Tag Archives: stay at home me

This isn’t your mama’s Southern-Fried Kitchen, my friends…managing the numbers in diabetes…


I learned the theory of managing diabetes as a student.  Throughout my nursing career I put what I’d learned into practice.  In my mid-forties, I created monthly diabetic dietary menus for seniors living in my personal care homes, many of whom suffered from multiple disease processes.

My grandfather was diabetic; my brother is, but it was not until I married a brittle diabetic, brittle meaning a diabetic with unstable blood glucose levels in spite of his best efforts, that I began to truly understand the dietary complexity and daily frustrations associated with the disease.

Getting a diagnosis of Diabetes feels like the end of the world as we know it, according to Rich, because you have to say goodbye to many foods you often associate with comfort and home, satisfaction and tradition, while simultaneously feeling forced to eat foods you don’t like, that far too often, taste like cardboard.

I am not a nutritionist, but I am a registered nurse who is married to a diabetic. Because of my personal history with this seemingly daunting disease, I’ve learned it is possible for you to enjoy healthy meals and manage your numbers while LOVING the food you eat.

Enter Aunt-Bea shaking her stubby finger in our face, reminding us we are responsible grown-ups with creative minds, and while we may not get everything we want in life, we have the power to transform what we have into what we need.

It begins with a commitment, she says, to change the way we think about eating food, exchanging the sugary fast-food mentality that permeates society to a healthier food plan that improves the quality and duration of life. Imagination and tenacity can bridge the gap between the want and need. Aunt Bea reminds us that life is short and every day is a celebration of something or another, and that it is always up to us to decide exactly how tight we wear our garters.

this is my best side

No nonsense, practical minded guru of all things comforting and traditional, Aunt Bea can find her way around any kitchen, her tiny granny shoes shuffling, and the ruffles on her apron keeping beat to the music in her head while she experiments with old recipes, transforming them into modern, health-conscious feasts.

This isn’t your mama’s Southern-Fried Kitchen, my friends; this is Aunt Bea’s House, and the joint is jumping with healthy-yummy!

Whole grains, nuts, vegetables, fruits, fiber, fish, poultry, and a day or two a week of lean red meat is our rule of thumb!  Aunt-Bea-Me is an herb-nut, often substituting them for salt.  Salt is okay in small doses, but lacks the unique flavors and natural healing elements present in herbs.  A single pinch of salt is enough to make complex herbal flavors and textures POP in any dish.  She is also hooked on Olive Oil and quality Infused Vinegars, counting on them to do more than dress a salad; they add unique depth to simple flavors, elevating the ordinary to star.

Aunt Bea is a thrifty little munchkin who delights in pinching pennies, so nothing goes to waste.  She rules the kitchen with a pot holder in one hand, a spatula in the other, and a grin as wide as the front door on her face, as she sticks to the cardinal rule of keeping things simple.

From my experience and research, I can tell you both Low Fat and Low Carb diets are equally successful in acheiving weight loss, but which of the two is better at keeping the weight off?  That question I can’t answer, it varies from person to person, so it’s an individual choice; but it seems to me, if you’re of a mindset to eat low carb products, more likely than not, the consumption of low fat foods is a normally occurring consequence of that choice.  At our house, we tend to focus more heavily on carb counts because it more effectively manages Rich’s numbers, and it fits well with the diabetic rule of thumb: of all the calories consumed daily, 45-65% should be in the form of carbohydrates.

If the numbers confuse you, the internet is full of sites that provide free calculators for figuring out how many calories you actually consume each day.  There are also sites that calculate the number of calories you should be eating based on your weight, activity level and age.  And there are sites available that breakdown every food showing its Nutritional Value, IE: proteins, fats, calories, fiber, carbs, cholesterol, etc.  I suggest you get in the habit of using these tools as you build your Diabetic education.


Every carb you eat is converted into 4 calories.  Understanding that helps me keep my perspective when shopping for groceries or eating out.  Since we keep it as simple as possible at our house, I round the numbers out, making sure no more than half of the calories we consume daily are healthy carbs. Here’s what was on the menu last night:

Carrot, Red Grape and Cucumber Salad

cucumber grape and carrot salad

Dressed in Olive Oil and White Balsamic Vinegar

Oven-Fried-Chicken-Fried Steak

beef its whats for dinner

and Baked Potato topped with a heart smart butter alternative

and a dollop of fat free Greek Yogurt

Ingredients You Will Need:

ingredients needed

Egg substitute, Panko bread crumbs, Salt, Pepper, Paprika, Garlic Powder, Pam or similar spray, one Foil, Wax Paper or Parchment Lined Baking Sheet.

