This ‘n’ That

Well, I’m home for a quick 48 hours between trips. I’ve got a few thoughts to get off my mind, and some fun stuff to report, so here goes:

Update on “The Best.” Thanks for all the fun comments on that blog. I did get the Sonicare toothbrush. It is impressively heavy-duty brushing. It doesn’t make me feel like I just got my teeth cleaned, and I can tell that it does not replace flossing, so I’m trying to carry on with that chore. The jury won’t be in until I get my teeth cleaned next spring, and I find out if it has had a positive effect.

About that candy corn….. My final word on the best candy corn is that stolen candy corn is the very best. By that I mean that getting a small handful from one of those containers that people put out on desks or counters is the best. Stolen candy corn tastes the best, and also it limits your consumption to about half a serving (70 calories.) It doesn’t look right to steal more than half a serving. In addition, there is no candy corn left over in the pantry to bother you. I did try both Zachary’s and Brach’s. I have a feeling that “the best” between these two brands just depends on which brand you are able to get at peak freshness. The only difference I saw in the list of ingredients was that Brach’s contained a small amount of sesame oil(???) and Brach’s also had more sodium, although both of them were fairly low in sodium. Anyway, there you go. I promise not to talk about candy corn on this blog for at least a couple of years :)

Oh, but I have to mention one more thing. I decided that because I am 60 years old, I no longer have to eat things I don’t like. And that includes the white tips of the candy corn :)


Where I was: I was in Houston at the biggest quilt show in the United States! I went with my BF, Robin, who flew in from Oregon. We had so much fun–I wrote more about it on my quilting blog. We ate out at some fabulous restaurants (sorry, no pics) and I filled in for some meals with my Quest bars. One night Robin went to dinner with her Facebook friends, and I took the night off and had dinner in my room–a pizza bagel, an apple, and diet coke. So much fun, to just give yourself the gift of a little down time to relax.


It just so happens that Houston is kinda sorta in the same vicinity as Shelley. With some iffy weather and big city scary driving, I owe a HUGE thank you to Shelley for being willing to pick me up in Houston so that we could have a fun day of visiting. I wrote about what we did over on my quilting blog, but here are a few highlights that I didn’t mention over there. Shelley and Julia (her running buddy that came with her to pick me up,) said that I needed to visit Buc-Ee’s. Wow. I don’t know how to describe it. Kind of like a truck stop on Steroids. Gifts, food, gift food, junk food, Texas clothing… anyway, that was fun, and here are Shelley and I with Buc-Ee.


Shelley and I like a lot of the same things: talking, writing, talking about writing, eating, food, hand stitching (that includes knitting) and watching TV shows. It was so fun to visit, and go to some of Shelley’s favorite hang outs and eating joints (yes, I finally got back to the fabulous Blue Baker and had a cinnamon twist,) but most of all fun to sit and stitch and visit and watch some shows, including Dancing with the Stars!

We ate at Harvey Wallbangers. The sign says “EAT…DRINK…DO LAUNDRY.” They really do have a huge laundromat at the back of the restaurant. And they had delicious food!


Shelley’s stitching:


Paco the Wonder Dog enjoys just a bit of frozen yogurt. I can’t imagine where he got that from :)


Traveling home was a very long day. Three different planes, three different airports, and two different time zones. I was so happy to get home and see my girls (Noah is still away at “camp,”) and I think they were happy to see me too. Here we are the first night:


The gift of a day off. I only have two days at home before leaving again. The first day I did a few chores, but mostly just sat around. I was super tired. The second day (today) I planned to go to the gym and to the grocery store to get a few staples. But just as I was planning to leave, I looked through the kitchen to see if I still had some decent food for lunch and dinner, and sure enough, I did. I decided I could stay home, and what a delightful decision.  Sometimes you just have to be willing to think about what you really need, and how best to accomplish that. I needed a little more home time. Bess and Sophie agree.


(this perch next to the wood stove is the premier spot in the house in winter. Sophie thinks she can stare Bess out of it.)

Not Perfect

I just returned from a week long trip to the Bay Area and Cambria. And as usual, when I travel, my food and exercise regime is severely interrupted. I eat different food than I eat at home. I eat more food. I eat sugar and wheat freely (two things I minimize in my normal daily diet.) I drink less water and more coffee. I give a half-hearted nod to exercise. And since many times my travel involves quilt or rug hooking workshops, I spend way more time sitting for extended periods of time.

All that to say that when I was driving home, I said to my friend “I gained ten pounds this week!” And I truly felt like that.

Long time readers will know that I don’t believe in weighing yourself after any travel time. I do believe that just the actual physical traveling can make you retain water and/or pounds and can affect your weight. So I usually won’t weigh myself for a full week after I return from a trip. But this time, I wanted to see if my estimate was right. Sure enough, my weight was up 9 pounds from when I weighed myself the day before I left on this trip. Four pounds are already gone in 2 days. Interesting.

