This ‘n That

The chickens are starting to lay eggs! I’m having so much fun gathering them. So far they’re laying all different sizes. Even though all my chickens are standard sized, some of their eggs are still “banty sized.” The big ones are double-yolkers!!

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Sometimes this is exactly how I feel:

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“I just want to drink coffee, raise chickens, and take naps”

My knee is doing great. But the heel on that same leg hurts like heck. I went for my final checkup with the surgeon (for 9 months) and told him about it, and they did x-rays on it. No fracture. The physical therapist doesn’t think its plantar fasciitis (I don’t think so either) but they are having me do some stretching exercises and that seems to help a little. Its just discouraging to still have that same leg hurting to be walking. HOWEVER, after saying rather pitifully to my BF that I didn’t think I would walk too much any more because my arthritis was so bad, I decided that I was being a baby. So I have been challenging myself to take longer and more vigorous walks. It feels good mentally :/

I’ve been trying out some new recipes. Jill recommended this one, which says its pizza sauce, but its really just a marinara sauce recipe. Its easy to vary the recipe a bit using what you like/have on hand. I like chunks of tomatoes in my sauce, so I usually use  I am loving making this and freezing it in zip lock baggies and then using it for whatever. I made a low-cal chicken recipe using some chicken tenders. I mixed in some fresh spinach with the marinara sauce, used less than half a serving of penne pasta, and then topped it with some fresh mozzarella that was on sale. YUMM, and only 250 calories! Sorry, no picture.

Then, Biz recommended this pumpkin baked oatmeal. I looked the recipe over, and the stats on it were pretty high–400 calories for a serving. Then I realized that the serving size was huge, even for a volume eater like me. So I cut it into 8 pieces instead of 6, and voila! 300 calories per serving 🙂 I got up bright and early one morning, and made this recipe. Right before I put it in the oven, I had a brief thought that there was not much pumpkin pie spice in it, so I took a little taste, and it seemed okay. After it had been in the oven for 15 minutes, THAT’s when I realized that I actually left the pumpkin out of the recipe. Aaargh. I guess I wasn’t quite awake enough. Anyway, I adjusted the cooking time down, and it is still quite delicious. I can’t wait to make it with the pumpkin in it!

Thursday night we had a good rain storm, the first in months! Saturday I went out to see what was still looking good in the garden. Here are the petunias I planted by the studio door. I think I will always have some flowers growing in this–it mostly protects the plants from the deer, and its cheerful to see the flowers when I drive up.

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The roses are loving our cooler temperatures. This is the “wild” rose. The branches hang down. I plan to put a little support for it for next spring, but I love how it is a prolific bloomer.

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Other roses:

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The tuberous begonia. I got a two for one in this pot!

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The dwarf abutilon is loving the fall.

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And the mandevillea vine is still going strong.

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So, in other garden news, I have voles in my yard! I couldn’t figure out why the dirt was rising up in certain areas. MLG is here today, and pointed out the vole trails to me. I found these solar vole repellants on Amazon. Anyone have any experience using these things?

And that’s about all for now. Have a great week!

 

 

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In The Garden

Since I came home from my quilt show a week ago, I’ve spent more time working in the garden. It seems like there’s a lot of catching up to do… my new drip watering system has made the weeds very happy :/ Here’s some photos of what’s happening. These are plants that seem to be enjoying the cooler weather we’ve been having.

The front flower bed. We’ve enlarged this bed a bit, and when winter comes, we will add more soil to it. When we first put it in, it wasn’t raised very much, and so there’s not that much good soil in there. This is what I see when i drive up to my house, and I enjoy seeing all the color.

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I got a tuberous begonia, which mostly enjoys a cooler coastal weather. But since I got it in September, it has actually bloomed a bit for me.

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This bed is past its prime, but like I said, the cooler weather has given some  of the flowers renewed vigor. Especially that one volunteer nasturtium.

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Here’s the salvia with the rudbeckia(?). They’re a little crowded now, but they will both do so well next year.

