A Special Dinner for One

I was feeling like I needed to treat myself. I was in the pool, doing an extra long workout, and thinking about all my options. Going out or eating at home? Home is always a better choice, calorie-wise. But could I make it special?

And here’s what I came up with! So fun, and SOOOO delicious. That’s a turkey burger on top of a bed of lettuce and tomatoes. What can I say? I like a bite of tomato with each bite of burger! And one small sweet potato, cut into fries and baked. And a strawberry shake–the best! Just a cup of frozen strawberries, mixed together with half a cup of yogurt and half a cup of unsweetened vanilla almond breeze. Now that was a good deal–about 135 calories for that delicious shake!

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What Does a Garden Cost?

I guess that’s the wrong question. Because you can spend as little or as much as you want on a garden. What did MY garden cost? I never kept track of it. I fooled myself by just spending a little at a time. Most of the time when I went to pick up rocks, the most my car could carry is one or two hundred dollars worth of rocks. And then the next time MLG came over, I would pay him to put those rocks in place. Or we would get a load of wood from Lowe’s and then he would build the planters in a couple of sessions. Sometimes he brought over free stuff, like the railroad ties, to use in the garden. Before I found MLG, I would stop at Home Depot on my way home from work, and get six or eight stones. And then put them in place myself. Those are still there! If I had hired a garden contractor, and gotten an estimate on the cost of all the work we have done, I don’t think I would ever have done it. But doing it bit by bit, the cost didn’t seem so bad.

Of course, the plants… plants are a good deal, if you ask me. Six dollars can bring a lot of enjoyment, and if you choose carefully, and take care of it just right, and all the stars align just so, that six dollar plant can bring you years of enjoyment!

These first two pictures are kind of what I see when I drive up to my house. I mostly can’t believe that I have such a wonderful garden.

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And here’s the walk-around for this week. Here is the bee balm in its THIRD location. Here’s hoping it will be happy here.

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This is one of those tiny roses that they sell in two inch pots. How about that–it lived!

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Petunias.

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I think I was going for a red, white, and blue theme here. But something ate the white marigolds. And I planted a pink plant in the back…

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Oh. This is what I have to do to keep Noah from TRAMPLING these poor plants when he insists on chasing cars.

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The new honeysuckle gets the gold star for growing the most in the first season!

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Lobelia border.

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Lace cap hydrangea.

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New flower! I think a pincushion plant? Its supposed to be frost hardy. I really like it, and its a tall plant, which is what I needed.

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All the oriental lilies are starting to bloom!

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I planted a row of zinnias behind the carnation patch.

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A view of the mostly sun bed. LOL. Hoses are everywhere and always out. I have nice carts to wind them on, but what’s the point? I will have to unwind them tomorrow.

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The volunteer nasturtium. Its doing quite well this year.

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And so ends the garden tour for this week. Noah says, won’t you come back again?

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Thoughts on Seeds and Other Stuff

Earlier this year, I tried planting seeds in those little peat pots to give them a head start, because we can’t be sure that frost is over until at least May 1. That experiment was mostly a dismal failure. The sunflower seeds were the most disappointing. I’m pretty sure they would have done better had I planted them directly in the ground. Out of 8 pots, only three weak seedlings survived to be planted in the ground, and of those three, only one remains. The hollyhock seeds (that were a couple of years old,) fared better. I got six seedlings, and planted them in two locations. Three are doing well–I’m guessing they are getting more sun than the others. Penstemons were a bust, as well as the cilantro. The ones that are doing the best are the “money plants.” I bought them because the picture on the seed packet was charming, and it said they were a staple of cottage gardens. Eight out of eight lived, and I planted them in various locations, and ALL of them are doing well. So yesterday I looked them up on the internet to read more about them. “Many people consider money plants a weed.” Oh…. that’s why they are doing so well, and in so many different locations. In reading further, they just self sow their seeds freely. So they will be like the fairy impatiens. I like them, I just don’t want a garden full of them. And I feel a little guilty “weeding” them out, since they are really nice plants. But I have learned to be ruthless with them🙂 Conclusion: I will probably try seeds in the future. I will just plant them directly in the ground at the proper time.

Speaking of self-seeding–my little free petunia garden continues to do well!

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The hydrangeas are really doing well this year. I think its a combination of being well established and having a cooler, wetter spring.

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The bloom of the newest abutilon. There seems to be a lot of hybrids of this plant in the nursery these days. Not all are frost hardy. This is a short variety–supposed to get only 3 feet tall.

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This little vine is such a pretty plant–also not frost hardy. I’ve bought one every year for the past few years. I think I’ve got it in the right spot this year.

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Even though they want more sun, the daisies are starting to bloom. I really like the way these double ones look.

