2018 Thanksgiving

I’ve decided to start writing about my weight loss journey and just life again. Its been quite a few years since I published anything. I’ve been loosing weight for the last five months and decided it might be nice to see it chronicled, so if your interested, follow along.  It will take me a few weeks to get you up to date on what I’ve learned in the last five months.

Today’s Thoughts:

My first dieting Thanksgiving was forty eight years ago.

I was  fifteen and not old enough to drive yet, because my Mom had to take me to Teenage Weight Watchers meetings.  I don’t know why she signed me up, but every Saturday we would drive across town to attend the meetings.

I was tall, already 6 ft. and well developed, I can look back at this picture of me at that age and I don’t see a fat girl, but I do believe this developed a diet mentality in me.



I went to the meetings and listened to the lady leading the meeting preparing us for eating WW at Thanksgiving.  Turkey was fine, vegetables, sweet potatoes just limit the portions but for some reason dressing wasn’t  allowed, so we were given a recipe for cauliflower dressing.  Cauliflower isn’t a new discovery of the low carb crowd, it was used way back then.  The recipe consisted of mashing the steamed cauliflower and adding sage seasoning to it, there may have been a few other ingredients, but I don’t remember anything but about how awful it tasted.  I really expected it to taste like Grandma’s Southern Cornbread Dressing, boy was I surprised, this stuff was nasty.  I think I probably quit WW that day because it was impossible to live on and I’ve always loved good food.

I’ve dieted for many years, but never again did I diet during the holidays, I’d always start after the New Year with any new diet.

2018 I started again at the first of the year on an online app that counted WW points.  I lost a few pounds, but it was the same old diet.  I worked in my garden and that was my exercise.  I had convinced myself that I couldn’t walk long distances anymore because of problems with my knee, hip and back.  By the first of June I had lost 25 lbs.

My husband Harvey had type 2 Diabetes and had been on Metformin for fifteen years. He had got a prescription filled and his body wasn’t working well with it. For the last few doctors visits they had talked about adding more diabetes medicine.  Even with taking the Metformin his blood sugar numbers were running high.  He started researching online if Diabetes could be controlled with diet and kept finding information about Low Carb, High Fat diets (Keto) that people were actually able to eventually get off their diabetic medicine. He decided that he was going to try a Keto diet.

All I knew about Low carb diets was the Atkins Diet which I had tried 12 years before.  I lost 6lbs and then I couldn’t loose anymore. I was going to the gym at the time and would weigh myself and be so disappointed, I hadn’t lost a pound. I knew people who had lost lots of weight on the diet, so I couldn’t figure out what I could be doing wrong.  I bought two of Dr. Atkins books and read them both. The book said if you didn’t loose weight you must be insulin resistant and you had to go on an 1000 calorie egg diet for a week and that would break it.  Well, I still didn’t loose any weight, so I quit and said it wouldn’t work for me.

I got out the Atkins books and read them again and tried to proceed with the diet again.  I had already made my mind up that we weren’t going to be cooking two different meals, and getting Harvey’s blood sugar down was the most important thing, so I would go low carb.   I started checking out the Keto diet, not really understanding what it was or how it worked.  I started watching Dr. Berg’s You Tube videos on how to heal diabetes by eating a Keto diet and we started following his plan.  I joined his facebook group and heard about an app called Carb Manager.  I downloaded the app and started learning this new way of eating.  I knew what carbohydrates were, but had no idea how much were in foods.  In the old WW points, I knew automatically how many points food was, but I had no idea there was carbs in vegetables, fruit.  We were having to learn a whole new diet language and a way to eat.

We jumped in, feet first.  The app would let you set the parameters at low carb of 50 carbs a day, or Keto at 20 carbs a day.  Keto it was, if we were going to do this, we were going to do it right! The average person eats 200 grams a day. Looking back, we might should of started at 50 carbs and learned how to eat that way and then lowered it later to 20. We didn’t know anyone else eating this way and our understanding was that Keto was 20 carbs so that’s what we ate.

