The Best Ever Oatmeal: a crock pot breakfast

I love oatmeal for breakfast. But not just any oatmeal…I love steel cut oats cooked overnight in my crock pot.

007Everybody seems to call these by a different name. I call them steel-cut oats. I’ve also heard them called Irish oats, or groats. Here’s what they look like:

006Here’s the box they came in:

005They are creamy and chewier than rolled oats, and have a rich, nutty flavour.

003My friend Maureen gave me the recipe and I played around with it a little bit. Do you want to make some? They are easy-peesy!

008Before you go to bed, get your small (I use a 6-cup) crockpot out of the cupboard and put 3 1/2  cups of water and 1/2 cup milk into it. Pour in 1 cup of steel cut oats.Put on the lid. Plug it in and turn the setting to low. When you get up in the morning, give it a good stir and let it sit for 5 minutes while you make your coffee. Enjoy!

You can add chopped apple, some walnuts or raisins right into the pot, whatever you like. I like mine plain with a teaspoon (okay, 2 teaspoons) of brown sugar. Sometimes I throw a handful berries on top just before digging in. Delish!

In a nutshell for you:
3.5 cups water
.5 cup milk
1 cup steel cut oats
6 -cup crock pot, on low overnight.009If you’re back on the old Weight Watcher’s Momentum plan, they are 2 points per cup. I don’t know what they are in points plus. You’ll have to look that up for yourself as I’m not doing that program anymore.

Do you love oatmeal? What do you call them: Groats? Irish Oats? Steel-cut?

Four things to build Momentum in 2015

Do you choose a word to guide you for the year?

Last year I chose the word Play. You can read about it here (and there are also some great family photos on that post, too!) It was the perfect word for my first year of retirement.

But now it’s time to switch things up. I’ve thought about it a lot and the word that keeps popping into my head is Momentum.

Driving Power…Strength…to (continue) Moving Forward…to Repeat Recent Success.  I’ve felt stagnant lately. Bored, even. Recognizing signs of depression hovering around the atmosphere, like little dull grey sparkles just inside my peripheral vision.

Time to start moving forward again….build up some Momentum!

There are four areas I’ve identified that need some work. That need some momentum.

  1. Writing: I wrote over 50,000 words last November during NaNoWriMo and then totally let it fall to the side.
    What I’m doing about it: I’ve joined a writing critique group. In fact, I have someone’s first three chapters on my laptop waiting for my own comments right now! Wow! Now, not only does this give me serious aakk! moments but it also gives me incentive to keep on writing. In fact, my goal for today is to get a chapter ready to send around for a look-see. I’d like to send it out this afternoon. And a bonus is that it reminds me that I am capable and competent – something I have struggled with this first year of retirement.
  2. That number on the scale: I gained 15 pounds. Yup. In one year. You’ve heard of the Freshman 15, right? Bet you hadn’t heard of the retirement 15, l0l! Eee Gads. How embarrassing to have to admit this out loud.  Several years ago I lost 65 pounds with Weight Watchers. Read about it here. Then Weight Watchers changed from the Momentum plan to the “new” Points Plus plan. The new plan just didn’t work for me, and my weight crept up until I had re-gained 15 pounds.Over the next 4 years I started and quit weight watchers three times.  Finally it sunk in. The new plan just doesn’t work for me. At all.
    What I’m doing about it: I’ve dug out my old weight watcher’s momentum plan stuff. I’m going back to what worked for me the first time before any more damage is done. Did you do the math? Yup…15 + 15 = 30 pounds “found.” I remember my friend Judy saying that she wasn’t loosing weight, she was getting rid of it because she didn’t want to find it again. Right on, Judy! Does this put me in the same category as all the other people who vow to loose weight and get fit in the new year. I suppose so, but I don’t care. What I care about is regaining that feeling of good health that I enjoyed up till recently. So YAY for the old Momentum plan. It worked for me before and so far it’s working for me again as I am already down 4 pounds in the first two weeks. And I’m having fun! Just like I did before.
  3. Fitness: My fitness plans went sideways, and I’m not sure why. I’d been doing a fair bit of walking…Sammy and I have covered quite a bit of ground over the year, and I’m really pleased about it. But I’ve also been doing a fair bit of sitting, what with all the sewing and quilting and book-reading I’ve been doing. I really missed my treadmill this winter when the weather hasn’t been cooperative for going out.
    What I’m doing about it: we moved my treadmill out of storage in the garage where it has resided since we moved in last year and set it up in the sewing room. Yup. My little 99 square-foot sewing room just got a little bit smaller, lol! And better yet, I’ve built a little desk for my laptop, so that I can move while I write.
    046Yup! and the little pink balls you see there weigh a couple of pounds each, perfect for a few overhead presses while I’m thinking or watching an episode of SG-1 on DVD. How’s that for two birds with one stone, eh?
    045It isn’t hard…I haven’t fallen off once. In fact, I’ve spent 68 minutes writing this post  at the low low setting of 1.2 mph and have walked 1.35 miles. That’s over a mile on my feet instead of on my butt! Awesome!
  4. Social: I often feel isolated and lonely.
    What I’m dong about it: Not 100% sure yet, but things are going to change. I’ve gone to a second quilter’s group and may join – though I am deathly afraid of becoming an old lady who does nothing but quilt. I am thinking of maybe joining a line dance class or something active and fun like that. Even teach a dance class, maybe? Tomorrow night I’m going to attend a meeting at the Sunnybrae Community Hall down the street from us and see if I want to get involved there in some capacity. The important thing is that getting more involved is on my radar and this will be the year to do something about it. I need to make a life for myself outside of being home alone all the time.

