our second dog, October 2014, I started walking them together. My plan included learning all tricks to accomplish enjoyable walks with my then 6-year-old beagle Thomas, and not-then-2-year-old pit-lab mix, Dixie.  My plan was working well until Dixie started to get progressively comfortable in her surroundings and started walking faster, barking confidently, pulling like Thomas (only in the opposite direction). More and more, I felt that my body was splitting in half, pulled in half, stretched and elongated!  Trust me, if this made me taller, I would be willing to bare the pain.  I planned a bit too hard to succeed walking with both.  One other problem during these walks – I couldn’t use any hands to take pictures.  Many a times I wished I was an octopus.

I had to change my plans!!! I felt unsuccessful and unhappy….until I started walking with only Thomas.  Life was simplified!  I was taking time to view the sky, the clouds, trees and flowers again!!!  I screamed with joy realizing spring is here!!  I started taking pictures.  Life seemed easier.  My husband walks Dixie and I walk Thomas!!  I love this plan and I love taking pictures.  Now I can enjoy walking and photographing.  Maybe one day I’ll be able to take a photo of an octopus😀.