Before and After–Me and My Garden

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I ran across some old “fat” photos of me, and (squee!!) I figured out how to scan them. As I looked at one of them, I realized that it was a “before” picture of me AND my garden. It was probably taken within the first couple of years that I lived here, so that would have been about 1988. That’s me at 34 years old, and the start of my garden. I planted a couple of petunias in a wooden box. They actually did very well. The same wooden box was where I planted my little maple tree. That little maple tree grew and grew in that little wooden box until it couldn’t grow any more. And that is what precipitated the whole garden project! The big pine tree trunk behind me in that picture also grew and grew, until it had to be taken down. Its stump is in the middle of the raised bed now. Those are my dogs I had when I moved here, Charlie the Standard Poodle, and Muppet, my little Lhasa Apso. (The storage shed in the background had a tree fall on its roof, and it was removed shortly after that.)

This bed is built right where I was sitting in the first picture. The big maple tree is the one that started the whole project. It is doing so well this year.

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Here’s a view of the other beds this morning, with recent improvements by MLG (Master Landscaping Guy.)

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And me? Fortunately, instead of growing and growing, I stayed that same size for a very long time. And then I got smaller.

DSCN0716Me and that little maple tree–we’ve weathered a lot over the years. But we’re still standing.

Springtime in the Garden

Daffodils are in full bloom now. Forgive the fences. SOMEONE thinks the pots are for him  to play “King of the Hill” on.

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Every day I go out and stand under the new cherry tree to see if it has bloomed. Will it be the cherry tree of my dreams? I do believe it is! At least it is close enough! And I just read a magazine article yesterday where the gardener said that the cherry trees had grown an amazing amount in just 2 or 3 years!

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This is an interesting little shrub. It doesn’t really look like much, and then all these funny little blooms pop out. It almost looks like confetti.

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The camellia that I have to practically stand on my head to get a picture of. This is one of the bushes I hope to get in the ground. I am pretty sure it will be a LOT happier out of its container.

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Pansies and violas are such a cheerful addition. A lot of pleasure for very little investment.

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This Japanese maple is covered in seed buds. It almost looks unreal to me.

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I bought myself a few new plants at the nursery yesterday. This is a flowering almond, one of my most favorite plants. I have one, but it has never done well. The girl at the nursery said it probably has a canker. I thought she was just making that term up, and then I read it in a magazine the very same day!

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Doesn’t it have the most beautiful, delicate blooms?

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All the maples are leafing out now, and each one has a different shade.

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There seems to be a pink theme going on here. I can’t help it. Its my favorite color.

Its been a good week. I got a lot more functional exercise. The second pile of wood is all stacked up. A lot of pots have been re-arranged. I’ve gotten in the pool twice, on the bike three times, kept up with my PT exercises, and I’m starting to do fast-walking sprints like Tabata intervals on my walks with Noah. Those are really a good workout. And that doesn’t even include all the aerobic quilting I’ve done :))

 

There’s No Place Like Home

Its not just Dorothy who thinks that!  Even before I got to the airport on my way out of town, I was thinking about how much I love my peaceful evenings at home with the doggies.  We have gotten into quite a lovely routine these days.  Usually about 5 pm the natives get restless (interpretation:  Sophie starts reminding me it is dinnertime.)  So I take all of them for a nice walk, then come home and usually read Lori’s blog (cause you shouldn’t exercise and eat immediately afterward?) and then feed them, and then feed me.  Okay, that part is not peaceful.  But here’s the good part.  After we all have eaten and ‘gone poddy,’ we come back in and get in our places.  Noah stretches out on the floor and just zones out.  I get in my  chair with my current project, and Monk and Sophie watch anxiously for the signal to get in my lap.  They settle in, and THAT’S IT.  We’re set for the night!  When its time for bed, Noah goes outside, and I carry the two little ones to their crates and they never make a peep (compared to other times they are in their crates and feel they must constantly remind me that they NEED TO GET OUT.)  I love this time, and to me it has equal value to any extravagant trip I could take. I just need to remind myself of that occasionally.