Trimmed cube or round steak

Trimmed cube or round steak


Preheat oven to 375.  Spray pam on grill.  Set grill in parchment, foil or wax paper covered pan.  Trim beef to 2 4 ounce portions.  Set left over beef aside for later.  Dip the 2 pieces of beef in Egg Beaters on one side and set on rack inside baking dish. Season each patty with a pinch of garlic, salt, pepper and paprika.  If you want a different flavor, use your imagination! Using a measuring spoon or your fingers, sprinkle Panko breadcrumbs over the surface of each serving.  (I used 2 tablespoons on each.) Then lightly spray the Panko crumbs with drizzle of Pam or a similar spray product; (this will add to the crunch by deepening browning as the meat bakes).

Bake for 20-25 minutes.

Bake for 20-25 minutes.

While dinner is baking, chop the left over meat and cover with water in a deep saucepan.  Add a stalk of cut celery and about 1/4th of 1 onion.  Season with spices of your choice; I used thyme, a pinch of salt and black pepper.  If you want this to be a vegetable beef broth, add more veggies.  Feel free to play with your spices here.  I keep broths fairly simple, using them as savory bases to build more complex dishes that will have various levels and depths of flavor.

Place the pan on the stove and bring contents to a boil.  Once boiling, reduce the heat and cover saucepan with a lid. Simmer for 45-60 minutes, depending on the amount of beef.  When the broth is complete, the flavors of the meat and vegetables will be imparted into the broth liquid.  Set aside to cool, then remove and discard the meat and the vegetables.  Strain remaining liquid and transfer into a freezer bag; mark and freeze. There you have it, Beef Broth, ready for another dish.

The prepared meal above is less than 600 calories, containing around 50 carbs, and calculating out as less than 10% of total meal calories.

Don’t panic!  I’m not starving Rich!  He eats three meals, two snacks and a dessert every day coming in at between 1,800 -2,000 calories daily.  Keeping a meal calorie count light opens possibilities for the remainder of the day.  Often lunch is the heaviest carb meal of the day since often it consists of a sandwich, or a half of a sandwich.  Just be sure that the added carbs are as healthy as they can possibly be, whole grain breads, a mayonnaise substitute, and baked, not fried chips; or you can forego the chips altogether choosing to enjoy a serving of fresh fruit instead.

From Aunt Bea’s Kitchen to the glucometer: This one is for you!

happy face


The Spooky Truth (about Getting Old)


Rich and I recently took our first vacation since 2009; it turned out to be well worth the wait.  For a year I’ve pictured myself living in Eureka Springs, AR.  That’s about a 5 hour drive from our current home in Hot Springs.  I shared my vision with Rich, and he worked hard to make his own, but his feet are set on more solid ground than mine; I’m always in the air, floating like a balloon, drifting one way and then another, swirling in currents just for the fun of it.  I count on Rich to keep me from getting air sick.  He counts on me, to make sure he doesn’t forget how to fly.

I created our Eureka Springs fantasy life from an accumulation of stories I’d read and heard, and I loved the fact that it’s located in the beautiful Ozark mountains..  But mostly it was my own imagination that allowed me to weave an entire story line around the possibility of living in a city I knew virtually nothing about.

fairy tales 2

Eureka Springs hosts a rather large Hippie population and is literally bursting at the seams with artists and chefs, writers and philosophers, entrepreneurs and a vast representation of progressive thinkers aiming their brain power toward Green Energy.  In the story I was writing in my head, these were real pluses.  Thinking about it though, I don’t know what I was thinking; Hot Springs has its own share of the very same sort of people, but I haven’t met many of them.  Whenever we’re out, I see them milling around the historical district, visiting art galleries and antique shops and the new micro-pub that has only recently been installed in one of the old bath houses along Bath House Row.  Rich and I only live about 1/2 mile from the downtown historical district, but I don’t get out nearly as often as I sometimes think I want to.

I say it that way because whenever I have the chance to sit it out, or to dance,( hee hee), I usually choose to stay home and play by myself instead.

dirty dishes

If there was such a thing as a periodic extrovert, I may well be it.  Whenever the question of intro-verses-extrovert is asked, and it has been asked a couple of times, I find myself babbling on and on that I am an exuberant introvert.  (That’s when the crowd usually begins to disperse.)

