More Spring!

Every day new things are blooming! We are having a nice warm week, and the plants just can’t seem to grow fast enough. It is supposed to cool down next week, and I am looking forward to that. Maybe the color will last a little bit longer.

The view from the front door:

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The bridal veil bush. According to the inter webs, its not meant to be a neat and tidy bush. Performing according to plan!

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These daffodils were just buds last week. I think Noah is still beheading the pansies in this bed…

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Some hyacinths and frilly daffodils.

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Close-up:

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The forsythia in full bloom. Remember, this bush languished in deep shade for many years. Finally had to move it when we were doing some construction on the house, so I am very happy that it has survived, and seems to be thriving in its new spot.

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New daffodils, that I got from the John Scheepers company.

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Each of them has two blooms per stem!

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The new violet path is coming along nicely.

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And that’s it for the garden report this week. Every day I do a little weeding. I have a box full of one million tiny little pieces for the irrigation system. MLG will be here tomorrow to start that project. And I finally found the fencing I was looking for for my chicken pen and have ordered that. And in the meantime, I work in my studio every day, quilting and stitching. You can check out what I’m doing on my other blog, if you’re interested. 

Signs of Spring

Well, one week ago we had a snow storm. Today it feels like spring, and everywhere there are signs of spring emerging. The violets are the first to show up in the spring. I planted some of them between the stones on the path by the hydrangeas and camellia. Violets can be somewhat invasive. I think I started with just one little violet plant many years ago. They are everywhere. Sometimes I dig them up and move them, and sometimes, I have to admit, I treat them like weeds and just dig them up and toss them in the bucket.

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A primrose is starting to bloom.

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The Camperdown Elm has big fat buds waiting to pop. There are some funny little lime green “flowers” on this tree before the big green leaves emerge.

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The bed of pansies and daffodils that I planted last fall.

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I was surprised that the camellia was already blooming.

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And look who’s waiting for the blooms. Every year…

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Daffodils in the front bed. Most of them are turned facing the road, which is nice for the few neighbors that drive by.

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The forsythia is just starting to bloom. A different strain of violets are blooming in the rear.

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And right next to the forsythia, I was so happy to see the new honeysuckle putting out lots of new shoots.

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A new daffodil and an old hyacinth.

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On my way home a week ago, it was a sunny day, so I stopped at one of my favorite nurseries to get a little color for the yard. Brought them home, and they got snowed on the next day. But they seem to have weathered the storm well. You can see in the background that MLG and I are trying out some of that shredded cedar.

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And that’s how its going in the garden so far. I’m so glad that MLG and I worked last fall, pruning and cleaning up the yard. I think it will look very nice in another month or so. Today I did what could only be called “micro gardening.” Laying on the ground and carefully picking out weeds from between the elfin thyme ground cover that I have so carefully cultivated. Somewhat frustrating, but also something that I have to admit I enjoy. I like tiny things, and I like detail work.

In other garden news, MLG has figured out how to put in an irrigation drip system. I am VERY excited about this. I like watering. But I don’t like watering for hours and hours. And I don’t like it when I forget one plant and it suffers in the heat. AND……drumroll please…. J. the contractor came over last week and poured the cement for the start of my new chicken house. I can hardly wait.

A Tale of Two Muffins

A bit ago I was looking for an old recipe in an old seldom-used recipe box. I ran across a very old stained piece of paper, and discovered it was a copy of muffin recipes from the book The 8-Week Cholesterol Cure. Twenty-eight years ago I worked with a young woman whose very thin mother had very high cholesterol, and they were trying to lower their cholesterol with some of the recommendations in this book. She said the muffins were tasty and low calorie, so I made a copy and tried them out. They were good! So twenty-eight years later I made them again, and they are still very tasty. Only about 120 calories per muffin. This book is still in print, but the muffin recipe is all over the internet, so I thought it would be okay to share it with you. I made Banana Nut Bran Muffins, but the book has many versions of different flavors.