No toast, no biscuits, no gravy, no jelly, no orange juice. Just bacon or sausage and eggs for breakfast.  Of course we could eat those to our contentment because there are no carbs in meat and eggs were 1 carb for two eggs.  We were satisfied, it was just different. But that coffee, now that was a problem.  I don’t drink black coffee. I like milk with a little coffee.  I added my coffee to my Carb Manager app and found out that a cup of milk was 12 carbs for a cup of whole milk.  Well this was a problem, when you only get 20 carbs and 12 were spent on coffee, I had to make a change, 8 carbs would have been all I had left for the day. Then I heard that Heavy Whipping Cream was low in carbs, in fact 2 Tablespoons only had 1 carb. I would take 1 cup of water and heat it in the microwave then add my 2 TBSP of cream and mix that in and then add my coffee.

Screenshot_20181122-213626_Carb Manager

I’ll continue more next post with how the diet works and what we’ve learned and our results.


Back to Thanksgiving 2018

After five months of eating this Keto way of eating, I wondered could we do this Thanksgiving Keto? I started looking for recipes, I found lots of them, and yes there are still recipes for cauliflower dressing.  But there are also recipes for Keto Cornbread dressing.  Corn and cornmeal are high carb, but almond flour has proven to be a good substitute for cornmeal. I decided not to make the dressing this year, Harvey made the traditional dressing and noodles for his children, I just passed on them.

Our menu was turkey which we brined and smoked, made a herbed butter and rubbed it under the skin, best turkey ever! Brussel sprouts tossed in olive oil, roasted with parmesan cheese sprinkled on it. Spring mix salad with full fat dressing, Harvey’s mom’s Cranberry Jello Salad reworked. Sugar free raspberry jello with chopped pecans, fresh cranberries, celery and served with sour cream on top. For desert I made a cheesecake with Monk fruit for sweetener, with a pecan crust.

I had commented on a recipe my cousin posted on face book that if we could manage Thanksgiving and stay on Keto we could pass any test.  I must say, I passed the Thanksgiving challenge and I am proud of myself!





Does trying something new frighten you, especially something like making cheese or yogurt? We seem to have this mentality anymore that it isn’t any good unless you buy it from the grocery store. WRONG! I’m discovering that as we learn how to make these things at home they are so much better. No additives, preservatives, artificial flavorings. Just pure goodness.

Yogurt is one of those things for me that has always been scary, it seemed complicated. I would read blogs where people made it and I would say to myself, “Naw, too hard, too much effort.” I finally decided one day, just try it. I’ve been making yogurt now for a month. Each time refining the method and trying to make it simpler. This tutorial is a pictorial of my method. There are other ways to make it, but this works for me.

So for lack of a better name we are going to call this the Ice chest method.

Get out your ice chest and scrub it good and rinse it. Then pour boiling water in it to sterilize it.

Equipment you will need:

Large stock pan

Quart canning jars, with band and lids (Can use clean mayo jars., just make sure there are no smells as this will transfer to yogurt)


Long teaspoon to stir

Ice chest


1 container good quality Greek yogurt with live active cultures.( I’ve used Fage Greek Yogurt and Dannon’s Oikos Greek yogurt.)

Milk, depending on how much you want to make



You will need 2 -3 Tbsp yogurt for each quart.



Add ½ cup milk to yogurt and stir, we will add this later


Fill your quart jars to ½ inch below the ring with milk, you’re leaving space to add your yogurt culture later.

Add your jars to stock pot and fill with hot water, turn on stove burner to med high.

Using this method, your jars are working as a double boiler so you don’t have to worry about scorching your milk.

Heat for 10-15 mins. (each stove is different.) Use your thermometer,

Heat the milk to a temperature of 180 degrees.

Hold it there for 10 mins.


Prepare a cold water bath in your kitchen sink, don’t fill to full you don’t want to cover the pot.

Take the pot off the stove and immerse in your cold water bath.

You are cooling the milk to 120 degrees before we add our yogurt starter.

When temperature reaches 120 degrees remove from water bath and pour your starter in each jar

Filling to the top.

Stir each jar with your long spoon, mixing well.

Put on lids and bands and close tight.

Put into your ice chest and fill to bottom of lids with hot tap water. My tap water is around 118 degrees, I start at the beginning of making yogurt filling the ice chest partially with that, by the time I get the jars in the temperature has dropped a few more degrees.