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I mentioned that this hydrangea turned green when it was past its prime, but then a month later the blooms turned pink. This bush is very rangy, but the flowers are so beautiful and last for so long, its worth it.

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I got another dwarf flowering maple (abutilon). I love these crinkly blooms.

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And here’s the zinnias, which you can see are crowding that rudbeckia. So very cheerful, and these blooms last a long time too!

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And that’s the garden report for another week. Have a happy and safe weekend.

Something Different

Now don’t get all freaked out. This past weekend I went to the big Reptile Show in Sacramento. For over 30 years I’ve seen the billboards for this show as I drove to work. And every year I thought about going, but never made it. My brother LOVES reptiles, and had a variety of different snakes and lizards growing up. When we had our pet shop together, we always had a few snakes in the shop. I’m not afraid of snakes, as long as I know what they are, and know they are not poisonous. So anyway, this year I finally went to the Reptile Show!

There were a ton of vendors, and this is how they displayed all their baby snakes for sale–in these plexiglass cases. Weird, huh?

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They had a huge educational exhibit of poisonous snakes, and I took careful pictures of each one to share with my brother. They are pretty creepy, so I won’t show you any of them–they had some of the most poisonous snakes in the world from Australia, and they had a huge Black Mamba. Over 40 poisonous snakes were on display!

But then I wandered around all the vendors. I found this one beautiful snake, and started talking to the guy who owned it.

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He started telling me the story of how he developed that color, and I have always been interested in color genetics. And then he let me hold one of the babies!

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I said I hoped this guy got a lot of chickens for dinner after putting up with this for two days.

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I really like little alligators and crocodiles. When we had the pet store, I had a little Caiman (relative of alligator) for myself for a while. This is a Dwarf Crocodile.

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They even had a couple of booths with these meat eating plants for sale!

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And like I told my friends, that is enough reptile show for me for the next thirty years. But I’m glad I went.

On the way home I treated myself to a visit to a bead store. I have quite a few beads, but when I worked on a recent project, I realized I needed some more brightly colored and sparkly beads.

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That was a really different weekend for me. I usually talk myself out of adventures like this in favor of staying home and doing what I enjoy most–quilting, working in the garden, and going to the gym.

An Excellent Day!

But first! I have other things to share with you. My blog life is somewhat divided. I have this blog, and then I have my quilting blog. But sometimes things overlap. I have been working for the past month on a big event. I was invited to teach my quilted embroidery and be the “guest artist” at Quilting in the Garden, which is held at one of my favorite nurseries, Alden Lane. I wrote about the event over on my quilting blog, in case any of you want to see more. It was a wonderful experience. Getting to share 40 of my quilts with the hundreds of people who came through was really special.

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Here is part of my quilt display in their greenhouse:

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My sister came over to the quilt show and brought me two huge boxes of velvets and silks. When I got home, I went through them and divided them into 4 piles: for me, for my BF Robin, for the thrift store, and for the garbage. The garbage pile got thrown on the floor, and Sophie claimed it. “My treasure,” she says. This is what she does when anything new and even semi-soft lands on the floor. She sat on that pile for hours, until I finally picked it up and put it in the garbage. Don’t feel sorry for her, there are only about six dog beds that she can choose from to sleep in.

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Chloe was Robin’s favorite when she visited. And so I started sending her a morning snapshot of Chloe, especially because I won’t let her get in my lap in the morning, and she does her best to get as close as possible–she must be touching me.

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Okay, so today…. The day started out bright and early at 7am when Kevin arrived (MLG) to help with some chores. My neighbor (who’s been my neighbor for 29 years) is moving, and so she offered me some furniture. I don’t really have that much room, but I like this pine chest. It will be nice to have a place to display a few things without them needing to be dusted all the time.

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And this green leather chair with wood carving–her parents brought it from Italy! Its so beautiful, I couldn’t resist. I’m not a huge fan of green, but its not a bad green. I had to move some furniture around yesterday to get these things to fit in my house.

