A month of care

A jade plant I bought myself the other day. I’m hoping the bunnies stay away from it.

I made a commitment that July was going to be a self-care month. It’s because I have a physical, blood work, EKG and minor surgery scheduled throughout the month.

Why not be the best I can be and pass all my tests with flying colors?

My husband and I embarked on a new schedule. We’re up before the sun rises to get out the door for a three-mile walk. Add to that, we’ve been consistently going to the YMCA for swims three days a week.

We’re taking a cacophony of supplements which I have no idea if they are helping or not. I’m cutting out excess sugar, starch, wine, diet coke — and my beloved white cheddar cheetos (once the bag is empty of course.)

The new early morning schedule makes me tired. I keep thinking I’ll get used to it, but between the wee early mornings and heat, I feel exhausted.

Then add to that, my vision is fuzzy. I have trouble reading books, looking at the computer, and spotting my golf ball. I had my annual eye exam and my optometrist sent me to an ophthalmologist to schedule a YAG procedure. It’s a simple and easy laser treatment that should restore my once perfect vision.

Right before COVID shutdowns, I had cataract surgery. I was born with extreme myopia and astigmatism. My Rx for glasses and contacts was a -16. In case you don’t know, that’s really, really bad.

Then things got worse. My growing cataracts had me seeing three stop signs stacked like a pyramid. And yes, I was driving!

Fast forward to cataract surgery and it was a miracle! I came out with 20/20 vision. I only needed a slight correction for astigmatism and reading. That was Winter of 2019 — but now things are fuzzy in my right eye. Today things were really extra fuzzy. I held my glasses up to the light and discovered the lenses were smudged. Oops.

According to the doctors I’ve seen, a membrane grows over the implanted lens and a quick laser treatment will get rid of it once and for all. I was surprised to learn that this happens to 40% of cataract patients!

Sunday, July 2, my second day of self care — I woke up with a pulled muscle in my butt! I’m stumbling around in pain and skipped my morning walk. July 1 we swam, so maybe I did something then? Who knows. So far, my month of health is off to a rocky start.

What special plans do you have for the month of July?

Who knew cottage cheese would trend?

My favorite brand of cottage cheese.

I’m a big cottage cheese fan. It’s one of my staple foods. I like a high protein diet and cottage cheese is a good way to get there besides eating fish, chicken and beef. I add cottage cheese to salads. I have it on toast with a poached egg, or eat it plain.

There are some brands I can’t stand and they make me gag. I like the brand above and basic grocery store cottage cheese from Kroger’s and Safeway, too. Growing up in Washington, I liked Darigold.

I was surprised to see that cottage cheese, once considered an old person’s food, is making a comeback. I remember having lunch with my husband’s grandfather in the early 1990s, and grand-dad prepared us a hot dog without a bun, cottage cheese and black olives. I loved it!

In the Wall Street Journal in an article by Julia Munslow called ‘We Knew Cottage Cheese Could Be Sexy’ Gen Z Discovers Lumpy Staple, cottage cheese is now going viral on TikTok.

There are all sorts of recipes of frozen cottage cheese with peanut butter, honey and chocolate chip type mixtures, which is a healthier version of ice cream. People are adding cottage cheese to pasta sauces.

Millennials and Gen Z-ers have started tossing tubs of their grandmother’s favorite weight-management tool into their grocery carts. They blend it into creamy pasta sauces, pancakes, dips, cookies and two-ingredient bread. It’s a departure from when cottage cheese surged in popularity in the 1960s and 1970s and was often eaten more plainly, with fruit or on salads. A “diet plate” once consisted of a scoop of cottage cheese next to a hamburger patty.

Dairy executives credit the resurgence to the innovation of the recipes spreading on social media—the #cottagecheese has more than 323 million views on TikTok—and the young consumers who are discovering it for the first time. 


I also like potato salad, but I find it healthier if I reach for a scoop of cottage cheese instead. One thing my mom loved, that I couldn’t swallow was buttermilk. She drank a glass of buttermilk every night. Somehow I doubt that will be a trend on TikTok.

What are your thoughts about cottage cheese?

Is it something you grew up with and liked? Or are you not a fan? What’s your favorite brand? Do you like it plain or in a recipe?

When you eat vs. what you eat

lobster roll and chips
Lobster Roll at Freshies in Park City–the best food I’ve had in Utah.

I read an article in the Wall Street Journal that said when you eat can affect your mood. And not just your mood but mood disorders. It was called When We Eat Can Affect Our Mental Health by Alina Dizik.

Here’s an excerpt:

The hunt for connections between our food and our mood is gaining steam in scientific research. New findings show that it isn’t just what we eat but also when we eat that affects how we feel.

Delving into the relationship between eating patterns and the body’s circadian system shows how eating on an unpredictable schedule such as during the body’s resting phase at night can hurt our mood or exacerbate symptoms of mood-related disorders, according to research from Elisa Brietzke, a professor of psychiatry at Queen’s University School of Medicine in Kingston, Ontario, and Elena Koning, a doctoral student at Queen’s University Centre for Neuroscience Studies. Their research builds on earlier studies showing that eating meals at different times each day contributes to weight gain and is linked to depression.