You want to maintain your water between 110-112 degrees while your yogurt incubates.

(You can check it occasionally, but it seems to hold a steady temperature, if it is below, I take out a couple cups of water and replace it with hot tap water.)

Incubate about 6 hours. Yogurt should be set. The longer the incubation time, the more tart or acidic the flavor of your yogurt.

This is where you experiment: I like my yogurt tarter so I usually go between 8-10 hours. You need to taste and make your own determination.
(It will be warm so it’s not going to taste like cold yogurt)

Take jars out of ice chest, dry them off and immediately put them in the refrigerator. Rapid cooling stops the development of acid.

Greek Style Yogurt

Take a jar of your cold yogurt. Line a colander with cheesecloth or double sheets of Bounty paper towels (needs to be strong paper towels) inside a deep bowl. Pour your yogurt in the strainer and allow the whey to drain off. Put the bowl and strainer back into the refrigerator for this process. It will usually be the right consistency in 4-6 hours.

Save your yogurt

The first batch from using store bought yogurt is usually the best for using again to re-culture more milk. I make extra with that batch and freeze in 1 cup portions (an extra quart of yogurt will give you 4 starters).

Save your Whey.

It can be used for liquid in bread, soups and other uses. It has lots of nutritional values left in it.

I will give you a few recipes that I use in a couple of days for Frozen Yogurt and other good uses.

Have fun,



More Art Work!

Ten hours a day in a motel room, leaves you plenty of time to play with art. In my previous post I showed you some of the work I had created while I was here in Monacca, Pennsylvania and had a piece that was in process that I hadn’t come up with a quote for. I watch a lot of YouTube videos and I love Hillsong worship songs. When I was playing this one, I immediately knew these were the words I wanted to use; I titled this one “I Will Say Of The Lord.”

Here is a link to the actual video, ignore the subtitles, the song is in English.

Wishing I was at home, I’m missing cooking, and I have a lot of new recipes I want to try. I’ve watched lots of YouTube videos on making cheese, and that’s one of the things I want to experiment with. I told Harvey about my aspirations, and he just laughed and said he would get me some goats. Then I laughed and told him my kids would call me that “goat lady” cause that’s what we called people who showed goats. “We showed sheep!” Which probably made us “Those sheep people.” If you don’t know what I mean when I say “We showed sheep” here is a picture from “back in the day”

This is an over exposed picture, but its at Santa Barbara County Fair, one of our favorite places we exhibited at. From left to right Jonathan Hall, Eric Baro, Jennifer (Wonderly) Mebane, Steven Hall, and Melissa (Wonderly) Fachin. The Hall boys are my sons.

This is another favorite of mine. This is at Cow Palace in San Francisco, this is from left to right my daughters, Carissa (Hall) Plumley and Stephanie (Hall) Haynes. Carissa was Miss Bo Peep that year representing Wool Grower’s Auxilery aka “The Bo Peeps” of which I was a member. Stephanie was wearing a wool outfit and participating in Ladies and Lads Lead, which was a fashion show which included wearing a wool outfit and having your ewe dressed to coordinate. Such fun and such good memories.



Watercolor Flower Art

I’ve been making some new scripture art and thought I would share it with you. I’ve been making my background papers from scratch then adding flowers in a watercolor form I’ve been working on. It’s a style I’ve discovered by trying different methods in Photoshop Elements.

Choosing colors is the hard part, I seem to choose the same color palette every time, even though I try and start out with different colors.

The next one is a work in process. It was the first one I experimented with in this style. So here’s the challenge! Leave in the comments the scripture or favorite saying you would like to see in this art, and I will work on it.

And as you can see it’s not in the same color palette. A lot more vivid colors.




Apple Farm

Last fall we were in California for five weeks living in Grover Beach while Harvey worked at Diablo Canyon. As most of you know California is my home state. Every summer as long as I can remember we took our vacation at the beach in this area, it’s like my second home; it’s where we would go for a quick weekend getaway. So I know this area quite well, which means I take tons of pictures and some of them never get to my blog.

