Garden Celebration

I just got done doing my taxes online. Does anyone else find this to be as nervewracking as I do? When I had finally jumped through the final hoop, double checked all my answers and numbers, and hit SEND, I felt like celebrating. Thank goodness I wasn’t at all hungry. I celebrated by sending an email to a friend, and then went out in the garden to look it over. We’ve had rain for days (NOT THAT THERE’S ANYTHING WRONG WITH THAT!!) It was fun to look for new surprises out there.

Look what was hiding:


My New York Lily of the Valley! So small and delicate. Two more are coming up just where I planted them last year. Thank you again, my New York gardening friend!

I’ve loved maidenhair ferns all my life. And bought plenty of them over the years, with not much success. This is a new variety, which is supposed to be hardy to 10F, so we’ll see if its still here next year.


And I bought a pink bleeding heart.


I thought I had one, but the only one growing is a white one.


This is a really beautiful Japanese maple. It comes out this delicate color in the spring. But its not in exactly the right location. And it might be one that does better in the ground. Slowly, I am transplanting some of the Japanese maples into the ground. It wouldn’t hurt to move the wood pallet behind it…




The tulips really have been pretty this year. Usually, it seems to me that it is too hot by the time they bloom, and they just get all floppy and wilty looking.


Had to practically stand on my head to get this pic of the first bloom on the flowering cherry tree!


And this little Japanese maple is doing very well in its new location in the ground. That is one of the ones I grew from a seedling from my original JM. See all that empty ground in front of it? Looks like a good place for a new flower bed, doesn’t it???


Now that’s a good way to celebrate without food!


Exercise, Interrupted

If you’ve been reading this blog for any amount of time, you will know that my normal orderly :) life has been disrupted for the past few months. Since the week before Christmas, construction and renovation have been going on steadily until about a week ago. Then in February, I went on a long trip. After I returned from that trip, I got a bad cold that knocked me out for a couple of weeks.

Anyway…the exercise. At first when the construction started, I went to the gym very regularly. It was a good reason to get out of the house for a few hours (haha, not that I spend a few hours EXERCISING.) You know what I mean. After a while, though, sometimes I skipped the gym. Watching all that construction wore me out :).

Of course, travel always interrupts my exercise. I do not really like going to hotel gyms. So I don’t. Pretty much regular exercise goes out the window when I travel. I was surprised that my brother, who loves to exercise, said that he does not work out when he is on vacation. That made me feel better about that.

And then, the cold. I was just plum worn out. I walked a little most days, but I couldn’t make myself drive down to the gym.

AND THEN, and this is the biggest interruption, my carpets got taken away, and hardwood floors were installed. What the what? What do hardwood floors have to do with exercising interruption? Well let me tell you. They are HARD. The exercise that got interrupted was my 3X/week P.T. exercises for my knees and back. They are mostly floor exercises. I would sit on the floor (on my carpet) and do them while I watched a tv show. I just stopped doing them. I am looking for a carpet for the living room, but so far have not found just the right one.

Finally, last week, I hauled in a smaller rug I had for the entry and re-started my PT exercises. I’ve been back at the gym for a couple of weeks. And walking continues as before. Interruption ended.

I guess all I want to say is that life happens. Injuries, family obligations, work–exercise gets interrupted. I think its pretty much the same as eating and food. If it’s a lifetime commitment to healthy living, the interruptions are just an unavoidable part of that. There’s no need to despair, or to quit and start all over. Just start right back as soon as you can, doing as much as life allows.

Sometimes you have to find something different to do (I wrote about that here.) But for sure you need to do something. For your best life, its a good thing. (haha, don’t tell Bob or Martha that I “borrowed” their words.)

I Like Me

I like me.

I like me, being what no one else can be.

Yes, I like me.

I had a little cross-stitched pillow with this saying on it. I started thinking about it when I thought about this topic. I couldn’t find it to take a picture for you guys. Either buried in clutter, or eaten by dogs. Either way, that’s a completely different post.

Back to what it says–“I like me.” The last set of AIM posts got me to thinking about this. Forgive me if this has been written about elsewhere, but I don’t recall that it has:

What if “self-acceptance” is a key component when it comes to long-term weight loss maintenance?

The National Weight Control Registry is often quoted by the experts as the definitive gathering of information on what it takes to maintain weight loss. I am a member of that society, so I know the questions they ask to gather this information. They don’t ask any questions about your psyche. I think that they would say that, as scientists, that kind of data is hard to quantify. Its simpler to say things like

    • 78% eat breakfast every day.
    • 75% weigh themselves at least once a week.
    • 62% watch less than 10 hours of TV per week.
    • 90% exercise, on average, about 1 hour per day.

Its not so easy to report what these weight loss maintainers think about themselves.