Their advice is to fast 12 hours at night. In other words don’t eat too close to bedtime. It can interfere with circadian rhythms that I wrote about last week HERE.

It’s also important to stick to the same schedule of eating — even on the weekends.

Here’s more:

MS. KONING: Eating rhythms that aren’t consistent from day to day, or that occur in the incorrect phase, desynchronize the circadian clock, which has a negative impact on mood. It can be hard to pinpoint an exact cause of altered mood, but we know that the brain is susceptible to changes from the body’s energy supply.

A meal eaten in the day has a very different effect on your brain and body than a meal eaten at night. Food is a wake-up cue to the brain and can worsen sleep quality if eaten too close to bed. Melatonin levels start to rise three hours before bed, and the metabolic process following food intake is negatively influenced when the melatonin levels rise. Essentially your body needs at least 12 hours of fasting at night, yet most people only get nine hours.


Do you stick to a regular schedule for meals? How does your mood get affected if you’re off schedule? Or if you eat too close to bed time?

What I miss about California

Huevos Rancheros

“Let’s go out for Mexican food for breakfast,” my husband suggested yesterday.

I had heard about a good Mexican restaurant in Phoenix from a neighbor. But it was a good 45 minute drive. Seemed a bit much to drive an hour and a half round trip for breakfast.

We talked it over and decided to try something close to home. I looked up all the Mexican restaurants in the area and only one had huevos ranchero (which I order) and machaca (my husband’s order.)

I called and the phone rang and rang. I looked online and saw you could order for pickup. I placed the order and my husband drove to pick it up.

He came back empty-handed and said the restaurant was closed. In the meantime, our daughter had called and I told her we couldn’t find good Mexican food around us.

“Don’t you have a Filiberto’s?” she asked.

She lived in Tempe for one year and had one around the corner from her house.

I found one 15 miles away from us. I called and called. They didn’t answer the phone. We decided to drive and place our order. We didn’t care to eat inside because it smelled funny to us. By the time we got home with our breakfast, more than and hour and a half had passed. We could have driven to the place in Phoenix!

In California we had great Mexican food everywhere. My favorite was El Gallito. I miss it. It closed a few years before we moved. There were many small mom and pop Mexican restaurants and we found several we’d go to all the time after our El Gallito days were over.

I wrote about El Gallito and comfort food HERE.

The breakfast was good, but not great. The eggs, beans and rice were good, but there was no sauce. I’ve never had “dry” huevos rancheros before.

I think we could make a fortune opening a Mexican restaurant in our area.

What’s your go to comfort food? Do you have good Mexican food where you live? What are the best restaurants in your area?

What personality traits lead to longer lives?

Robert and Kat on a rock in Laguna Beach
I was looking at old photos yesterday and love this one of my kids in Laguna Beach.

My dad sent me an article yesterday that I found interesting. Normally we don’t share many articles because we’re not on the same side politically. I’ve learned to stay out of those conversations or sharing those types of articles with him. After at least 15 years of our conversation blowing up and hurt feelings, we’ve both learned what to share and not to share.

So, the article he sent me was about how neatness and being organized can affect longevity. The article he sent me was written by Marta Zaraska called:

Type A Is A-OK


Here’s an excerpt:

IF YOU’VE EVER TRIPPED over a stray sneaker, you know the health hazards of messiness. Yet research shows that keeping things tidy can affect our physical well-being far beyond preventing injuries. Conscientiousness—the personality trait that organized, responsible people typically possess—has been linked to lower levels of inflammation, less risk of diabetes and cardiovascular disease, and greater longevity. The trait is so good for you, says Brent W. Roberts, PhD, a personality researcher at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, that “it would be wonderful to bottle the effect and deliver it as an elixir.”

Though conscientiousness may not sound so exciting—organizing your desk, getting to appointments on time, double-checking your work, dusting even the hard-to-reach places—the health effects are anything but dull. Studies reveal that being highly meticulous can lower your mortality risk by 35 percent—more than the famed Mediterranean diet. Conscientious people tend to be at a healthier weight, walk faster, and have stronger lung function and grip strength than the messier among us. They also have a lower risk of developing dementia and Alzheimer’s disease and are 20 percent less likely to get headaches. What’s more, research shows that having these qualities as a child can lead to better health up to 40 years down the road. (Whip out that tidbit next time you’re urging your kids to follow the months-untouched chore wheel on the fridge door.)

Read in Real Simple: https://apple.news/A__tqG4k3TEKX-ckHUYHAIg

The article goes on to explain why and how it works from a scientific perspective. It also states there is hope for people who constantly run late and are slobs.

I was very messy as a kid. My room was a joke in the family. As I grew up I got much neater. I’m very conscientious about being on time and keeping a neat house — if you don’t look in the closets where I haven’t unpacked boxes yet. I do try to keep the stacks neat, though.

