Monday, September 4, 2017

Baby, It's Hot Outside

Our prayers go out to people in the great state of Texas this week.  My heart breaks with each story on the news.  At the same time, I see great beauty in the stories of wonderful people who have stepped forward to work first hand to offer comfort and support to those who need it. 

After seeing what others have endured, I feel badly mentioning the heatwave we were hit with the past few days.  If you have ever traveled here to the Monterey Peninsula or San Francisco, you know that it can be downright cold here during the summer.  In fact, early this past week, I had the heater on.  On Friday a heatwave moved onto the Peninsula with temps in excess of 100 degrees Farenheit.  I found myself in 109 degree temps on Saturday.  The temps did not really ease up at night either.  Most of the homes here on the Monterey Peninsula do not have air conditioning, because we have the cold ocean air to naturally cool us.  We had plans to do some chores this past weekend, but there was no way.  We gathered around the one fan we had in one room and drank a lot of water and ate ice cream.

I have an even greater appreciation of what a great puppy daddy Bill is to Liesl.  Sometimes she goes to his side in the middle of the night if she is lonely or scared by an outside noise ( Raccoons visit the garden from time to time and they like to party.  Grrr.)  On Friday, the heat would not break and although we had a fan on in the room, she was miserable.  So Bill got up two or three times that night just to run a cool, damp washcloth over Liesl.  It seemed to help her.  He is really good to her and never grumbles about her waking him up.

It was uncomfortable to do much , but I tried to do a little needlework and sewing.  I put some stand up comedy on Netflix on the craft room television and tried to complete a few of the squares.  I think I got at least a couple of them done and felt like I had accomplished something.

I am almost done with the apples square of The Fruit Bell Pull.  I was able to do a little bit of stitching in the late evening.  I really wish I could have completed more on it, but I am happy to have made a little progress on it.  Slow and steady and all that.  I am so looking forward to the next square!  I am so close to being done I wish I could pull an all nighter and complete it, but those days are far behind me.  :)

The temperatures promise to finally come down this week.  September and October are actually the very best time of year here, when it is not so foggy and it tends to be warm and lovely.  I am still getting blooms on my tomato plants, but alas, no red tomatoes yet.  In this area it is generally September and October that we get to harvest them.  We will have tomatoes ripening into the first week of November or so. 

May your week be filled with blessings!





Sunday, August 27, 2017

Where Did The Time Go???


So last Sunday was pretty darn awesome!  We are big fans of Garrison Keillor and try to see him in concert whenever he is in the local area.  Last Sunday he was appearing about 1 1/2 hours from us at the Mountain Winery in Saratoga.  The Mountain Winery is the old Paul Masson winery (We will sell no wine before its time) and now is a concert and event location.  Garrison Keillor was performing with some of the gifted performers from Prairie Home Companion.  The show was amazing!  Well worth going to work with not enough sleep the next day. 

After the show, while most people were rushing to the exit,  I noticed he was talking with a small group of people up front.  I thought I might go see if I could say thank you for sharing his gift with us.  We love his books and his cds, and his stories make me happy and feel peaceful.  I have to share that he is one of the nicest, most gracious people I have ever met.  We chatted for several minutes.  I thought he might feel be more rushed, trying to move along quickly to meet everyone waiting for him.  However, he he takes his time talking with each fan, treating each as important and valued, looking each in the eye, and speaking with care. It was an awesome feeling to have him not rush the interactions  and everyone there seemed to respect one another's time with him.  Seeing how he interacts with people who value his work,  I respect him even more after meeting him.  He is a very lovely and cool person.

This weekend was not as glamorous as last week, but I am getting better at my pasta making!  Today was spaghetti day.  I think I have my ratios of semolina to all purp flour down.  Semolina is hard, so it gives the noodles a little more density and bite.  I am building my pasta making skills so that I can eventually move to rolled noodles.  Last weekend, while I was at the show, my son came over to feed Liesl and spend some time with her.  I made a pot of homemade sauce and pasta  for him as a thank you.  He was pretty happy!  He was so funny because he said that he remembered my sauce as having a bit more heat and perhaps he would add some red pepper flakes.  When he said that I realized I had forgotten the red pepper flakes!  I was impressed that he knew my sauce that well, and told him so.  He said that he had learned from the best.  It made my heart happy.

My tomato plants are out of control!  The plants are over six feet tall!  They need less water to force the fruit.  Because September and October are our summer here, we will be getting tomatoes ripening well into November.  Yay! 

 So I found the first pumpkin item of the year!  We love pumpkin yummies!  I am looking forward to a season of pumpkin spice lattes!
Have a happy week!

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Had A Fun Weekend!

