What IS it?

Bess is definitely the most obsessed with anything new in the house. A little while ago she was in the kitchen barking at the grocery bags on the counter.

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Sophie took one brief sniff, and then took advantage of Bess’s obsession to snag herself the best seat in the house (right next to the wood stove.)

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Zoey doesn’t care. She just works at being as cute as she can be at all times.

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Noah: “Whatevs. Its not a bone or a stick. Can I go back outside now?”

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Bess is now wagging her tale. Something in the crate is snoring.

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Bess has now retires to the bed, but she is still keeping an eagle eye on the contents of the crate.

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Yes. I got ANOTHER dog. How could I resist?

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She is really a pretty pug. One friend said there was no such thing as a “pretty” pug. harumph….

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Shelley speaks dachshund much better than I. Here is her interpretation of Sophie’s reaction:  “…and den mom brot home anodder minion, and den ANODDER one – I have to work so hard to keep dem in line!”

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The Queen demands equal time.

This is long enough for one post. I’ll try to be back tomorrow to give you the back story. For now, just know that I am refusing to admit that I have five dogs. I have one large dog, and one unit (maybe I should call them a pod) of small dogs. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

 

 

One Year Later

I thought I’d do a post or two about the renovations I made to my house last year. What I liked best, and the few things I might not like as well. Just in case anybody is considering having work done on their house.

I’ll start with the kitchen. Sometimes it seems like I’ve always had this kitchen, and then other times I can’t believe that I have such a nice place to work. And such a big kitchen, compared to what I had before. (My kitchen was about 48 square feet, and the new kitchen is about 165 SF.) There’s really nothing I would change about the way we built the kitchen. It is very user friendly and practical. One of the things I originally wanted was three large windows. Well, that would greatly cut down on the space available for cabinets. So we compromised, and the window over the sink is bigger than J. the contractor originally planned, and then I got glass-fronted cabinets on either side of the sink instead of the windows.

But here is one of the things I like the most: my BIG white sink! When I was making decisions, sometimes I would just get “the best.” But most of the time I was looking for what I wanted, and also trying to get a good product while being financially conservative. My first choice was a farmhouse sink. They were quite expensive, but I wanted one. Then I found out that it would not fit with the cabinets we had already started. So then I found a dark blue enamel sink, which was even more expensive, and I decided to splurge on that. Turns out it was no longer being manufactured. So then I just started looking at white sinks, and when I found this one, which was just the way I wanted, and it was also a really low price, I went for it! And I do love how big it is, and how white it is. I have worked at keeping up with my housework, and keeping the sink clean is one of the things I stay on top of.

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There are so many things I love in the kitchen–the granite countertops are great, and so far have been very easy to keep clean. I still like the wood cabinets, which kind of started this whole idea. The toaster oven was just a cheapie from Walmart. I use it almost every day. I love the butcher block island (not shown, it was the only place cluttered when I was taking pictures,) and I love having the drawer pull-out in the island with double containers–one for garbage, and one for cans. My dishwasher love knows no bounds. That was one of the things I was completely ambivalent about ordering, and I like the most. No more dishes drying on the countertops, and they all come out so sparkly and clean!

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This was one more clever idea. A friend said that if you had an odd corner, you could put a pantry in there. So its just a small corner (J. the contractor had to make a special small door,) but as you can see, there’s plenty of room in there for lots of stuff.

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In the bathroom, one of the things I like the most is the medicine cabinet! That was another thing I didn’t really want. I told J. “no” quite a few times, and he just said, he framed in a space for it “just in case I changed my mind.” So finally, I saw a little $15 cabinet that I liked (white wooden frame.) I love having it. It keeps the counter from being so cluttered. Oh, see that dark towel there? If you remember, I got navy blue towels to go with the picture that I put in the room. Well… I guess all towels shed, but that navy blue fuzz is still showing up a year later. I still like those towels, but I’m not sure I’ll ever get dark colored towels again.

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The bathtub (the room is not all pink like this looks.) I chose this bathtub because it was inexpensive and I liked the way it curved out. I still like that. But it is an acrylic tub. I think its harder to keep clean, and there are quite a few products that say “not recommended for acrylic.” I might go for a cast iron tub if I was doing this again. That little square indent that J. put in? I LOVE those. Just right for all my bathing implements. There’s one in the shower too.

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Here’s the shower. If there’s one thing that I am slightly unhappy about, it is the shower. We had a lot of conversations about the size of the shower. I really wanted it to be 40 inches. But 36 was all the space there was. Okay. But one day a couple of months after the construction was all done, I started counting tiles. The inside of the shower is only about 30 inches. It is too small. But do you know what I think about EVERY SINGLE TIME I take a shower and start to grouse about the size? Yes, I think, well, hot water comes out every single time you turn it on. Shut up and enjoy. If you are ever unhappy with your shower, I recommend a trip to a third world country. I paid extra for the plain clear glass door. I like it, although I’m not sure it was worth the extra expense. Also, I paid extra for some kind of coating that would keep it from getting water spots. I would NOT recommend that. It didn’t even last 6 months.