I think I hate being late because my mom was never on time. I remember visiting my brother in the Seattle area and he was having a BBQ. My mom showed up three hours late. Needless to say we were all frustrated. I also remember taking ballet as a child and waiting on the sidewalk for my mom to pick me up all alone — long after all the other moms had picked up their daughters.

Have you learned to not talk politics with family members? Or do you enjoy bouncing ideas and opinions off each other? Do you consider yourself a Type A personality, neat and conscientious? Do you hate being late? Or do you care?

Onions and garlic

onions and garlic heads in wooden box on table
Photo by Karolina Grabowska on Pexels.com

This past week I heard two things about onions and garlic that I never knew before. Actually, I need more information because I don’t understand the reasons behind the suggestions I got about onions and garlic.

With my husband sick, I made him chicken soup with lots of garlic and onions. I divided the soup into a portion for me and one for him in tupperware that I left on the front steps for him to pick up. It was delicious and I cooked a second batch yesterday afternoon.

One friend told me that her mother-in-law would place sliced onions throughout all the rooms of the house when somebody was sick. She did that decades before COVID, but I’m wondering, what would it hurt? Then again, what would the purpose be?

I talked to another friend and she asked me for my recipe for chicken soup. I explained that it’s quite simple:

4 chicken thighs with skin and fat

5 cloves of garlic minced

1 large onion sliced

baby carrots and chopped celery

1 box of unsalted chicken broth, add equal parts water

Put in a pot and cook until done. Salt and pepper to taste.

My own throw it together chicken soup recipe

That’s it. My “throw it in a pot chicken soup recipe.” My friend suggested that I let the sliced onions and chopped garlic hang out together before cooking them.

“Why?” I asked.

She explained that it brings out healthful “properties” in the onion and garlic when they mingle.

However, I do not know what these properties are or how hanging out together changes anything. A quick google did not help. But I tried it anyway, I left the garlic and onions together on the cutting board to blend and rest together before throwing them in my new big red soup pot from Target.

I did find out that garlic and onions are in the same family and they are helpful anti cancer foods:

The Allium genus includes garlic, onions, shallots, leeks, and chives. These vegetables are popular in cuisines worldwide and are valued for their potential medicinal properties. Epidemiologic studies, while limited in their abilities to assess Allium consumption, indicate some associations of Allium vegetable consumption with decreased risk of cancer, particularly cancers of the gastrointestinal tract. 


What do you know about garlic and onions and their healing properties? Would you put slices of onions around the house when someone is sick? Do you think it kills a virus, or the virus is attracted to onions and is absorbed by them? I remember reading about placing sliced raw onions in a sick persons socks. Maybe there is something to this?

Rachel Ray red soup pot from Target.
My new soup pot in the Casita bubbling with homemade chicken soup.

One of my favorite things to do…

…in Berkeley

Grocery shop.

That’s because of Berkeley Bowl, which opened in 1977 in a building that previously was home to Berkeley’s bowling alley. Berkely Bowl West, which is a short walk from my son’s house, is on Heinz Street in a building that housed a ketchup factory.

My first trip to Berkeley, our son and his girlfriend took us to see their favorite grocery store and to have lunch in the cafe. Now when I visit, I have to go to Berkeley Bowl. How often is a grocery store an attraction where you take your guests? At the airbnb I’m staying in, the owners list Berkeley Bowl as a must in “things to do.”

I’m hit with a wave of anxiety each time I enter, due to the abundance. There are so many varieties of everything that it can be overwhelming. Then, I settle down and enjoy the experience. Wandering through produce, seafood, meats, snacks, sushi and hot foods — with so many ethnic cuisines — there’s too much and I want to try everything. It’s an experience you should not miss, if you’re in Berkeley.

Outside Berkeley Bowl West with watermelons and fruit on display.
Outside the entrance to Berkeley Bowl West, one of two Berkeley Bowls.
Fruits at Berkeley Bowl.
A photo of a tiny bit of produce.
Wide variety of mushrooms at Berkeley Bowl.
Mushrooms. Have you ever seen so many types in one store?
I never knew there were so many varieties of chanterelle mushrooms — which are my favorite. I used to go chanterelle hunting with my mom in Washington state.
potatoes on display at Berkeley Bowl
Potatoes. My cousins have a potato farm. I wonder what they’d think of the varieties.

sushi grade fish at Berkeley Bowl
Sushi grade fish display. Also, I counted more than 10 types of salmon in the regular seafood section.
Deli sandwiches and caviar at Berkeley Bowl.
Deli sandwiches and caviar anyone?
Produce at Berkeley Bowl
Non organic produce as opposed to their organic produce section.

I miss the cafe which is closed due to COVID. I think there is take out, but I loved sitting inside with my kids having a bowl of chowder or something else amazing. It’s one of my favorite restaurants in the area — and there are lots of amazing places to eat. I told my kids I could have breakfast or lunch there every day.

What’s your favorite place to shop and why? Do you have a place like Berkeley Bowl that you take guests to see? Are you seeing empty shelves? I haven’t seen any in Berkeley.