Saturday, April 30, 2011

Day 59 of 365

Well yesterday was an exciting day with the weather. The snow, then the rain, then the cold wind. Now today it is sunny and cold, but they're predicting 70 degrees by Monday.

70 degrees. From snow on Friday to 70 on Monday. We haven't even had 70 degrees yet this year.

But my snowy tulip picture had its own excitement yesterday. Along with being on the Boise NBC station at noon, it also showed up on the 5:00 News, and the 6:00 News, and the 10:00 News. When I posted the picture I didn't use my name, so in all cases I wasn't credited. But that's even better for me. As I'm looking to get myself out of my what is wrong with me and why doesn't the pain get any better hole, anything I can do and share with others - without receiving credit - works in my favor.

Actually, I've always liked the behind-the-scenes kind of work.

Even though I've taught kids and adults, done trainings for a large textbook company, and done consulting in school districts, my favorite type of work is the kind where I don't have to present, teach, or be the one with all the answers. I'd much rather create the PowerPoint presentation as opposed to presenting it. Writing the grant instead of implementing it. Making the quilt, not going to the hospital to deliver it.

Someone that I mailed some of my fabric pieces to recently apologized for not thanking me when she received them. My response was, "I don't do these things to get a thank you. I just do it because it's a nice thing to do."

I'm not sure I've always held that belief. My career used to be my life. I defined myself by it. I worked way too hard, devoted too many hours, and invested too much of myself in what I did (instead of who I was), and spent most of the last 17 years under constant pressure and stress (some of which was self-inflicted) . I wasn't appreciative of what I had or of the people around me - I was too busy doing it all.

But now that I have time to breathe (and to heal), I know the way I need to live my life has changed. No more fast tracks (which got me nowhere). The need to be on top, to be the best, to be perfect, is slowly starting to fade. And that's fine with me.

Years ago I purchased a book about reinventing yourself. I started reading it again the other day and have realized how far I've come. I used to have dreams of what I wanted my life to be but was too busy working to follow them.

But now, even with the medical issues, I've moved forward on some of those dreams. I wanted to:
*Get healthy. (My food issues aren't solved, but I am still exercising. 13 days in a row!)
*Write everyday (59 days on this blog so far).
*Be able to give to others. (Lots of that going on.)
*Learn how to appreciate what I have. (Downsizing will help with that.)
*Work in the garden each day. (Still too cold, but I'll get there.)

Which leads me back to the tulips. They didn't quite make it unscathed from the snow, but their transformation from yesterday is quite remarkable. I can only hope my transformation will be just as great.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Day 58 of 365

I continued my downsizing today.

I organized my linen closet and realized I had too many towels. I've been keeping them just in case. In case we go swimming (which we don't), in case we have guests (we don't), in case we want to lie in the sun in the grass (which we don't), in case something floods (not yet, knock on wood). I have handtowels, bath towels, bath sheets, beach towels, and towels that my daughter left. Some of the beach towels are over 20 years old and have only been used a few times. I have towels hanging in the bathrooms for decoration. They've never been used for anything but for decoration.

So here's the plan. We love our bath sheets so we have to keep them. A couple of our decoration towels are also bath sheets so they're going in the to-use mix. We only have a couple hand towels and bath towels, so those stay and will be the ones my daughter can use. We'll keep one beach towel. Everything else goes. Most all of the towels are in great shape (being that we rarely used them), so they'll go in the donation box. The couple towels that are raggedy will go in the car washing bucket. (Although I might rethink that one since we rarely wash the car at home, but you never know.)

I also was rethinking the new faucet issue. I wrestled with all the choices at the home improvement store on Wednesday. Even though I complained about all the choices, I wound up getting a new kitchen faucet and two new bathroom faucets. Our kitchen faucet has to be replaced because of the non-fixable drip. But the bathroom faucets? They are old, but still work with no drips. My new faucet choices certainly weren't the newest style or nicest ones out there, but they were newer and nicer than what we have. But - getting new faucets when I don't need them goes against my idea of downsizing and living a more simple life. So back to the store they will go.

I had to rethink one more thing today. A couple days ago when it was a warm 64 degrees, I had cut some tulips and brought them in the house. I was thinking about bringing in some more today to add to the bouquet, but had to change my mind.

It was a you've got to be kidding me kind of moment. And yes, even though it's almost May, that is snow.
And an interesting story about this picture. I posted it on our local news station's website. Imagine my surprise when I was eating lunch, watching the news at noon on TV like I always do, and my picture appeared at the top of the news hour. And appeared (twice) in a story a few minutes later.  

