Re-Entry…Random Thoughts from a Trip

Re-entry…its hard sometimes. A day of travel just wipes you out. A little trip to Colorado seemed so easy–just a 2 1/2 hour flight, no lay-overs! But then you add on the drive to   the airport, the never-ending shuttles to get you here and there in the airport, long waits in line, and the three hour drive to your destination, and its a whole long day of travel. Nevertheless, I am home. And so happy to be here, even if I am too tired to look happy🙂

Glad to be back to my routines, and somewhat anxious to return to those routines. But still too tired to jump right in. Had my own blueberry scone and coffee this morning, and then was hankering for a little more. I just so happened to be reading Biz’s blog, and found her recipe for banana-chocolate chip muffins, and thought I’d give them a try, with a few of my own variations, of course!

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While I waited for them to cool, I decided to drag in the suitcases and unpack. 10 minutes–done! Not as many clothes as I usually pack for a trip, and quilt stuff was limited to what I could fit in between clothes in two suitcases–thank you to Southwest for allowing two suitcases to be checked without any charge!

Bess supervises the unpacking

Bess supervises the unpacking

Zoey keeping track of me from her usual perch.

Zoey keeping track of me from her usual perch.

Sophie and Chloe in their place under the desk, happy I am home.

Sophie and Chloe in their place under the desk, happy I am home.

I will start my laundry soon, and get out there and start watering the garden, and then I will be ready to go to the gym, grocery store, and pick Noah up on the way home. Aaaaah, its good to be home.

The girl's babysitter did an excellent job of keeping the garden going while I was gone!

The girl’s babysitter did an excellent job of keeping the garden going while I was gone!

 

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Re-Entry

I had a great time on my trip to Cambria. But I think there was a little too much sitting and driving. I came back so stiff and sore, it scared me a little. I returned to a garden jungle, thanks to our rain and nice warm days. A few days spent working in the garden, along with a trip to the gym and some good wholesome food, and I am almost back to normal.

See? It really is a jungle. I did quite a bit of weeding and a little whacking as well.

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Back to Cambria. One day, after class was done, my friend Mary Lynn and I took a short trip to the ocean to see the elephant seals. We took our friends from Ohio, Oklahoma, and Michigan! Phyllis, from Michigan, has an indomitable spirit. She drives herself across the country to Cambria every year! She told us we had walked 2000 steps on the boardwalk at the beach.

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There is a wonderful nursery across the street from the lodge where we have our camp. I saw this outstanding flowering plant there, but it was $103.00, so I decided to pass on it!

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Back at home, in the garden jungle, the day lilies had started to bloom!

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The first hydrangea was in full swing.

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The gallardias were nice and cheerful.

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And the Rose of Sharon was putting out a lot of blooms. This is such a rangy plant, though. I am not sure what to do with it!

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This little geranium gives me a lot of pleasure. I love seeing it there in the back of the garden being so cheerful and putting on a show.

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Finally! Success with the Astilbes. This one is apparently in the right spot.

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Ha! When I was scrolling through my most recent pictures in iPhoto, it scrolled back to the first picture on this computer. Wasn’t he a funny, cute little guy?

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And here is what four concentrated days of work at rug camp resulted in. If you want to read more about the process, check the other blog.

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All in all, I am very happy to be home for a while. I am planning on returning to some of my art quilting, and also concentrating on my health, with lots of good fruits and veggies, lots of exercise, and plenty of trips to the gym. Oh, and probably a LOT of work in the garden🙂

Tidepools

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In the past month, tide pools have become a common theme in my current artwork. How did this happen, I wondered? One piece started out as an “improv” color work rug, and then turned into a stylized tide pool. The other was a small quilt originally inspired by someone’s outer space art! As I worked on it, I realized that it was more tide pool than outer space. Both were projects that I took with me on my recent trip to Anaheim.

 

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This is the second year we have gone to Anaheim, and the second time we have visited Crystal Cove before the rug hooking retreat started.

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Thanks to encouragement from my rug hooking friend, Mary Lynn, I even rolled up my jeans and got my feet wet, walking cautiously over the rocks.

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Crystal Cove seems like a place where you step back in time. It is clean and not over crowded. And if you walk down the beach away from the restaurant and the cabins, you come to the tide pools.

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The water is so clear, you can see the little hermit crabs scurrying along the bottom of the pool.

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When my brother, sister, and I were kids, our dad would occasionally take us to the tide pools. Of course, they were different tide pools, since we lived in Northern California, and Crystal Cove is in Southern California. The tide pools were magical–little microcosms of the sea, full of all kinds of interesting sea life–sea anemones, the occasional starfish or sea urchin, and of course, my favorite, the hermit crabs. I loved our trips to the tide pools.

