Home Again!

Did you even know I was gone? I didn’t mention this trip on the blog, I don’t think. I went to  a rug hooking retreat! Super fun. Good food. Too much of it. Crazy good weather–think flip flops!

When I go to rug hooking events, I usually meet my rug hooking friend who flies out from the Chicago area, and then we drive to wherever the event is taking place. So far, that is usually somewhere in Southern California. This time it was Anaheim (home of Disneyland.) Originally we were planning to go to Disneyland for a day before the retreat started. But between my bum knee (I didn’t feel like walking on cement endlessly,) and the cost (old lady shaking her cane at the $99 entrance fee to Disney) we canceled that idea. Mary Lynn suggested going to Crystal Cove, an historic beach resort. At first, I kind of resisted, because, you know, beach walking. But the timing was right, so I suggested we head down there Monday morning. I am so happy we went. That was one of those unexpected experiences that make for a great memory. And, I didn’t have to walk that much 🙂

It turns out, Crystal Cove is where they shot the Beach scenes for the movie Beaches (one of my all time favorite movies!) Here is the house where the scenes were shot:

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And here I am, sitting in exactly the same deck chair that Bette Midler sat in (haha, that’s the story I’m telling myself, anyway.)

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There were wonderful rock formations and tide pools here.

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I just loved walking (very carefully) along the rocks, and peering into the pools. That is one of my favorite childhood memories–my dad would take us kids down to the tide pools in Carmel (northern Ca.)

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Can you see the anemone in this picture?

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Beach still life:

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Before we left the beach, we stopped at the Beachcomber Cafe for a snack. I saw “beignets” on the menu, and Mary Lynn and I decided to split an order. I have never had them, only read about them on other’s blogs. Oh. My. Goodness. I am very glad there is no place around here to order them. So so yummy. It was so fun to have coffee and watch the waves. Oh, and a couple of dolphins swam by slowly, and the restaurant rings a bell so everyone will know to look out and see them!

We headed over to Gene Shepherd’s, where the retreat was held, and did some preliminary consulting on our rug patterns. I am going to write more about that on my quilt blog, so you can check it out over there, if you are interested in that kind of stuff. After we were done, we were ready for a late lunch/early dinner, and Gene suggested an upscale food court type of place that was nearby. It was very interesting. We chose a place that served “Chinese hot pot.” I’d seen this on some of my cooking shows, and was interested in trying it. They brought you a bowl of broth, that they put on a burner right at your table, and a plate full of very fresh veggies (and some tofu and noodles that I didn’t eat.) Then you chose your protein (I got pork tenderloin,) white or brown rice, and your sauces (don’t ask me. but they were tasty.) Then you put the veggies and meat in the broth to cook as you go along.

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I gave the chopsticks a valiant try. And then the waitress brought me some “chopstick helpers. And then she brought me a spoon 🙂

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It was good, but nothing I would probably get again. Here is a picture of a “gelato pop” place. We didn’t try it, but I was fascinated by the display.

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And that was all just the first day! Here’s where we spent the majority of our time, in Gene’s garage studio.

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The hotel we stayed at was wonderful, and they provided a shuttle to and from Gene’s house, which was great, since I don’t particularly like driving in the big city. Gene’s wife, Marsha is a great cook, and she provided gourmet comfort food for us for lunch each day. And then we went out to dinner….

Yes, as soon as I hit publish, I am on my way to the gym 🙂

The doggies were all happy that I was home, and I felt the same.

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Cambria Report

Well, I’m just a little behind–reporting on a trip that I returned from almost 2 weeks ago… but I had a few photos that I thought you might enjoy seeing.

I go to Cambria every year or so for my rug hooking “fix.” There is not enough time in the day for all the hobbies I would like to indulge. Rug hooking is something that has always fascinated me, and I’m so glad that I decided to learn how to do it. In addition, Cambria is a lovely place to visit, and it is actually priced very reasonably for 5 nights in luxury accommodations, all meals, and instruction with a nationally recognized rug hooker. I sound like an informercial, don’t I? Believe me, no one’s paying me to say this!

Here is a shot of the front of the lodge. This is where our classes are held, and where we eat all our meals.

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There are beautiful gardens surrounding the lodge, but I didn’t take any pictures of them this year. Here’s a link to a previous blog with pics of the gardens. Cambria is under a severe drought warning, and I didn’t think the gardens looked quite as lush as in previous years.