The floor, which you can just see a bit of, is marble. I got it because it was pink and it was cheap at Lowe’s. I love the way it looks, but marble is very finicky. I ruined the finish on four of the tiles by using diluted vinegar on them. One of these days I’ll get that fixed. One other thing in the bathroom that I really wish I had done differently: they have one thousand and one options for light/fan/nightlight/heater combos. I got a fairly expensive one because I thought it had all those things, and also because the fan was supposed to be quiet. Well, the fan is quiet, and I like the nightlight. But somehow, I got home without the heater. And I was so frustrated at that point that I told J. to go ahead and install it. I wish I had a heater. My old bathroom was smaller, and it seemed like the hot water would heat up the bathroom. But its cold when I get out of the shower. That is something that can be fixed, and eventually I will get that replaced. Maybe in ten years or so :)

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And lastly, the indoor laundry room. I used to have to go out on the deck and down the stairs to my “laundry dungeon.” Washing clothes has always been one of my favorite chores, and how fun it is to have the washer and dryer inside the house. I lost some closet space to make enough room for this, and it was totally worth it.

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That’s about it for now. I’ll try to review the other rooms in future posts.

A Good Day and an Unexpected Walk

Yesterday was my birthday. I am 61 years old. How did that happen? I often do the math–how old was I when my grandma was 61? What did I think about how old she was at the time? I’m pretty sure she was still riding her bike to get around town–pretty awesome. Although at the time, I’m pretty sure the only thing I though about was that she was OLD. oh well…

me and Zoey celebrate 61!

me and Zoey celebrate 61!

Anyway, it has become a birthday tradition that I get an extra good workout at the gym on my birthday. And a newer tradition, to make myself get into the pool! So that’s what I did. It was awesome! Did my time on the bike and hit the weight room. And then I had the big pool all to myself, and even the spa afterwards.

Afterwards I hit up Starbuck’s for my free birthday drink. And then home, where I had one of my favorite salads for dinner, along with a special mini-loaf of ciabatta bread for a treat. And then I ended the evening with TOO MANY CUPCAKES. Darn free store coupons!

My knee has been feeling better lately, and between that and the awesome cool weather, I have been walking more than usual. This morning, I decided to take a different walk than my norm. Its up a hill that I used to climb but have deleted from my walks the last few years. When I got to the top, I noticed a new wide road that had been cut into the hillside, and I decided to explore that. I kept thinking that it would curve back around into my road, but it never did. It was a great walking path, but I finally had to turn around and go back. Which meant that I unexpectedly walked for about an hour and a half, which I have not done for a long long time. Mostly it felt great that I could still do that, and my knee seems to be no worse for the wear. We’ll see how it feels tomorrow.

Not a very exciting birthday report, I’m afraid. But I am feeling quite awesome these days, and enjoying my calm life and my good health. Wishing the same for all of you.

The Queen demands equal time.

The Queen demands equal time.

Thankful

Thankful for snow!

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And nature’s perfect colors.

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The smell of herbs.

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And ice sculptures.

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Thankful for color in winter.

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And a tree I grew from a seedling.

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How fun to see pretty leaves littering the ground.

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Thankful for a new baby to love–Zoey!

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Miss Bess is thankful for her special perch next to the warm wood stove.

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It was a perfect day. I wish the same for all of you.

 

California Gardening

The first weekend in November I travelled to Santa Cruz for a quilting workshop. Santa Cruz is near the coast, and so the temperatures are always fairly mild there. There was a rose garden outside the building where the workshop was held. I couldn’t resist taking some pictures of the perfect blooms this late in the year.

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Here at home, on the eastern edge of California, at about 2500 foot elevation, the roses have stopped blooming. But we are just now getting our fall color. Its not as spectacular as the East Coast, but I still look forward to it every year. Fall is one of my favorite seasons up here. I moved here in November 29 years ago.

I took some shots of my garden from outside my front door. I am still astounded at the changes that have been made in a couple of years work by MLG.  I have started to clean out some of the beds. Pruning will come a little later, I think. The hoses need to be reeled in for the season. You can see some of the Japanese Maples that we planted back along the fence line.

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Here’s a closer look at those two trees. The smaller darker red one is slated to be planted in the ground next spring. It will be a larger tree, and the color is outstanding. I am looking forward to that move.

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Still standing by the front door, here is the view in the other direction. One of our next big jobs is to build a planter box around that Japanese maple that is still in a pot. It is root bound, and will do so much better when it can spread out in the ground. Of course, planting this last JM in the ground means that I can never ever move from this house :)

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Here is a closer view of the JM path. The begonia in the foreground is still hanging in there, in spite of several nights below freezing!

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This is probably the last garden report for this year. I am definitely a fair weather gardener. Once it gets cold, I just don’t enjoy spending time in the garden. I am looking forward to next year, though, and anxious to see if some of my new purchases will take off in the spring!

