More from the Garden

I think this is turning into a gardening blog. After ten years, how much more is there to write about food, about eating food and not eating food. Ha! Now maybe I might have to write one more blog about my current thoughts on food and exercise. But for now, here’s what’s happening in the garden.

Most of the Japanese maples are starting to bud out. Some of them are just as beautiful in the spring as they are in the fall. And of course, in the spring they are all new and fresh and unblemished.

Here is one of the most beautifully colored:


A simple green one that I grew from a seedling! I gave it to my mom, but she had some trouble with it, so I brought it home.


These are prettier in person–a lime green, and one with white/green variegated leaves. You can see a couple branches of the bigger Red Emperor there.


I love the form of this one. But because of its short grafted trunk, I do think it needs to stay in a pot for life.


The violet path (and weeds) are putting on a good show this year. Violets can be pretty invasive, so they are blooming all over the yard. I like them, so that’s okay, but sometimes I have to get aggressive with them and just pull them out. Over to the side there is some fescue grass. I got it for the patchwork path, but of course it was a six pack, so I planted some here. I like it.


The first cherry blossom popped out!


And not a great picture, but you can see all the blossoms getting ready on the lilac tree. This is so exciting to me. For the past two years Kevin and I have been carefully pruning this tree. And I guess we’re doing it right, since it is blooming more than ever. There’s lots of information out there that says if you prune a lilac too much it’ll never bloom.


Some funny dog pics. Bess is the only dog I’ve ever had that is so interested in the tv. I actually have to put her in her crate if I am watching a show where a dog is barking. And as for watching “The Dog Whisperer?” I’ve given up! But the other day I was watching “The Zoo” and Bess wanted up on my lap to watch the tigers.


This is Noah when the neighbors are here. He’ll come inside so he won’t bark (because he’s wearing his bark collar,) but then he will stare very hard out the window to make sure there’s not any funny business going on over there.


And that’s the report for this week. We’ve gotten some very nice rain lately, and of course, I appreciate it, so I don’t have to water the garden. Its sunny today, so I will go out and do some of the never-ending weeding that needs to be done!


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.


A Bit of This ‘n That

Last night I spied the Apricot Scrub on my sink, and decided that today would be a day that I could do whatever I wanted to do. Apparently I wanted to blog, because I have written on each of my blogs this morning! A new recipe, and some newly finished quilts, and just a few new thoughts for this blog. Eventually I’ll get to that Apricot Scrub.

Yesterday was a crazy day. I had an electrician come and put in a new little wall heater. Yahoo! I have to be careful to not over-use it, because its not the most efficient way to heat the house. But on a cold morning, its a nice luxury. And, the guys came to take down some of the big trees on my property. Its quite amazing how they do this. One guy way up in the tree, lopping off one branch at a time. and then cutting it off portion by portion. The biggest pine tree was only about 12 feet from my house, and was leaning at a 60 degree angle over the house! Anyway, as you can imagine, it was quite a scene with all the dogs in the morning. I had made an appointment to board Noah for the two days of ‘tree-ing’ and so I left to take him down, as well as go to PT, the gym, and run a few errands. I got home just in time to see them working on that big pine. I guess this is why I decided I needed a day off today. The guys finished up their tree work last night, so its an extra quiet morning. I will pick up Noah from his trip to camp later this afternoon.

New recipe:  I got the original idea for this recipe here. I changed it up quite a bit (surprise!) and have enjoyed these Cranberry Lemon Protein Bars as both breakfast and a dessert treat, so thought I would share with you.


Pretty good stats on this bar: 15 grams of protein in 185 calories. A nice sized bar too.

Here is the extent of my Christmas decorating so far:


I brought in my big Christmas quilt, and covered the dog’s sofa with it. They seem to appreciate my effort.


This camellia always blooms in December. It usually goes unnoticed by me. I need to move it to a better location. It always reminds me of the quote “Memory is the ability to gather roses in winter.”


