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.


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.


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.


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.



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


The One Thing No Country Home Should Ever Be Without

Can anyone guess?

Hydrogen peroxide!

Does everyone know why?


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.


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!


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.


The view off my deck the next morning:


We took a walk before it all melted away.



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.

Happy Birthday, Big Boy!

Seems like only  yesterday that Noah the Big White Dog (he has aspirations of beating Clifford in the book stores) was a sweet little ball of fluff.

Early on, he showed keen interest in landscaping.  I should have realized then…

An early hunt for eligible sticks.

An aspiring blog writer, this is his first discovery of the fascination of the computer.

And the career as “Stick Boy the Magnificent” began!

I don’t know why I complained so much.  Noah was a cheap date.  Playing with his favorite ‘toy’ (an empty gallon plastic milk jug.)


And when no big sticks were available?  He used his imagination.

He has friends in high places (the Queen grants an audience.)

He’d like to be a couch potato.

But has settled into being a floor potato.

He’s just a darned handsome guy.

With a mom who wants to share way too many photos.

And now, he’s made his move into the world of fashion photography!!!


(I know its hard to believe, but that is not me in the magazine ad.  Okay, its not Noah either.  But where on earth did they ever find a Big White Dog that looked exactly like Noah?)

Raising Noah has been a grand adventure.  My dad always said he thought I ended up with Noah for a purpose, to learn something.  At the time, I just said something like ‘harumph.’  But I do believe I have learned more about dogs, and maybe a little about myself, from Noah, than I have in all my years of raising and owning dogs.  That said, I hope he lives a LONG TIME.  Because I don’t think I can do that again LOL!

Happy Birthday, Big Boy!  Momma loves you.


What’s the Difference?

Just got back from the morning “Challenge Walk.”  The challenge being, how long can I walk without having to pee LOL?  Dang it.  Am I the only one for whom this is a problem, especially with the morning walks?  Anyway, the challenge was to go a bit farther today, which I did.  And the walk still only took 1 1/2 hours–go me.  The legs alternate between “oh something is loose in there,”  to “dull ache, just keep going” to “glimmer of hope, feeling as strong as I did a month or so ago!”

Started the walk a little earlier than scheduled, since it was gray outside and showers were predicted.  Around here, “showers predicted” can mean it stays gray all day, and then rains for about 10 minutes at 5pm.  I was hopeful that we would miss the rain.  No such luck.  It started raining before we turned around, so half the walk was in the rain.  It was fun.  for a while.

Noah thought he deserved a treat after walking that far in the rain.

So now I am speeding things up a bit again, and heading out the door to the gym at 12:30 instead of at 2pm.  Because today is a day you want to stay inside on the couch, with a nice fire in the woodstove.  If I wait too long, I might not make it to the gym.  But if I go early, there will be more couch time this afternoon.

I wanted to answer the question, “What’s the difference? between what I’m doing this week and my regular life.  Because I’ve asked that question myself.  Well, probably the biggest difference is time. I have an idea in my mind of how much time should be spent on exercise in  real life.  I am prepared to spend up to 1 hour a day, 6 days a week, because the NWCR says that most people that maintain their weight loss exercise an average of an hour a day.  Okay.  That’s more than I’d prefer to spend, but I’m willing to go for it.  So that means that if I go for the long walk with Noah, I skip the gym.  If I go to the gym, I limit the time there, because I still need to go for at least a short walk with Noah.  If you look at the schedule I set out, I designated 4 hours for exercise. That’s just not gonna happen in real life, retired or not.  I CHOOSE NOT to exercise that much.  And yet, I wanted to challenge myself to be disciplined about exercise.  To show myself that I indeed could take a long walk and go to the gym.  And on a day that I did that much exercise, I could still eat a very reasonable amount of food, as long as I chose carefully, and made sure it was fuel (delicious fuel, but fuel nonetheless.)  The other thing that’s a little different is “letting myself off the hook.”  By preparing all the food ahead of time, and making the decision that there would be no additional cooking or baking during Spa Week, and also doing the house cleaning on Saturday,  I freed up the time to concentrate on the exercise and the relaxing.  Its just fun to be intentional sometimes.

Menu for the day:

  • Breakfast:  Katie’s Pumpkin Bread in a Bowl  (sub’ing 1/4 cup of eggbeaters for 1/4 cup of almond milk.)
  • After-walk snack:  Cottage cheese, crushed pineapple, and walnuts.
  • Lunch:  Red Lentil and rice salad by Vicky
  • Afternoon snack with coffee (maybe at Starbuck’s?):  apple with laughing cow cheese wedge and walnuts
  • Dinner:  Taco soup and honeydew melon
  • Dessert:  Gluten free Coconut cashew cookies by Vicky

Got the results of my mammogram.  Most exciting words on the test results?  “There is evidence of interval weight loss. “  Oh yeah, baby.  Those words were music to my ears.  And for those of you who are keeping track, yes, my last mammogram was November 2004.  Oops.  Oh, and the result of my mammogram was “normal.”

I’m off to the gym!  Wish me luck.  I might even get in the pool.  Because the draw of those “tiny bubbles” afterwards is almost irresistible.