This ‘n’ That

Lots of stuff going on around here, but its mostly fiber art related, so I write about it over on the other blog. If you want to see what I’ve been up to, you can visit over there. One of the things I am doing is going to rug hooking camp, and I decided to attempt a portrait rug of Noah. I have taken one million pictures of the Big White Dog, and still ended up liking one of my older ones best. This is from one of his many photo shoots, and I used it in conjunction with the older photo to draw the outline for the rug.

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This is the first rose I bought. Only one bloom on it so far this year, and the stem was so ridiculously long (over 6 feet high, I’m not kidding) that I decided to cut it off and enjoy it inside.

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Its a very pretty rose, and it has a very nice fragrance as well.

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This is the JP rose I showed you earlier. It looks even prettier when it is fully opened. Its called Belinda’s Dream.

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Last week, I was bemoaning the fact that my dogwood tree has not bloomed since we planted it. It was also leaning precariously to one side, so MLG tied it up to a bigger tree to straighten it up. Then he called me over to look at something. Lo and behold, there were two little blossoms at the top of the tree! Maybe next year, if I treat it just right, I’ll see some real blooms on it!

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Glamour shot of Miss Zoey. Isn’t she the cutest? Its pretty fun for me to have a long haired dog to take care of again.

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Last night, I got an email from Hungry Girl, with a recipe for Cherry Pie Baked Oatmeal. I thought about making it, but then decided I just wanted one serving. This morning, I used my single serve recipe, and added a handful of frozen cherries. Quite yummy!

And that’s all the news around here for now. We have all of a sudden heated up to over 90 degrees, so I am looking forward to my trip to Cambria next week, over by the coast, where the high is supposed to be 70 degrees!

One more thing! After I finished this post, I went out to water the garden (again) and saw this swallowtail landing on the marigolds! I left the water running to distract him, and went inside and got my camera, and he was still there when I got back out! These are the little surprises that I like best about gardening.

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A New Room and A Clean Dog

J. the Contractor came back last week to finish up a bunch of things. He put the fascia boards on both rooflines. For the longest time, this little shed remained the old red  of the cabin, because there was no point in painting it, since the siding needed to be replaced. Its so nice to see it now, when I walk up the road.

That’s the old window from the dining room that we saved to put here, on the “wet studio.” It will provide lots of light and good ventilation when I am working in there. BTW, its called a wet studio, because that is where I will do all my dying and any other messy creating I need to do. You can see the kitchen door there, and the small deck. So I can just go out the kitchen door and down the stairs to this room.

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Because of the roofline, the door was not a regular size. So J. the Contractor built a door! And he used the glass and the door knob from the old door!

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Here is the (almost) finished room. I got the same light fixture that I have used in the studio and my laundry room. I love how bright the light is–its LED lighting. J. used wood that he milled himself from local pines for all the shelving and the walls and ceiling. I love the coloring of it, so I’m leaving it natural for now. There’s so much storage now– I’m sure eventually I will use it all. The back counter is about two feet deep, and that side counter is just one foot deep, but J. thought of making it the right height for me to eat, in case I wanted to eat while I was working out there. I sanded those two surfaces and coated them with polyurethane. I also ordered three anti-fatigue mats for the floor.

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The only thing that’s not done is the backsplash. Somehow, when we did the house, we ended up with three boxes of white subway tile. So I saved that, and J. will be back in a couple of weeks to do the backsplash. There is a nice laundry tub (J. did something or other to finally fix the water pressure problem) and a full size stove! I talked to J. about getting a used stove, and it just so happened that he wanted to get himself a gas stove, so he was willing to sell me his old electric stove very reasonably. When you dye wool, it needs to be heated for the dye to set, so that is why I wanted a stove out there. You can see the small granite top between the two. That is from where they cut out the piece for the sink in the kitchen. J. had the tools to cut it just the right size for that small counter. And of course the bigger piece of leftover countertop is on the other side of the stove.

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I had this idea, to make narrow shelves near the door opening, and have the shelves closer together so I could use it for all my dye jars! This is the coolest thing. so much nicer than any other place I’ve had for my dyes.

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And since the water pressure was finally fixed, and we were still having days with high’s in the 70’s, I had no more excuses to avoid washing Noah. The laundry tub faucet is adapted so you can just attach a regular garden hose to it, so I can wash him with warm water. After we were all done, he had a photo shoot. There is a “pet” setting on my camera, and I usually forget about it. But it is really cool–takes the picture at the lightest touch immediately, and somehow focuses as quickly.

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Its so nice to have all this work done. Now we’re in for a week of storms, but as soon as the weather clears up, I hope to be out playing with my dyes in my new wet studio. I am one lucky girl.

 

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.

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See, there it is:

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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.

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

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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.

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

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

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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…

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Close up:

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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.

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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.

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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.

 

A Dog With a Problem

I only buy one type of nylabone for my dogs. Because that is the only type they like. And I am a good doggie mom. Nylabones never wear out, but it seems they eventually lose their charm. So I buy more. Recently I bought three new nylabones (three doggies.) Although, Bess only occasionally gets into chewing on them, and Sophie only grabs one when I am doing my exercises. She gets nervous when she can’t control something, and apparently my being down on the ground making strange shapes falls into that category. Noah still enjoys his bones every day.