That’s all for now. I’m off to use that Apricot Scrub–its for my face, not the sink!

This ‘n’ That

First I want to thank everyone for chiming in with some very good advice in my prior post about arthritis.  Even though I am (was) a nurse, my area was so specialized that I really don’t know a lot about adult medicine.  I feel more informed and am going to go forward from here.  In the meantime, I have been swimming up a storm, and am really loving it.  I am REALLY tired the next day, so I think its a pretty good workout.  Unfortunately, my weight lifting is taking a back seat, but I plan to add that back in soon.

Here is “The Bess Show.”  She gets the award for being the most photogenic dog this week.

Well, you KNOW that you-know-who was not going to be left out entirely.

Bess is very aware of where everything is supposed to be (I don’t know how she manages that in this house.)  If anything is new or out of place, she becomes quite concerned about it. Bordering on obsession, unfortunately.  She is also one of the few tv watching dogs I have had.

Watching The Dog Whisperer:

Watching “Hachi, A Dog’s Tale.”  That’s a pretty good movie, BTW.  Oh, that’s my new computer, which is working wonderfully as a tv/movie screen.  The picture is so clear, and the sound quality is much better than my old computer (very important for us old folks, you know.)

And a rare shot sans tongue.

I have found a few good peaches this past week.  I decided to try the Flax Cakes with peaches instead of blueberries.  And then I had the idea of making them into muffins instead of cakes.  Perfect amount to make six nice muffins.  Yummy, and very filling.

Two of them made a very nice breakfast.

It might seem like Noah is getting ignored on the blog, but don’t worry about him. As well as being lion-sized, he also gets the lion’s share of attention around here.

Almost every night he scratches that carpet up into a ball so he can sleep on the carpet underneath it.  Sigh.

The other morning I went out to check my zucchini plant, and I found this absolutely perfect blossom.  Isn’t it beautiful?

Here is my sad little vegetable patch.  I have actually gotten about 4 or 5 zucchinis and two whole tomatoes.  At the amount of water I have to use, that probably makes it about $5 per vegetable.  I’ll stop complaining about the prices at the Farmer’s Market now.

I bought a four pound bag of walnuts in the shell at the farmer’s market the other day.  $8.  Wanted to compare prices.  Just about half the weight was the actual walnut meat, so that made it $4 per pound, and a lot of hard work on my hands.  Not worthy.

Ah, I mentioned you-tube the other day.  When my computer was down I got very creative with my kindle fire.  I was able to watch you tube videos just fine on there.  And they have some wonderful full-length lectures and such on you tube. I started out looking for sermons by Francis Chan.  If you haven’t heard him speak, he is very compelling.  There’s just a ton of Francis Chan stuff on there. And then I found  an interview with Ann Lamott. I have to admit I have not read any of her books, but I love some of her quotes, and she was really interesting to listen to.  It was very well done, at a Writer’s Forum, and they had interviews with other writers I am interested in such as Eugene Peterson and Phillip Yancey.  Big Think does some interesting looking interviews.  The only one I watched was the interview with Marion Nestle, (New York University Professor of Nutrition) which was fascinating.  Basically she pointed out that people all over the world, in different times and different cultures, have eaten very different diets, and yet they are all healthy.  The main thing is to eat real food, and not too much.  She had such a common sense point of view.  I thoroughly recommend watching that video if you have time.  Its about 14 minutes.

Oh!  I almost forgot the most important news!  Wendy and I got together last week and worked on the website for The Bridge (our Haiti child sponsorship program.)  Well, Wendy had done all the work.  I just forced her to hit ‘publish’ and let it go public.  I think she did a beautiful job, and now you all can see what I am talking about when I talk about The Bridge.

Well, that’s about it for tonight.  Off for some lap time and a little more stitching before bed.

Salad Central

The secret to easy salads is having all the stuff on hand.  I usually keep romaine hearts and a tub of the baby lettuce in the fridge.  And baby carrots.  And pre-cooked meat in the freezer.  And then all the fun stuff in the cupboard.  Oh, and goat cheese in the fridge.  And  balsamic vinegar and olive oil and mustard and honey.