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Then, a few weeks ago, I picked up the box of Kodiak Power Cakes mix again and looked at it. Hmmm. 1/2 cup of mix with 1/2 cup of water, and you’ve got pancake mix. The list of ingredients is relatively short, its high in fiber and protein. I succumbed.

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Holy Moly, these are VERY good pancakes. 190 calories for three pancakes with 15 grams of protein and 5 grams of fiber. So far I’ve had them with a tsp of butter and SF syrup, and with walnuts cooked in and topped with my banana mash syrup.

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On the box they also have directions for using milk and/or eggs to make higher protein pancakes. And, they had a muffin recipe. One day I decided I could adjust that recipe a little bit, and tried it. These are also very good banana nut muffins! Very different than the previous muffins, which are very much a bran muffin with bananas. These taste more like commercial muffins, light and fluffy, and pretty sweet. These muffins come out to about 150 calories each. My Kodiak Banana Nut Muffin recipe is here.

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Here and There

First of all, thank you so much for all of the encouraging comments on my last post. Each success story builds my confidence and erodes some of my trepidation for my knee surgery. I do have a plan now. I am going to keep my schedule open in March and April, hoping that there will be a cancellation so that I can get in then. Otherwise, I will wait till the end of July so that I can get my chicks raised to a safe age.

After visiting one “rehab” center, which was nothing more than a nursing home (depressing) I formulated a plan to come straight home and recuperate. I would have to pay a co-pay for the nursing home, and I thought to myself, I bet my “babysitter” (takes care of the little girls when I travel) would be very willing to be on call for me for a couple of weeks. Yes, she’s very willing to do that for me. In addition, I talked to my BF, who is going to come down from Oregon to take care of me the first week. I know me, and I know I will recover much better at home than in a hospital setting. I am very exercise-motivated.

Speaking of exercise motivated… I never shared my “Christmas presents to me.” I needed new walking shoes. I looked and looked and tried on quite a few shoes. But none felt as good as the shoes I already had–Saucony Kinvara and Asics Gel Nimbus. Both are very expensive. And of course, a close second to comfort was the COLOR of the shoes. I started searching eBay. With some good tips from my brother, and knowing from Shelley that running stores sometimes take returns on barely used shoes, I got some great bargains. First, I got these Asics Gel Nimbus at less than half the price of new:

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I liked them so much that I decided I could afford to get a second pair, this time the Saucony Kinvara. I have an excuse for needing two pairs of running shoes. One of them is mostly for walking on my dirt road. And the second is just for going to the gym–no need to track my dirt into the gym 🙂 That’s my story, and I’m sticking to it!

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Here are pics from a couple of recent trips:

I went to Anaheim for our now-annual rug hooking retreat. My best rug hooking friend now lives in Austin, so we both flew in. Of course, this year we landed smack dab in the middle of one of the biggest rain storms in Southern California history! We drove around all day Sunday in pouring rain. We were both pleasantly surprised at how slowly the So. Ca. drivers were driving on the freeways!

Monday we took our annual trip to Crystal Cove.

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There was just enough of a break in the storm to give it a try. It was windy and cold, and there was some rain. But we enjoyed our shared breakfast of beignets and chilaquiles. And then I sat on Bette Midler’s porch and watched (Crystal Cove is where they shot part of the movie Beaches.)

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While Mary Lynn explored the beach.

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And here’s the real reason we went to Anaheim–rug hooking!

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I had a hair-brained idea that if I went to a chicken show, maybe I could find some chicken breeders that I could buy my chicks from earlier than the May 22 date that the hatchery had given me. No such luck–its just like dog shows. I think it would cost me a fortune to buy chicks that way. But here are some fun pictures of some of the breeds of chickens I plan to get:

Polish:

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Blue Cochin:

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Buff Orpington:

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And some funky little roosters (that I am NOT getting)

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And now I am home for a bit. Do you all know about the RAIN we’ve been getting out here? Its pretty crazy. After four straight days of rain, I took the dogs for a walk, and wondered, where’s that sound of running water coming from? Well, it was just a rivulet of rain running straight down the middle of our dirt/gravel road. A neighbor stopped to tell me we had gotten 10 inches of rain in four days. I live in the mountains, so am nowhere near the evacuations that are happening. But there are a lot of mudslides along the roads. We’re having a nice sunny break right now, but this weekend another big storm is expected! Hope you all are staying safe and dry!