I did see this one little volunteer that I thought was just charming:

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Here is the rug I am working on. It is (obviously) a geometric rug. I wanted to do something that was less stressful this year, since I have a lot of quilting obligations (and home improvements) that I have been working on. This project was just right for that!

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On our way home, we stopped to see the elephant seals. All the young males were quite active! The sign said they were play-fighting to help strengthen their neck muscles for the real thing!

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Mostly, though, the elephant seals were doing what they do best.

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For what seemed miles and miles, they lolled on the beach.

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The food that they serve at Cambria Pines is quite good, and I noticed that they never serve fried food. Their vegetables are always fresh, and they usually have a salad bar available. But, you know. Still, free food. And plenty of it. My “strategy” this year was to go and enjoy. I didn’t bring anything with me except my Quest Bars. I enjoyed all the food, especially the desserts : )

So here’s the interesting thing (to me, anyway.) I came home convinced that I had gained 10 pounds. I always wait a week to weigh after any travel, to get an accurate weight, and I had gained 4 pounds. Eek. But today, I am back to the weight I was before I left on the trip. I didn’t do anything special. I didn’t eat less than I usually do. I didn’t exercise more than I usually do. I just stuck to my normal (approx. 1300 calorie) diet, planned my meals every night, and got to the gym about 3X/week, walking and doing PT exercises in between.

So the question is… did I actually gain any weight on that trip?

All’s Well That Ends Well

The scene last night:

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For hours! We were all very content to sit together like this all evening after I arrived home.

It was a great trip, full of rugs, rugs, and more rugs. And wool everywhere. My wool stash is starting to rival my quilting cotton stash!

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Here are my rugs as they were displayed:

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Long Beach is HUGE. Too big for this country girl! But the weather was gorgeous, and we did manage to get quite a bit of walking in. That’s the only exercise I did all week.

I ate too many desserts. Back to the straight and narrow today.

Stopped on the way home for my veggies and dairy. Its a tradition now! Costco has this salad mix that I am in love with. It has that broccoli slaw, kale, sliced brussel sprouts, and some other green stuff. Its like a very substantial salad. And I got some of the Fage yogurt so I don’t have to wait to make my own.

I picked Noah up today, and we got in a few short walks, and I did my PT exercises. Its good to be home.

100

100!  ONE HUNDRED!!! One-zero-zero!!!! Its such a nice number, don’t you think? My favorite detective, Mr. Monk thinks its the perfect number.

This morning I am back to 100 pounds lost! I started at the end of last November, so its taken 10 months to lose 25 pounds. Who would’ve thunk? But I’m glad I stuck with it. The hardest part was it being that slow and me second-guessing myself. I haven’t been terribly hungry, and I do enjoy my food (as you all well know.)

I just reviewed my “Me Diet” post to see how closely I was sticking to that plan. For the most part, my diet has remained the same as I described. I did add in another mini-meal that is mostly vegetable based between my morning protein shake and my afternoon protein bar. Sometimes I have cottage cheese and fruit, or yogurt instead of the shake. And during the summer, I definitely had more fruit than I originally started out eating. Surprisingly, I have not gotten tired of the shakes or the bars. In fact, I have quite a repertoire of protein shakes now, thanks mostly to Cammy and Lori for their suggestions.

Special thanks to friend Shelley, whose decision to chronicle her weight loss journey from day one was the impetus for this last try. Shelley also encouraged me to try just a little longer when I got weary of my limited choices about a month in. THANKS, Shelley!!

And just so you know, there have been plenty of “off plan” days in there. As you know, I’ve traveled quite a bit this year. Its hard to stay on plan 100% when you travel, even when you try hard. And sometimes I didn’t try very hard. Conversely, there have been days where I decided to just stay home, because I knew that going to town would lead to some poor choices and overeating.

And just so you know, I DO want to go out and celebrate with food. I want a cupcake, or pizza, or frozen yogurt. It never goes away. But I will content myself with a “splurge” of popcorn and half a pack of M&M’s (why yes, I do split a pack of M&M’s. Doesn’t everybody?) I leave for Long Beach and the rug convention tomorrow. There will be plenty of off-plan eating then, I am sure.

Oh, and last night I put the very last stitch in the rug! Its been a very good 24 hours.

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I’ll see you all in a week. Behave yourselves, eat healthy food that tastes good, and move just a little now and then.

Week’s End Report

As I said in my last entry (BTW, thanks for all your thoughtful comments on aging gracefully, I will write on that subject again soon…) MLG was over this week. While I was splitting that wood, he was working on a different project. I had mentioned that my tomatoes were so tall that they kept falling over, and I had run out of fence to tie them up to. Look what he did:

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I think its just a masterpiece! Its like a woven bamboo cage for tomatoes.

