Gardening · Hobbies

Seed delivery means garden daydreams

Note to my new followers: If you’ve followed for Keto posts recently, don’t worry, more are on the way! But my blog also focuses on the books I’m reading, what I’m writing (coming soon!), and my rough attempts at gardening. Today is a gardening post; so if you’re here for the Keto, just check out the Keto category linked under Cooking on top menu.

Excited to think about spring planting

My first set of seeds is here! This year I’ll be starting several veggies from seed in the biodome under the grow lamp. This year I’m trying tomatoes from seeds. I’ll probably end up buying some tomato plants to put in as well – I’m not too confident in my capabilities of starting seeds. But hope springs eternal: I’m also trying basil and jalapenos from seeds, both of which I grew from small plants last year. This Thursday, if the USPS is correct, my flower seeds will be here: marigold, zinnias, black-eyed Susan vines and morning glory. My new vegetable picks for the 2023 season are cucumbers and bush beans. I can’t wait to watch those climb trellises or poles.

…leafing through the Parks catalog, looking for more garden tools to buy is one of the best parts about being a gardener in the winter.

Which reminds me – I need to buy a new trellis. Scrolling through the garden website or leafing through the Parks catalog, looking for garden tools to buy is one of the best parts about being a gardener in the winter. I’m sipping hot chocolate, watching drenched squirrels dashing around the backyard as the wintry rain splashes the den windows, wrapped in my Snuggie and toasty warm. Catalogs lay on my lap and the website is pulled up on my iPhone. My dog is lying on the rug in front of me, content to snooze. It’s not a bad way to spend an afternoon or evening. I’m mentally planning the rows of plants I’ll put in my current raised beds, and trying to decide if I should add one, two or three more.

It will be fun seeing if I can coax life from these seeds… wish me luck!
Cooking · Keto

Satisfying my sweet tooth with Keto

There’s always room for a sweet

I love how Keto keeps you full and satisfied, but my sweet tooth is the one thing that can cause me to fall off my Keto plan. This past weekend I knew I’d have more time to cook, and I also knew I’d be hungry for dessert. Good thing that Suzanne Ryan’s cookbook Simply Keto has a good dessert section in it. This weekend I chose to make Chia Seed Pudding, Chocolate Chip Mug Cakes and Keto Hot Chocolate.

Chia Seed Pudding

This one didn’t look like much in my dessert dishes, but it tasted spectacular. The key is preparing it the day before; you have to let the chia seeds soak in the almond milk and Swerve (sugar substitute) overnight. When you pull the container out of the frig, the plump chia seeds have settled to the bottom. I put the mix in my Nutribullet jar, so after a quick stir 30-seconds in the Nutribullet made this a creamy, thick pudding. The recipe made two servings, so I have one left in the fridge.

It matches the granite countertop! Not a look you want, but it tasted delicious.

Making homemade mug cake

I love how easy this cake is to make. I pictured most of the steps below. I forgot to take a picture of adding the Lily’s Baking Chocolate Chips because I was hungry and ready to get this in the microwave then in my mouth.

Just add butter, avocado oil and an egg, then the chocolate chips (not pictured!) and microwave for one minute
Finished Cooking! The mug was so big it makes the cake look small.

Delicious hot cocoa

This was the perfect comfort food for a cold, rainy winter night. Definitely my favorite of the three!

Started by stirring the Hershey’s unsweetened cocoa into the almond milk.
This is the result on the stove – doesn’t it look wonderful!
I added a little whipped cream to the top. Delicious!

“The Magician’s Nephew”

Revisiting a beloved book

When my book club chose “The Magician’s Nephew” by C.S. Lewis for our next book, I was unsure. How were we adults supposed to enjoy this book, and stretch discussion out over several weeks? Isn’t the book for children?

