Thankful for snow!


And nature’s perfect colors.


The smell of herbs.


And ice sculptures.


Thankful for color in winter.


And a tree I grew from a seedling.


How fun to see pretty leaves littering the ground.


Thankful for a new baby to love–Zoey!


Miss Bess is thankful for her special perch next to the warm wood stove.


It was a perfect day. I wish the same for all of you.


California Gardening

The first weekend in November I travelled to Santa Cruz for a quilting workshop. Santa Cruz is near the coast, and so the temperatures are always fairly mild there. There was a rose garden outside the building where the workshop was held. I couldn’t resist taking some pictures of the perfect blooms this late in the year.





Here at home, on the eastern edge of California, at about 2500 foot elevation, the roses have stopped blooming. But we are just now getting our fall color. Its not as spectacular as the East Coast, but I still look forward to it every year. Fall is one of my favorite seasons up here. I moved here in November 29 years ago.

I took some shots of my garden from outside my front door. I am still astounded at the changes that have been made in a couple of years work by MLG.  I have started to clean out some of the beds. Pruning will come a little later, I think. The hoses need to be reeled in for the season. You can see some of the Japanese Maples that we planted back along the fence line.


Here’s a closer look at those two trees. The smaller darker red one is slated to be planted in the ground next spring. It will be a larger tree, and the color is outstanding. I am looking forward to that move.


Still standing by the front door, here is the view in the other direction. One of our next big jobs is to build a planter box around that Japanese maple that is still in a pot. It is root bound, and will do so much better when it can spread out in the ground. Of course, planting this last JM in the ground means that I can never ever move from this house :)


Here is a closer view of the JM path. The begonia in the foreground is still hanging in there, in spite of several nights below freezing!



This is probably the last garden report for this year. I am definitely a fair weather gardener. Once it gets cold, I just don’t enjoy spending time in the garden. I am looking forward to next year, though, and anxious to see if some of my new purchases will take off in the spring!


Since I’ve been home for a bit, I’ve gotten a little creative in the kitchen. I had broccoli and some pre-cooked bacon in the fridge, and it reminded me of that yummy broccoli salad. So I put together my own version of it, using yogurt instead of mayonnaise, and counting the calories. So yummy. I ate all four servings of it (one at a time :) ) so you know it was good. It keeps really well for several days. Here’s a link to the recipe. 


I found a little more of that 85% dark chocolate in the pantry, and made some walnut-raisin clusters. I just weigh out each ingredient and add up the calories, and then make as many clusters as I need to end up with the right amount of calories per cluster. In this case, I ended up with 8 nice sized clusters for 100 calories each. I put it on popcorn so you could see what size they are. Since the chocolate is so intense, this is a very satisfying portion.


I also whipped up a batch of my “Winter Fruit Salad” for the sewing ladies that came over this week. That is a really really good recipe. And of course you can vary the amount and types of fruit you include.

Butternut squash! I got a big one at the store, and I made butternut squash “fries” (baked) and had plenty left over to make some of my mac and cheese with butternut squash. There was still some left over, so tonight I am going to combine that with some onion and potato and chicken breast and MARSALA SPICE!! Yum yum yum. Thanks again to Lori for gifting me with that wonderful spice blend.

Oh, and an example of a recipe that’s not quite what it seems… I bought a package of chia/flax seed blend, and they had a recipe for one of those one minute muffins on it. It was pretty calorie dense–about 350 calories–but I decided to try it this morning. It came out so pretty that I took a picture of it.


Then I tried it. VERY dry and not worthy. I put it in the compost pile, and had one of my cinnamon rolls. 200 calories and most worthy :)

What is Normal?

So this is how a blogger’s mind works. I’m always thinking about everything in terms of what I would write, even though I don’t always take the time to write it out. Monday I was going to write “Back to Normal,” about how I went to the gym, and then to the grocery store to get a ton of vegetables. Tuesday I was going to write “Day One,” about the beginning of the two day prep/fast I had to go on for my five year colonoscopy check. Wednesday, I was going to write “Notes on Fasting,” about all that I learned in my big two days of fasting. By Thursday at noon, I thought I’d be writing “Back to Normal” when I got home from the colonoscopy, and by Thursday evening, I decided all this stuff happening in my life was just my normal life, and what I was craving was a bit of my calm routine life. The life that happens in between all this other “normal” stuff.

So here’s the long version. Let’s see, you know I went to Texas for a week, ending that week with a visit with Shelley. You know I came home and spent two days just resting up so I could leave again to go to Santa Cruz for a quilt workshop. That was a really great weekend. I loved the whole thing. But I was looking forward to coming home and getting back to my “routine.” So Monday I went to the gym, and then to the grocery store, where I bought as many vegetables as my heart desired :)

But Tuesday morning I had to start a two day prep for my colonoscopy. I had one polyp on my first exam, so had to have this five year repeat. I groused a little about having to do a two day prep, but decided that after two weeks of travel-eating, I’d better be compliant.