As I mentioned in my last post, I am in a period of rediscovery since finishing up school a few weeks ago.  I loved going to school and truly appreciate all that I learned.  However, I had to put a lot of things that I love on hold so that I could meet all of the critical deadlines of the classwork and homework.  I am rediscovering all of my beloved activities, and having so much fun doing it. 

A couple of Christmases ago, my sweet baboo bought me a pasta extruder for my KitchenAid stand mixer.  I was immersed in school and work and I am embarrassed to say that I never got to use it.  Until yesterday, that is.  Yesterday, I pulled it out an made my first batch of pasta, a big pan of rigatoni.
Okay, so the noodles weren't very uniform, but it added to the artisan quality.  I think I have to play with the ratio of semolina to all-purpose flour, because the noodles were a little dense, but still yummy.  I am pretty excited about this.

We have undergone a pretty drastic dietary change in the past few months.  Last year my dermatologist told me that if I wanted to reduce my risk for cancer and other diseases, I should switch to a plant based diet.  At the time, it was not a realistic option for us, so I did not pursue it any further.  This year I keep seeing articles which say that inflammation is one of the very worst things for the body and is a contributing factor for a number of really horrible chronic conditions and illnesses.  These kinds of articles resonate with me a bit more now that I am of a certain age.  I checked with a couple of people I know who are medical professionals.  They told me that it is absolutely true.  I asked what could minimize inflammation, they told me to switch to a plant based diet. 

So, about six weeks ago, I spoke to my sweet baboo about it and we agreed to make the change.  It was actually pretty easy to do, because we subscribe to Blue Apron,  which uses a number of yummy plant based recipes.  We both are just feeling much better and are actually having fun with the change in menu.  We have a little bit of fish or chicken every once in a while, and eat a lot of veggies.  I am now trying to get the preservatives out of the diet, and I am trying to make things like salad dressings from scratch.  We are having fun with it, and both of us keep saying that we can't figure out exactly what it is but we both just feel so much better.  So while it may not work for everyone, it is working well for us. :)

So other than cooking, I did stitch this weekend, which felt amazing.  My bellpull is coming along and I made decent progress on it.

We had a great Puppy Daddy Day!  We went to the dog beach early this morning.  The weather was so perfect.  I then took Bill out for breakfast at one of our favorite places.  He is an amazing puppy daddy to Liesl and I am so grateful for how he treats her.  He takes her to all of her vet visits and translates the clinical language for me so I do not worry my socks off.  He also gives her lots of love and attention and has full conversations with her.  They are so adorable together. 

Hope you have a great week!







Sunday, June 4, 2017

Whoa! Two Posts In Two Days!

Over the past couple of weekends, I have been rediscovering the activities that I have not been able to engage in for a long while.  Today I spent a lot of time puttering in the kitchen, pre-making some meals for the week.  I have missed taking my time cooking, and had several cookbooks open at once.  It was really fun.  I also got to stitch a bit and took out Teresa Wentzler's Fruit Bellpull.  I am working on the third square, "Apples".  It has been a lot of fun, but, oh, my goodness, so much confetti stitching! It is beautiful and I am enjoying the journey. 

So a couple of cool things have happened around the cozy cottage over the past couple of months.  Back on Easter Sunday, my son got engaged to his beautiful girlfriend of five years.  So excited!  He asked her mom and I to put together a barbecue at her house with the two families.  He wanted everyone together for the big moment.  (Her mom is a crafter, too, and he is always telling me that he is going to arrange a play date for the two of us.)  It poured down rain like nobody's business, but we had a great time and are so excited for the two of them.  It was so cool that we got to be there.  The engaged couple just got back from their first cruise to Alaska together and are looking forward to the future.  Yay!

The other cool thing started as a not so cool thing.  A few weeks ago, I went to take a shower before work.  There was no hot water, so I went to the garage to check on the water heater.  I think you know where I am going with this...I opened the door to the garage, and yep, totally flooded.  Water was pouring out of the front of the water heater and we had to turn off the main to get the water to stop.  I called a local plumber who came out several hours later.  He said that he had never seen a water heater leak in that way.  It was only five years old.  I mentioned that someday it is my dream to have a tankless water heater.  He asked me why I was holding off on putting one in.  I told him that I was told by another plumber that I would have to change the size of the pipes in the wall to feed the gas to it.  I was pretty surprised when he told me that they make the water heaters to fit different pipe sizes now.  He said that I should get what I really want and he could install it by the end of the day! 

So I realize that it is not something that would excite anyone else, but I am so happy about it!  It ended up taking him a couple of days to install it, but I have a limitless supply of hot water.  It feels pretty luxurious.  No more running out of hot water half way through a bath!  It is so funny, because I had been mentioning my dream of having it several times over the past few months.  Wishes do come true!