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Changing the subject rapidly….and I know, sounding like a broken record…but this is one of my favorite recipes. Its so simple, especially if you have the meat pre-cooked, and buy vegetables that are already pre-chopped for you. Recipe for My Fried Rice is here. This batch has chicken, bean sprouts, broccoli slaw, mushrooms, onions, peas, a little bacon, and a scrambled egg. Only 250 calories for that big soup bowl. Dinner!

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Another favorite–protein pancakes. This is the very best way to have them–put some walnuts in the batter, and I use about 1/3 very ripe mashed banana mixed with a little SF syrup for topping. I use Lori’s recipe. Only I noticed that I have substituted 1/3 cup of egg beaters for the whole egg. Either which way, YUMM. 300 calories with my additions.

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Cleaning: When I’m not in the mood to clean, I’ve found that if I set the timer for 10 minutes, that is actually all the time it takes for most chores. I can unload and re-load the dishwasher in 10 minutes. I got a new vacuum cleaner recently. Just your basic Hoover. But it sucks really good compared to my old vacuum. So today, when I had vacuumed the bedroom and the mudroom rug, I didn’t want to vacuum the studio rugs. 10 minutes, I told myself. At the very end, I smelled something burning. I was so irritated. That’s what I get for buying a cheaper machine. So I go to see if there’s too much hair wound around the roller. There was what appeared to be a WHOLE SPOOLFUL of thread wound around it! So it took 10 minutes to vacuum, and 15 minutes to figure out what was wrong and fix it. In my defense, the spool that the thread came from was in the drawer where it belongs. Its not even thread that I’ve used in the past year! I guess the new vacuum really does have super suction!

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I am off to the gym, for a longish swim session. I am happy to report that all the leg pain I’ve been dealing with is MUCH better, I’m pretty sure because I kept on exercising every day. Have a great weekend! Enjoy the (literal) fruits of summer, and have some fun exercising.

There’s No Path Back

Have I ever told you about my obsession with This American Life? Its a podcast on NPR, and somehow I discovered it. It is the perfect program to listen to while I am working in the studio. The stories are sometimes funny, sometimes sad, sometimes informative, sometimes poignant, and always detailed. I listen to the archived podcasts in reverse chronological order, and I have worked my way back to 1999!! That’s a lot of podcasts, and I will be very sad when I get to the end of them.

One day I was listening to a story about aging. And they were interviewing a brilliant man, a man with a graduate degree in physics. He had spent a good part of his life studying space, time, and numbers. And now he had Alzheimer’s.

They told about his appointments with his Alzheimer’s doctor. At the start of each appointment they had the patients do various tests to check their cognitive level, and to see if the Alzheimer’s had progressed. One of the tests that many patients dreaded was the “draw a clock” test. And then the day came when he could no longer draw the clock.

It bothered him so much. He went home and spent hours and hours trying to figure out why he couldn’t draw a clock. The answer he came up with was something I couldn’t even understand–something about it involving three planes of thought at the same time.

And the interviewer asked, “why was this so important to you, to figure out why you couldn’t draw the clock?” And this brilliant man replied, “Because there’s no path back. I have to figure out the best way to move forward.”

I don’t know if that hits you all the same way it hit me. Because it applies to all of us, doesn’t it? There is no path back from the ravages of aging. Its up to us to figure out the best way to move forward.

I often think about how I started my weight loss journey. I walked a LOT. And now I don’t like walking. I avoid walking. I do not park as far away from the store as possible to get a few extra steps in–I circle the parking lot looking for the closest space, and look enviously at the handicapped spots.

I told you I was extra stiff after this last trip. That has lasted a lot longer than I think it should have. There have been other aches and pains that were not exactly associated with my bad knee. I fear that this is just the way its gonna be–every day one more ache and pain. Do I have really bad arthritis? Is it something worse–maybe a blood clot or bone cancer (gotta laugh at myself🙂 )

Whatever it is, there is the realization that there is no path back. I will never have the knees I had 10 years ago. Heck, I will not have the body I had 10 years ago. Its up to me to figure out the best path forward. Right now that means being extra conscious of getting in all the helpful exercise I can–my PT exercises, the bike and the pool at the gym, and some short walks with the doggies. It really makes me feel better to do these exercises.

For all of us, this man with Alzheimer’s has given us a brilliant piece of advice–There’s no path back. We shouldn’t waste a minute longing for past times, past health, or especially past beauty. Its up to each of us to figure out the best way to move forward with grace and dignity.

Do You See What I See?

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The other day I was out taking a walk with Noah and Chloe, and I stopped for some reason. And then I heard something flutter by me. Wow, that was close by. I inspected the side of the road, and there was a little bird’s nest, built right into one of the little crevices! The mama bird flutters away to divert any perceived enemies from her eggs.