Like everyone else in the world, I have needs….oh. do. not.get.me.started….but mostly they have to do with all this talk-talk thingy that’s bottled up inside me like a rocket waiting for liftoff.  My passions are my exhaust valves, Aunt-Bea-Me, IttyMac, poetry, and writing, to name a few.  But talk-talk has a deeper side with its need to express, to create, and to share; so I fill that endless pit bolting between projects and hobbies.

I am an extreme housewife; although not actually married to the house, I am it’s most dutiful servant and ardent admirer.  I am an extreme yard-wife as well, flitting from flower bed to flower bed in a flurry of seasonal drama.  I am the mother of a fine herbal garden family that I tend like a neurosurgeon, prodding, plumping, staking and tweaking until the mosquitoes chase me into the house.

This mania to wax and wane between either slipping into a pair of social butterfly wings and taking to the streets, or hunkering down in near apocalyptic isolation fixated on a 24/7 OCD work regiment is what happened to me after the nest emptied.  When both of my little chicks flew away to build nests of their own, a kind of madness took over, and I begin to dig dirt out of one hole to fill another, hardly noticing I had just dug a deeper hole I’d feel compelled to fill.

before the chicks left the nest

Before the chicks flew the coop

another kitchen failure

After I realized I was in an empty nest

But back to Eureka Springs…family stories have my paternal grandmother, MamaMac, back in her few days of great family wealth, visiting the Crescent Hotel and Spa with her good friend Mrs.Gooch, and Mrs. Gooch’s loyal and ever humorous chauffeur, McDuff.

fluffy old girls 1930

Off these two fluffy ladies would go, to indulge their every fantasy, even though through the years, the legend of the Crescent Hotel and Spa had had its ups and downs, eventually descending into a dark and quite horrifying state of affairs .  A snake-oil-salesman-type-fellow had purchased the establishment that had, in its prime, functioned as gathering grounds for wealthy plutocrats in need of vacations. More about the creepy guy later.

The hotel served the public in that capacity for a number of years until it fell victim to hard economical times.  At that point, the Crescent was converted into a college for women.  Eventually it, was purchased by a charlatan who invested in it with the sole intention of converting it once again.  But this conversion would have nothing to do with rest and relaxation or higher education.  Mr. Baker, the unsavory investor, turned the Crescent into a cancer-cure facility.  The man was not a doctor; he was Frankenstein.  Well, you can imagine where this story is going.  Mr. FranenBaker was a particularly cruel ghoul to many trusting, hopeful souls seeking cures for a terrible disease.  Under the watch of his most evil eyes, they suffered and died the most agonizing deaths one might imagine.

Once the nasty business of Dr.FrankenBaker had ceased, once again the Crescent fell into tragic disrepair.

Masters of the Paranormal have long studied this hotel, documenting, if one is of such a mind to believe, much supernatural activity throughout its long, carpeted halls and magnificent architecture.  Matter of fact, the Crescent is currently listed as one of the top ten most haunted hotels in the entire world.  Imagine that, wonder why.

Now why my grandmother and Mrs. Gooch would choose to spend their good money in a place like this is easily answered by the fact of the healing springs that had originally attracted those poor cancer patients to the same grounds years before.  The hotel, having been restored to its original beauty by a non-evil couple in the early 30’s, had regained its prominence in high society; thus, enter Miss Mac, Mrs.Gooch and jovial McDuff, who, of course, was relegated to the servant quarters.

When Rich and I arrived in Eureka Springs, we immediately got lost.  Then fate intervened, landing us squarely in the parking lot of my grandmother’s favorite hotel.  I took one look at the impending, rather menacing, structure with all its bad energy and cauldron of gloomy karma and summed it up, saying…

No. Way.”


So off we drove to a place more suited to our less extravagant lifestyle, settling in a quirky pink motel comically named ‘The Land O’ Nod”.  I could hardly contain my laughter as we pulled into the tiny parking space directly in front of our small cabin-esque-sort-of-room, imagining my grandmother rolling over in her grave.

Wonderful things happened to us on our trip.  We loved our room, had the best service we have ever had before, ate amazing locally produced food prepared by chefs from as far away as Chicago, mingled with hippies our own age at the Farmers Market, discussed homeopathic medicine and naturopathic lifestyles with a former cardiologist turned naturopath following a heart attack, walked miles up and down hills visiting shops, (just ask my knees if you don’t believe me), took hundreds of photos, huddled with artists, debated and agreed with local politicians, had an absolutely amazing visit to the Tasting Room for Fresh Harvest where we sampled premium olive oils and balsamic vinegars until we needed to make a fairly  hasty retreat back to the Land O” Nod for emergency pit stops.