Sometimes this travel bit is distressing to me. Why do I think its free season on food consumption when I travel? Why can’t I get it under control? Why do I gain so much weight when I travel, when I’m really not eating any more than the “regular people?”

Well, coming home, and comfortably slipping back into my regular routine, with no longings for wheat or sugar, and extra doses of fruits and veggies, is always reassuring to me.

And yesterday, when I was thinking about this, it occurred to me that I am not yet perfect. It just made me laugh at myself. I really only share this stuff in case it is helpful to someone working on (imperfectly) maintaining weight loss. I hope it might be encouraging.

Decision by Decision, a House is Built

Long time readers will know that making decisions is not my strong suit. I knew going into this construction/renovation project that this would just be a part of it, and that I would indeed have a lot of decisions to make. Its been a good exercise for me. Its required a lot of looking and learning. Learning some stuff I didn’t really want to learn. Like what is a bullnose tile? Now I know. Like grout comes in many colors. Really? Is that REALLY necessary??? At first I refused to make that decision–“just get white” I told J. the contractor. And then I looked. And now I have “French vanilla” grout. I chose the kitchen floor tile, and four different kinds of tile for the bathroom (that doesn’t include the edge tiles or the bullnose tiles :) ) I have chosen light fixtures, paint colors, cabinet wood, cabinet style, oh, and then hardware for the cabinets. I have had adventures choosing the kitchen sink. The bathroom sink was a cinch.

Today I went and chose the granite for the countertops. gulp. That one made me a little nervous. I’ve been to the granite place three times. Its a huge warehouse, and of course they have the display pieces up, but then to choose the actual piece you want, you have to let them flip through the slabs of granite and peer at them sideways, and then run back and forth between stacks in the warehouse, and then finally say, “Okay, these two.” And the granite I settled on is called Delicata Cream. And I still wonder if I chose that one because I love Delicata squash?!

Who knew that shower doors were so expensive? For some reason, I thought they would cost about the same as the closet doors we buy at Lowes–$60. Hahahahahah. Well, I saved money on the kitchen sink and the bathroom tile. And today, unbelievably, the granite countertops were $2000 LESS than I had estimated. So I guess I can spend a few of my remaining dollars on a shower door.

I celebrated the granite decision with a lunch/dinner at Chevy’s.  At 3pm, I was just about the only one in the restaurant. The salad I got was so pretty, I had to take a picture of it.


It tasted every bit as good as it looked. The waitress suggested using their salsa as a salad dressing. What a brilliant idea!

Tomorrow the sheet rock begins. And then I guess all the finishing stuff will be done in a week? To me, it doesn’t seem possible. But all the inside stuff (plumbing, electrical, etc. [etc. meaning stuff I don’t even know about]) has taken almost 2 months. So it doesn’t seem possible that the part that I am most interested in will take only one week.

Here’s what it still looks like tonight:



Since the sheet rock work is irritatingly noisy, and it also involves my one bathroom being unavailable to me, I decided (with the encouragement of good friends,) to take a little trip. Now that I’ve decided to do that, I am excited about it. I am going to Lake Tahoe, and am considering it a spiritual/creative retreat. I’m all packed and ready to leave in the morning. Mr. Noah is already at his “camp,” and the little dogs are enjoying one last snooze in the house. Of course, its not a whole lot different in their “dog house,” what with their piles of doggie beds and a wall heater. They particularly like it when I buy them a new bed, which I do fairly frequently–they are such a bargain at Home Goods.



Oh, and look what I got? Ever since I wrote on here about not being able to exercise enough, I’ve made a concerted effort to do my exercise more consistently. And I finally ordered a yoga mat so that I wouldn’t have to do my P.T. exercises on the hardwood floor.


Well, I guess that is enough for tonight. I have a crockpot full of Lori’s Potato Chowder cooking. I had the idea of taking some with me on my little retreat. That way I won’t need to eat out quite as much.

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.


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:


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!


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!




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


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


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?

The Zoo!

After we returned from Haiti, my brother and I had a day and a half in the Dallas/Ft. Worth area to relax and spend a little time together. Ever since we were kids, we have both really really loved animals. His loves were a little more exotic than mine–snakes and tropical fish. For a few years we even owned a pet shop together! We still love to visit pet shops and zoos when we have a chance. It just so happened, that on the day we were there, it was a perfect spring day with a light breeze blowing, so we went to the Ft. Worth Zoo! My brother says it is one of the best small zoos in America. I totally agree that it is one of the best. My legs and feet would disagree that it is one of the smallest.

They had two baby elephants born at the zoo! So fun to see them. They ran around and seemed to be enjoying the weather as much as everybody else.