It may have been written for children, but the book has so much to offer on second reading as an adult. Our first meeting (which I had to miss due to a cold) was devoted to talking about just chapters 1 and 2. In them we meet the children at the heart of the story: Polly and Digory, and Digory’s wretched Uncle Andrew, who entices them into a magical land far away. In those first two chapters Lewis builds out the characters of each child, and Uncle Andrew with careful descriptions. The children are written as children, who after meeting each other find an empty attic to explore, with a long corridor over their attached rowhouses. Lewis writes their daring and egging each other on to explore as anyone who remembers their tweens would:

“Shall we go and try it now?” said Digory.

“All right,” said Polly.

“Don’t if you’d rather not,” said Digory.

“I’m game if you are.” said she.

Uncle Andrew thinks so highly of himself he tells Digory:

“Men like me, who possess hidden wisdom, are freed from common rules just as we are cut off from common pleasures. Ours, my boy, is a high and lonely destiny.”

…while Diggory shows his native 12-year-old smarts as he “saw through Uncle Andrew’s grand words:”

“All it means, he said to himself, is that he thinks he can do anything he likes to get anything he wants.”

Lewis closes each chapter with a cliffhanger designed to keep even his youngest reader following the story. At the end of Chapter One Polly vanishes; at end of Chapter Two, Diggory follows. And the pattern continues; at the end of one, Lewis ends with the characters thinking the trouble was over, “but they had never been more mistaken in their lives.” The depictions of the different worlds are so rich that it was easy for illustrator Pauline Baynes to create the beautiful artwork in the book (2001 HarperCollins edition.) The descriptions are not only visual; you can almost hear the songs that created Narnia as you read the chapter “The Founding of Narnia.” And to find what becomes of Uncle Andrew – that is a delight!

Aslan with Lucy and Susan from The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, illustrated by Pauline Baynes

If I had one quibble with this book it is the description of Aslan. The description isn’t as rich, or full, as the careful description that Lewis gives Aslan in “The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe.” It makes sense that Lewis would describe Aslan more fully in the that book – since it was the first time he’d written about Aslan. To me, that is an indicator that the reader should start with “The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe,” then read all the other books in the publication order. No matter that Lewis himself said that he preferred the chronological order, which makes this Book 1 in the series. I’ll always prefer the introduction to this wonderful world in that first published book.


Day 5 of a Keto Week

Leftovers everywhere!

The dishes I made this week gave me a LOT of leftovers. I’ve still got Keto Chili, Egg, Bacon, Broccoli and Cheese Muffins, Baked Chicken, homemade Caesar Dressing, and even Roast Beef. The Keto Chili is even better two days later. So today – I didn’t make anything new; I just enjoyed leftover Keto Chili. So, no new pictures today: look for a new dish review tomorrow!

Cooking · Hobbies · Keto

Day 4 of a Keto Week

It was a great day…

Today I had the luxury of working at home, and enough time to make a delicious lunch and dinner. Lunch was lovely – another Chicken Caesar salad with homemade Caesar dressing. I chopped everything up so I could easily gobble it up. Dinner was a little more “done” – I made a homemade Alfredo sauce to go over my cooked chicken. (I didn’t have any basil, so the Creamy Pesto Sauce was a non-starter.) Let me take you through the steps, to the finished process. Oh, and it goes without saying that this wonderful recipe for Alfredo Sauce came from the indispensable cookbook, Simply Keto. (It’s my new cooking bible!)

First – the cast of characters for this lovely dish. Doesn’t everyone partition their butter by tablespoon? Next to that, cream cheese, half and half, garlic, parmesan, oregano and All ‘Round Good Grinder Blend.
First step, after chopping garlic: brown the garlic briefly in melted butter.
Next, take the cubes of cream cheese and melt that in the butter/garlic mixture.
After you’ve constantly stirred and stirred, the cream cheese starts to break down.
Next, add creamy half and half. It’s hard to take a picture of that while you’re doing it. So, please make do with this shot of what the sauce looks like as you add the freshly grated parmesan.
Finally the seasoning: add oregano and salt and pepper – or Good Grinder Blend, like me!
The delicious final dish. (My attempts at plate artistry need work.)