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Then it was on to other chores. My neighbor also gave me a LOT of oak wood for my wood stove. Kevin measured it at one and three-quarters cords! I am all set for winter this year! While Kevin was working on that, I decided that this was the day to clean out the chicken house. It didn’t actually smell bad (when it gets wet is when it smells bad) but I wanted to clean it out before the rains come. It was a big job, and I was exhausted when I was done. But it looked so nice with fresh shavings on the floor. Later in the afternoon I ran out to see if the chickens were enjoying their clean house. This is what I saw–they kept coming in and out the door and staring at the floor. I texted Shelley a picture and she came up with the perfect caption: “THE FLOOR IS LAVA!!” Silly chickens.

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And then I turned around and looked at my nest boxes again. I WAS SO EXCITED when I realized that one of my chickens laid her first egg. I had just been telling Kevin that two of them were early egg layers and might start at four months (which is exactly how old they are now.)

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Its such a nice little egg.

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And then I came back inside and pretty much did nothing for the rest of the afternoon 🙂

 

Chickens!

Well, I went out in the afternoon hoping to get some good chicken photos. They are hard enough to photograph, with their constant movement, but the afternoon shadows did not help. Next time I’ll try earlier in the day.

After I found a home for the first two roosters, this guy appointed himself king. He is smaller and so his crow is higher. As long as he behaves himself, I might let him stay.

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This is one of my French Maran hens. I say hen with great optimism. She has a pretty pronounced red comb and wattles, but I googled Maran hens, and some of them look like this. Fingers crossed she never crows!

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The little king better watch out. These two boys are a lot bigger.

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Baby continues to do well. She is an eating machine! Trying to make up for lost time, I suppose. I still think she is one of my prettiest chicks. I love her soft silver color.

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This is baby’s big sister. She is a darker blue color. Very pretty also.

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Buddy likes to stand quite close to me. See how his comb is different than most chickens? That is called a rose comb.

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And just another of the cochin hens. This week I changed over from baby feed to layer feed. High hopes that a few eggs will be coming soon 🙂

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All the chickens like to take turns standing on these pots that I left in the coop. Its really interesting to watch the feather development on the roosters. If only they didn’t crow and fight and want you-know-what all the time, I would love having roosters.

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I am still really enjoying  being a chicken “farmer.” I just love watching them, and I even enjoy cleaning up their house a bit and doing those farmery things.

The Long and Winding Road

Recovery–I’m finding its a long and winding road, with lots of unexpected twists and turns in it. My knee hurts… haha. I guess that’s how its supposed to be. But with those amazing pain meds, I was deceived into thinking that I ALONE was going to have THE MOST AMAZING PAIN-FREE RECOVERY from knee replacement surgery.

Anyway, here’s some of the unexpected things I’ve discovered along the way. One day a few weeks ago, my knee started hurting. So I touched it. It was WARM! My other knee was cool to the touch. I went a whole night tossing and turning, thinking there was an infection starting. In the morning I consulted Dr. Google. Oh. That’s how its supposed to be–the red cells are in there working to repair everything. As a nurse, I probably should have known this. And I am still wondering–was that the first time I touched my knee????

Here’s another weird, but good side effect. My tastes are changing. I don’t like my coffee as strong, so I started using the thrift store Mr. Coffee to make my morning coffee–just right. And I don’t want coffee in the afternoon at all anymore. Along with that, I don’t like the taste of my protein bars any more. This is good, because its a habit I’ve been trying to break for a while. I found this old recipe for Banana Split Bars, and I do love it–all natural foods. If I’m really hungry in the afternoon, I’ll have one. I also like them for breakfast. I follow the recipe exactly (I know, unusual for me.) But I can see how it would be easy to vary the add-ins. I do cut them into 12 bars instead of 16, which makes them 190 calories.

I went back to physical therapy, to a different therapist. What a difference! And they are giving me quite a workout. Although I only have to do the exercises once a day, instead of three times a day. I was having trouble with what I thought might be my hamstrings. When I went for my check-up, the doctor called it tendonitis, and said to just wait, it might resolve of its own accord. When I went back to physical therapy, I talked to him about this. I had started to have an inkling that it might be more related to my back problems. He agreed with me, and he altered some of the exercises to be easier on my back.