The more I work on my projects, the more I am reminded of, and enjoy, one of the best memories of my childhood. Taking us to the tide pools didn’t cost my dad anything except his time. Which, looking back, was a very costly and precious gift. My dad was a junior high principal, and on Sunday he usually taught Sunday School and/or preached. To give up his one day off was a very big thing. But it didn’t cost money.

It saddens me when I see parents spending money they don’t have because they think it is the only way to show their kids they care. Its just not true. We were not deprived as kids. We had the occasional trip to Disneyland and other more expensive vacation destinations. But 50 plus years later, our trips to the magical tide pools are still giving me wonder-filled memories, and enhancing my artistic endeavors.

Looking forward to our day at Crystal Cove next year, when new memories will bring back old memories.

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P.S. Thank you to Mary Lynn, for sharing her wonderful photography with me.

 

Happenings

Lots has been happening. Life goes on, even when I don’t blog about it. Here’s a picturama of the past month.

I just returned from a fabulous trip to Southern California. Being a Northern California girl through and through, I am not a fan of driving to southern California. But man, it sure is fun to be down there for a week, wearing flip flops and t-shirts! I went for a week with my rug hooking friend, Mary Lynn, to a “California Getaway” rug hooking retreat.

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Mary Lynn and I go a day early, so we can visit Crystal Cove (where the beach cottage from the movie “Beaches” is located!) We sit in the cafe and eat beignets and watch the ocean. This year we saw a whale!!

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We stayed in the Ayres Hotel, which I thoroughly recommend, and took a shuttle each day to Gene Shepherd’s studio, where we hooked and designed, and were surrounded by beautiful color and inspiration for four days. Gene’s wife, Marsha, is a wonderful cook, and we had delicious lunches served each day. We have already signed up to attend next year.

The “wall of wool.”

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Gene teaching a dying technique:

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Earlier in the month, between rain storms, a new project was underway. J. the contractor was coming back to run the electricity underground from the house to the dog room. MLG had the great idea to add a water line, so I would have a hose up at that end of the yard. MLG got nominated to dig the ditch, which is no easy chore, since the ground here is mostly made up of rocks and roots.

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The dogs were most interested in the new project.

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And the beginning of a new renovation project. This is the old “laundry dungeon.” Its just a small room, about 6’X15′, added on to the side of the house. I don’t know what the original purpose was–probably just a storage room, but at some point the people I rented from added a washer and dryer. The walls were never finished, so all those exposed beams meant there were lots of places for spiders to build their webs. And since I am afraid of spiders, I only knocked down those webs maybe once every two years. Thus, the laundry dungeon.

Anyway, I thought it would have to be demolished when J. the contractor did all that work on my house. The siding and the door were rotting, and there was a huge tree stump growing into the side of it! But he said it could be salvaged, so it will be a “wet studio,” where I can do my dying, and also have a tub for washing the little girls. It will even have a stove for when I need to dye wool. And lots and lots of shelves for storage.

This is a picture after it had been cleaned up a bit, and some work had already been done on it. We added a big 3’X4′ window that I saved from the house re-do, and I also saved the old kitchen cabinet and the leftover granite from the new kitchen!

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This is just a meal I had sometime during the month. But very yummy, so thought I would share. a turkey burger with enough lettuce and tomatoes for each bite. And rutabaga “fries” (baked) with a bit of BBQ dipping sauce.

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Cute dog laying down:

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Cute dog sitting up:

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Getting as close to my lap as possible:

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Miss Bess has not been feeling well lately. She has a probable herniated disk, and is on steroids, muscle relaxers, and pain medication. Hopeful that this will do the trick.

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Yesterday, in the yard. Noah keeping a close eye on the suspicious neighbors up the road:

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And one camellia still blooming!

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Queen Sophie was giving me the evil eye for not including her in this post, so I took a picture of her–she stole Bess’s perch this morning.

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As always, on returning from a trip, I am so happy to get back to “food as normal.” Shopped on Sunday for mostly vegetables and fruit, and yesterday morning I had a marathon cooking session. Surprised even myself. I started out making my “Fabulous Quinoa Breakfast.” Then I started a batch of yogurt. Since I had the milk out, I decided to make some SF chocolate pudding. And then, I decided to go ahead and make the broccoli salad for lunch. And THEN, since I was still in the kitchen, I thought, what the heck, and a made up a batch of taco meat. Half went into the freezer for future taco salads, and the other half I added corn, tomatoes, and onions to, and made some taco soup.

I haven’t made it back to the gym yet, but I am doing my PT exercises and got out for a long walk with Noah and Chloe yesterday. If you want to see more of what I did at my rug hooking retreat, check my other blog!

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🙂

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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.

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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.

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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!

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Shelley’s stitching:

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

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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:

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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.

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(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.

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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:

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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.

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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.

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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.