Yesterday I decided to go back and see if she was still there, and see if I could get a couple of good pictures without freaking her out too much. Here she is, on the nest. I only got one picture before she fluttered away.

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And here are her three little eggs. Don’t worry, I didn’t stay long, and I checked when I drove by the next day to make sure she was back on her nest.

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Such a simple thing, but these are the things that delight me.

I Almost Missed It

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So busy looking down…for things I need to work on, to make sure I don’t trip on uneven ground, for plants that need water and weeds that need picking. So busy looking down I forget to look up, and I almost missed a perfect rose high above my head.

Four Days and Four Hours

I spent four days the past week consistently working in the garden. Weeding weeding weeding. And watering. Moving plants around. And yes, I did go to the nursery and get quite a few plants for all the empty spots. This year I tried to be more organized, and  paid careful attention to the labels–FULL SUN, PART SUN/SHADE, and FULL SHADE. I think I did a pretty good job of getting plants that might thrive in the environment that I have.

Then yesterday MLG came over to help out. I swear, he can do more in four hours than I can do in four days.

I didn’t tell you about this little incident that almost gave me a heart attack. Last week, when I was out of town, I got a text from my baby sitter saying that Zoey had escaped the dog yard, and then escaped the big yard, and a neighbor had found her barking to get back in. She told my next door neighbor, who put her back, and then called my babysitter (who lives on the same road,) and she came over and found the little hole that the bad little girls had dug under the fence. Zoey was the only one small enough to get out! Its not safe outside the big fence, so I was really upset that that happened. My babysitter texted me twice a day to reassure me that all the dogs were still in their yard, which was sweet of her. Anyway, that was the first thing I wanted MLG to work on–fixing that area of the fence so they couldn’t dig out again. He is so clever about just looking around at what materials we have available, and using those for repairs. He suggested putting the pots there for a deterrent, and also just to make it look nice. Good idea. He arranged the pots and put the dirt in them for me, and then after he left, I dug up some of the crazy impatiens and repotted them, and put that bark there, just because I had it. I was pleased to see this morning that it looks like the impatiens have survived their move. (In case you’re wondering, the majority of the dog yard is chain link fencing, but that small area between the storage shed and their dog house is different.)

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I had said that we were done with the stone work a while ago, but actually MLG had requested a few more large stones to finish up this area. I picked out six huge stones at the stone store. Just six stones weighed 300 pounds! It finishes off this area nicely.

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MLG did this the last time he was here. The ground cover in the foreground was in a pot. I told him I was ready to toss it. He doesn’t like killing any plant, so he suggested planting it in the back garden. It has taken off nicely.

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This is a new little area. I just planted a row of lobelia, and a new plant–I think the guy at the nursery called it False Oregano.

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I think its really a pretty, unusual plant.

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The rose bed lost the big clump of snapdragons this year. So I got one of my favorite lantanas, and a new-to-me violet yarrow to fill in. I will plant new snapdragons in the fall.

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Noah inspects MLG’s work.

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I added some begonias to the shade garden, and the double impatien in the pot is starting to bloom.

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I found this cool plant with the huge leaves, that said it needed part shade. I hope it will do well in this  spot. I’ve had a hard time finding a good plant for this little area (adjacent to the shade garden.)

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The front bed, which has now become a pretty shade spot, thanks to the cherry tree and the honeysuckle. I did the most weeding here. It was a mess. In the fall I will replant the daisies to a sunnier spot. I found these new plants that need shade. They are a bright yellow-green color, and the flowers, which are supposed to flower all summer and fall, are a gorgeous shade of violet blue. Hmmm. As you might have noticed, I am terrible about keeping plant labels and remembering their names. Sorry ’bout that.

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But isn’t it pretty?

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I planted petunias early this year in this area. I got a “rosa Bonica” in a little four inch pot. Its supposed to bloom prolifically, so I think it’ll be a real nice addition to this area  in the future.

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Just a shot of the marigolds, geranium, and a volunteer nasturtium. This was one of the areas where I weeded a LOT.

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Much earlier in the year, I split a six pack of sweet peas with ML, my rug hooking friend. I’ve never had much luck with sweet peas, and I planted these in an “iffy” area–soil wasn’t primo. So I have been very pleased to see them take off and bloom a bit.

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A nice shade of pink, don’t you think?

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I have tried to get a good picture of this area. It is so charming to me. All these petunias, each of them a different color, self-seeded themselves between the stones here. I never thought they could make it, but so far they are doing very well.

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And that is the end of the garden report for the week! If you’ve made it this far, thanks for following along, and have a great weekend.