Its so much easier to fast when its forced upon you. I put away all food, and even left my water pitcher on the counter so I wouldn’t have to look in the refrigerator that often. I had a low-grade headache most of the day. But I slept GREAT.

On Wednesday, I didn’t really think about eating that much. I was, ummm, otherwise occupied. Also, I wasn’t hungry, which really helped. Here’s the things I did “eat” on this fast: black coffee, green SF jello, mint tea, a few hard candies, and some apple juice.

Wednesday night I looked at Petfinder, and there at the local shelter was the CUTEST little dog. I have been inquiring about a few dogs, but they haven’t worked out. I was going to go and check out a male shih tzu, but the Butte Fire came along, and I had to cancel that idea. Then I was inquiring about a male Pug in a town a few hours away, but the rescue coordinator couldn’t seem to commit to a time to meet.

Thursday morning, bright and early, my good friend (who is also dog-obsessed,) met me to drive me to the doctor’s. I told her about the little dog I’d seen online. When all was done (no polyps-yay) we went out for lunch, and on the way home, she said, “Do you want to stop at the shelter?” Well, YES I did! We have a history of enabling each other with our doggie acquirements. When her last Lakeland Terrier died, I took her to the shelter, and we found a terrier mix who is her favorite dog of all time. She took me to the shelter one day, and that’s when I found Miss Bess.

Anyway, it wasn’t hard to decide to take this little dog. She was even cuter in person, and so calm and friendly. So now you have to look at a million pictures of my newest doggie :)

Here we are just after I got her. My friend said she wanted to find out what those drugs were that they gave me, and keep me on them. I was VERY happy and animated after the procedure.


These next two pictures are last night, on either side of my lap. Sophie is doing her best to pretend that this interloper is just a bad nightmare and will disappear very soon.



This morning I was writing emails, and looked around to see where she was. Oh, she might be small, but she knows how to jump up onto furniture.


Photo op. The old groomer in me is really looking forward to spiffing her up!


DSCN3477So, this is just my normal life. But I am looking forward to several months of my nice routine–going to the gym more often, and eating good healthy food for a while, including lots of fresh fruits and vegetables!

This ‘n’ That

Well, I’m home for a quick 48 hours between trips. I’ve got a few thoughts to get off my mind, and some fun stuff to report, so here goes:

Update on “The Best.” Thanks for all the fun comments on that blog. I did get the Sonicare toothbrush. It is impressively heavy-duty brushing. It doesn’t make me feel like I just got my teeth cleaned, and I can tell that it does not replace flossing, so I’m trying to carry on with that chore. The jury won’t be in until I get my teeth cleaned next spring, and I find out if it has had a positive effect.

About that candy corn….. My final word on the best candy corn is that stolen candy corn is the very best. By that I mean that getting a small handful from one of those containers that people put out on desks or counters is the best. Stolen candy corn tastes the best, and also it limits your consumption to about half a serving (70 calories.) It doesn’t look right to steal more than half a serving. In addition, there is no candy corn left over in the pantry to bother you. I did try both Zachary’s and Brach’s. I have a feeling that “the best” between these two brands just depends on which brand you are able to get at peak freshness. The only difference I saw in the list of ingredients was that Brach’s contained a small amount of sesame oil(???) and Brach’s also had more sodium, although both of them were fairly low in sodium. Anyway, there you go. I promise not to talk about candy corn on this blog for at least a couple of years :)

Oh, but I have to mention one more thing. I decided that because I am 60 years old, I no longer have to eat things I don’t like. And that includes the white tips of the candy corn :)


Where I was: I was in Houston at the biggest quilt show in the United States! I went with my BF, Robin, who flew in from Oregon. We had so much fun–I wrote more about it on my quilting blog. We ate out at some fabulous restaurants (sorry, no pics) and I filled in for some meals with my Quest bars. One night Robin went to dinner with her Facebook friends, and I took the night off and had dinner in my room–a pizza bagel, an apple, and diet coke. So much fun, to just give yourself the gift of a little down time to relax.


It just so happens that Houston is kinda sorta in the same vicinity as Shelley. With some iffy weather and big city scary driving, I owe a HUGE thank you to Shelley for being willing to pick me up in Houston so that we could have a fun day of visiting. I wrote about what we did over on my quilting blog, but here are a few highlights that I didn’t mention over there. Shelley and Julia (her running buddy that came with her to pick me up,) said that I needed to visit Buc-Ee’s. Wow. I don’t know how to describe it. Kind of like a truck stop on Steroids. Gifts, food, gift food, junk food, Texas clothing… anyway, that was fun, and here are Shelley and I with Buc-Ee.


