The Feast and the Days After

Thanksgiving was quite tasty this year. My niece’s husband did one of those deep fried turkeys, and I swear, that was the best turkey I’ve ever had! I had seconds on turkey and mashed potatoes, and all the other stuff I just had mini-servings of, or skipped altogether.

It was a shame, but most of the folks present didn’t like nuts, so I left half of the pumpkin cake for my sister and mom to take home, and I took the other half home myself. I guess I didn’t need that little cake after all 🙂

Anyway, I did have one piece of the layer cake that night, and then I cut it into serving sizes, and put it safely in the freezer. And that was it. The next morning I got up and went right back to counting my calories on LoseIt. I didn’t really want to keep overeating. I guess I’m finally getting over that whole thing.

I ate carefully that day, and saved enough calories so I could have my mini-cake for dessert that night. I had my “leftover” turkey breast that I had cooked for myself, and so I had my salad with romaine lettuce, cranberry sauce, turkey, and laughing cow lite cheese–I love that combo! And I cut up that turkey breast and put it in a couple of containers in the freezer so I can have it whenever I want between now and Christmas.


Today I had an old favorite of mine. The original of this was at a wonderful restaurant that served gigantic mashed potatoes in all kinds of original combinations. One of my favorites was the italian potato, which of course was loaded with butter, sour cream, mozzarella cheese, italian spices, olives, and a bit of parmesan.

One day I realized I could have this same combination of flavors if I would just pare it down a little. I start with a small yukon gold potato, about 4 ounces, and I spray it with Pam and sprinkle garlic salt on it, then wrap it in foil and bake it for a long time. That makes it soft and extra flavorful. Then I spray some fake butter on top, put about 1/3 cup of cottage cheese, sprinkle some italian spices, and about a Tablespoon or so of chopped olives. So yummy! And probably one-tenth of the calories of that giant baked potato 🙂


Here’s how I had it for dinner–with a big helping of those baby green beans, baked in the oven with Pam and salt.


All the Pumpkin Things!

Happy Thanksgiving to everyone! I hope you enjoy the day. Think about all the many things we have to be thankful for, living in this wonderful country. A plethora of pumpkin is just one of the things we can be thankful for 🙂

Yesterday I made my low calorie Apple Cranberry Sauce. It was delicious with my cottage cheese! And then I made a batch of Pumpkin Custard. That will keep my Thanksgiving cravings satisfied without overdoing the calorie load.

I am going to my niece’s this year for Thanksgiving, and this year I volunteered to make Helen’s wonderful Brown Butter Pumpkin Cake. This is the third year I’ve made it. I think that makes it a Thanksgiving tradition for me. I made the cakes this morning, and I will make the nuts and the frosting later today.


What is that tiny little cake, you ask? Why yes, I did cook a miniature cake for myself to have the next day 🙂

The cake recipe doesn’t use a whole can of pumpkin, so I dumped the leftover pumpkin into my leftover coffee–it will make me a fun low calorie “pumpkin pie frappucino” later today 🙂

I am off to the doctor for my third and last gel shot. Hoping that the third shot is the “magic” that will make these shots work for a while. When I get home I will cook the turkey breast that I bought so I will have “leftover” turkey in the days to come.

Happy Thanksgiving to one and all!

In The Garden

Before I start on the garden news, I want to say thank you to those of you who left such encouraging comments on my last post about my knee. It really means a lot to me. I also reached out to a fellow nurse who had knee replacement surgery earlier this year, and in the conversation–where she was very enthusiastic about her experience with surgery–we realized that we had the same doctor! I already knew that I liked my doctor a great deal, but hearing that he was also good at the actual surgery was fantastic news.

I’ve now had two of the three gel shots, and they don’t seem to be doing a thing. But maybe the third shot will be the magic charm.

Well, yesterday I needed to stop at the nursery and ask a question about a pesky weed. Did you all know there’s something called pre-emergent treatment that you can put on plants to keep the weeds from ever appearing? The regular stuff is very toxic to dogs, so she is checking out some corn gluten stuff for me to try. Of course, while I was there, I had to check out the plants. I got a few more pansies and one more six-pack of elfin thyme to fill in the stone pathway spaces.

This is a “wave” pansy! Great for pots, and the pansies actually hang over the side.


And this big pretty blue pansy. I think I told you–my plan was to plant so many pansies in the garden that Noah would tire of eating them 🙂


This is the most this camellia has ever bloomed! I guess it is liking our bit of rain, and our longer than usual warm weather.


And yes! One more rose.


I took this picture–doesn’t it look out of place blooming with the fall foliage in the background?


The red abutilon is still blooming away.


I was standing next to this plant, and noticed a lovely pineapple smell wafting by. This is my pineapple sage–it goes crazy and has these bright red blooms in the fall. I have never used it for cooking. But the smell was so good, I’m thinking of using it on my turkey this year!


