The Closet

So J. the contractor was back last week! We went over all the plans for the new kitchen addition and the bathroom and laundry room re-do. J. was interested when he saw the “outdoor shower.” It was here when I first moved in, and it has been a great place for me to have hot and cold water to give the dogs baths over the years. I was like “NO, I DO NOT TAKE OUTDOOR SHOWERS!” And then he explained about the whole construction thing, and I was like “Oh, yes! I will be happy to take outdoor showers!” This is going to be quite an adventure.

Anyway, the main reason he came over was to install the closet that he made. He mentioned that he had some nice pine, and I said I liked pine. I didn’t mention that I like NATURAL pine. Oh well. First contractor mis-communication. He stained it nicely. Other than that, I LOVE it. I never had open shelving before, so I was very unsure of that. Now I understand. It is like legalizing leaving your clothes out! I had him build the pull out drawers because I was so unsure of the open shelving. I’m sure they’ll come in handy for something or other. I also like the cubes I had him build. They are just the right size for the Ikea baskets. I really liked them when I got that set for the studio. They are a very nice way to contain and hide things.

The open shelving and the slanted shoe rack–ooh, I love the slanted shoe rack too. Notice how every single shoe I have left is completely flat. Yesterday I tried to wear a pair of sandals with a one inch heel, and my knee hurt too much. They are in the thrift store pile now. : (

DSCN1687

The hanging rod. Oops, my drawing was not exactly to scale. I have a few things that are longer than the space I allowed. I might ask him about fixing that later.

DSCN1689

The best part about all this construction? Its forced me to clean things thoroughly. And at least for a while, I am determined to NOT mess the spaces up. So nothing goes in the closet without a good reason for it to be there!

Early Morning in the Garden

This is the shade garden. You can see where we moved the smaller Japanese Maple out and I replaced it with a pot of coleus and a fast growing hanging plant.

DSCN1671

My oldest lace-leaf Japanese Maple is doing very well this year.

DSCN1672

I went outside the fence to get this pic–I like the fringed daisies with the blue delphinium (they are a type of delphinium–not as showy as the big ones, but they have a beautiful blue color.)

DSCN1673

Volunteer sunflower. And the great plant hunter there in the background.

DSCN1675

 

 

 

A close-up of the honeysuckle. I’m so happy that this vine is doing well this year. Last year it got over-whelmed by the tomato forest and the deer.DSCN1679

I like these little vignettes of volunteer petunias. Oh, and see that lantern there? I got a set of 8 of those from Costco, and at night I look out my bedroom window and it looks like a fairyland out there!
DSCN1682

The phlox plant (thanks for the I.D.!) is doing extremely well. Now what? Am I supposed to divide it next spring? Oh, you can see a good view of the dog room there. The latest thing I talked to J. the contractor about is using my old window air conditioner to install in their room. Oh brother. What I won’t do for those dogs. But practically speaking, then I don’t have to worry about leaving them out there when I travel and we are having a heat wave.

DSCN1684

My “pesky” lantana is doing very well. One reader (I think from Australia) mentioned that they were considered a pest plant over there. I can understand that. But here they die every winter, so they are just an annual. And I love them. I have three of them this year. Oh, and that is my little basil forest in the back there.

DSCN1685

St. Francis and the front of the shade garden. There is another variety of lantana.

DSCN1686

So we moved a couple of the Japanese maples, and now there is a whole curved row of them. It looks better in person.

DSCN1696

This is the time of year that I get weary of the endless watering. I told MLG “no more gardens for now!” Our next project is just a little stone work, and then we are going to talk about putting in a drip watering system.

And that’s what’s happening in the garden right now. I have harvested 5 cherry tomatoes, 4 green beans, and a few zucchini (a miracle considering Sophie demolished an entire zucchini plant single-handedly.) I’m hopeful to be enjoying a few more fresh vegetables in the near future!

The Summer of Ceviche

 

DSCN1650I think this will be my favorite dinner this summer!

  1. No stove cooking.
  2. Minimal prep time.
  3. Low cal light dish that tastes luxurious.
  4. Recipe makes 3 servings–three dinners ready to go!

Here’s all the ingredients you need to gather. Thaw the pre-cooked salad shrimp and microwave the corn ahead of time. Then just chop and combine.

DSCN1647

I don’t need to belabor the point. I think I’ve talked about this recipe enough on this blog. But its worth repeating–DELICIOUS!! I love it so much I just eat a bowl of it by itself. That does it for me. But if you wanted to, you could make yourself some tortilla chips to go with.