Its pretty peaceful most mornings too!

Sophie, in the bed under the desk, as close as she can possibly get to me without being in my lap:

Mr. Monk in ‘his’ chair:

And the new and improved Noah, the sleeping version!

One last bit from the trip:  Its all about the color!!

When I say I got “new threads,”  I mean it literally!!

And just “a little bit” of fabric…

I started this collection of more muted, small print fabrics in response to my love for the beautiful detailed Japanese quilts.  There were 65 quilts from Japan at the Paducah show!

Ooh, and I almost forgot that I had gotten this!!  This is fiber for spinning my own yarn–a gift from my spinning/knitting friend that I met in Nashville!  Aren’t these colors glorious?

When I got home, everything had really leafed and budded out and looked so green and pretty.  Spring came pretty late this year.

This Japanese maple has the prettiest pink leaves when it comes out in the spring.

I really like this one–lime green moon-shaped leaves.  A little different than most Japanese maples that you see.

My lilac put on quite a show this year, now that it has gotten so tall that it can get some sun!

Its an English lilac.  I love the heaviness of the buds, and the delicate color and smell.

Finally.  Back to my own food.  I had some good food on this trip.  Overindulged a bit.  Looking back, nothing stood out as absolutely outstanding.  And by the end of the trip, both me and my Australian room mate were seeking vegetables!!

Before I got home, I thought about what I wanted to do to get the vacation weight off (its mostly already gone, so I guess it was just water or travel weight,) and I decided I would really make an effort to eat more vegetables and protein, and limit grains to one serving a day.  I went to the grocery store and stocked up on vegetables, as well as getting supplies to make my yogurt (which I strained to make “greek style.”  It is a lovely batch of yogurt.)  I’ve stuck very well to that plan this week.  It sure wasn’t hard to eat more vegetables. It was a privelege!

Last night I had a new idea for dessert.  This was so fantastic!  I only like the ‘tart’ frozen yogurt at the froyo shops.  This was 3 of my frozen banana cubes, and 3 Tbsp of my yogurt  swirled together in the mini food processor.  Absolutely perfect.  No sweetener needed at all.  Topped with just a few chopped pecans and some mini chocolate chips.

And finally, the BIG REVEAL!!  This is the muffin recipe that Sharon and I worked on together.  Sharon wanted to make chia muffins that were low fat, high fiber, and high protein.  So we googled a recipe, and then started futzing around, adding stuff to increase the protein content without adding too much fat or carbs.  The muffins we made were very good, kind of like a cornbread texture(?) and were very filling.  I knew I wanted to come home and fool around a bit more, adding a little fat for flavor, and just a bit of sweetener.  Sharon and I have shared a few ideas by mail, and then I asked Vicky if she thought 1/4 cup of coconut oil was okay for 12 muffins.  I meant, for the taste and texture.  Vicky did a little math in her head and said, no, 1 tsp of oil is not too much for you to have in one day.  Okay…  

Anyway, I made these this morning, and oh, my.  They were maybe TOO good, if you know what I mean.  I made some of them with blueberries, others with raspberries, and a few with dried cherries.  They are all safely ensconced in the freezer.  The stats run from 145-210 calories, depending on whether or not you add the coconut oil, and whether or not you use fresh or dried fruit.  They have a good percentage of chia seeds and flaxseed meal, and all of them have 10 grams of protein and 5 grams of fiber per muffin.  My only complaint about them is that there is a lot of ingredients and they took a bit of time to make.  I didn’t notice that when Sharon and I were working together on them!  But after a little less than an hour, I had 15 muffins to put in the freezer.  I’ll get that recipe written up soon and add a link to it!

The end.  Even though there is no place like home, I am leaving in a few hours for a women’s retreat.  It is a speaker I love very much, and it is at Lake Tahoe–I couldn’t resist the opportunity.  I’ll be back home in 48 hours!!