And last, but not least, we ventured into the dark night, paying 25 bucks each for the infamous Crescent Hotel and Spa Ghost Tour.

After all was said and done, in spite of all the fun we had together, in spite of the new friends we made, we looked at each other in car driving back through the Ozarks to the Ouachitas, and said unanimously,

“Naw.  That wasn’t it.”

So now we’re back where we started a year ago.. in the planning stages for retirement… but we’d better get a move on it pretty soon because in a couple of months we’ll be 65.  And though the trail ahead is getting shorter for both of us, neither is ready to exchange walking shoes for rocking chairs.

OPPS! I accidentally erased this blog; so if the second time around is better than the first, I’m happy to re-present “Sponge Wars- an Epic Day of House Cleaning!” for your reading enjoyment.


If they held a draft for the American Domestic Olympics today, my name would be listed in the top ten competitors having nailed Sponge Wars yesterday! In preliminary drug testing, I was clean, (unless decaf and cardiac drugs are factored into control calculations).

cleaning supplies


I channeled Aunt Bea’s near OCD reorganization and kitchen cleaning skills, and sporting my 50 Shades of Beige smocked apron, I was off like a shot, at 8 in the morning!   Competition broke for a quick PBJ around noon, but was back in full swing within a half hour.  The games ended at 5:30 when competitors were required by law to initiate dinner mealtime preparations.  (Spectators were bummed, but in the end, found themselves agreeing with referees on that particular call.)

I must admit, but not to Olympic officials, I had an unfair advantage over other competitors.  From somewhere in the distance, Aunt Bea emerged wearing the most adorable aqua blue printed Jersey dress, cinched at the waist with a thin silver roped belt.  I could tell the belt was silver by its dainty buckle, but the rest disappeared, dividing Aunt Bea into two distinct segments, like one grapefruit precariously balance on another.

happy face

As quickly as I recognized the sweet little old lady, I heard the word “Borax.” ( telepathically, I believe).

Borax has been used for cleaning and laundry for over 100 years.  It is a naturally occurring mineral.  I remember my mom always having a box of 20 Mule Team Borax around, but paid little attention to it.  These days, I find myself trying to find ways to cut back on spending.  The price of staying clean keeps rising, but using Aunt Bea logic, there many, many ways to keep your money while keeping a sparkling clean house.

I pay around $3.60 for a large box of Borax.  It goes into the laundry for stain and odor control as it boosts general clothes cleaning.  Using one combination or another of borax, white vinegar, Dawn dishwashing soap, and baking soda, I’ve cut out spending money on all other cleaning products, except laundry detergent and bleach.  I don’t buy shampoo or conditioner anymore either.  Shopping is simple, check-out less painful, the house is spiffy clean, and our hair is in better shape than it has ever been before.


So yesterday’s game began with borax in a bucket of water, a couple of sponges, about 6 clean rags from the rag bag, and a spray bottle of water and beach, and I was good to go!

Dinner last night was an old favorite from Marlene Koch’s first Eat What You Love book, so I flubbed up, missing my goal of trying a new recipe a day, but the kitchen was so clean and smelled fresh, it was easy to justify falling off the wagon, so to speak.

Corkscrew Chicken and Broccoli Alfredo quickly became Bowtie Chicken and Mixed Vegetable Alfredo as I used ingredients I had on hand.  Delish!

Tonight is Vegetarian night so I’m back in Marlene’s new book and going for Sautéed Cabbage, Onions and Apples.  A few ingredients in this dish include cider vinegar, caraway seeds, (which I may substitute with another kind of seed since Rich isn’t a caraway fan),  chicken broth, and brown sugar.

Nutritionally speaking, it’s 45 calories a serving.  Say what?!  In the Food Exchange it counts as 1 vegetable and ½ carb choice.  The Weight Watcher Plus Point comparison is 1 point.  The numbers on this dish are so good, I’m attempting a second untried recipe, this one straight from the American Diabetes Association.  It’s Low Fat Corn Bread and counts as 2 starches on the exchange.  At 150 calories a serving, tonight’s meal will be low calorie, but we’’ll have to wait and see if it tastes good and leaves us feeling satisfied!  (No wimpy food for Rich!)

So no Olympics today, but it is bread day and daylight’s burning, so it’s the blue gingham apron for Aunt Bea Me today!  Stay for dinner anyone?

retro-kitchen set table