So there you go. Four things to build some momentum on. Four things to move me forward. AND a plan to help me do so.

And did you notice that sewing and quilting didn’t even make the list? That’s because there isn’t anything at all wrong or lacking in that area. I aim to continue learning and growing and playing with needle and thread.

Do you have a plan for the year? and seriously…what do you think of my walking desk? too cool, right?

Vintage Adjust-O-Matic Dress Form and a Healthy Body Image

Have you ever seen one of these?

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Made in the mid-1960s and costing only $6.95: “with your Adjust-o-Matic dress form you see in advance just how attractive and becoming your dress, skirt, coat or blouse will look!

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Inside the box was a bewildering assortment of pieces. I have to admit, as a person who kind of sucks at puzzles, this put a bit of fear into my heart.

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Thank goodness there was also an instruction booklet! And let me say right now, that all instruction writers in the world should read this instruction booklet and take notes.  Seriously! This was so easy to put together! I was amazed!

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I spread the pieces out on the kitchen floor and proceeded to fit tab A into slot A and on and on until I was finished about an hour later.

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The Incredible Adjust-o-Matic is a miracle of modern engineering. Honestly.

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The form was built in three sections: first the hips, then the torso, then attach the neck piece and close the shoulders. When I built the hips section, I held it in my two hands and thought that surely there must be some mistake. These hips are too small. My hips are much larger than this. So I double checked the measurements. And yes…these are my hips.

013

I suddenly felt a little teary-eyed! So here’s something about me that you may or may not know. Several years ago I lost a great deal of weight. Yes. Yes, I did. You can read all about it here. At some point after that I suffered an illness. My brain chemicals and hormones went out of balance, brought on by a combination of stressful life events and menopause, and I was diagnosed with acute depression.  It took me a couple of years, but thanks to a lot of very hard work and the love and support of my husband and a couple of close friends, I recovered. Unfortunately, however, I am left with a 20 pound weight gain. I can’t begin to tell you how I have beat myself up over re-gaining those pounds! The vicious, terrible things I say to myself! Horrible, just horrible.

017

So holding those hips in my hands made me cry. Because I saw that they aren’t gigantic ugly hips at all! Yes, they are 3 inches wider than they were 3 years ago. That is a fact.My body-image is so out of whack, it’s scarey!

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I will get back to a healthier weight again. It’s just taking longer this time. My body is different than it was when I lost the weight before. I’m post-menopausal now.  I’m not teaching 5 dance classes every week. But I go for long walks every day with Samson, and I’m making an effort to get back into my yoga practice. I still go through phases of being very mindful of what I eat and then binging on ice cream (hard not to do on these hot summer days!). Over all I feel like I live a very balanced life. So the weight will probably be much slower in coming off this time around.  And you know what? That’s okay. Besides, the incredible Adjust-o-Matic will reduce right along with me as I re-loose those inches. She’ll help keep things real.

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She doesn’t actually belong to me. She is on loan from a friend. It belongs to my friend Jean’s mother.

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Jean’s mother is in a nursing home now, and the dress form was taken apart and packed away into Jean’s basement some time ago.

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I still think she looks smaller than me. But every time I check the measurements again, hers and mine remain the same.

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She sits in my sewing room and I look at her every day. She reminds me to be kind to myself.

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Learning to be Retired

I am sitting at my kitchen table with my coffee and my laptop, looking out past the patio and over a couple of rooftops to the lake below thinking about why I have been unable to organize my thoughts to write a retirement post. Then this morning I read this blog post by Tamara Reddy and had an Oprah-sized ah ha moment.