So after I planted my little six-packs, I went over to help MLG who was here splitting more pine for me. Did I tell you about the bark beetles that have invaded our county (because of the drought) and are killing many of our pine trees? My neighbor took down a few pine trees, and had so much wood herself that she didn’t want them. So while MLG was splitting the logs, I threw the pieces into the back of his truck, and then he backed that up to the wood shed, where I started stacking it up. You can see we didn’t finish today. But there is a method to our madness. I have to be able to get to the dry wood. As soon as I make a dent in that, I’ll finish stacking the new wood in the shed.


We are due for more rain and some colder weather this weekend, and I am ever hopeful that gardening will really be done for this winter!

Bone on Bone

I’ve heard lots of other people use those words to describe their knees. But never had it applied to my knee. Until yesterday. My insurance company finally approved the gel shots, and so yesterday I went in to my knee doctor for the first of three shots. I like this doctor SO MUCH. He is kind and encouraging, and not an alarmist. And for a surgeon, he has always been more interested in trying other less invasive methods rather than “surgery is the only option” like so many surgeons seem to think.

So yesterday he started the conversation by asking “have you been thinking about surgery at all?” To which I replied honestly, “I think about it ALL THE TIME.” I think about how my knee hurts  and how I avoid walking places and how I wish I could walk longer and farther. And then I think about how I don’t want a part of my body REMOVED FOREVER and replaced with a hunk of plastic and metal. And I think about my friend whose knee surgery was botched and how it took five years and almost as many doctors to get someone to listen to her and she had to have the first device removed and then wait 6 weeks WITHOUT A KNEE and then have another surgery to have it replaced. And I think about my sister-in-law’s dad, who died 2 days after his knee replacement surgery. And, of course, I do think about the many people who have had successful surgeries, and report lack of pain, and even the ability to take long hikes.

Anyway, then he told me he had reviewed my August X-rays, and my knee was now bone on bone. After a couple of minutes of that setting in, I said I was almost relieved to hear that, because now I didn’t feel like such a wimp for feeling that my knee hurt so much. And he said kindly, “no, you are not a wimp.”

So we discussed a bit more. And the plan is to go ahead and try these gel shots, but if they don’t work, we will go ahead with planning for the surgery. It is almost a relief to me to have more of a concrete plan in mind. For someone like me, its much better than the ubiquitous “you’ll know when its time.”

I don’t have any travel plans after February, and I kind of think that this eventuality might have been in my mind already. I know I will want to add any exercises I might need beforehand to optimize my outcomes. I’m pretty sure that is all a part of planning for the surgery.

In addition, (and I am reluctant to say this after just one week of success,)  but a little over a week ago, I decided to try restricting one more time. I re-set my calorie limit to 1400 on LoseIt, and what do you know? This time I didn’t internally rebel, it was pretty easy to stick to, and I stayed true to it for one whole week and lost 3 pounds. That is the most I’ve lost in months. Now, always, the big question is, how will you MAINTAIN any loss? I am not optimistic about that. But it is always a part of what I think about when I am in losing mode. With this surgery looming, any weight I can lose will be a big bonus, so that is a huge motivating factor for me right now. As you know, I live alone, and having a good recovery and being independent AS SOON AS POSSIBLE is the most important thing to me.

So that’s the news for now. I am off to the gym for a nice long session in the pool. Yes, we are still having pool weather here in sunny California 🙂

We Got Rain!!

Has it been on the national news? Do you all know–California, at long last, is getting some significant rain! Except for it being a pain-in-the-butt to get delicate little doggies to do their business outside, I dare not complain!! Between rain today, I got a few pictures to provide photographic proof 🙂

I love how the long-dormant moss comes to life with a bit of moisture.


The moss is everywhere–even on the rocks!


I look at this tree out my kitchen window every day.


And I almost missed this bloom! The tropical hibiscus is even appreciating the rain!



The Trouble with Dogs


All the girls enjoy exploring the “jungle.” This is Bess.

The trouble with dogs is that they just don’t live long enough, right? If they weren’t so dang perfect and loving it wouldn’t be so hard.


Sophie likes to walk the wooden rails.



But mostly she just likes to sit next to me.

But I want to talk about the OTHER trouble with dogs, especially rescue dogs. Basically its a crap-shoot, trying to figure out what’s gone on in their former lives. Sometimes you know a little bit of information. Several of my dogs have been formerly owned by older people who could no longer care for them. I really like giving these little dogs a second chance. If they were owned by a “grandmother” sometimes they are very socialized, which is good, since once they get to my house there’s not much socialization opportunity. Other times, like Sophie, I don’t think they ever saw another person. She is still very shy when people come over. Sometimes, like Zoey, they weren’t very housebroken. She was a grandmother’s dog, and then the grandkids decided they didn’t want her any more. I know why :/  Luckily, I have a doggie door, and Zoey has embraced the concept of the doggie door fully 🙂


Zoey enjoying the sun.


