Garden Report

Its been a busy few days in the garden. MLG finished the wood border for the Japanese maples on Thursday.


So of course, I needed to go to the nursery and get a few ground covers.


You all know how I love my ground covers, right? And since doing all these improvements in the garden, so that the ground covers are actually planted in the GROUND, I have had much more success with them. I was thrilled to have a whole new area that would benefit from ground plantings. I spent most of Friday working in the garden, planting and doing other chores.

Here’s a couple of shots of all my little plantings:



While checking out the ground covers, I found a display of sedums and other succulents. I haven’t had much luck with them, but decided to give them one more try. I had this pot (remember, the one that MLG sawed the top off of,) and thought it would be perfect for a grouping. I sanded the edge, and then moved it out next to the steps to my studio. This is outside the fence, so I am hoping that the deer do not find sedums desirable.


Elsewhere I have had success for the first time with snapdragons. They are another one of those plants that benefit from being planted in the fall. I finally tried that.


And while I was at the nursery, I spotted a new intriguing plant. Its called a “ground orchid,” and is supposed to be extremely cold hardy! I love the way the stems sway in the breeze.


A close-up:


And so far, this year, neither Noah or the Pink Flower Thief have found this delightful patch of pansies appetizing. Too much of a good thing maybe?


I have been able to work so much longer in the yard than I have in a long time. I am thrilled with how good my knee feels right now. Who knew that increased energy would be a side benefit of pain relief?

Triple Whammy and an Exercise Check-In

Well, I’ve been meaning to do an exercise post for a while, but then yesterday happened, so I decided to put them together, since the two events are related.

In the ongoing saga of what to do about my knee — I won’t bore you too much with details, but it has been very frustrating. Insurance company refusing the gel shots, a stubborn doctor (IMO) who is mad at the insurance companies, spending time myself writing to “management agencies” only to find that no one is the boss of my insurance company… and then, the department that was making a custom brace for me. Well, I decided to call it a “series of unfortunate events” instead of being very mad at their incometency (I did try that, it didn’t really help the situation.)

ANYWAY, yesterday I had a follow-up appointment with the second set of doctors that I had been referred to. (If this isn’t enough of a saga, you can click here to read even more :) ) I went in with a list of questions, and I left with:

  1. A steroid shot in my knee!
  2. a new prescription for meloxicam (supposed to be better than Aleve.)
  3. My new brace (I stopped by that department to see what the heck was going on, and lo and behold, they found my brace.)

Okay, can I just say that I am on the high hopes end of that “disintegration and hope” spectrum? The shot just stung a little going in, and I was waiting for it to really hurt about four hours later like they said might happen. Nothing. I can only describe it like I feel stronger.

I have DebraSY to thank for the meloxicam. Whenever anyone mentions joint pain/medication in the same sentence, I always quiz them. She said it had done wonders for her.

And, the brace, if I can figure out how to make it stay up, I know will make my knee feel more stable so that I can walk for longer distances, which I have been missing. So, about that staying up. Of course I googled the problem, and found that “brace migration” is the most common complaint. Okay, brace techs, could you have mentioned this? I have one pair of tight running or yoga pants, that seem to help. I am thinking that a knee sleeve might be the solution. If any of you have experience and suggestions for me, I’d love to hear from you.

As far as exercise goes, I am so happy with my “routine” right now. I put routine in quotes, because, as with the rest of my life, it is not quite as routine as others. But moving every day is a must. So on days that I can’t or won’t go to the gym, I make sure to take one longer walk (my longer walks are only about 1 1/2 miles nowadays) or if I feel bad, I take two shorter walks. And I try to remember to do my PT exercises. These exercises are really hard, and have me huffing and puffing, so I know they are of good benefit to me. I have a bad habit of waiting until after dinner to do them, so once in a while, I just forget. But I do them about 3X a week.

Then, at the gym–well, this is the thing I am most enthused about right now. As you know, I started walking in the pool on my birthday (December)–trying to make myself get in the pool in the winter. And I found that I really did enjoy it. That was partly because we had such a mild winter, I’m sure. As time went on, I found more challenging ways to jog, march, etc. in the pool. I could tell I was getting a really good workout.

My water shoes were just some cheapies that I found at Ross–more like ballet slippers. So last week when I went to the big city, I put water shoes on my wish list. I actually didn’t think I’d have time to look for them, because I had a couple of other stops to make. One of those was Costco. I was all done shopping, and was heading towards the checkout stand, and lo and behold, they had some water shoes on sale!! Wow, I can’t tell you what a difference these shoes have made–they’re made like running shoes, and I really feel like I am running in the water. And of course it feels so good to do challenging things with my legs and have no pain associated with it.

When I’m at the gym, I still usually get on the bike for at least 20 minutes, and then depending on the time I have, I will go upstairs and do some weights workouts for about 20 minutes.

As I usually say, there is always SOMETHING you can do. Legs don’t work? Sit in your chair and punch the air with your arms until you can’t punch any more. Do stretches. Do yoga. Do some core exercises on the ground. Its so important to keep your body moving in some way as you get older. Anne Lamott even wrote about it in her 61st birthday post!


New Blooms!

Just a short post to share the newest blooms in the yard.

First blooms on my flowering cherry! The tree is full of buds. I’ll share a full picture next week.


The lilac is doing well. It got a bit rangy, so the recommendation was to prune one half at a time, as lilacs don’t really like being pruned that much and might not bloom if you are too harsh. I pruned quite a bit last year, but left the highest branches alone. The reward? A big bloom WAY UP HIGH! This is well above the roofline. So I will prune those high branches after its done blooming this year, hoping to get some blooms down to the level where I can see and smell them!


