Sneak Peek

Yesterday was a really exciting day! Started out bright and early with MLG (master landscaping guy) working out in the garden. We took down the two gigantic tomato plants, and then he got to work digging holes in my VERY HARD GROUND, and we put two trees in the ground and transplanted two other large plants. Oh, and we set my fairy garden up on this pot so its more visible. I got the fairy garden on my trip to Tahoe (which was a very nice time, I’ll write more later.)

Henry Lauder Walking Stick in its new location!

Henry Lauder Walking Stick in its new location!

Fairy Garden in the back of the garden

Fairy Garden in the back of the garden

Inside the fairy garden

Inside the fairy garden

Overhead view

Overhead view

Next, really before we got any of that done, the cabinet guys arrived!!! Wow, that was really quite a production. Somehow I hadn’t realized how much work they would have to do after they got here. Here’s just a sneak peak at part of the kitchen. I am in love with the wood of these cabinets, to say nothing of having ALL THE SPACE. I am excited beyond words. Oh! and that overhead lighting? I resisted that quite a bit, but now I am SOOOO happy with it. Nice and cheery and bright in the kitchen!

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(A few of the drawers are missing, because they forgot the inserts, and took them back with them.)

In the meantime, J. the contractor worked on finishing the laundry room. We planned to use the leftover wood flooring, but found that there was not quite enough. So mid-day I took a quick trip to Sacramento to get another box. So much for saving money on that floor… but it does look nice.

And THEN, J. stayed late and brought in the washer and dryer and hooked them up! Guess who was washing a load of clothes at 8pm? What a novelty, to walk around the corner from my bedroom and plop the clothes into the washing machine!

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Anyway, I just wanted to give you a sneak peek at what is finally happening in the kitchen. Floor might go in today, the countertops arrive Monday, Tuesday the new appliances will arrive, and I’m guessing that Wednesday, J. will do the backsplash. Its been a wild ride, but the end is finally in sight!

Decision by Decision, a House is Built

Long time readers will know that making decisions is not my strong suit. I knew going into this construction/renovation project that this would just be a part of it, and that I would indeed have a lot of decisions to make. Its been a good exercise for me. Its required a lot of looking and learning. Learning some stuff I didn’t really want to learn. Like what is a bullnose tile? Now I know. Like grout comes in many colors. Really? Is that REALLY necessary??? At first I refused to make that decision–“just get white” I told J. the contractor. And then I looked. And now I have “French vanilla” grout. I chose the kitchen floor tile, and four different kinds of tile for the bathroom (that doesn’t include the edge tiles or the bullnose tiles :) ) I have chosen light fixtures, paint colors, cabinet wood, cabinet style, oh, and then hardware for the cabinets. I have had adventures choosing the kitchen sink. The bathroom sink was a cinch.

Today I went and chose the granite for the countertops. gulp. That one made me a little nervous. I’ve been to the granite place three times. Its a huge warehouse, and of course they have the display pieces up, but then to choose the actual piece you want, you have to let them flip through the slabs of granite and peer at them sideways, and then run back and forth between stacks in the warehouse, and then finally say, “Okay, these two.” And the granite I settled on is called Delicata Cream. And I still wonder if I chose that one because I love Delicata squash?!

Who knew that shower doors were so expensive? For some reason, I thought they would cost about the same as the closet doors we buy at Lowes–$60. Hahahahahah. Well, I saved money on the kitchen sink and the bathroom tile. And today, unbelievably, the granite countertops were $2000 LESS than I had estimated. So I guess I can spend a few of my remaining dollars on a shower door.

I celebrated the granite decision with a lunch/dinner at Chevy’s.  At 3pm, I was just about the only one in the restaurant. The salad I got was so pretty, I had to take a picture of it.

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It tasted every bit as good as it looked. The waitress suggested using their salsa as a salad dressing. What a brilliant idea!

Tomorrow the sheet rock begins. And then I guess all the finishing stuff will be done in a week? To me, it doesn’t seem possible. But all the inside stuff (plumbing, electrical, etc. [etc. meaning stuff I don’t even know about]) has taken almost 2 months. So it doesn’t seem possible that the part that I am most interested in will take only one week.