Actually, I have had this same ah ha moment over and over and over. 🙂

Three months into my retirement and I am feeling a bit lost. Everybody I talk to and everything I read says it takes 1 – 3 years to feel settled after such a major life change. So of course, at only three months in, I have barely stuck my big toe in.  Of course I feel lost. It is normal.

Phew! It’s nice to know I’m normal! It’s normal to feel a bit displaced. To be tossing around and unable to settle one’s thoughts.

I keep telling myself that.

I have been very busy trying to replicate my life in Whitehorse.  I still feel that I must fill my every moment with productive work, and so I have tried to pack everything that I had planned for my retirement into these last three months.

Read dozens of books! Join community concert band! Join quilting guild! Join Fiber Arts guild! Bake bread! Try new recipes! Take quilting classes! Make friends! Lose the last of the weight! Become instantly fit!

Do do do! Produce produce produce! Time is my enemy and I am still fighting that.

I have not yet learned how to relax into a slower pace.

But I am working on it! Mornings last longer and longer as I sit with my coffee and read the blogs I follow. Walks are taken everyday, usually along the lake shore.

My advice to myself?

Dear Nita,
Just as your dance students learn how to be in their bodies in a new way , you are learning how to be in a new place in your life. Breathe! Relax into the movement. Don’t force it. Allow the new you to emerge as you dance your way into a new way of living. An inspired life, like an inspired dance performance, comes from a place of relaxation, understanding and joy.

Cheers for a Playful 2014!

Hello and Happy New Year!

Have you ever chosen a word
just one single word
to guide you through the year?

For the last couple of years I’ve held the word balance close to my heart. It was the word that helped me to navigate a very busy life: teaching up to 5 dance classes per week, directing a dance troupe, choreographing and producing shows while managing to have a family life and working a 9-5 day job (phew!)

58-Collins

Balance was the word that got me through to the other side of menopausal depression. I was out of balance physically, emotionally and hormonally. Searching for and maintaining balance was the lifeline that I clung to and the rope I hauled myself up by. It kept me secure during the heartache of deciding to let go of my dance troupe and students. I kept it in the front of my mind during my weight loss journey (65 pounds!).  It was the word that taught me to put health and happiness above productivity.

Balance guided me through the waters of deciding to retire relatively young; to move to a new town and seek out new adventures.

1-CollinsBalance: what a beautiful word!

But now it’s time for a new word to live by. It’s time to get out of the box and…

41-CollinsPLAY!

This year I am going to play in my kitchen and learn to bake a cake from scratch. Specifically, some of the Chatelaine cakes. Yum!

…and I will experiment creating delicious meals from all over the globe: India, Japan, Italy, Thailand…! No fear in the kitchen will be my new motto – play with those spices, Nita! Try it out!

37-CollinsIn my Creativity room I will play in the sewing nook, on the yoga mat, in-front-of the dance mirror and with words at my laptop.

My body will become stronger as I play outdoors, exploring local walking and hiking trails with Kelly and Sammy. We’ll take our bikes out and explore some of the country roads.

I will play in the garden, discovering all the wonders of living in a zone 5 gardening region.

I vow to put myself “out there” and be open to meeting new friends, getting involved in the community somehow (music? theater? dance?)

32-CollinsMy friend Melissa at 100 Billion Stars puts it brilliantly (you can read her entire blog post here):

Play is a way of making room for our potential. It isn’t about pretending to be something we hope to be one day. It isn’t about presenting a different face to the world, trying on masks and personae. It’s about being authentic and true to ourselves in an atmosphere without judgment or rules. It’s from this place that growth begins, releasing the possibilities that have been lying dormant all our lives.

So here I am this morning, wishing you all a wonderful year of play and a hell of a good time doing it!

70-CollinsNo fear! Have fun!

PLAY!

(these wonderful family photos were taken by Heather Jones of hpj photography at our Fox Lake cabin last September. We had so much fun!)

Walking in Whitehorse: the Millennium Trail

Take a walk with me today!

The Millennium Trail is my favourite Whitehorse walk. Starting at the S.S. Klondike, it follows the Yukon River in a 5 km loop, crossing the river at the Whitehorse Dam. It takes about an hour to walk the dog, depending on how active the “pee-mail” message boards are. 🙂

If you’re reading this on your tablet, you will need to go directly to the website to see the slide show as movies don’t seem to work on tablets or phones.

Music by The Big Band (and you can clearly hear me on bari sax, lol!) Enjoy!

Linking up with Lily’s Quilts Small Blog Meet