 

AIM Food: Its All in a Day

542707_10151477330723281_358074385_n-1

In discussing what our next post was going to be, someone came up with the great idea of discussing food, and each of us would take one meal, and kind of make it like a progressive dinner, only it would be individual meals served throughout a single day. So you gotta know how excited I was about this challenge! First, its about food, right? And then, its about planning to have an entire day of food with my very good blog buddies. I would so love it if this were real and not imaginary. If you’d like to follow along with us throughout the day, start with Shelley, who is serving us breakfast.

I was assigned dessert (thank you, Lori! I was just trying to be polite by not nabbing it first thing.) And then I had to obsess over what I would serve my friends. What would be pleasing to all of them, and still fit into our “maintenance” food plan? Several things came to mind immediately. I wanted to include fruit, because its just a great season for fruit. And even though I use artificial sweeteners (Splenda) liberally myself, I’m pretty careful about not offering that to other people–a lot of people don’t like the taste of artificial sweeteners. So I needed a recipe that would use a minimal amount of sugar or honey to sweeten it.

My first plan was to make these little honey and coconut bites. They are absolutely delicious, although a bit energy dense (code for small serving with higher calories.) And then I thought I’d simply serve some fresh fruit with this fruit dip. I thought it was a good pairing.

So I went to the farmer’s market this morning to get some strawberries and peaches. (Yes, I was taking this challenge very literally!) I thought those particular fruits would be terrific with the dip. When I finally got to the market, there were only blackberries and nectarines left. So I got those, and headed home. On the way home, I started thinking again. They weren’t exactly what I’d had in mind. What could I make that would use these two fruit?

DSCN1659

Bong bong bong!!! I could make that healthy fruit crisp. It is such a simple recipe, only has 127 calories per serving, and comes out perfect every time. I know people like it. And hello? It calls for granola as a topping! I could use Shelley’s Hippie Granola!

You cook the fruit first

You cook the fruit first

 

And then you add the granola and cook just a little longer.

And then you add the granola and cook just a little longer.

Oh and then–you gotta have ice cream with a fruit crisp. But of course, I wanted it to be frozen yogurt. Because hello? Most of us talk a lot about frozen yogurt. I’ve even enjoyed a trip to the froyo shop with both Shelley and Cammie!. So I got out my Cuisinart ice cream maker recipe book, and there is a very simple recipe for a low calorie peach frozen yogurt–perfect!

The finished crisp!

The finished crisp!

And while I actually made the fruit crisp (it can double as a breakfast topping for my regular morning yogurt,) you’re gonna have to imagine the froyo, because, alas, my friends are not actually coming over for dessert, and that is just a little too much good food to have in my house at one time! I will definitely make it at a later date this summer! The recipe is so simple–only three ingredients–a can of peaches packed in their own juice, 2 cups of vanilla low-fat yogurt, and 1/3 cup of sugar. It comes out to 110 calories per 1/2 cup serving.

Here’s the list of all of my AIM friends:

Lynn @ Lynn’s Weigh

Lori @ Finding Radiance

Shelley @ My Journey to Fit

Cammy @ The Tippy Toe Diet

 

 

Stuff in the Garden

First, an overview of the sun garden. Its a rather messy jungle this year. A lot of the petunias were volunteers, which I am enjoying a LOT. But some of the plants just look messy–either I need to move some of these plants to other locations or just delete them. Feel free to chime in with advice and/or opinions.

DSCN1616

Next: what is this plant? I waited and waited for it to bloom. It was a nice sturdy looking plant, but took forever to bloom. I’m not sure why I bought it last year. Could it have been another color and then reverted to white this year??

DSCN1615

Close-up of the blooms:

DSCN1636

I love this petunia–appropriately named “Apple Blossoms.”

DSCN1611

The squash blossoms always amaze and surprise me–so huge and beautiful in the early morning. They almost look like a daylily!

DSCN1605

Speaking of which–look at what surprised me!

DSCN1633

I am loving these fringed daisies! I bought two 4 inch plants last fall, and they are already pretty big bushes!

DSCN1604

A new plant! I need to get something for it to climb on. I was told it will die at first frost. My plan, if I am so organized, is to pot it up and take it to my mom’s house in the bay area for the winter.

DSCN1641

And, I got another of my favorites–a morning glory. Lets hope it does a little better than last year’s plant, which refused to bloom most of the summer.

DSCN1638

What are these plants called? I like them when I see them other places. But in my garden they are messy and unruly.

