Garden Report

Its been a busy few days in the garden. MLG finished the wood border for the Japanese maples on Thursday.

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So of course, I needed to go to the nursery and get a few ground covers.

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You all know how I love my ground covers, right? And since doing all these improvements in the garden, so that the ground covers are actually planted in the GROUND, I have had much more success with them. I was thrilled to have a whole new area that would benefit from ground plantings. I spent most of Friday working in the garden, planting and doing other chores.

Here’s a couple of shots of all my little plantings:

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While checking out the ground covers, I found a display of sedums and other succulents. I haven’t had much luck with them, but decided to give them one more try. I had this pot (remember, the one that MLG sawed the top off of,) and thought it would be perfect for a grouping. I sanded the edge, and then moved it out next to the steps to my studio. This is outside the fence, so I am hoping that the deer do not find sedums desirable.

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Elsewhere I have had success for the first time with snapdragons. They are another one of those plants that benefit from being planted in the fall. I finally tried that.

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And while I was at the nursery, I spotted a new intriguing plant. Its called a “ground orchid,” and is supposed to be extremely cold hardy! I love the way the stems sway in the breeze.

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A close-up:

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And so far, this year, neither Noah or the Pink Flower Thief have found this delightful patch of pansies appetizing. Too much of a good thing maybe?

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I have been able to work so much longer in the yard than I have in a long time. I am thrilled with how good my knee feels right now. Who knew that increased energy would be a side benefit of pain relief?

Triple Whammy and an Exercise Check-In

Well, I’ve been meaning to do an exercise post for a while, but then yesterday happened, so I decided to put them together, since the two events are related.

In the ongoing saga of what to do about my knee — I won’t bore you too much with details, but it has been very frustrating. Insurance company refusing the gel shots, a stubborn doctor (IMO) who is mad at the insurance companies, spending time myself writing to “management agencies” only to find that no one is the boss of my insurance company… and then, the department that was making a custom brace for me. Well, I decided to call it a “series of unfortunate events” instead of being very mad at their incometency (I did try that, it didn’t really help the situation.)

ANYWAY, yesterday I had a follow-up appointment with the second set of doctors that I had been referred to. (If this isn’t enough of a saga, you can click here to read even more :) ) I went in with a list of questions, and I left with:

  1. A steroid shot in my knee!
  2. a new prescription for meloxicam (supposed to be better than Aleve.)
  3. My new brace (I stopped by that department to see what the heck was going on, and lo and behold, they found my brace.)

Okay, can I just say that I am on the high hopes end of that “disintegration and hope” spectrum? The shot just stung a little going in, and I was waiting for it to really hurt about four hours later like they said might happen. Nothing. I can only describe it like I feel stronger.

I have DebraSY to thank for the meloxicam. Whenever anyone mentions joint pain/medication in the same sentence, I always quiz them. She said it had done wonders for her.

And, the brace, if I can figure out how to make it stay up, I know will make my knee feel more stable so that I can walk for longer distances, which I have been missing. So, about that staying up. Of course I googled the problem, and found that “brace migration” is the most common complaint. Okay, brace techs, could you have mentioned this? I have one pair of tight running or yoga pants, that seem to help. I am thinking that a knee sleeve might be the solution. If any of you have experience and suggestions for me, I’d love to hear from you.

As far as exercise goes, I am so happy with my “routine” right now. I put routine in quotes, because, as with the rest of my life, it is not quite as routine as others. But moving every day is a must. So on days that I can’t or won’t go to the gym, I make sure to take one longer walk (my longer walks are only about 1 1/2 miles nowadays) or if I feel bad, I take two shorter walks. And I try to remember to do my PT exercises. These exercises are really hard, and have me huffing and puffing, so I know they are of good benefit to me. I have a bad habit of waiting until after dinner to do them, so once in a while, I just forget. But I do them about 3X a week.

Then, at the gym–well, this is the thing I am most enthused about right now. As you know, I started walking in the pool on my birthday (December)–trying to make myself get in the pool in the winter. And I found that I really did enjoy it. That was partly because we had such a mild winter, I’m sure. As time went on, I found more challenging ways to jog, march, etc. in the pool. I could tell I was getting a really good workout.