Travel and Food

Have I said this already?  I’ve been thinking a lot about why it is that travel seems to be the last stronghold when it comes to controlling myself around food.  Now, most of the time, I don’t actually do that bad.  I usually take my breakfast and my lunch with me, and then usually allow myself one treat and eat dinner out.  My dinner choice is not always the best, but its certainly not the worst either.  But the thing is, I obsess about what food I am going to eat before I ever leave the house.  I think about every special restaurant that is in the vicinity.  I think about all the special candies/baked items/treats that could be had.  All my old favorites.  ALL of them.  I do google searches to see what’s in the area, and then I do mapquests to get directions to some of them.  WHAT is the deal?

This is what I think it is.  As I got heavier and heavier, shopping and any other fun activity associated with travel became more and more difficult.  Finally, the only fun thing left to do when traveling was to eat good food.  To seek out the best and to move from meal to treat to meal.  What a vicious cycle.  You are too heavy to enjoy moving, so you eat more so its even more difficult to move so you eat more so you won’t think about how hard it is to move (and BTW, debby, remember that it wasn’t even so pleasant to SIT at your heaviest.)

That’s what I’ve been thinking about.  It was a very  long-term deeply ingrained habit in my life.  So I guess that’s why its been so hard to break.

The “Japanese Maple Forest” continues to surprise me with new colors almost every day.

This is the grandaddy of the Japanese maples–not a dwarf, just a commoner.  But one of my very most favorites.  The first one I bought after I moved up here because it was cheaper than the fancy dwarfs.  Now its roots have grown into the ground and it is firmly enmeshed in the soil here.  This was what I saw when I walked out the door this morning.

Close-up of the leaves:

And one of his many offspring.  I watch for the little maple saplings and pot them up.  I’ve given quite a few away, and currently have 4 young’uns in different stages of development.

Another of the lace-leaf variety.  This one is doing extremely well this year.  It took a big hit last year when I somehow overlooked it in the watering rotation in August, the hottest month of the year.  Shows the resilience of trees.

And that’s all I’ve got for this Friday evening.  Hope you all have a wonderful weekend.  I am looking forward to a quiet weekend after a busier than usual week.

More Protein?

Here’s a thought process I’ve been going through over the past week or so.

First, I started thinking about eggs.  I wanted to eat more eggs.  Any of you who know me know that this is extremely unusual behavior.  I don’t really like eggs.  I like the shape of eggs.  I like that you can bake delicious things with eggs.  But I don’t like the flavor of eggs.  When I was a kid my mom used to get us to eat eggs once in a while by making eggie reggies.  Scrambled eggs with fried potatoes in them.

Then my brother heard this young man speak at his church.  He is a fitness enthusiast, so of course I had to check out his website.  Pretty nice, and I even listened to some of their podcasts.  I looked at their food plan, and then I looked again.  Man, those people like eggs.  When I looked again, I just realized it was a high protein diet.

THEN, Helen started her paleo challenge.  And other people have been talking about it on the blogs.  And then Kelly (I think) recommended this book to Helen.  So I was checking it out, and basically their theory is to balance your complex carbohydrate intake with protein intake.

All this to say:

I ATE SOME EGGS.

Well, not really.  I had a few more thoughts swirling around.  Basically, that I could stand to add a little more protein to my daily diet.  And see whether or not it will decrease my snacking at times I am not really hungry.  We shall see.

In the meantime, I made the best batch of stew that I have had in years.  As you can see, this is plain and simple stew.  That’s how my mom made it growing up, and that’s how I still like it.  I have definitely slimmed down the recipe.  This bowl ended up being 300 calories.  I think the reason it was so tasty was that the beef was grass-fed, from some local growers.

Almost every day I walk outside a different Japanese maple has turned colors.  Here is another one, a little more orange than the first one I showed you (also in this picture.)

And here is a little one that has struggled for the past five years.  It is lime green in the summer.  But its leaves usually died in the summer heat before fall arrived.  I think this is the first year I have seen it turn.  Isn’t it a pretty lemony yellow color?   Now I remember, the name of it is Lemon Lime–maybe referring to its two distinctly different colors.

Well, once again I am too tired to write anything interesting, or even coherent, so I will leave you all and head for the bed AGAIN.