Of Chickens and Surgery. The Connection.

Okay. Remember way back when I picked May as the month I might have knee surgery? Well, I did. There was a reason for that. One was because it seemed a long time away. I still needed to mentally prepare for this thing. The other, more important reason, is that I have planned for almost two years, to get chickens this spring. I planned to get them the first of March. It might be a little cold then, but that would be enough time to get them raised so they didn’t need constant care.

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Let me back up a bit. When J. the Contractor was working on my house, I mentioned how much I liked chickens. Years ago I had chickens for quite a while, but they were housed in a dilapidated shed/outhouse that was on my property, and had a yard that I proudly (and poorly) built myself. After a number of years, the whole thing crumbled, and that was the end of the chickens. So then J. shows me the fancy schmancy chicken house he has built for some people, and that got me dreaming. A year ago I told him to put me on the schedule for a chicken house to be built this February. Knee surgery was the farthest thing from my mind.

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After the failed attempt at the gel shots last fall, my knee seemed to be on the fast track to disintegration. I can’t walk normally, and it hurts a lot. To be fair, it doesn’t hurt to stand still, and sitting is not a problem 🙂 So now, in my mind, May couldn’t come soon enough.

Then, I decided I’d better order these baby chicks! I carefully chose all the pretty and colorful breeds that I wanted, and called the mail order chicken factory.

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The lady was so helpful, and checked, and because of some of the rare breeds that I wanted, MAY 22 would be the soonest they could get these chicks to me!!! Eek.

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This is how the mail order baby chicks arrive.

 

Plan B. I called the orthopedic nurse. Now my plan was to have surgery the first week or so of March, so I would be recovered enough to hobble out and care for my new baby chicks in May. After several calls, she told me that my doctor had agreed I needed the surgery, and we could proceed with scheduling the surgery. The soonest surgery could be scheduled was May. Eek.

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Plan C. I am dancing as fast as I can. I am leaving in an hour for the pre-surgical appointment with my PMD (why? since I just had a complete physical in November,) I have signed up for the pre-surgical information class, I have an appointment to visit the rehab hospital where I will have to spend a week after surgery (they won’t let you go home alone,) and at my appointment next week I am planning to beg my doctor to do my surgery sooner than later. Sometimes it is easier to get what you want from a doctor than a nurse…

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I imagine most of you are thinking “chickens??? Just forget about it.” But to me it has become something important. A symbol of sorts. I do a lot of things for other people. This was something I was doing just for me.

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Stay tuned. A Plan D might be in the works soon….

Nine???

Recently, I googled “does eating sugar make my joints hurt?” I think this is often over-stated in blogs. I do not believe that if you eat a teaspoonful of sugar you will immediately be stricken with joint pain. But, my search led me to arthritis.org, where they did state that when you have arthritis, your body is in an inflammatory state. And sugar is a food that causes inflammation. There is enough information out there about this that I agree with that. Okay. Less sugar.

That search led to an article about “the ultimate arthritis diet.” Interesting. They say that a Mediterranean type diet helps stop pain and inflammation. Here are their recommendations:

  • Fish–salmon type. 3-4 ounces two times a week. I can do that. I like salmon. So I’ve started buying a half pound piece of salmon and having it on Sunday and Wednesday. Approximately 🙂
  • Nuts–especially walnuts. Oh my. I love walnuts more than almost any other food. But they are high in calories, so I usually measure out about 1/3 of an ounce. They recommend 1 1/2 ounces a day! That’s a lot of calories. But I have started having 1 1/2 ounces of walnuts in yogurt for my lunch almost every day. It feels very luxurious.
  • Olive oil–especially EVVO. They recommend 2-3 Tablespoons per day. That’s not happening. I can’t even imagine eating that much oil. But, I could eat more salads, and I could use real dressings with olive oil instead of my low calorie dressings. I’m working on that one.
  • Beans. Again, not happening. I DON’T LIKE BEANS.
  • Whole grains. They are recommending 6 ounces. I know I won’t eat that many whole grains, but I do have oatmeal almost every day in some form or other.
  • Fruits and veggies–all kinds, but especially the colorful ones. They recommend NINE servings a day! Now this is not a new number. Many diets recommend that many fruit and vegetable servings per day. I like fruits and vegetables. But I have yet to eat nine servings in a single day! I am being more cognizant of that. So far the most I’ve eaten in a day is seven. I mostly only like fresh fruits and vegetables, so you have to shop a little more often to keep stocked, or just remember to buy more when you’re at the store.

Notice there’s no mention of dairy or other animal meat sources. I guess Mediterranean’s don’t eat that stuff. I’m not stopping eating those things, because I enjoy them. But its fun to try a few changes in your diet. My arthritis pain seems to have decreased, but I’m not convinced its the dietary changes. It could just be the changes in the weather. Nevertheless, these are healthy changes, so they’re worth a try. I also think that some of the amounts are probably based on a “normal” 2400 calorie diet. If I ate that much, my arthritis pain might be decreased, but I’d have to buy a whole new wardrobe in a much larger size 🙂

The Inexhaustible Richness of Sameness

 

To be in the same place daily, watching the dawn, hearing the birds wake each morning, makes one realize the inexhaustible richness of ‘sameness.’

Thomas Merton

I enjoy sameness. Routines. Predictability. Plans. Not Knowing makes me slightly anxious. I think my dogs enjoy sameness too. They watch me and know what’s coming next, even if I try to be sneaking and do things nonchalantly. If I am getting dressed AND putting on my shoes, they know that the next step is going out to the doggie room and THAT MEANS TREATS. Oh, the excitement! This happens three or four times a week.

And then I started this routine to give equal time to the girls. So for my afternoon coffee break, Bess and Zoey get to sleep on my lap. I started this because Bess doesn’t demand much, and I felt like she was getting a little neglected. Now, when I just START making my afternoon coffee, Bess goes and positions herself by my chair, ready to take her rightful position! I can’t believe how excited she gets about this. It is the only time she asks to get on my lap! Sophie and Chloe get my lap after dinner. Since they are a little bigger, Chloe gets on the chair next to me, and Sophie lays on top of her. Chloe doesn’t seem to mind. (sorry, no pictures of this. Believe me, it would not be a flattering selfie.)

I enjoy waking up early, without an alarm clock, so most nights I start to bed fairly early. I like it when I can get into the studio before 9am to start my quilting, sewing, and creating.

I like going to the gym three days a week, and working out hard (but not too hard 🙂 )

I enjoy going to church every Sunday. I enjoy worshipping with others, and this is where I can hear from God (if I am listening) and it grounds me for the week ahead.

I like the predictability of the seasons. I love seeing everything pop up in the garden when spring starts. I like working out there in the summer, getting new plants, moving others to new locations, and making little plans. I like the fall, when I can look forward to the changing colors. I like it when winter comes, and I get to take a break from the garden.

Sometimes liking sameness can cause a little difficulty. I like certain foods, and I like them at certain times of the day. If I identify that that might not be the best, most healthy way of eating, it is difficult for me to change those habits. Right now that includes a protein bar every day with my coffee break, and Skinny Pop popcorn every night! I’m working on that.

When I first moved to the country, my city family would ask me, “WHAT ARE YOU GOING TO DO?!” Well, I was going to stay home and enjoy myself. They did not understand this. Its a verse in the Bible, but its also just plain wisdom “I have learned, in whatever state I am in, to be content.” 

Contentment. Its a good thing.

I wish for you a contented Happy New Year!