My water shoes were just some cheapies that I found at Ross–more like ballet slippers. So last week when I went to the big city, I put water shoes on my wish list. I actually didn’t think I’d have time to look for them, because I had a couple of other stops to make. One of those was Costco. I was all done shopping, and was heading towards the checkout stand, and lo and behold, they had some water shoes on sale!! Wow, I can’t tell you what a difference these shoes have made–they’re made like running shoes, and I really feel like I am running in the water. And of course it feels so good to do challenging things with my legs and have no pain associated with it.

When I’m at the gym, I still usually get on the bike for at least 20 minutes, and then depending on the time I have, I will go upstairs and do some weights workouts for about 20 minutes.

As I usually say, there is always SOMETHING you can do. Legs don’t work? Sit in your chair and punch the air with your arms until you can’t punch any more. Do stretches. Do yoga. Do some core exercises on the ground. Its so important to keep your body moving in some way as you get older. Anne Lamott even wrote about it in her 61st birthday post!

 

Good Things

I was doing a few things in the kitchen the other day and I thought “these are such good ideas. I should share them.” You are the lucky recipients :)

A long time ago, my BF got me a special gift. It was a beautiful little kit that included a jar of “foot cream.” I used to have heels that would get those horrible cracks in them, and so I have learned to take care of my feet! But I never would have indulged in such a luxurious present. Anyway, I loved this foot cream so much that I might have actually paid retail to get another jar of it. Alas, the company went out of business. But I kept the jar. One day, at Le Wal Mart, I found a cream that fit my specifications. Mainly that it did not have too much smelly stuff in it. This is a great product, IMO. The huge jar of it is less than $5. And I just put some of it in my pretty jar to keep at my bedside. It makes me very happy :)

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Another thing I have not grown tired of is my peppermint tea. Trader Joe’s has the most reasonable price, but you can find it in any grocery store. And I am picturing this particular travel mug because I have had issues with travel mugs for a long time. Either they retain unwanted odors, or they are difficult or unpleasant to drink out of. I found this one at Joann’s (yes, the fabric store.) It works perfectly.

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And last of all, the re-emergence of celery in my diet! I haven’t had it for YEARS. Because its okay plain, but its better with peanut butter or flavored cream cheese on it. And that’s just too many wasted calories for me. So one day, in the produce section, I see bags of celery for 58 cents! Well, I couldn’t resist that! And then came the brainstorm. If I mix one wedge of Laughing Cow Lite with just a tablespoon or so of mashed strawberries or crushed pineapple (in its own juice, of course,) I would have something similar to that delicious flavored cream cheese. For less than 50 calories, this is a Very Worthy Snack! I told my friend that if you close your eyes and use your imagination, it could almost pass for a dessert :)

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Okay, this next is not A Good Thing, but I thought it might amuse some of my cold weather friends. We had a storm come through on Tuesday, and it hailed for several hours. It looked just like it had snowed. My poor little plants. It didn’t freeze, so I think they will recover :)

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Hope your weekend is full of Good Things!

Two Years in a Garden

Hmmm. Another garden post. Apparently that’s all I want to talk about right now.

Anyway, MLG was here today working on yet another project. Before he got started, I had to point out how well all the trees he has helped to plant are doing. The first tree, my oldest and biggest Japanese maple, is actually what started this whole adventure. Some of you might remember this story, but its worth repeating.

I grew all my Japanese maples in containers, because the ground here is 3/4 rock, and 1/4 clay. Pretty much impossible for a single person to dig in. And this oldest tree (now 28 years since I bought it) was still in a wooden box that was disintegrating, but the root system had long since gone through the bottom of the box into the ground. If something wasn’t done, the tree was not going to make it one more year. I asked MLG if there was some way we could build a raised planter bed around the tree, since some of its root system was still above ground in the box. And so began the wonderful garden adventure.

Here is the tree, looking pretty forlorn, in its box.

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And here it is, a month later, in its new planter. Looking kinda sparse, but still living.

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And here it is this year, looking, IMHO, quite marvelous!

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Here is a glimpse of the new wooden border MLG started working on today to surround all the rest of the Japanese maples that we put in the ground.