And the New York lily of the valley! In case anyone missed it, I call these “New York lily of the valley” because my blog friend Lori sent them to me. It makes them extra special.


Have a great weekend. Hoping for some springtime weather for EVERYONE!!


Scenes From the Garden

Every day there is something new to discover in the garden. Isn’t that one of the most fun things about gardening–exploring to see what is coming up, what made it from last year, new volunteers, Oh, what is that little plant?!

The first sighting of my "New York Lily of the Valley!"

The first sighting of my “New York Lily of the Valley!”

This has been the best spring I can remember. I still hold my breath a little, because we used to get freezing temps in April and May. I haven’t allowed myself to buy any frost-tender plants yet. But it looks like its just going to continue on being spring.

The tulips have enjoyed this unusual weather. Best tulip year ever!

The tulips have enjoyed this unusual weather. Best tulip year ever!

New buds on the trees–anticipation!




More frequent trips to the nursery!

A new variety of coral bells.

A new variety of coral bells.

I tried to get a nice picture of Noah after his bath. He insists on patrolling the yard when I am out there. When I am not outside, he sleeps 24/7.





And he finally stopped. Not in the most picturesque place….


And our latest big project! We needed to get this last Japanese maple in the ground. Last year it did not do well in the heat.


MLG had the idea to cut the bottom off of the pot–it looks like the pot’s buried, but its just the rim. I think its a very cool effect! Plus, this gave me a place to plant MORE GROUNDCOVERS :) I love ground cover. Here I planted lemon thyme, armeria (new to me,) and in the shade some of my beloved corsican mint.


Take time to enjoy the springtime. And for my friends in the cold east, my best wishes that you will soon have your own spring to enjoy!

Some Exciting News!


I am re-blogging this post from my quilt blog. I thought some of you might be interested in my “other life.” Enjoy!

Originally posted on debby quilts:


Two years ago I had the opportunity to do an exhibit of my Housetop Quilts at the Oak Hills Church in Folsom, CA. Since then I have worked on two new series of quilts, The Psalms, and The Signature of Jesus. And Monday, I delivered 25 quilts to Oak Hills. They will be on display until Easter Sunday, April 5. Anyone is welcome to visit and view them. Of course, the gallery area will be open every Sunday morning, from about 9am-12noon. And you can also visit during the week, Tuesday through Friday. Just call the church office (916.983.0181) to make sure the gallery is open. (The gallery is in their very large sanctuary lobby.) I will be at the church this Sunday, February 22, sitting and demonstrating my handwork. Fun!


I can’t say enough good things about this church. They have encouraged me to be an artist, and have provided an opportunity…

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A Tale of Two Muffins

Yesterday I tried a new recipe that had caught my interest. A while ago, I bought a bag of cashew meal at Trader Joe’s. This recipe was a “paleo” recipe ( for Paleo Pumpkin and Carrot Muffins,) so it called for almond flour as its main ingredient. I knew I could substitute the cashew meal. I ran them through the recipe calculator, and they came out to 260 calories each (I made 6 large muffins.) A bit higher than I like for my breakfast, but not out of range. The weird thing was, they were “paleo” but they only had 7 grams of protein, and 33 grams of carbs! Fats were 13 grams and fiber came in at 3.5 grams.


It was a moist, tasty muffin.

But then I thought about my recipe for “Very Light Banana Muffins.” Honestly, I like it better. I knew they were 135 calories each. But I didn’t know the stats, so I ran that recipe through the recipe calculator–they have 7.8 grams of protein and only 18 grams of carbs. Fats are 4 grams, and there are 2.4 grams of fiber.


This kind of thing is just interesting to me. I know other people would prefer the first muffin, probably because of the higher fat content. But over the years, my tastes have changed, at least a little bit. And as I learned so long ago at Weight Watchers, even the little changes make a difference.

And They’re Off!

Well, its that special time of year again. That time when hopeful Americans are off to the gym or the pool or the trails or the bikes. Whatever their hopeful choice of exercise–they’re there. It makes it very inconvenient for me at the gym for a week or two :)

Even I am not immune from this exercise boost. I didn’t really slow down in my exercise, except for Christmas Eve and Christmas day, but I did play a little fast and loose with the sweets, starting at Thanksgiving, and going straight on through my birthday season and ending at Christmas. I found, once again, that I cannot have sugar on a regular basis. It always leaves me wanting more, even though I don’t feel as good when I am eating it. So the day after Christmas, all the leftover goodies were either given away, thrown away, or put safely in the freezer.

Since then I have been (relatively) sugar free. Three days after Christmas I weighed the same thing I did before Thanksgiving, so I kinda think I didn’t actually gain any weight during that extended time of indulgence. But, my weight is still at the higher end of where I like to stay, so I am being very mindful of my food choices throughout the day. I started using Loseit to log my food again. I think its the most user-friendly site–its actually fun to log my food on it.

I also went to the grocery store and loaded up on vegetables. That wasn’t even my original intention when I went to the store. Its just what I naturally gravitate to when I want to eat healthier and lose a little weight. I made this Vegetable Tian that Lori talked about. Oh my goodness, this is so yummy. A little higher in calories than just plain vegetables, but you can have a nice sized serving for 140 calories. Isn’t it pretty?


And I have been mindful of getting in a good amount of exercise each day, whether at home or at the gym. I don’t exercise to lose weight (although I think that wishful thinking is always there.) I exercise to keep my metabolism working, and to remind me what is important to me (living a healthy life,) and honestly, I exercise to feel good. For just a little bit after each exercise session, everything seems to work a little better :)

Mr. Monk has a hard time exercising nowadays. A friend of my mom’s gave this doggie stroller to her, and she passed it on to me–we took it out for a spin yesterday.