DSCN1634

Caught in the act!

DSCN1639

“What??? I was just SNIFFING them!”

DSCN1640

And that’s what’s happening in the garden this week. If you are a gardener, be sure to spend some time just enjoying your blooms. I find that I spend a LOT of time looking down at the dirt–does it need more water? does it need to be broken up? are there too many weeds? And then I remember to stop and look up. Ahhh. That’s what a garden is all about!

A Day to Remember, Part 2

And so it was on! The thing I worried about the most was my hands!! They would be doing close-up shots of my hands, since I would be demo-ing the embroidery that I do on my quilts. My hands are not my best feature. Add to that that I garden, and well, I’m old, and they just weren’t looking good. When I went to the beauty shop to get my hair cut, I asked what they could do to make my hands look 20 years younger. So I got scheduled for two manicures a couple of weeks before the show was scheduled. Those were my very first manicures in my life (and probably my last.) I thoroughly enjoyed them, especially the wrist massage. But man, that is a money and a time suck! And honestly, my hands just want to return to their natural state the day after the manicure.

Both Ricky and Alex gave me some little hints about what I should talk about. And about a month before the show, the producer called and we had a really long chat. She was very interested in my weight loss, so we talked a lot about that. She asked all kinds of questions about my quilting, my motivation, my dog showing days…everything. Oh, and the best thing? She used to be a producer on The Oprah Winfrey Show!! So we had that in common–I told her about how my day would end at 4pm. Time to watch Oprah!

After she called, I felt more secure about what I was going to do and say on the show. I was pretty organized about setting up a series of teaching samples. And I went through my quilts several times to choose which ones to take with me. I ended up taking fourteen of them so that they could choose the ones that they thought would be best for the show.

Besides my hands, the other thing I worried about quite a bit was being “the healthy quilter.” You know, most people think that that means the Thin quilter. Or at least that’s what I think they think : ) Anyway, it kept me accountable. I went regularly to the gym to work out, and that made me feel good about myself as I headed down to the Bay Area.

And before you knew it, the day was here. Oh, one thing I didn’t mention. The show’s headquarters are in Denver, CO. But they go on location fairly often to do shoots, and they were going to be in the Bay Area, which was one reason they asked me to be a guest at this particular time.

As it turned out, we talked briefly about my weight loss and healthy living. And then we talked about everything else in the world–quilts, travel, the spiritual connection with my quilts, and dogs. I can’t say enough good things about the producer, Shelly. She is just a very real, genuine person. She is very easy going, which keeps everything very calm on the set. But at the same time, you can tell that she knows exactly what she is doing and is very confident in that. All of which makes everyone else calm.

They did the shoot at the Alden Lane Nursery, in Livermore. It is one of my favorite nurseries, and I have been there quite a few times. It was a really fun place to be. They often have quilting events at this nursery, so it was a natural place to do this. They did my segment in a greenhouse–very cool. And they brought in a bunch of plants for atmosphere.

They filmed four segments–Show and Tell, two different teaching segments, and the “After Set.” I had told Shelly that the After Set was one of my favorite things on the show. They don’t always include it, and I don’t know if she included it on my show because I liked it. But I was really happy they did that. The after-set was when we talked about Ricky’s and my history with show dogs. We had a great story about a flood and the cocker spaniels (it really is one of the most dramatic things I’ve lived through.)

I was a very bad blogger. Even though I brought my camera, I forgot to ask someone to take pictures during the filming. So these are mostly shots I got after the whole thing was over. Sorry….

The set for the demos.

The set for the demos.

I was actually cleaning up my demo samples here.

I was actually cleaning up my demo samples here.

Alex and Ricky getting ready to film another segment.

Alex and Ricky getting ready to film another segment.

The crew out in the nursery to film another short segment.

The crew out in the nursery to film another short segment.

And then the day was over. I had already planned to stay overnight and go home the following morning. But all I could think about was that I wanted to go home and sit with my doggies. So the next morning, I woke up, looked at the clock and saw 6am, and thought, I’ll get a good start on the drive home. But after I got dressed and ready and packed, and was heading out the door, I glanced at the clock and saw that it was 5:36. Oops. Thank goodness Starbuck’s is open at that time. And this was one of the best parts of the trip– I drove straight to the gym, had a fantastic workout, and then went on home, where I sat with the dogs and watched some of my cooking shows, and thought about what I really wanted to eat. Some baked chicken, corn, and mashed cauliflower, that’s what I wanted. I guess I really am The Healthy Quilter.