Now sometimes you don’t know a thing about the dog, like Bess, who along with a male Pug, was just dumped out in the country. But sometimes you get little hints that you don’t pick up on. When I was there to get Bess, the shelter people were explaining to the other couple that was interested in her that it would probably be best to separate her from the male pug, because she tended to “boss” him around a little. Well, I didn’t pick up on that. Bess is VERY bossy. And opinionated. She and Sophie sorted out their differences a while ago, and manage to co-exist peacefully. But then Bess decided that Chloe (young Pug’s) energy level was way too high. While I agree with Bess on the energy level, starting a fight is not how I would choose to address the problem. Chloe took her corrections for a while, and then she decided to start fighting back. We are still working on this problem. Honestly, the only thing that saves them is a typo Shelley made one day, writing “I didn’t know Pugs were so viscous!” Now I laugh about my viscous pugs. But it is tiring to always be breaking up fights. And being a “bully” breed, once they start, it is very hard for them to stop.


Bess keeping track of Sophie and Chloe.

Oh, and now we come to the unknown in Chloe’s personality. If you recall (haha, I know you don’t) Chloe was listed on a shelter’s website, and then when I inquired about her, she wasn’t “ready” for adoption. Months later, I was contacted by the foster mother, and Chloe was now available for adoption. My theory is that this foster mother actually wanted to keep Chloe (she gave me a ton of toys and clothes when I picked up Chloe.) But Chloe was raised with NO LIMITS whatsoever, and I think it was just too much for this young mother. Chloe has a lot of energy, and she howls and barks to “direct” you to do what she wants. So we’re working on learning normal acceptable doggie behavior. Of course, taking her for walks helps with that excess energy.


Chloe can be calm too 🙂


But buying a puppy can be just as much of a crap-shoot as the rescue dogs. Do you remember the story of my going to get Noah? He was the puppy they pictured in the newspaper ad because he was so pretty. Well, I got there, and the people were hosing the patio off. His sisters were milling about, but I didn’t see him, and I asked, “where is the white puppy?” Oh, he’s hiding–he’s afraid of the water. HINT!!!! Noah is a genetically anxious and fearful dog. He acts all brave, and barks at things, but I know that inside he is worried. He is seven years old now, and with a LOT of training and socialization, he is so improved. But I still hear the underlying panic in his voice sometimes.


Noah keeps a close eye on the next door neighbors.



And when he is satisfied that those neighbors are behaving, he goes and checks out the neighbors in the other direction 🙂

Well, all this sounds like a lot of complaining, but really its not. I totally love having dogs. I love each of these little people, and enjoy their company. It was my dream as a child to have a lot of dogs, and I guess I’m living the dream. I just wanted to talk about these things–maybe it’ll help another person thinking about getting a dog.


Sophie checking out the pink flowers. Although these have been plentiful all year, they don’t seem to meet her taste expectations.

Oh oh oh! Gotta add this blast from the past–ran across it in my archives yesterday–


This is me at age 30, at my lowest weight ever, surrounded by all my dogs!

Fall in the Garden

Sunday I took a stroll around the garden. It was a lovely day, sunny and bright. And I noticed that there were still a few flowers worth sharing. The bees were extra busy, really working the blooms, and didn’t seem to be distracted by my standing close and trying to get some good shots. Sometimes the close-up lens on my camera gets fussy, so I sat down on the wood railing to try to get the pictures. And then I stayed there for quite a while, enjoying the sun and the dogs’ company.

This is where the bee started. I just couldn’t get my camera to focus before he flew off. dscn4631

Then I noticed this huge bumblebee on the marigold!


And another bee here. This plant has not done well this summer. I am hoping it will winter over and be pretty in the spring.I have two of these blue ones, and a white one as well.


A few plants seem to really be enjoying the cooler weather. This is a begonia.


And the double impatiens, although leggy, are really putting out some pretty blooms.



The abutilons seem especially happy with the cooler temperatures:




Earlier in the week I did some work on my ground covers! I replaced some of the plants in my “patchwork path” with this fetus grass.


And more elfin thyme to spread in the spaces between the stones.


Most of the petunias are pretty ragged, but the red ones are going strong.



And the camellia is blooming early. It usually doesn’t bloom until November!


And that’s the garden report for now. I am still learning about gardening. Putting plants in the ground at the right time is a good thing. I have planted snapdragons, salvia, and of course pansies. And the ground covers, and then I got some delphiniums–very excited to see if fall planting will be more successful with those! I ordered some bulbs and a peony (squee!!!!) from John Scheepers (thanks, Lori!) and am so excited to see those in the spring. Tomorrow I’ll share my doggie time in the garden with you.