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ANYWAY, sometime in his adult life, Noah developed the bad habit of burying his bones. Even though I try to keep watch, he immediately snuck outside with two of the bones and buried them. If he would dig them up and use them again, I wouldn’t get irritated. But apparently he forgets where they are.

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So I put the last one up, and only gave it to him after I closed the doggie door. This displeased him greatly. He wandered from door to door in the house, hoping for a magical exit to open up.

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He is an expert at giving me that “hangdog” look. But I do not cave. There is still one good nylabone in the house.

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The One Thing No Country Home Should Ever Be Without

Can anyone guess?

Hydrogen peroxide!

Does everyone know why?

SKUNK!!!

Probably everyone knows this, but I still hear the occasional person mention tomato juice as a skunk odor removal. All tomato juice does is make such a mess that you might temporarily forget that your dog stinks.

And everyone knows that skunks only come out at night, right? So that is most likely when your dog will get sprayed by a skunk.

And who really wants to go out in the middle of the night or very early in the morning to look for hydrogen peroxide?

One of the first time one of my dogs got skunked was shortly after I moved here. I didn’t even have a fence. I had come home from a night shift, and it happened. I had to leave my dog outside, yelling at him “YOU STAY THERE” while I drove off in search of H2O2.

About 4:30 this morning, Bess let out an alarm bark. She considers herself the early warning system for Noah. Because sometimes he sleeps very soundly. Anyway, the next thing I knew, Noah barked, followed by that horrible rotting flesh smell….

I actually managed to kind of sleep until 6am, and then the search was on for hydrogen peroxide. Under the kitchen sink? Nope. How about the bathroom cabinet? Nope, but I did straighten up under there. Maybe. Just maybe there would be some out in the laundry dungeon. BINGO!!!! I was so glad to see that ancient bottle of H2O2.

Here’s the formula, in case you haven’t heard of it: 1 bottle of hydrogen peroxide (2 cups,) 2 Tbsp baking soda, and 1 Tbsp dish detergent (like Dawn.) Mix well, and wash the skunky parts of your dog with this. Try to let it sit on your dog for a few minutes, and then rinse very well. Don’t put any leftover solution in a closed container and save it. Evidently it will explode.

Anyway, we are now all clean and relatively smell-less. It was actually very fortunate that I had decided to give Noah a bath yesterday. It was easy to identify where he stunk and just wash those parts.

Have a sweet smelling weekend everyone!

How to Build a Better Pizza

  1. If you have “issues” with pizza, like you can’t stop eating it, or you are not eating wheat or cheese or whatever, then don’t even start.
  2. If you have problems with honesty, forget about it. This is the kind of food assemblage that requires brutal honesty.
  3. But if you really enjoy pizza, and would like to have it once in a while without breaking the calorie bank, read on.

I made this pizza out of stuff I had leftover in my fridge. Look through your refrigerator and see what you have that might be good for pizza toppings. In my opinion, you need mozzarella cheese and marinara sauce for it to be a real pizza.

What I had on hand: mushrooms, onion, pineapple, roma tomatoes, a little bit of pepperoni, and some olives. I use Trader Joe’s whole wheat pizza crust. I love this stuff. The dough comes pre-made in a plastic bag that you can stick in the freezer until the mood hits.

You also need a piece of scratch paper to write down the calories on all the stuff you add to the pizza. This pizza dough is supposed to make enough crust for 8 slices. But I stretched it extra thin, so it ended up making 12 nice sized pieces.

I measured out the marinara sauce (I used Contadina’s for this. I also like TJ’s marinara sauce.) Both of them are pretty low in calories. I used string cheese for the cheese. Just because they are pre-measured, and I don’t use much cheese. I thought I would only use 2 (2 ounces.) That was really pretty skimpy, so I added a third. I sliced the mushrooms and onions, and spread them on there. And then measured out a couple Tbsp of olives, and cut up one cup of fresh pineapple. And I cut the 8 little slices of pepperoni into little bits and spread it around. Oh, and then I cut up one roma tomato and added that on top.

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Now here’s where the brutally honest part comes in. It would be so easy to add just a little bit more of this, or a dab more of that. But if you want to enjoy your pizza without guilt, just be honest. Only use what you measure and count.

Here’s how it added up:

  • Pizza dough:  960 cal
  • Pepperoni:     100 cal
  • Pineapple:       80 cal
  • Olives:              30 cal
  • Sauce:              60 cal
  • Cheese:         240 cal
  • Mush/Onion     45 cal
  • Tomato             15 cal

Grand total: 1530. Divided by 12, that makes it 127 calories per slice. The first night I took three slices, but that was really too much. Two slices would have been just right. The rest of the pizza was wrapped in foil and frozen for later. I reheat almost everything at 425 in my toaster oven. Just like fresh baked.

I always like to have some kind of plain green vegetable with my pizza. Not that I make pizza all that often–I probably make pizza once or twice a year. This was so delicious!

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So did you guys hear that we had a freak snow storm here on Tuesday? It dumped so much snow so fast that I couldn’t get home for about three hours. There were cars sliding off the road all over the place, and both main roads that I take to get home were closed. I was so happy to get home before dark and to find that the electricity was still on.

Noah LOVES the snow.

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The view off my deck the next morning:

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We took a walk before it all melted away.

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The end.

 

 

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.