I hope your wishes come true this week!


Saturday, June 3, 2017

Well, It's Been A While...

Well, hello again!  It has been a while.  I spent the last few months finishing up school and have the additional certifications I need to advance in my career.  It has been a lot of hard work and sacrifice, as education usually is, but I have learned a lot and I am grateful for the opportunity. 

We were able to get away for a few days for my sweet baboo's birthday in May.  It was a milestone birthday.  We went to Yosemite, where the waterfalls were beyond spectacular this year!  I have never seen so much water in the park.  It is Bill's favorite place in the world, so it was a great way to ring in another year of health and happiness. 

 Here is Bridal Veil Falls.   The parking lot was flooded and we had to wade through ankle deep water to get to the pathway.  Liesl loves to get her puppy toes wet so she was all in.  Trying to take this photo was a challenge.  The water was so intense that I was literally standing in a cloud.  I could not see to take the photo.  So I just pointed in the direction of the falls and hoped for the best.
 We had our favorite chairs with us, and set up a nice picnic in the Great Meadow.  It was a beautiful day, about 88 degrees F.  We sat here for quite some time, just being in the moment and letting our shoes dry.

We do love our National Parks, and so the next day, we decided to drive a couple of hours to go see King's Canyon and Sequoia National Park.  There were a lot less people at these two parks and you get the sense of being a lot more remote.  Dogs are not permitted on any of the trails in either of these parks, unlike Yosemite, which we did not find out until we got there.  We were happy we went though and took Liesl around some paved parking lots in the park. 
King's Canyon and Sequoia Nation Park are HUGE!  This is King's Canyon.  Absolutely stunning view!  King's Canyon is home to the third largest tree in the world, a Giant Sequoia, named the General Grant tree. The Giant Sequoias are magnificent trees.  When I was in elementary school a hundred years ago, back in New Jersey, I remember a teacher talking about these giant trees.  I remember hoping that I would one day see them for myself.  I am so glad that I did.   

This is a giant Sequoia which fell on its side.  I could easily walk through it with several feet of clearance over my head.  I believe it was during WWI that horses and people were housed in it as shelter.  You can see the silhouette of another person at the other end of the tree.

This is the General Sherman Tree in Sequoia National Park, it is the largest tree in the world, though not the tallest.  It is 103 feet around and grows an additional 4 feet each year.  You will notice how tiny the people look next to it.  It is awe inspiring, as are the trees around it.  It lives in the Forest of the Giants and it is breath-taking to be in the forest of these trees.  They are so beautiful and magnificent.   I felt this tremendous feeling of peace and tranquility there.  Visitors seemed to keep their voices low in reverence.  The General Sherman Tree is estimated to be between 2,300 and 2,700 years old.  Even so, it is not the oldest tree in the world.  It is pretty awesome to think of all of the world history that has occurred during its lifetime.

The path down into the Forest of the Giants is about half a mile.  There are no doggies allowed, so Bill and I took turns going to see it, knowing that we would probably not ever return to these particular parks (still so many others to see).  Bill went first and I wondered what was taking so long for him to return.  Liesl and I had done a couple of laps around the huge parking lot,  which still had a lot of snow.  Bill returned almost an hour later, and I made the trek.  The walk is downhill and I remember thinking, "This is going to be no fun on the walk back up this hill."  I was not even kidding.  The Forest of the Giants is at an altitude of 7,000 feet.  There are signs everywhere advising you to take the walk back to the parking lot slowly.  I could literally hear my heart pounding in my ears at several points.  Not good.  I walked slowly back to the parking lot, stopping at the benches to rest.  Bill, who has a replacement aortic valve, said he stopped at every single bench to rest.  Yikes!  We were glad that Liesl was not permitted on the trail because with her little heart valve problem, we would have ended up carrying her up that hill. 

We are really glad we had this adventure.  It was amazing and we got to see these amazing trees.  They have stood as silent sentries over two millenniums.  We have to do what ever we can to preserve these amazing trees and these amazing parks so that many future generations may experience them, too.

One last note.  It is an absolute bargain to visit a National Park.  The admission is generally $30 per carload for a week's entry.  If you are over 62 and a United States citizen, the National Park Service offers a lifetime free pass to enter any National Park with up to three of your closest and dearest friends to enter any park, for the rest of your life.  This is for the initial cost of $20 and can be applied for on the National Park Service website.  Other free passes are available for US Military.  Now that it is summer, get out there and see these national treasures! 





Sunday, March 26, 2017

Time to Garden!

