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!