Can you see all the little tomatoes in various stages of ripening? Every day I go out and pick a few. I have quite a stash or cherry tomatoes now!

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Ooh ooh ooh. Speaking of tomatoes, here’s my very first BIG tomato. I ate it with some balsamic vinegar, some basil FROM MY GARDEN, and some fresh mozzarella. Mmmm mmmm mmmm!

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My big tomatoes are Brandywine, which are usually very large, but also typically misshapen, and have these splits in them. They still taste the best to me!

MLG also worked on another “problem area”. This area (behind the bench) has always been where I dump leftover stuff from the garden. When we put the beds in, it also became the empty pot place. MLG cleaned everything out, raked it, and even put down that layer of leftover wood shavings to make it neat. The dogs think the wood shavings are second only to carpet for peeing on…

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I put that little bench with my “bonsai” trees there a while ago. Now that the area is cleared out, I will move a couple of the Japanese maples over. I think they will get just the right amount of shade and sunshine there. You can see that I have a cattle gate there. Its not pretty, but I’m reluctant to put anything else in its place. It has been very handy when we needed to have a truck actually drive into the yard to deliver stuff. And beyond that is the old chicken coop. It is an eyesore. In good time, it will be taken down too…

 

A new visitor to the garden:

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I’ve also been making steady progress on my rug. I’ll get one area done, and then get stuck, and have to get opinions from various people, and then I can progress onto the next section. Thanks to Shelley, I was able to get the night sky done!

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And some close-ups:

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The stars:

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Last week I got on a real cooking jag, so this week I’ve reaped the benefits of that. My dinners have taken about 5 minutes to fix! I got a BUNCH of tomatoes that weren’t perfect from the farmstand for $1. I just cooked them a bit, and used half to make a chunky batch of my favorite spaghetti sauce, and the other half to make some delicious taco soup. I made a batch of Georgie’s Morning Glory Muffins, and they are almost too good (their subtitle is Zucchini Carrot Apple Banana Muffins–that tells you how good they are!) 100 calories makes them just right to have with a low cal dinner, or I can have two of them for my breakfast.

I’ve been back in the pool several times this week, but its been for 20 or 30 minutes. That’s just right for now.

I guess that’s all the news that’s fit to print around here. Happy Holiday weekend to everyone. In case I forget to mention it on Monday, our AIM posts will be postponed a week due to the first Monday falling on a holiday. Be sure to watch for it–we’ve picked a fun topic this month.

New Old Thoughts

First, my excuses.

This guy is one reason I haven’t posted for a while.

That’s Monk, sitting on top of the box that is his ‘stair’ to get on my lap when I sit in the big chair in the evening.  He doesn’t ask much, just a little lap time at night.  How can I resist, especially since I LIKE sitting in the big chair at night!

For proof, here he is this morning, perfectly content to sit in ‘his’ chair.

The other reason for my absence is this!

Yes, the sheep rug is finished!!!!!  Cambria Pines Rug Hooking Camp starts Sunday, and I decided to make a concerted effort to finish the rug.  I really didn’t think I would finish, but I decided to make this week all about the rug hooking. No quilting, no knitting (until evening chair time!)

Its not a balanced way to live, but it was fun!  I got up in the morning, read a few blogs, and started right in on the rug hooking,  which was conveniently set up next to my computer.  Since I was skipping my morning reading, I listened to well over 12 hours of Dallas Willard lecturing on his book “The Divine Conspiracy,” on Youtube!  Who knew?  What a great resource, and for free.  I have paid a lot of money to buy DVD’s of presentations like this.

In between hooking, I started dying some angora and cashmere sweaters to use for rug hooking.  This is something I have not seen rug hookers use regularly, and I think it might be something that other rug hookers will enjoy, so I wanted to have some to sell at camp this week (they have a student sale on Tuesday afternoon.)  Here is the sample I started with the angora.  It has a little softer look than the traditional wool that is used.  These little circles are a traditional rug hooking pattern called “cats paws.”  They are rather addicting!

So that’s it.  Its actually been a relaxing and refreshing week.  In addition, I have thought much about the direction of this blog.  You can see that I changed the byline.  I don’t think the blog will change that much.  Just my intention.  Which eventually might change the direction of my writing a bit.