Okay.  It doesn’t sound easy, but it really is.  The other day I bought a bag of those little frozen pre-cooked salad shrimpies.  Very good in salads, really low cal, and a good protein kick for your calorie expenditure.  Yesterday I was so lazy that I made the salad dressing in the bowl I was going to eat the salad in (olive oil, balsamic vinegar, honey, salt and pepper) and added THREE ingredients.  Toss and eat.  And it was yummy!!  The three ingredients?  Romaine lettuce, baby shrimps, and baby carrots.

Today I had one of my favorite combos.  I have to give credit to Vicky for the combo idea.  Chicken, lettuce, chopped almonds, orange pieces, and goat cheese (blue cheese if you have it.)  I made the same salad dressing for this one.  Oh so scrumptious.  I took a little piece of chicken out of the freezer, and thought it was awful small, so I weighed it.  Only two ounces, but it was just right for a salad.

Other happenings around here:  I’ve been quilting up a storm.  Blogging about it over on the quilt blog.  

Spinning some yarn up:

‘Cause I’ve been knitting a lot.

My friend mentioned these little solar yard lights, and I thought it would be a good idea for my yard.  But when I looked at Walmart, they were too expensive. Then I was in there this past Friday getting some fertilizer, and these little yard lites were on sale!!  I wish I could take a picture that shows them sparkling in the yard at night.  So pretty.  And now when I take the dogs out for their ‘last call,’ I won’t stumble over the planters!

Guess who’s got a new friend?  Noah is THRILLED that Bess has initiated playtime with him.

And the traditional ear-licking at the end of play.  Dont’ ask me what that means.  We probably don’t want to know.

Fruit and Other Assorted Topics

Seems to me that fruit has been bandied about the blog world a little more than usual lately.  Helen doesn’t really like it, Shelley has the market on WATERMELON, and Lori can get blueberries cheaper than either Shelley or myself!!  Then there was that bit about blueberries being a negative calorie food, which all us foodies had a good laugh over. Of course there are those who think fruit is to be limited/avoided, etc. Then, occasionally, I hear someone comment that they could eat 12 servings of fruit in a day!!  Are you kidding me?

I LIKE fruit.  Duh.  Its sweet.  But I am rarely tempted to overdo on fruit, and it just seems normal for me to have 2 servings a day.  I don’t think about it or count them out, but that’s usually what it turns out to be.  Once in a while a day will go by and I will realize I only had one serving.

The thing about fruit is that, by itself, it just does not hold me that long.  It is so pleasant to eat, very enjoyable at the time, but it does not appreciably satisfy my hunger.  I usually have fruit with some kind of protein, most commonly with cottage cheese or yogurt.

All that said, this is the time of year for the most wonderful fruit.  I try to limit the amount of fruit I have in the house at one time so I do not feel pressured to eat it ‘just because its there.’  Right now I happen to have a LOT of really great fruit in the house.  So I decided to try something this morning.  I made a fruit salad.  Four types of fruit, cut and put in a bowl.  Four servings, approximately 400 calories.  I wrote that down on my food journal this morning.

Here’s how I had the first serving, over a half cup of Wal Mart cottage cheese.  This is the world’s best cottage cheese!

At first I thought, yep, it didn’t hold me, but then I realized it had been 3 hours since I ate, so I had a second breakfast–very low calorie English muffin French toast.  With Smucker’s sugar free syrup.  That is the only sugar free syrup I like.  I really try to soak the muffin in the egg mixture so I get a decent amount of protein in there.

Had the second bowl of fruit for my afternoon snack, with a 3M Chia muffin (10 grams protein), and I had the last bowl for dessert tonight.  All in all, a very satisfying experiment.  But I don’t really need to eat that much fruit.  And  overall, I think I like eating one kind of fruit at a time.