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And here is something you all might already know about. But I thought I was quite clever to think of this and thought I would share with you.

So you know you’re supposed to leave the darn daffodil leaves intact so the bulb can re-nourish itself. But honestly, they are just a mess. You can’t see if there’s any room to plant anything new, and if you do plant something, the daffodil leaves are so massive that they shade the poor new plants that are trying to get some sunshine. I read somewhere that it was okay to bundle the daffodil leaves in a rubber band or something. I had a lot of those nice ponytail holders left over from my years of long hair. They work perfectly! And if you buy the ones without any metal parts, you can take them off when the daffodil leaves are spent and save the holders for next spring.

Here are the daffodil leaves as is.

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And here they are all bundled. I don’t particularly like the way they look, but I can see my garden and plant some new plants now.

DSCN2700So it was another morning of working in the garden. Honestly, I am spent after all that bending. I did go to the gym, mostly for the promise of the hot tub/spa. But I managed to do 40 minutes of pool walking/jogging.

Have a great weekend. I am so happy to see signs of green and bare ground from my friends back east! Happy springtime to you all!

New Blooms!

Just a short post to share the newest blooms in the yard.

First blooms on my flowering cherry! The tree is full of buds. I’ll share a full picture next week.

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The lilac is doing well. It got a bit rangy, so the recommendation was to prune one half at a time, as lilacs don’t really like being pruned that much and might not bloom if you are too harsh. I pruned quite a bit last year, but left the highest branches alone. The reward? A big bloom WAY UP HIGH! This is well above the roofline. So I will prune those high branches after its done blooming this year, hoping to get some blooms down to the level where I can see and smell them!

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And the New York lily of the valley! In case anyone missed it, I call these “New York lily of the valley” because my blog friend Lori sent them to me. It makes them extra special.

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Have a great weekend. Hoping for some springtime weather for EVERYONE!!

 

Thinking About Food… or Not

Frequently, I read weight loss bloggers lamenting the amount of thinking they have to do about food in order to lose weight and/or maintain that weight loss. I have periodically complained about that myself on this blog.

But first I want to point out that there are at least two different ways that I (and maybe you) think about food.

The first is the way we are usually thinking when we complain. The obsessive “can I eat this?” or “will this fit into my points/calorie allotment/food plan?” This thinking is what wears us out.

The second thinking we can do about food is completely pleasurable. You know I watch a lot of food shows. Those chefs think a LOT about food. They love everything about it, like an artist enjoys his paints and canvases (or fabric and thread :) ) I enjoy reading and then trying a new recipe. I love to think about how I can increase the flavor of something without adding calories. Re-working a recipe to make it healthier, so I can enjoy it on a regular basis, is more fun than doing a jigsaw puzzle. Okay, bad example. Jigsaw puzzles aren’t really that fun. Anyway, there is no reason to eliminate this kind of thinking.

For most of us, we will always have to be vigilant, and we will have to spend some time thinking and planning our meals so that we can lose weight or maintain a weight loss. But there are plenty of things you can do to minimize the amount of thinking you have to do.

  • Find a basic assortment of “favored” healthy foods that you enjoy.
  • Keep those foods stocked in your refrigerator.
  • Batch cook, and freeze in individual portions.
  • Watch for new recipes, or experiment yourself with different ways of combining your favored foods.

The longer you continue to eat in a certain way, the more familiar you become with the nutritional information and calorie count of those foods. I’m not talking about eating the same three foods over and over. You can have a pretty diverse diet without having to think too much at all.

As much as I enjoy food and food preparation and baking and cooking, it might surprise people to observe me for a week. Many days I don’t do any cooking at all. It is more assembling or thawing. This works very well for me. I don’t really have to do much thinking at all. I already know the calorie count of so many of the foods I eat. I still use my measuring cups to portion out things like yogurt and cottage cheese. I have a food scale on the counter for when I do need to weigh food. Sometimes I track my food online, and sometimes I just write it on a scrap of paper. Lots of times my food choices are so familiar that I just track it in my mind.

Think about food now. Its like practicing the piano. Pretty soon you will be able to play that melody (or make a healthy meal) without thinking about it at all.