Shelley and I like a lot of the same things: talking, writing, talking about writing, eating, food, hand stitching (that includes knitting) and watching TV shows. It was so fun to visit, and go to some of Shelley’s favorite hang outs and eating joints (yes, I finally got back to the fabulous Blue Baker and had a cinnamon twist,) but most of all fun to sit and stitch and visit and watch some shows, including Dancing with the Stars!

We ate at Harvey Wallbangers. The sign says “EAT…DRINK…DO LAUNDRY.” They really do have a huge laundromat at the back of the restaurant. And they had delicious food!


Shelley’s stitching:


Paco the Wonder Dog enjoys just a bit of frozen yogurt. I can’t imagine where he got that from :)


Traveling home was a very long day. Three different planes, three different airports, and two different time zones. I was so happy to get home and see my girls (Noah is still away at “camp,”) and I think they were happy to see me too. Here we are the first night:


The gift of a day off. I only have two days at home before leaving again. The first day I did a few chores, but mostly just sat around. I was super tired. The second day (today) I planned to go to the gym and to the grocery store to get a few staples. But just as I was planning to leave, I looked through the kitchen to see if I still had some decent food for lunch and dinner, and sure enough, I did. I decided I could stay home, and what a delightful decision.  Sometimes you just have to be willing to think about what you really need, and how best to accomplish that. I needed a little more home time. Bess and Sophie agree.


(this perch next to the wood stove is the premier spot in the house in winter. Sophie thinks she can stare Bess out of it.)

Weekend in the Fall Garden

Fall is definitely in the air. It improves my mood, just to see leaves falling, and cooler night temperatures. We are still having lots of days with highs of 80, and we still aren’t having enough rain. That leaves me with watering to do that I don’t think I should be doing in the fall.

Anyway, there’s nothing like getting a few plants as a motivation to get you out into the garden to do some work. Friday I picked up some more ground covers, and a package arrived in the mail from Lori!! Lily of the Valley, and some cleome seeds. That was more than enough motivation to spend some time in the yard Saturday morning!

This part of the rock work is not completed, but I wanted to get some ground cover in there and growing before it gets any colder. I am using Elfin Thyme. It seems to grow really well, and is pretty hardy.


See, there it is:


This plant, that has tiny blue flowers that blow in the breeze, has done really well, and it is a favorite with the bees. I usually like showier flowers, but this one is a keeper.


The lantana is still putting on a good show. As long as I get this in the right place, it blooms non-stop.


I had two pots of geraniums that had to be moved when we did some of the front garden work. I just put them outside the fence in front of the house, and they have done really well there. And, the deer haven’t bothered them! I think this is something I will repeat next spring.


On the other side of the garden, this winter camellia is blooming early.


And the petunias are getting a bit bedraggled, but their color is more brilliant than usual.


The Japanese flowering maple (Abutilon) is huge, and finally putting out a lot of blooms. You can see that the pine needles are falling everywhere…


Close up:


Couldn’t resist including this beautiful rose. I wish it was in my garden, but it was just growing in the corner of the local car mechanic’s.


All is well and slowing down in the Fall Garden. Noah enjoys his perch, where he can keep a close watch on the neighbors in either direction.


Tomorrow is Noah’s birthday. He is six years old. If you want to see some pictures of the world’s cutest fluffiest white puppy, click here. Noah was quite a handful to raise (he probably would say the same about me,) and his whole history has been chronicled here and there on the blog.


The Best

My new dental hygienist has convinced me that I NEED a better tooth brush. She specifically recommended the Sonicare toothbrush. So of course Sonicare has about a million options. One of the things she talked about was the UV Sanitizer as an additional way to decrease bacteria. The Sonicare with the UV Sanitizer is about $200. That ain’t happening. I have narrowed my choices to the Sonicare Series 2 because it gets rid of SIX TIMES the plaque, and its only $49. The other option is not a Sonicare. Its called an iBrush (clever name, apparently no relation to Apple products.) It has the huge number of rotations per minute just like the Sonicare, AND it has the UV Sanitizer, and it is priced at $69. For somebody who spends a lot of time trying to choose between the toothbrush that is $1 and the ones that are 2/$3, this is a big investment, and I want to get THE BEST! Anybody out there have any opinions or experience with these products?

Next, and interestingly enough, it just might be part of the reason I need the super-deluxe toothbrush, I need to know which is THE BEST brand of candy corn. I never buy candy corn, because I am afraid I will get bad candy corn, and I will still eat it and be disappointed. Weird, huh? Anyway, which is the best tasting, freshest candy corn out there? I might need to get some before the season ends.