After the surgery I had to take a big aspirin for 40 days to prevent blood clots. And during those 40 days I couldn’t take my meloxicam, which really seems to work for my arthritis. A week ago I got to start taking my meloxicam again, and it really does help with so many of my aches and pains. Even my back has calmed down a bit.

Then one day over a week ago, my heel started hurting. I mean, REALLY HURTING. I had plantar fasciitis 26 years ago, and it was MISERABLE, and I was afraid that this is what had happened to my heel. My heel still hurts, but I don’t think its plantar fasciitis (thank goodness!) and my PT agrees with me. But if I stepped on a rock and bruised my bone, it will take a while to get over. (Oh, and have I complained about how long it takes anything to heal at my age??) Its my right heel, so that makes walking just hunky dory with my knee and my heel hurting on the same side.

Another thing that’s different? I feel like I am doing remedial exercise. When I think about what I used to do before the surgery, and what I do now? Its just pitiful. But on the other hand, I am doing those darn knee exercises every single day, and adding in a short walk, or going to the gym to get on the bike (no resistance) for 10 minutes, and getting in the pool for 10-15 minutes. I am still doing my same upper body weight machine exercises.

You can see why I was avoiding talking about my knee and recovery. This is just one long complaint-fest. But maybe it’ll help someone else who has had or is contemplating knee surgery.

And Back to our Regularly Scheduled Program

Here is a big long picture-heavy post to catch you up on the garden and the chickens! The garden hasn’t exactly suffered this year (since we put in a watering system,) but it hasn’t had my full attention either. Next year will be a better year in the garden. Here’s what’s blooming this week.

The Zinnias are finally starting to grow and bloom more. Behind them is the gaillardia, blue salvia, and a geranium.

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A nice mandevillia vine. MLG built me a little trellis for it to grow on. They are not frost hardy so it will be an annual. Most of the plants I buy are either six-packs, or a gallon sized plant for $7.50. To me that is a nice price for a summer’s worth of blooms.

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This is a new plant for me. It looks like I plopped a bouquet in the garden. It is a rudebekia Prairie Sun. Huge yellow flowers. Its supposed to be a perennial, and I thought it would look nice between the wild pink rose and the small blue perennial (don’t know the name but the bees love it.)

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Here it is in context:

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Liriope. I have several of these, and several were transplanted this year. This one is doing the best of all of them.

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And now for the chicken report! I was glad that I had the chickens to amuse and distract me after my surgery. I loved going out and sitting and watching them in the late afternoon. Chickens are attracted to anything red, and I think they have a sweet tooth too, so they really love watermelon. Since they are still so young, I am careful to not give them too much fruit. Do you see who is in the very center of that picture? BABY!! She is doing so well. Goes in and out with the big girls, and doesn’t let anyone pick on her. She knows to just stay out of the way.

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Buff Orpington, with a Dominique behind her:

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New Hampshire Red:

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And here is Baby in action. She seems to know how to get exactly what she wants. She looks the situation over, and chooses the path of least resistance.

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Speckled Sussex. I am still a little hopeful that this is a hen that just has a rooster-like appearance.

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This IS a rooster, darn it! Both of the polish chicks turned into roosters.

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These are the Delaware chickens. I really like their delicate lacy black neck feathers. They seem to be very peaceful chickens.

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All the chickens take turns sitting on/standing on/laying in these pots.

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Pretty sure this guy will turn into a rooster. He always comes and stands by the fence right where I am sitting on the other side. I started calling him Buddy. If I keep a rooster, this will be the one.

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Can’t you tell by Baby’s stance that she is saying, “I’m cool. What’s that over there?” I am so happy with all the forward movement she’s made by herself. I’ve even seen her get up on a lower shelf to roost the past few nights.

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And now you are all caught up with the chickens. Today I stopped at a nursery and got a few more plants to fill in a few places in the garden. What can I say? I like pink. These are snapdragons, a Pentas, and dianthus–small, but has a definite carnation smell!

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And a Vinca–three colors in one pot!

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And that’s the garden report for this week.