Food

Since I’ve been home for a bit, I’ve gotten a little creative in the kitchen. I had broccoli and some pre-cooked bacon in the fridge, and it reminded me of that yummy broccoli salad. So I put together my own version of it, using yogurt instead of mayonnaise, and counting the calories. So yummy. I ate all four servings of it (one at a time :) ) so you know it was good. It keeps really well for several days. Here’s a link to the recipe. 

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I found a little more of that 85% dark chocolate in the pantry, and made some walnut-raisin clusters. I just weigh out each ingredient and add up the calories, and then make as many clusters as I need to end up with the right amount of calories per cluster. In this case, I ended up with 8 nice sized clusters for 100 calories each. I put it on popcorn so you could see what size they are. Since the chocolate is so intense, this is a very satisfying portion.

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I also whipped up a batch of my “Winter Fruit Salad” for the sewing ladies that came over this week. That is a really really good recipe. And of course you can vary the amount and types of fruit you include.

Butternut squash! I got a big one at the store, and I made butternut squash “fries” (baked) and had plenty left over to make some of my mac and cheese with butternut squash. There was still some left over, so tonight I am going to combine that with some onion and potato and chicken breast and MARSALA SPICE!! Yum yum yum. Thanks again to Lori for gifting me with that wonderful spice blend.

Oh, and an example of a recipe that’s not quite what it seems… I bought a package of chia/flax seed blend, and they had a recipe for one of those one minute muffins on it. It was pretty calorie dense–about 350 calories–but I decided to try it this morning. It came out so pretty that I took a picture of it.

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Then I tried it. VERY dry and not worthy. I put it in the compost pile, and had one of my cinnamon rolls. 200 calories and most worthy :)

What is Normal?

So this is how a blogger’s mind works. I’m always thinking about everything in terms of what I would write, even though I don’t always take the time to write it out. Monday I was going to write “Back to Normal,” about how I went to the gym, and then to the grocery store to get a ton of vegetables. Tuesday I was going to write “Day One,” about the beginning of the two day prep/fast I had to go on for my five year colonoscopy check. Wednesday, I was going to write “Notes on Fasting,” about all that I learned in my big two days of fasting. By Thursday at noon, I thought I’d be writing “Back to Normal” when I got home from the colonoscopy, and by Thursday evening, I decided all this stuff happening in my life was just my normal life, and what I was craving was a bit of my calm routine life. The life that happens in between all this other “normal” stuff.

So here’s the long version. Let’s see, you know I went to Texas for a week, ending that week with a visit with Shelley. You know I came home and spent two days just resting up so I could leave again to go to Santa Cruz for a quilt workshop. That was a really great weekend. I loved the whole thing. But I was looking forward to coming home and getting back to my “routine.” So Monday I went to the gym, and then to the grocery store, where I bought as many vegetables as my heart desired :)

But Tuesday morning I had to start a two day prep for my colonoscopy. I had one polyp on my first exam, so had to have this five year repeat. I groused a little about having to do a two day prep, but decided that after two weeks of travel-eating, I’d better be compliant.

Its so much easier to fast when its forced upon you. I put away all food, and even left my water pitcher on the counter so I wouldn’t have to look in the refrigerator that often. I had a low-grade headache most of the day. But I slept GREAT.

On Wednesday, I didn’t really think about eating that much. I was, ummm, otherwise occupied. Also, I wasn’t hungry, which really helped. Here’s the things I did “eat” on this fast: black coffee, green SF jello, mint tea, a few hard candies, and some apple juice.

Wednesday night I looked at Petfinder, and there at the local shelter was the CUTEST little dog. I have been inquiring about a few dogs, but they haven’t worked out. I was going to go and check out a male shih tzu, but the Butte Fire came along, and I had to cancel that idea. Then I was inquiring about a male Pug in a town a few hours away, but the rescue coordinator couldn’t seem to commit to a time to meet.

Thursday morning, bright and early, my good friend (who is also dog-obsessed,) met me to drive me to the doctor’s. I told her about the little dog I’d seen online. When all was done (no polyps-yay) we went out for lunch, and on the way home, she said, “Do you want to stop at the shelter?” Well, YES I did! We have a history of enabling each other with our doggie acquirements. When her last Lakeland Terrier died, I took her to the shelter, and we found a terrier mix who is her favorite dog of all time. She took me to the shelter one day, and that’s when I found Miss Bess.

Anyway, it wasn’t hard to decide to take this little dog. She was even cuter in person, and so calm and friendly. So now you have to look at a million pictures of my newest doggie :)

Here we are just after I got her. My friend said she wanted to find out what those drugs were that they gave me, and keep me on them. I was VERY happy and animated after the procedure.

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These next two pictures are last night, on either side of my lap. Sophie is doing her best to pretend that this interloper is just a bad nightmare and will disappear very soon.

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This morning I was writing emails, and looked around to see where she was. Oh, she might be small, but she knows how to jump up onto furniture.

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Photo op. The old groomer in me is really looking forward to spiffing her up!

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DSCN3477So, this is just my normal life. But I am looking forward to several months of my nice routine–going to the gym more often, and eating good healthy food for a while, including lots of fresh fruits and vegetables!