But we should all eat fruit, don’t you think?  One of God’s great gifts to us.  Full of all those good nutrients (you’re gonna have to look elsewhere for what exactly those nutrients are…)

So earlier this week I was involved in what could only be called a QUILT OBSESSION.  Quite a while ago, I put together these various assortments of simple squares using my boxes of pre-cut strips and squares. And then I switched gears and started working on the housetop quilts.  But I was determined not to let those orphan squares go to waste.  So I pretty much worked non-stop on this quilt for a few days.  I had the idea of zig-zagging the squares to a background instead of sewing them together, since they were odd sizes that wouldn’t exactly fit together.

You can see my ‘zig-zag technique’ in this photo.

I did realize that all that sitting and sewing was making me quite stiff.  So I did get in some walks every day.  And I did actually make it to the gym three days this week!  But the biggest source of exercise for me this week was FUNCTIONAL exercise.  Yeah, where you actually USE all those muscles you’ve worked so hard for.  I FINALLY returned to the garden, and bought some plants, and actually planted them.  Planting them involved moving around a lot of big heavy pots full of soil, bags of soil, and all that.  Its so nice to have flowers in the garden again.  Keep your fingers crossed for me.  Noah seems to be leaving them alone.  He does still like the plastic pots that they come in.

THEN, more functional exercise.  I did a lot of housework, and I cleaned off the back porch and the deck and took a load of stuff to the dump!   You know, keeping busy like that keeps your mind off of “what’s next to eat?”

So, speaking of what’s next to eat, I found a really interesting product at Trader Joe’s the other day.  Literally has three ingredients:  honey, chocolate liquor, and oil of peppermint.  Quite decadent.  And interesting, as I don’t think the chocolate is sweetened.  About 50 calories each.  I find that one mint usually satisfies my sweet tooth.  I also like the Russell Stover sugar free mints.

So, I don’t know what got me in the mood.  Maybe it was my dingy socks and my filthy shoes?  Anyway, I started looking around the internets for those darn Newton’s Running Shoes, and I found that they sold them on Ebay!  So I sprang for a pair.  Free shipping, and they accept returns, so I’ll only be out about $5 if they don’t fit and I have to send them back.  And I also ordered 10 pairs of my all time favorite socks. These really are THE WORLD’S SOFTEST SOCKS!  I love how they feel, I love how they stay in place, but they aren’t too tight around my ankles.  And they last a pretty long time.

Doggie love.  That Bess is a cutie.  We had a little emergency with her earlier this week.  She had a scar on one eyeball when I got her.  Not that unusual for a pug, I thought.  But somehow it got irritated, and overnight it looked really terrible.  I think the vet gave me NEOSPORIN for the eyeball, along with a little steroid.  She has certainly made herself at home here.

And Mr. Monk, in a particularly energetic pose.

Sophie’s version of a big stretch.  Isn’t she cute?

And the latest completed housetop quilt, with two of my favorite verses on it (Matt. 11:28-29, and Psalm 23.)  I think you might be able to see the writing if you click on the picture and enlarge it.

Oh, I was reviewing my pictures from Paducah today and I ran across this great picture.  This garden art was in what seemed to be an abandoned lot.  Isn’t it great?

Wow, I should really blog a little more often.  Well, you could save this and read just a little every day…

Prequel to Vacation

So I want to tell you all about my week at rug hooking camp.  But first I have to tell you about a rather monumental event that happened before I even left.

So it all started when I took my good animal-loving friend out to lunch for a belated birthday celebration.  This was less than a week before I was supposed to leave for camp.   Lunch was okay, but not primo, and so I said, ‘wanna go get a small frozen yogurt for dessert?  As well as being similar in the animal loving arena, we are also kindred spirits when it comes to frozen yogurt.  So imagine our mutual dismay when we drove up and the yogurt shop was completely closed down.  Our desolation was deep, let me tell you.  So friend says to me, “wanna go to the animal shelter?”  “SURE!” I agree.  Ruh roh.  You can see where this is leading.