I don’t know when my show will air, but it probably won’t be until sometime next year. You can become a member of The Quilt Show for free, but if you want to watch the new shows every two weeks, you have to pay an annual subscription fee. Once my show airs, they will give me a special code, and anyone who wants to can watch the show!

A Day to Remember

There is so much to write about this day that I have delayed writing this post. I don’t know how to start. Shall I start at the end and go backwards, like that famous episode of Seinfeld? No, I don’t think I’ll do that. That episode was a little confusing to me.

I think you all know I blog occasionally for The Quilt Show as “The Healthy Quilter.” The Quilt Show is hosted by two very well-known personalities in the quilt world–Alex Anderson and Ricky Tims. It so happens that Ricky is a very old friend from another world. Over 30 years ago, when I was a “famous” cocker spaniel breeder, Ricky bought a dog from us, and I showed her for him.

One of our most well-known dogs, Max, on the cover of the American Cocker Review magazine.

One of our most well-known dogs, Max, on the cover of the American Cocker Review magazine.

Me showing Ricky's dog, Vanilla.

Me showing Ricky’s dog, Vanilla.

 

Another of the Cocker Spaniels I owned and showed.

Another of the Cocker Spaniels I owned and showed.

(And yes, I know you will all be interested to know that that is me at my lowest adult weight–about 125 pounds. I did not learn how to eat and maintain that weight loss. I remember thinking “I can’t even eat 4 string beans without gaining weight.”)

I ended up in Wichita Falls, Ricky’s hometown, and we were very good friends for a few years. And then I went to nursing school, graduated, and moved back to California. The end.

Only it wasn’t. About ten years ago, when my best friend dragged me into the world of quilting, I started hearing Ricky’s name. What the what? He was a quilter now, and a pretty famous one at that! It wasn’t until about three years ago, when we were attending the same quilting event that I went up and re-introduced myself to him. And a couple of years later, after hearing about my “healthy living blog,” he invited me to be “The Healthy Quilter” on TQS blog.

I got to know Alex through taking a workshop from her. When I showed her a couple of my current quilts, she was very complimentary and asked if I would like to teach, and if so, would I be interested in being on an episode of The Quilt Show–a bi-weekly internet “television show” about quilters.

The quilts I showed Alex:

IMG_9126

IMG_9151

I thought about that for a while. I have taught in a lot of different areas of my life, and I do enjoy teaching. But it is hard work. Did I want to devote time to doing that?  Eventually I decided that I would like to try, and I talked to Alex again about how to go about doing that.

And then one day a few months ago, I got a call from Ricky. Would I like to be a guest on The Quilt Show? Would I? As I said to Shelly, the producer, I am their “Number One Fan” (LOL–think Kathy Bates in Misery.) The Quilt Show started right about the time that I got rid of my television, so it was my only “tv show” for a while, and I really looked forward to every new episode.

To be continued…

Sophie says "Harumph. Those fancy schmancy dogs don't hold a candle to my majestic nobility."

Sophie says “Harumph. Those fancy schmancy dogs don’t hold a candle to my majestic nobility.”

I Bought Another Diet Book

I bought another diet book. (Disclaimer: this is not a book review.) As I virtually thumbed through this book on my Kindle, the question that kept running through my mind was “why?” Why did I buy another diet book? What was I looking for? I’ve been dieting and/or maintaining for almost 10 years now. Did I really think I would find something new?

Was I looking for the magic bullet, just like the rest of America? If I just do this or that, I can eat whatever I want and still be thin and fabulous.

But what I really think I was looking for is reassurance. Reassurance that my thinking is not wrong. That I am doing the best I can. That it is okay to eat what I eat. Its okay that I am not as thin as the “American ideal” (haha–that’s a funny one, isn’t it? In our all-powerful country, a huge percentage of us are obese, but our “ideal” is borderline underweight.)

This book provided that reassurance.

There are so many voices out there on the inter webs yelling at us that their way is the only way. That their way is the best. If only you would eliminate this or that food, you would be cured of all your aches and pains and you would be thin and rich (okay, that’s a little bit of an exaggeration.) I admit it–sometimes I get lost in the melee. I start to doubt myself. I wonder if what I have learned over the years is true. This book provided a voice of reason, backed by the author’s solid scientific background and years of experience in the weight loss and weight loss maintenance field.

Maybe another time I’ll review this book, but for now I’ll just tell you that I recommend it. Its chock full of good and true helpful information for the person who wants to lose weight and maintain that weight loss.