Here’s what it still looks like tonight:

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Since the sheet rock work is irritatingly noisy, and it also involves my one bathroom being unavailable to me, I decided (with the encouragement of good friends,) to take a little trip. Now that I’ve decided to do that, I am excited about it. I am going to Lake Tahoe, and am considering it a spiritual/creative retreat. I’m all packed and ready to leave in the morning. Mr. Noah is already at his “camp,” and the little dogs are enjoying one last snooze in the house. Of course, its not a whole lot different in their “dog house,” what with their piles of doggie beds and a wall heater. They particularly like it when I buy them a new bed, which I do fairly frequently–they are such a bargain at Home Goods.

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Oh, and look what I got? Ever since I wrote on here about not being able to exercise enough, I’ve made a concerted effort to do my exercise more consistently. And I finally ordered a yoga mat so that I wouldn’t have to do my P.T. exercises on the hardwood floor.

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Well, I guess that is enough for tonight. I have a crockpot full of Lori’s Potato Chowder cooking. I had the idea of taking some with me on my little retreat. That way I won’t need to eat out quite as much.

Good Food, Bad Food

Last week, I had both of these delicious bread-based dishes as meals. Depending on your  food point-of-view, either one might be labeled good food or bad food.

The first, my own very-low-calorie version of French toast, is made using a variety of processed foods, with only one completely natural “whole” food. It is so low in calories (150 calories) that I could have it every day of the week, if I so chose. If your goal is to eat very low calorie food which is also delicious and satisfying, this might be considered a good food. If your goal is to eat only whole unprocessed foods, or foods with the highest nutritional value for the calories consumed, this might be considered a bad food.

Here are the specific products I use to make this French toast:

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And here is the finished product:

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Yumm. I consider this a good food.

The second is a version of the classic toasted cheese sandwich. I don’t know who originally told me about this particular combo, but it used to be a staple in my summer meal rotation (before weight loss.) Then I avoided it for years, and probably the last time I had this sandwich was two years ago. But with a bumper crop of late summer tomatoes, I started thinking about this sandwich, and decided I wanted to make it again. It only has four ingredients: mozzarella cheese, garden fresh tomatoes, butter, and King’s Hawaiian bread. Three out of the four could be considered “natural” foods. People who want to eat delicious food and don’t care about calorie counting would consider this a good food. People who like to eat less processed food would also consider this a good food. People who are calorie counting might consider this a bad food. (Being conservative–cutting the bread thinner than usual, weighing out the cheese, and using only 2 tsp of butter–this sandwich still comes in at over 600 calories.)

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I also consider this a good food.

The French toast is a good food I can eat frequently (although I don’t have it that often.) The toasted cheese sandwich is a good food that I can have once or twice a year. And that is enough.

I am still working on repairing my relationship with food–trying to not label food “good”or “bad” just based on its calorie count. I can choose to eat either meal, with the knowledge and understanding of the nutritional value of each, and how it will affect my day, knowing that my choices will have a direct effect on whether or not I will maintain my weight, or gain or lose weight.

Just a bit of this and that

I stepped out the door this morning to check on the garden and was shocked to see this:

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Yes, one whole morning glory flower on that whole vine. As the days got shorter, I guess the vine did not get as much sun as it wanted, so its been weeks since I have seen a single flower on it.

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Is it any wonder they are named morning GLORY? The flowers absolutely look as if there is a light source shining out from their center.

Hey, look what I did! My first furniture painting experiment. It went pretty well, if I do say so myself! I’ve only thought about painting this chair for about five years. What can I say? I have a hard time making decisions :)

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The other day I was flipping back through my own blog, looking for something or other, and I realized that yes, quite a bit of progress has been made on the house. Here are pictures from this morning–the siding is up, and a lot of the painting is done. The roof is bare–they had to strip off THREE layers of old shingles! And already, by the end of today, J. the contractor had a good portion of the roof re-shingled!

The front of the house:

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And the back:

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And a gratuitious cute doggie shot:

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And that’s all the news that’s fit to print tonight. Hope you all have a good and relaxing weekend!

Celebration and Reminder

Do you know its been almost 10 years since I started this weight loss journey? I’ll probably have more to write about that in the next few months. But for now I wanted to share something related to that.

A lot of people I know who have lost a significant amount of weight have gotten themselves a reward for that. Reward is probably not the right word. Its more of a celebration, a marker to remember a significant event in their lives. When I lost 100 pounds (now 8 years ago!) I planned to get something or other to mark that event. The thing was, I just couldn’t decide what to get.