Verdict: a winner

This Keto-friendly sauce made my chicken the perfect comfort food for a cold winter night. I may need lessons in plate artistry, but the sauce was creamy, buttery, cheesy, and oh-so-comforting. And what you see on the plate is 1/4 cup – the recommended serving! I have so much sauce left over in the fridge. I can’t wait to try it on zoodles, broccoli, and as the base for a creamy pesto sauce! This was a 10. I heartily recommend it to you.

blogging · Gratitude · Hobbies · Keto · me

Day 3 of a Keto Week

And a note to my new followers

If you’ve just subscribed or followed; Hi! Delighted to have you along. I must explain my plan behind this blog. Not every post will be about cooking or the Keto way of life. Keto is just one of three sections of this site, as you see from the top navigation menu:

I’m also very much into Books and Gardening. And in the weeks to come, I’ll probably add a Writing section as well. So, if later today you see a post that isn’t about Keto at all – well, just skip over that if you want! Or enjoy – up to you.

Day 3 – Danger!

Today could have been better, but it also could have been MUCH worse. I took my Keto Chili to work and that was delicious. But work ran long, and I got home late – with only about 15 minutes to spare before Bible Study group with the ladies of my church. There, I succumbed to the lure of pigs-in-blankets. And two munchkins (donut holes.) It could have been so much worse, but not by much! Ah me. Tomorrow is a new day and a new attempt to eat and live the Keto way.

Keto · Uncategorized

Day 2 of a Keto Week

A little bit harder

I should know better than to even look at the snacks at a work event. But when I saw the huge spread for our division’s annual meeting, I immediately started filling my plate with pita chips, spinach dip, and a couple of pigs in blankets. BUT: I did not drink any full-calorie soda (and oh, was I tempted.) Small victories!

Some victories too

Like yesterday, I made my Bullet-Proof Coffee last all morning, until noon. It’s so filling I don’t even feel hungry until noon. And the best victory today was taking a new recipe to work: Broccoli, Bacon, Cheese, and Egg Muffins. Sorry, no link – you’ll have to go to the Simply Keto cookbook to get this recipe. (The book is SO worth it!)

The recipe makes six muffins, and they are filling and delicious! Two muffins make a serving, so you have plenty. I just put the leftovers in a ziplock bag in the frig so I can enjoy them later. 9 out of 10; definitely recommend! And you can find many other ideas for keto breakfasts on Suzanne’s Simply Keto website, including this list of five Keto Breakfast ideas and especially this one, which I’m going to try: BLT Breakfast Salad.

Hope you’re all having a wonderful Keto week! Tomorrow, I think I’ll be enjoying some Keto chili leftovers for lunch (yes, just checked the menu plan) and a lovely Creamy Pesto Chicken.

Cooking · Keto

Day 1 of a Keto Week: Delicious

It wasn’t hard at all to get back to eating the Keto way when the dishes I made today were so good. Prep yesterday on Sunday afternoon made all the difference. But first I kept my fast going by enjoying only my special coffee.

Bullet-proof coffee

At 5:30 a.m. I’m not thinking about taking pictures of my BPC. Because I forgot, I’ll just post a picture below from the lowcarbyum website, with its own BPC recipe. Unlike that one, all I add is MCT oil and butter. I finish it by frothing with a milk frother (so much fun!) Then I enjoy.

Lunch – Light for a workday break

Today I took some of the chicken I cooked yesterday and made a terrific Chicken Caesar Salad from the Simply Keto cookbook. I even made the dressing from scratch. The addition of avocado adds needed fats as well as creaminess, and the homemade dressing was a creamy pleasure. I will follow the optional recommendation of adding 1 tsp of MCT oil to thin the dressing a bit the next time I make it. Score: 9.5 out of 10 – would recommend!