Towards the end of January I was speaking with one of my colleagues at work.  We both love to grow heirloom tomatoes.  She was telling me that she had already started her seeds and that they were already several inches tall.  She showed me a picture and I was blown away!  She told me that she starts her seeds in an Aerogarden and they grow super quickly.  I had heard of Aerogardens but had not heard of anyone I know having one.  It turns out that several people where I work have one. 
 
After our conversation, I had been looking at them on their website daily (they have daily sales), and was lucky enough to get this one for my birthday.  It grows veggies and herbs hydroponically.  The grow light has to be set a certain amount of time, but I can now grow lettuce and tomatoes on my countertop all winter long.  It is a pretty cool device.  My little plants above starting sprouting within three days. 
 
We started working on the yard today and cleared the raised bed.  The earth was smelling like springtime so it was time to start.  I loved being out in the sunshine.  We really want to work on growing much of our own food, and enjoying our garden and cooking.  I realize that I am a real novice but I love the joy I feel when I am working with the plants.  I bought two new blueberry bushes and I am hoping for a good crop.
 
The first quarter has been extremely busy at work.  As an accountant, the first quarter is the very busiest time of year.  Plus I have been taking a number of classes to get a new credential.  There has not been a lot of time to indulge in the home arts, which explains my absence.  I am thinking that by the end of April I should be able to work on my quilt and spend hours in the garden.  I can't wait to see the tomato crop.  Of course, I over bought seeds again.  It is so easy to do. I buy my seeds are rareseeds.com and was able to find some really cool ones.  The variety I am so excited about this year is the Berkeley Tie Dye.  It is supposed to be delicious! 
 
I hope you have a super fantastic week, filled with laughter, peace and love.
 
 

Monday, January 2, 2017

Happy New Year!


 
This was the first real day I had the opportunity to sit in front of my sewing machine in a few weeks.  This weekend was holiday clean up time.  All of the holiday trimmings and hall deckings have been put away.  The house has been scrubbed and restored to its normal state.  It is bittersweet to put away the Christmas china but it is nice to have the house back in order. I was happy to return to my craft room which has been the holding place for presents, etc., for the past couple of weeks.  It was nice re-thread my sewing machine and play with my toys again.  It is funny how much I have fallen in love with quilting again in the past year.  It makes me so happy when my seams are perfect!  LOL
 
A rather nasty cold/flu went through the household like wildfire beginning Christmas Eve and continuing to until about a day ago.  It was such a voracious flu that Liesl even got it.  Until recently I did not know that pets could get the same viruses that people do.  I have been given to understand that the virus sometimes has to convert to the doggie version, but is sometimes so powerful that a dog can get it right away.  Poor Liesl was pretty sick on Thursday, but is back to her bright eyed, sassy self. 
 
The quilted pieces above are from my Moda Frivols 8 quilt set.  It is made with American Jane Bread and Butter fabric, which I totally love!  Some of the fabrics have that vintage 1930's vibe and I love how vibrant that are!  It is a fun quilt, but is a bit more detailed and time consuming than some of the other pieces I have done.  I am a pretty outcome oriented, but I am trying to focus on the joy of the journey with this. 

 
Speaking of the joy of a journey, I finished my afghan over the weekend.  This has been so much fun to crochet that I wish I had need of another.  It is super soft and warm and I am so thrilled with it.   I made it a little extra long because I don't like it when my feet stick out and get cold.  I figure it will be good on long car trips, so that I can get comfy when we drive at night.  The colors are so pretty.  I am just so pleased with how it turned out.
 
My best friend and I were having cocoa yesterday, and talking about what we want to do in 2017.  We both said that we want to learn watercolor painting next.  I have always wanted to learn, and have the supplies and books.  I just need the courage to get started!  My best friend said that it is the same for her and so we are looking for a class.  I am so excited.  It is even more fun when you get to be creative with a friend.  She is pretty fun in general, so I am looking forward to learning!

I am super inspired by my best friend.  She turns 75 this year and is probably the coolest person I have ever met.  We have been best friends for many years.  She is a medical professional, and is well respected on a national level.  She is classy, wise, but has a very goofy sense of humor.  She has an insatiable need to learn new things and takes college courses every semester on things she has always wanted to learn.  She travels, dances, cooks, and has an active social life.  She and her husband have been married for over 50 years.  She is so vivacious and cool.  The coolest thing about her is that she has no idea how cool she really is.  I can only hope that I can be half as she is when I am finally 75. 
 
So I am inspired and ready to have new adventures in 2017!  This is going to be a GREAT year!  I wish you much joy, peace and prosperity in 2017!  May you have lots of goofiness and belly laughs, too!