But it seems to me, in all my reading, that the people who have been successful at maintaining their weight loss either went into it already thinking well of themselves, or else they did a lot of work during the weight loss or after they reached “goal” on self-acceptance, or “liking themselves.”

I was very overweight for a very very very long time. I was one of the lucky ones. I had parents who loved me and thought I was clever. They encouraged me to be whatever I wanted to be– “you can do anything you want to do with your life.” And then when I got to that age where you have to decide for yourself what you really believe about yourself, I worked very hard at “being content in whatever state I was in” (Phil. 4:12) and believing that God made me the way I was ON PURPOSE, and he liked me this way. Egads. Could there be a bigger ego booster than that?

I didn’t like being fat. I didn’t like looking for clothes that would just “cover me up.” I didn’t like being tired and sore all the time. But for sure I liked me.

I do read quite frequently the story about the (usually younger) woman, who thinks her life will be wonderful, and she will finally love herself (because everyone else will love this thinner person,) and they are devastated when they get there and find out it is not the golden ring after all. And many many times they regain all the weight that they lost. This young blogger wrote very well about this experience here. Fortunately for her, she recognized the problem, and worked on it before she regained the weight.

Anyway, its just something to think about, whether you are starting on your weight loss journey, or you are “maintaining.” Do you like yourself?

Before and After–Me and My Garden


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.


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


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.

The Mudroom

I went to a conference with some friends for a couple of days, and came home last night to an almost-finished mud room! I think J. the contractor might have a bit of painting here or there to do, but it looks finished to me.

This little room is an idea I’ve had for years! I don’t have a big roof overhang, and because of all the trees, even at the best of times, the rain gutters don’t work well. So when it rains, there is just a constant drip or downpour right outside the front door, and its a royal pain to try to get the dogs inside and toweled off before they shake all over everything. I was so excited when J. told me it was possible to build this. Its only 4′ X 7′, but that is plenty of room for even me and four dogs to get in out of the rain. And then I had the bright idea to ask if I could have a doggie door put in at the same time. Oh my. I am in heaven. I might never have to get out of my chair again. Some little doggies have to go to the bathroom quite often. Without mentioning names, evidently their royal systems are small and delicate.

So here’s the queen investigating the new doggie door:


And Sophie and Mr. Monk looking out the new front door:


I tried to get a shot of the front of the house, because I think the door to the mudroom is much brighter than the studio door. I’m not sure if its the light, or if it needs another coat of paint. Its a little bright, even for me. But I do like the way the front of the house looks now!




Spring Flowers and Blueberry Pancakes

This has been the earliest spring that I can remember up here in the Sierra Foothills. We had one early snow storm, and then we had an unusual stretch of about 10 weeks of sunny days. It got all the bulbs blooming early, and fortunately, knock on wood, we have not had a winter storm to knock them down. Here’s a few views of the garden.


And look what was almost hidden in that bed! This is the most exciting thing I’ve seen this early spring:


Yes!!! Those are the little tips of the lily of the valley plants that came special delivery all the way from New York last year! Thank you so much Lori!

A little bit of everything in this bed: primroses, pansies, muscari, hyacinths, and daffodils. And the flowering almond bush in the back.


Close-up of the pansy:


Here’s a close-up of the flowering almond:


The pink flower thief’s favorite bush is in full bloom:




Daffodils everywhere:



And honestly, I love these little violets that bloom so freely, and self-propagate so well.


So last night I was watching a Food Network program (as usual,) and I chose to watch Throwdown with Bobby Flay–Blueberry Pancakes. Some of you probably think its weird to watch food shows about “food I can’t eat.” But honestly, for whatever reason, I am not tempted to make or eat the food they show. I just like getting new ideas from them. And watching how they made those blueberry pancakes gave me something new to try with my beloved protein pancake recipe. Basically they whipped the egg whites into a meringue and then folded them into the rest of the batter. So after dreaming all night about how I would incorporate this into my recipe, I decided to keep the recipe as is, except that instead of using the egg beaters stuff, I used two egg whites, figuring that those would whip better. I thought that it would work to whip them in the Magic Bullet, but after doing 15 second intervals for about three minutes, they were only slightly thicker and foamy. I even added a tiny bit of cream of tartar to see if that would help. So I just added the rest of the ingredients (1/3 cup oats, 1/3 cup cottage cheese, vanilla) and I did add about 1/8 tsp each of baking soda and baking powder. Whirred those around in the magic bullet and put the batter in the pre-heated pan, and then added the blueberries. They were definitely lighter and fluffier than my normal protein pancakes, but I don’t know that they were any better tasting. I used about 3/4 cup of blueberries, so they were chock-full of blueberries. They were definitely a treat on this beautiful spring morning!

The Weekend

Its a cat bed, for goodness sakes!

DSCN0990There are at least three other more “luxurious” doggie beds in the house, but for some reason, this seemed to be the only possible choice on the day. Hope you all enjoy a little “catnap” this weekend!