This little guy was copying his mom, and giving himself a dust bath.


This was a huge enclosure full of cockatiels and parakeets, and you could buy ridiculously expensive sticks of bird seed to feed them. It was fun!


Is this just the cutest? I don’t know why one baby swan gets to ride on the mother’s back, while the others follow in the water.


This lion was beautiful, but he sure was vocalizing a lot. I wonder what he wanted?


A komodo dragon!


And one of the hugest silverback gorillas I’ve ever seen.


I was really impressed with the enclosures for most of the animals, and the beautiful condition of the animals. It was a really great day.

The next morning, before I dropped my brother at the airport and headed to Shelley’s, we drove down the “historic main street” of Grapevine, TX. We lived there about 35 years ago, before the DFW airport was built! It really was just a dusty little town back then. We didn’t recognize much on the main street. Oh, and I had googled “pet shops” in Hurst, and three shops were listed: Petco, one other major corporate store, and The Grooming Boutique–MY OLD GROOMING SHOP!! We went by there too, but of course, it was a different owner than I had sold to 30-some years ago. What a kick.

We used “the lady” (google maps app for my iPhone) to direct us around the area. We only went off course a couple of times, and it seemed like the lady would then direct us to take backroads to wherever we needed to go. I felt a little like I was being profiled and had been deemed a hick that preferred backroads to major freeways (well, that’s true, but its none of her business!)

Next up (and the last of my travel adventures for awhile,) HAITI REVISITED!

The Escalator


Readers of Shelley’s blog already know that I ended this trip with a VISIT TO SHELLEY! We had so much fun. We fit together like peas and carrots (Forrest Gump ref.) I don’t think we look alike, but one time Shelley posted a picture of herself at 12 years old, and I was shocked at how much she looked like the 12 year old me.

Anyway, we ended our trip driving together back to the DFW Airport. I was ever so grateful that she was able to drive back with me. Its just a 3 hour drive, but you know how it is when you are unfamiliar with the roads–it seems like twice that time.

We got to the airport with plenty of time to spare, dropped off the rental car, and took the shuttle to the terminal. We had our choice of elevator or escalator, and Shelley asked “which one?” I said escalator–it was closer, and by now I’d been in one million airports and done this routine two million times. I had my giant 45 pound suitcase, my carry on suitcase, and my purse, all balanced precisely. As I got on the escalator, Shelley was saying something about “You know, I have kind of an Elf thing about escalators…” (insert: okay, I just googled Elf/escalator–that is hilarious!) and right then I lost my balance and dropped the big suitcase, which fell backwards onto the escalator steps! Which meant that it just kept clanging down one step at a time as the escalator continued to go up. With each clang, the distance between me and my big suitcase got further apart. I kept stepping down to try to get closer to it (while still balancing my carry on and my purse) and yelling at Shelley “don’t you dare photograph this,” but the escalator just KEPT ON GOING UP. Finally I knew my only hope was to abandon my carry on (which, the EVERY THREE MINUTE TSA ANNOUNCEMENTS warn you to NEVER do) and somehow hop over the HUGE suitcase to get below it and grab it. Shelley rescued my little carry on, and was laughing so hard she couldn’t have gotten a good picture if she had tried. I swear, it was like a Lucy and Ethel episode.

Come back soon for “Adventures with Shelley!”

Home Again!

This trip was a long one and was multi-layered! Its going to take several posts to tell you all about it. I thought I’d write about it like that Seinfeld episode–going backwards in time. Fun for me, anyway!

I arrived home to signs of spring! This has been a crazy weather year, and I don’t believe I’ve ever seen blooms this early in my yard.


So I got home at 10:30 at night, knowing that my living room would be finished, and knowing the details of what would be done, but envisioning it is not the same thing as seeing it in person. I can’t say enough good things about J. the contractor. He took a sow’s ear of a house and turned it into a silk purse. 



and after

and after

Noah has been at the trainer’s since Feb. 5! I went to visit him on those few days I was home after the Modesto trip, but the house was so torn up, I thought it would be easier for him (who am I kidding, it was easier for me….) to leave him there. He LOVES his time there. And they like him too. While he’s there he participates in the group classes on the weekends. When did I become the world’s laziest dog trainer???

Noah practicing his sit-stay in the "new" living room.

Noah practicing his sit-stay in the “new” living room.

The next morning I walked around the yard–good grief, things were blooming!!






As always, on return home, I went to the store, and the things I naturally want to stock up on are vegetables and dairy. I guess those are the two things that are hardest to get in while I am traveling. And, I went to the gym for my regular Sunday morning pre-church workout–it felt so good to get back to my regular exercise! Plus, it was my last chance to participate in Lori’s Heart Healthy Weekend!

Next episode: “The Escalator.”