Sixty-Three

Yep. Its that time again. Today’s my birthday. The celebrating started on Friday ๐Ÿ™‚ I went to see that movie, Wonder. Its so good–not just about the little boy, but about the whole family.

Here’s some things I’ve learned this year.

Its good to be flexible. You know how I like things the same, and I like my plans. But if I can be a little flexible, and be willing to change plans without getting all in a dither, that’s a good thing.

One day before the big quilt show in October, I was getting dressed in my hotel room. I was going to meet my BF there, and also probably see other people I knew. I was, as usual, feeling a little insecure about how I looked and wishing I weighed a lot less. And then I had an idea. I got completely dressed, and before I looked in the mirror, I said out loud, “I AM SIXTY-THREE YEARS OLD!!” And then I looked in the mirror, and thought I looked fabulous. I can’t tell you what a difference this has made to me. Try it–whatever it is, your life experience, being the mother of four children, or just your age–try it. There’s no reason ever to be unhappy with how we look. That reminds me of another post I’ve never written–“looking for beauty in all the wrong places”… there is beauty to be seen everywhere in the world. Trying to find a pair of jeans that makes our butt look better IS NOT where we should be looking for beauty.

I feel great. My knee is still improving, and my heel finally stopped hurting for the most part. I am starting to challenge myself, especially aerobically, in my walks and at the gym. Noah looks up at me as if to say, “what’s the hurry?”

Building a “luxury” chicken house and yard, and letting myself get more chickens than is necessary is the most fun present I’ve given myself this year. I just enjoy all the parts of being a chicken farmer. I am getting a lot of eggs now, and I will probably start giving some to the local food bank. I have a couple of other ideas about selling them, as soon as the chickens regulate their egg size a bit more.

Sometimes following a recipe is a good idea. I finally re-made that Pumpkin Baked Oatmealย ย WITHย the pumpkin in it, and its delicious ๐Ÿ™‚ A friend of mine told me she makes her oatmeal in the microwave, using old fashioned oats. You just have to use a super big bowl (because it will boil over) and microwave for 4 minutes. Yumm. I’m eating oatmeal again.

Well, that’s it for now. I’m off to have a fun birthday day, doing what I most enjoy doing ๐Ÿ™‚

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I Went to Lake Tahoe!

I decided to go to an Art Quilt retreat at Lake Tahoe. It was the first week of November, so for weeks ahead of time, I was nervous about the drive up–would it snow??? Sure enough, snow was predicted for the day I drove up ๐Ÿ˜ฆ I went and got chains for my car, and then nervously checked the CA road reports every day. And then the weather changed. No snow, and it was a beautiful drive up there!

I love Lake Tahoe. I’ve told you before how we spent many summer vacations in Tahoe when I was a kid. Now it seems I go more often in the fall, although I usually go earlier than this. The lake changed every day. The first day it was clear and smooth.

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The next day there were clouds obscuring the mountains, and the lake was a little choppier. To me, that makes it look almost like the ocean. I like it better when I can see the far shore.

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The next day it was even choppier (and colder!)

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I noticed on the drive up the huge boulders that line the river that runs along the highway. These big rocks are everywhere. I really like them.

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And then, before you know it, it was time to come home. And even though I observed that the pine trees in Tahoe were prettier than our pine trees at home, I was so very happy to be coming home. I love where I live. This is one of the things I love. Just the simplicity of the live oaks turning bright yellow and shining through the pines and the scrub oaks.

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Back in the garden, some of the Japanese maples were turning colors:

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And here’s something that JUST. SHOULD. NOT. BE. Two of my foxgloves were blooming! Does this mean they won’t bloom in the spring???

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Here’s where we planted two Aspens at the back of the yard. I will be so excited when they get a little bigger. They are so beautiful in the fall–there are thousands of them growing further up the hill on the way to Lake Tahoe.

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Did I show you this already? We rescued some logs from a recently chopped down pine (phone company had to remove some dead pines.) And MLG made this little area to display my bonsai trees!

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Some nice color from this maple bonsai.

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And that’s the report for now. I hope all of you have a safe and happy Thanksgiving!!

Chicken Report

My chickens are growing up! They’re doing grownup things like crowing every morning, and laying eggs. I look forward to finding eggs every day, and I usually check several times a day, trying not to disturb the hens too much. Today I actually stood there and watched one hen lay her egg!!

Here’s my egg washing system. You can see they are still laying a variety of sizes. The big ones are double yolkers.

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And my new pink egg cartons! I have asked people to save their egg cartons for me, but I was worried that I would not have enough cartons so I checked around the internet and found one place that sold cartons at a discount. I have a LOT of pink egg cartons ๐Ÿ™‚

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Today I worked in the garden a bit. I pulled up all the mint (haha, I’m pretty sure it’ll make an appearance in the spring…) The chickens love to pick over fresh greens.

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The two big boys. So far they are behaving themselves for the most part–not fighting with each other, not being aggressive towards me, and not bothering the hens TOO much. As long as they behave themselves they are welcome at my farm. They have names: Buddy #1 and Buddy #2.

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The little king. He stays away from the big boys and he doesn’t bother the hens at all. Probably because he can’t see… Somebody pecks his topknot at night, so now he gets anti-pick medicine on his head.

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And Here’s Baby!!!! She is so smart. She might be low in the pecking order, but she just knows how to stay out of everybody’s way, and she gets her fair share of all the treats too.

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Baby’s big sister. She is probably the largest hen, and really she is probably the most outstanding.

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This is a New Hampshire Red. All of the red hens are pretty friendly, and very curious. They always come very close to me, and usually let me pet them.

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Chicken in a Bowl ๐Ÿ™‚

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One more shot of Buddy #2. He is really a gorgeous rooster–a Speckled Sussex. You can see his female counterpart in the corner there. Oh, see that woodwork along the ground in the back? The chickens were digging their way UNDER my woodshed. I was worried that the cement foundation would collapse, so MLG rigged that up to deter them.

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Buff Orpington. They are very quiet. I love their soft color.

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Every afternoon I spread a bunch of “scratch” for them. Its like a chicken treat. They look forward to it every day, and always follow me along the fence line to see if this time I will be giving it to them.

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An action shot of Baby–that’s how she does it. Identifies what she wants and finds the most strategic place to get it ๐Ÿ™‚

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And that’s the chicken report for now. I wish you all lived closer. I have a lot of eggs to share with people. I had eggs for dinner tonight. They taste good, but I am not a good egg cooker, and they don’t look very appetizing, so no pictures.

 

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 ย 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 ๐Ÿ™‚ 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!

 

 

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 ย 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 ๐Ÿ™‚