Exercise update: 12 for 12.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Day 57 of 365

Thursdays just aren't good days for me. It takes everything I have just to get out of bed. I'm slow, I'm tired, I don't feel well. As I look back on my Thursday posts at what I've written (and what I've left out), there's been a pattern. A pattern of feeling icky.

I've been so hard on myself on these Thursdays thinking it was a lack of motivation on my part. But as I think about it more - and notice that my worst days of the week wind up being the same couple days - I'm pretty sure it's a medication issue.

I take my Methotrexate (that's the chemotherapy drug) on Wednesday nights. And on Thursdays I feel horrible.

It's sad that I take all these meds and don't know all the side effects. So upon further research, I found out that some of the common Methotrexate side effects are: Chills and fever; dizziness; flushing; general body discomfort; hair loss; headache; itching; lowered resistance to infection; nausea; sensitivity to sunlight; sore throat; speech impairment; stomach pain; unusual tiredness.

Hmm, a connection maybe?

I don't like being sick and don't like excuses. I want to be productive, move forward in my "process" (whatever that means) and make sure each day counts. But some days -  like today - feel like they aren't going to count.

So I did what I do when I just can't function. I organize something sitting down.

Today I organized my fabric closet. Something I don't have to think about, just do. I love the way it looks, and it gave me a chance to go through things in there and get rid of some things I just don't love anymore. (Although I do believe I will use up all my fabric and won't have to make the tough decision to get rid of it.)

I'm sending off some quilt blocks as a Pay It Forward and have a box of other things for donation.

The downsizing has begun.


And an exercise update: Hard to do, but I'm 11 for 11. 

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Day 56 of 365

I think the problem with so many people (us included) having too many things might have something to do with too many choices. Too many choices make things more complicated.

Like TV shows. Even though I might make a comment about a TV show here or there, I'm not a big TV watcher. Very rarely do I sit down and watch. I have it on in the kitchen at breakfast and lunch, and when I'm sewing I have the TV on. Some days I spend several hours sewing, so I have several hours of programming I'm listening to.

But it's bits and pieces of programs. In a week, I might have seen parts of retro shows like Marcus Welby, Emergency, All in the Family, or the Cosby Show. Talk shows like Oprah, Dr. Phil, Dr. Oz, The Doctors, Regis and Kelly, Wendy Williams, The View, Maury, Watch What Happens Live. Reality shows like Real Housewives of Orange County and Real Housewives of New York City, Deadliest Catch, Extreme Couponing, Sister Wives, Hoarders, Tabatha's Salon Takeover, Intervention, Millionaire Matchmaker, Heavy, Relapse, American Chopper, Bethenny Ever After, Swamp People. Comedies like The Office and Everybody Loves Raymond. The Local and National News. Court shows like Divorce Court and Judge Joe Brown. Food shows like Paula Deen, Diners Drive Ins and Dives, Cupcake Wars, Man v. Food, Anthony Bourdain, Iron Chef America.

But like anyone else who has cable and has multiple channels, it's like nothing is on. But in reality, too much is on. Can't stay with one show because there might be another one on another channel that might be better.

Just like the stuff that occupies our houses. We have a toaster, but see one we like better. We don't need a new set of dishes, but these would be good for summer entertaining. And that lamp is on sale. Might as well get that, too. We clutter our houses with the next best and brightest thing.

At what point are we satisfied? And at what point do we stop buying and start purging? And why are there so many darned choices?

Like faucets, too. We've had a leaky faucet in our kitchen for quite some time. A few weeks back when our daughter was home, we had her help us gut out the faucet and replace the inner workings. Thirty bucks later, our faucet still dripped. So today I decided to take some of our gambling winnings from back on Day 22 to buy a new kitchen faucet. Not top of the line, just something similar to what we had.  And since we were going to have to call the plumber to have it put in, we figured we might as well replace two of our old, outdated bathroom faucets. Again, didn't want top of the line, just something that will look decent.

But the home improvement store didn't exactly make it easy to make a choice. An entire row - from one end to the other - just of faucets. They were nice and all, but do we really need all those choices?


And an exercise update: 10 for 10. I've been doing the exercise bike each day and alternating shoulder days. Don't dread it as much as I did the first couple days. But I'm sure I'll hit a wall at some point.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Day 55 of 365

I've been thinking about downsizing lately. Yes, our house is too big for us now, but it's more than that.

I've been reading about these people who try and cut down their possessions to 100 items per person. People like Kelly at My Simple Walk. I've wondered if that's something feasible for us. Not necessarily cut it to 100, but cut it down drastically.