This week The Apple Farm in San Luis Obispo, Ca, was running a contest on their Facebook page consisting of posting pictures of their gardens, which will be judged and the prize is Dinner for two at their fabulous restaurant. This is their posting:

In the spirit of our upcoming spring festival, Apple Blossom Days, we are looking for some your photos of our gardens! Post any spring Apple Farm photos that you may have and the top three (decided by our staff) will win dinner for two at the Apple Farm! You have until Monday, March 28th to post. We will announce the winners on Friday, April 1st!

So of course I remembered the pictures I took and wondered if I had anything I might enter:

And here is my entry! Because we are going back to Diablo Canyon in May and I am looking forward to that dinner for two!

I’ve been working on my family tree for the last month and I haven’t played in Photoshop very much. We bought the Family Tree Maker which comes with three months access to Ancestry.com and I am addicted, but then so is Harvey! That’s all we have done lately, last weekend we stayed up till 2am researching. You know on the commercial where they show that little leaf that tells you, “You have a history hint”? Well those little green leaves on all these ancestors’ names are driving me crazy! It becomes obsessive to get them all off my names. Thankfully my Mom and my aunt Mary have already documented a lot of our family, so that entails multiple calls to them to verify facts, which caused my Mom to use all her cell phone minutes last month.

So when I saw this contest I had to open up Photoshop and play! Today I have edited a few more pictures from that trip.

The Old Mill House

The water wheel!

And one more look at that flower! (Sorry I don’t know what it’s called.) I edited it a little more abstract and it’s a different angle,

I’m not sure if I don’t like it better!

Hugs, Margaret


I love dishes! I really don’t need any more.

 I already own a set of Homer Laughlin dishes in an off white color, the pattern is called Colonial. I was researching the dishes online and found out the factory wasn’t too far from where Harvey is working in Pennsylvania, and that they were the maker of Fiesta Ware. So I decided we needed to make a trip. Last weekend we went to Newell, West Virginia to the Homer Laughlin Factory and store to pick out new Fiesta ware dishes.

Do you remember Fiesta Ware? We had a set of Antique Gold dishes and I recall the pitcher and its unique shape. If I remember correctly, we bought them at the grocery store (Mayfair Market), where you would get the accessories at a special price like .79 cents and once you got hooked buying the accessories you would end up buying the whole set of dishes. A little research shows that they were made in that color from 1969-1972.

The product was discontinued in 1973 and reissued in 1986 with new contemporary colors to mark its 50th anniversary. This year they are celebrating their 75th year of Fiesta Ware.

We programmed Homer Laughlin in the GPS and started out for a beautiful drive, about sixty miles from New Stanton, PA.

Many long brick buildings which have been there for many years.

This is the parking lot, which borders on the Ohio River, there were many buildings side by side that were identical.

The Broken Ware Garden was on both side of the entry.

As we walked in the door we entered the retail part of the store, where everything is new. We looked around and saw all the new colors.

Not sure what this color is but isn’t it gorgeous?

Now into the seconds room.

Wow! This was an experience! Since it was our first time there we had no idea what to do. But around us were people who you could tell were experts at the seconds. They had cloths and were sifting thru dishes polishing and looking for flaws. I pick up a few dishes and the only thing I can think of to get the dust off the dishes with was my sweatshirt, real professional looking Margaret! The other problem is the stacks of dishes, as you sort through them looking for the color you want you have to pile them in another pile and I was worrying about the pile getting to high and all the dishes tumbling into the floor.

I had an idea the color I was wanting before we arrived, so after sorting through dishes for half an hour we decided that this could be an all day process, so we made the decision to buy the 4 place settings new and buy the accompanying side dishes and platters in the seconds room.

The platter and the canister in the back is a Red color called Scarlet, although in this picture it is showing a pink color. The blue dishes are a color called Peacock. I love the idea of mixing the colors.

This picture is the four place setting, I had to take them out of the box and play when I got back to the room.

We are here in New Stanton for another week, then we are moving close to Beaver Valley while Harvey works at the Beaver Valley Nuclear Plant for two weeks. That is a lot closer to the factory, so I plan on making another trip, and loading up on more of the seconds. I will probably have to ship them home because our car is already loaded with dishes and a big composter in a box that we bought at Costco, so I don’t think I can stuff much more in there.