I drive up and down Interstate 5 between my house and Oregon at least once a year (my BF lives in Oregon, and I enjoy going to Sisters also.) On my way, one of my favorite places to stop is The Websters in Ashland. They are a wonderful knitting and spinning shop, and also have wonderful handmade clothing and jewelry. I saw a necklace there, and thought that might be the thing to get. But it was expensive. I wasn’t sure I liked it that much. So I kept thinking about it. Year after year, trip after trip, I just thought about it. Sometimes I had regained a bit of weight, and thought I needed to wait until I was back to the 100 pound marker. So much time had passed that I thought it was a little silly to get anything at all.

Then one year in Sisters, I went into a jewelry store. They had the same necklace. But I still couldn’t decide…

The next year I went back to Sisters (this past summer) determined to make a decision, and finally get my 100 pound celebration! Well, I looked at the necklace again. My BF made me take it out and try it on. It looked dull next to my skin! So that was that. While my friend shopped a little more, I just browsed all the jewelry I knew I couldn’t afford. I saw a bracelet that I really loved–it was similar to one I had seen on one of the last trips I took my dad on–it was a good memory. Surprisingly, it was not any more expensive than that necklace I had been considering. Again, my friend made me take it out and try it on. Oh, and it did look good on my wrist! So there it was. This would be my 100 pound celebration bracelet–a few years and a few pounds late, but still a celebration.

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I’ve been having some stressful days and nights with the construction/decisions etc. Sometimes I even feel sorry for myself. Ha! Did you know self-pity can lead to over-eating? Anyway, I decided that instead of keeping that bracelet for special occasions, I would wear it every day, as a reminder of what my life is really about. For the most part, it seems to be working. Most of the time I stick with my low fat tasty food options, and I’ve been going to the gym quite regularly, and walking Noah in between. When I eat something unplanned or a little more calorie-laden, I enjoy the deliciousness. I don’t beat myself up for not being perfect. I remember that I am in this for the duration. The bracelet is a reminder that even when I am not “perfect,” the healthy life I’ve chosen is a worthy investment of my time and energy.

Requested picture added:

Stones are larimar, blue topaz, and agate.

Stones are larimar, blue topaz, and agate.

Life Simplified

You know, this “simple life” is not really so bad! I don’t think I’ll ever go as far as this woman did, but my current life is not really so bad. Of course, I realize that it is pretty easy because I am retired. On the other hand, like that woman, if you are willing to live simply, maybe you could retire too!

Anyway, here are some of the advantages of the simpler life. It doesn’t take long to clean, because there aren’t very many rooms left to clean! I keep the studio door closed and my bedroom door closed. The dogs only go in those rooms when I am in there. What’s left is ONE ROOM that needs to be cleaned! Wheee!!! A quick sweep every morning, dust once a week (or so) and keep the clutter picked up.

I have a stove that is hooked up, and I’ve used it a bit to cook, but remembering that I have to wash whatever I mess up keeps my cooking in check. I’ve made a couple of batches of soup, some of my fav ham and cheese muffins, some “leftovers fried rice,” and one protein pancake. Otherwise I eat from my freezer and refrigerator. Oh, and I know a lot of you will be interested in this: I learned that you can cook beets in the microwave! Yeah!!

Of course, no matter how much I simplify, there will always be dirty dishes. Here is my handy dandy blue bucket. I can never get more dishes dirty than will fit in this bucket. Carry them out in the morning to the outdoor shower and kitchen sink, wash them, put them in the drainer to dry, and then bring them back in the house via the bucket in the afternoon. Of course, yesterday the rain put a LITTLE glitch in this system…

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And, a phrase a friend of mine used–“where all the magic happens.”

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This table is my one food prep area. That cloth there gets pretty messy, but that’s okay. Its folded, so there are at least four sides I can use before it has to go in the laundry basket. Simplify, people! When I need to chop some veggies or fruit, I use a paper plate. The tomatoes are there from yesterday’s pickings. They need to ripen for a day or so, and then are destined for another batch of that excellent roasted tomato basil soup.

Oh, and the laundry? Yes, it is a pain in the butt to put it in the car and go to the laundromat. On the other hand, I think twice before I throw my clothes in the laundry basket–“I think I can get one more day out of those jeans.” And when I do finally go, it is kind of fun to do four loads of laundry all at one time, instead of spreading it out over the course of a day.

Of course, this whole simple life thing is a temporary situation. Construction continues–lots of stuff I can’t even see–electric and plumbing–and eventually life will be different. I hope I take some of the lessons I’ve learned about simplifying back to that “normal” life.