I had a great visit with my best friend last week.  When she comes down to visit her parents, we usually try to sneak in one day to spend doing the things we like!  We met in Folsom, shared a great dinner (so fun to share meals with friends!)  and spent the evening doing ‘show and tell’ of all our latest projects.  The next morning we walked over to the Starbuck’s for our coffee, and then headed up the hill to Placerville to visit a couple of quilt shops and a yarn shop!  We ended our visit with a GREAT piece of apple pie a la mode.  We did NOT share the pie LOL.

My friend mentioned that I do not snore any more.  That, and my perfect blood pressure of 112/71 are reasons to continue on this healthy life.  I look forward to sharing more about that with you all in the days to come.

Here’s a couple new recipes I’ve come up with.  This first is a raspberry coconut cake.  I wanted something that was a bit decadent, but still on the healthy side.  This fit the bill nicely.  As you can see, it is almost too moist.  I think that’s because of the frozen raspberries.  I might make it again, and just use less almond milk.

And this is more of an ‘assemblage’ than a recipe, but man, it was tasty!  Sauteed the snow peas in a pan sprayed with pam, and then added a bit of sesame oil, soy sauce, crushed garlic, and orange marmelade, along with the pre-cooked shrimp. Yum yum!  Gonna write this one as a recipe just so I won’t forget it!

Over and out.  I’ll try to check in one more time before heading to Cambria on Sunday!

One Good Day

Honestly, for the past few days, I’ve been thinking that I was doomed.  Doomed to gain all my weight back, I mean.  Just what I feared from the very start–that it would all disappear, and I would go back to the way (weight) I was before, just like in the movie “Awakenings.”  And I’ve been trying to figure out what to say about it.

Make no mistake about it.  I have been in a gaining trend.  And this past weekend when I was out of town, I was very unhappy with my image in the mirror.  I know.  All that stuff I’ve said about accepting my body image…  I’ve had some stressful stuff to deal with the past two weeks, and there were a couple of times I COULDN’T STOP EATING.  Believe it or not,  the stress was more about other people and things that were out of my control, instead of the anxiety that used to make me overeat.  Even when I wasn’t stressed, I was just eating a little too much.

So I don’t know what the future holds, but I do know I had one good day today.  I wrote down my four meals and one snack and stuck right to them.  (Ha–I should probably eat my last snack and go immediately to bed so the spell won’t be broken!)  I chose low calorie, nutrient dense foods so I wouldn’t get too hungry between meals.  And I even thought a little bit about ‘its okay to be hungry.’  And tonight when I was working on a new experimental low calorie recipe for dinner just because that’s what I wanted to eat, I thought, well, this isn’t the behavior of a person who has given up.  So we’ll see.

That recipe I was making?  Turned out pretty darn good!  I was inspired by Helen’s cauliflower recipe and the fact that I had a head of cauliflower in the refrigerator.  I didn’t have any of the other ingredients in her recipe though, so I tried something different.  Mexican Cauliflower Pork Casserole.  Quite yummy!  And a big serving, and when I plugged the ingredients into caloriecount, I was very happy with the stats on it.

(Honestly, sometimes I think a lot of my food pictures look like cat food, but you’ll have to take my word for it–they taste good!)

A few other good food ideas from the past week:

Pina Colada Yogurt.  Just a serving of my homemade yogurt with a teaspoon of unsweetened coconut and a little coconut extract, topped with some crushed pineapple and a sprinkle of granola.

I am in love with turkey burgers.  And honestly, I like them just as much without the bun, plus, they’re a whole lot less messy to eat.

Okay, this one veers into processed food a bit, but it sure was a tasty combo.  A serving of strawberries with a spray of reddi whip light on top, paired with a caramel rice cake (50 calories.)  Yumm yumm.

I am fascinated with the little froggies that appear at my front door.  This little guy has perched up on the door knob for the past two days.  How did he get here all by himself, and why does he like it up there?  I worry about him.

And finally, an update on the sheep rug.  I was very pleased when I took it off the frame to take these photos.  It looks better from a distance than I thought.  Still a lot to do, but I am making steady progress now.  Of course, rug camp is in 2 1/2 weeks, so I don’t think I’ll finish it.

Close-ups.  I dyed some of the wool for the grass myself, so I am very happy about how that turned out.  I used some angora sweaters, so that adds a neat texture to it.  (Rugs are traditionally hooked with plain wool.)

So that’s about it for tonight.  I have some busy, packed, slightly stressful days ahead.  I am glad I have some food pre-cooked for ready-to-eat meals.