So we go in.  Oh dear.  So many cute kittens.  I resist.  I have one old cat who does not want to be bothered with young energetic kittens.  First doggie room.  My gosh, I am not kidding you, I have never seen this many cute dogs at our little local animal shelter…  We left that room, and I thought I had made it safely through the gauntlet of cute animals needing homes.  “Oh, there’s one more room,” my friend(?) says.  And we go in this room, round the corner, and there are two PUGS sitting there staring at me.  Just the day before I had written a note to my mom mentioning how Mr. Monk was one of my best dogs ever, and how I was worrying that he was starting to show his age.

The pugs weren’t even up for adoption yet because they were waiting to see if their owners came to claim them.  A few days later, they were available, but now it was close to the time I was to leave for rug hooking camp.  I called my friend(?!?) and she said, “Oh, I’ll keep her while you’re gone.”  So I traipsed down to the shelter on Saturday morning, expecting a hoard of people who would want to adopt her.  There was one other couple there, and they decided that they wanted the male pug, which left just me to adopt the female pug!  I know.  As Shelley commented, “you crazy girl!”

So the postlude to vacation is that I picked Bess up from my friend’s on Friday afternoon on the way home from rug camp, came home and made the introductions to the Queen and Mr. Monk, and then Saturday morning picked Noah up, and introduced them.  It is almost eery how smoothly its gone.

I googled “introducing a new dog to the household” and the first reference said “it can be dangerous to bring a new dog into your house.”  I decided to skip that one and go with the Humane Society’s advice.  “Introduce in a neutral environment.”  Too late, we’re home.  “Have two people, each with one dog on a leash.”  Hmmm.  There’s only one of me.  So I decided to put a leash on new dog and Sophie, and took them out to the yard (semi-neutral territory) and then I remembered the Dog Whisperer’s advice to walk the two dogs together to establish a pack.  So we walked around and around the yard.  Then Sophie went back inside, and I did the same thing with new dog and Mr. Monk.  Then we tried all three off leash in the yard, and finally all three in the house off leash.  I watched really close for any ‘doggie domination’ behavior and told them to cut that out.  The other thing I do when I bring a new dog home is to make sure the older dogs get just a little more attention than the new dog.  That seems to keep everybody on an even keel.

Introductions with Noah were similar.  Introduced new dog on the opposite side of the fence at first.  And then Noah on leash and new dog off leash in the yard.  I didn’t figure Noah would be much of a problem.  And he wasn’t.

So the name.  I had a couple of names I kind of liked.  But none seemed exactly right.  Then Shelley mentioned that the Queen now had a footman and a lady in waiting.  so I googled ‘famous ladies in waiting,’ and got to this site.  When I read this description, I decided Bess was the perfect name.  “Bess of Hardwick.  Started her life relatively poor.  She married four times, became a lady in waiting to Queen Elizabeth I and was the seond most powerful Elizabethan woman, next to Queen Elizabeth.”  That sounds like the exact balance of power we want in this house, right?

So here she is, with me in my new glasses, which do not have the anti-reflective coating on them.  I had so much trouble with the last pair scratching and then getting a permanent film on that coating that I decided to go without.  Thus the reflection.  Oh well.  Back to Bess, she does stick her tongue out a lot.  She has an underbite, so I guess that’s why.  She’s supposed to be only 2 or 3 years old.  She had just recently had a litter too.  Can you imagine somebody NOT coming looking for such a little darling?  She’s very small for a pug.  Much taller, but probably about the same size as Sophie.

Here she is on the corner of the sofa she has claimed as her own.

The Queen doing her best to look noble at the opposite end of the sofa (the one closest to me of course.)

And Mr. Monk keeping an eagle eye on things.

So that’s the big news around here!  I hope this is not a honeymoon period, because its very peaceful.  Maybe a little noisier, with one more snoring dog, but that’s okay by me.