Dinner: warm and perfect

The Keto Chili recipe from Simply Keto was full of yummy pork sausage and ground beef. I loved the mix of cumin and chili powder and didn’t miss beans at all. The recipe makes six portions, and I think I helped myself to two portions tonight in one very large bowl – it was so good! Adding some sour cream and grated cheddar made it even better. This is a home run. Definitely recommend – 9 out of 10.


Nothing special today; I didn’t have time! Instead, Atkins peanut butter cups (1 net carb each) to the rescue.

Cooking · Keto

Keto Prep is tiring…

…Or maybe I’m just not fully recovered from my cold last week. But I’ve been cooking all afternoon to get at least some of my recipes ready. I also cooked a grass-fed eye of round roast for lunch today. Now I have extra food for the week!

Besides the roast, I prepped Keto Chili, which is full of beef AND pork, tomatoes, bell peppers, onions and garlic. It’s now simmering away in the crock pot. Can’t wait to try this. Click the link above to go to the recipe on the creator Suzanne Ryan’s site “Keto Karma.” I also did prep work for the Creamy Pesto Chicken and Chicken Caesar Salad. Actually, I’ll just be having Creamy Alfredo Chicken – as I was making my shopping list I realized: it is February; I’m not getting fresh basil unless I want to pay an arm and a leg. I’ll save the pesto sauce for this summer when I can just walk outside into my herb garden and pick my own.

Pictures to come of my lovely meals this week!

Photo by Tim Mossholder on
Cooking · Keto

Planning a Keto Week

It is time to get serious. I have had so much success with Keto, but frankly, January has been a bust (so far.) I’m putting on my project planner hat and getting organized. I’m mapping out five days’ worth of meals, starting next Monday, that will help me be stay on this way of eating. Each meal has to be pleasing, delicious, and fixed fast.

We don’t need no stinking breakfast

This is my modified form of intermittent fasting: I have a 17-hour window between my last meal of the previous day, and the first meal of the next. I finish dinner around 6:30 p.m., so my lunch is at 11:30 a.m. If I leave it till noon, I get cranky. All I have in the morning is Bullet-Proof Coffee (which is also a good lip moisturizer. All that MCT oil!)

Something easy to grab at midday

On the two days a week I go to the office, I like to think I’m going to grab a salad from the salad bar, but often I don’t. What makes me happier (and much more satisfied) is bringing in a dish from home. It can be leftovers from last night, or something I’ve made special for lunches. Anything full of protein is good!

Dinner has to be easy too

Let’s face it: I’m not going to come home and start cooking an intricate meal that takes an hour to prep and longer to cook. I need something that’s no more from 30 minutes from start to plate. I’ve learned over the years: cook ahead of time and reheat. Or cook double recipes. Do something that shaves time off nightly meal prep when I’m tired out from the day at work, and I have more things going on at night.

Let’s plan it out

BreakfastLunchDinnerLate Snack
MondayBPCChicken Caesar SaladKeto ChiliKeto Hot Chocolate
TuesdayBPCBroccoli, Bacon & Cheese
Egg Muffins
Filet Mignon w/Gorgonzola SauceAtkins snack
WednesdayBPCKeto ChiliCreamy Pesto ChickenChia pudding
ThursdayBPCChicken Caesar SaladBroccoli, Bacon & Cheese
Egg Muffins
Atkins snack
FridayBPCCreamy Pesto ChickenParmesan-crusted Salmon BakeChocolate Chip
Mug Cake
I don’t plan out Saturday and Sunday because I have more time to cook on those days.

Check back for how I did!

I can’t wait to make these dishes. They just sound fun, filling, and tasty. Every dish above (except for the Atkins snacks, of course) is from my new cookbook, Simply Keto, by Suzanne Ryan. I’ll be posting lots of pictures and text about how each dish turned out.