Over the course of our marriage, we have accumulated more than we need. Really, how many towels, plastic containers, or pairs of socks do two people need?

We've never been about keeping up with the Joneses, though. We've always been a one car family and we went years before we got the internet. Even more years before we bought a cell phone, and only in the last couple years have we even gotten debit cards, and just last year our first new TV in 20 years.

But still we have more than 100 items just in one room. More than 100 books, for sure. More than 100 pieces of clothing each. My husband probably has close to 100 ties. I certainly have more than 100 cookie cutters and more than 100 yards of fabric.

If we really think about it, we don't need most of what we have. When we traveled cross-country tent camping along the way, we didn't use half of what we took. And we didn't take a lot. So I know we can live on less. So the question becomes, if we truly want to cut down our possessions, what could we permanently get rid of?

As much as I love some of my things, if I had to I could part with:
*My salt and pepper collection
*All teaching materials/books
*Fabric (hopefully I use it up before I have to make that decision)
*Most of my books - quilting and others
*Most of my clothes

Or, even more importantly, what would I keep?

At this point, my non-negotiable must-keep list includes:
*My sewing basket
*Photos - either the photo albums, or all the pictures on CDs, or some option
*My wedding ring
*A laptop computer
*One lamp
*Both our recliners
*Two plates, bowls, cups, forks, spoons, and one knife
*Bed and one set of bedding
*Table and two chairs
*KitchenAid mixer (but if I gave up baking, maybe it could go?)
*Three pair of shoes each
*One hammer, screwdriver, drill, and wrench

It may be a trend or the "in thing" to downsize or live a simpler lifestyle, but it's something I'm considering doing. It wouldn't hurt us to move toward fewer items.

I'm glad the gardens don't count. My favorite tulips are blooming, and I would certainly miss them if I didn't get them in the spring. Anyway, isn't nature part of a simpler lifestyle?


And an exercise update: 9 for 9.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Day 54 of 365

I've been having a lot of bad dreams lately. Every single night. Several a night. And almost every one is about the same thing.

School.

Consciously I'm thinking about school every few days or so, but subconsciously I must be really worried. It makes sense.

It was close to a year ago when I asked for a year's leave of absence. I had missed a lot of work during the year because of my back and I was still on sick leave from my knee replacement. I was spending 2 1/2 hours a day at physical therapy with a knee session and then a back session. But such problems with the back. For many months I had been taking several pain pills a day, had multiple injections in my spine, and had eight months of therapy - all with no improvement. "Maximum medical improvement" is what the doctor called it. It'll never get better. And taking that many pills, in that much pain, and still trying to function at work was, well, miserable. Impossible.

Looking back, I should have asked for a leave of absence earlier. At this time last year I was both mentally and physically broken.  I didn't know if I was going to make it through another day, let alone make it through another day of work. So I asked for a leave of absence for a year, and off I went with no paycheck, no unemployment, no employer provided health insurance, hoping that by taking better care of my back - and myself - I would be raring to go when the year was up.

It hasn't quite worked out that way. I spent most of this year off healing from my two shoulder surgeries. And trying to get a better hold on this rheumatoid arthritis. And still trying to heal the back.

I have made progress on the back. I'm still in as much pain as before, but I now know what I can and can't do. What makes it worse (most common everyday things that involve standing or bending) and what makes it better (my good old lift chair). But the biggest change in the back situation is that I am now completely off the pain medicine. Over the past year, I've slowly weaned myself off the 4-7 Vicodin a day I was taking. (What kind of doctor sends a patient out the door with that kind of prescription?)

My year long absence is about up. There might (or might not) be a job for me. No full time position for sure, but possibly a part time position. But maybe not even that. With the continued budget cuts in our school district, my position may (or may not) be eliminated. And I think that's where the bad dreams are coming in.

It's the not knowing that's the worst. I left all my things in my office last year thinking I would be returning. If I'm not going back, my stuff has to come home. I look at everything I have in the office, which is now being used for working with groups of kids. Things have been moved all over the place, but most of the furniture, binders, books, and training materials all belong to me. Bringing it home and storing it isn't a pleasant prospect. Walking away from it isn't an option either.

Although it wasn't a bad dream when I visited school today. After reading my blog about me missing my Peeps this Easter, someone had some for me. (Thanks Jan!) And the gal I gave the Elton John tickets to - she gave me some very nice gifts as a thank you - and Peeps were even included, too. (Thanks, Marcie!)

But what to do about the bad dreams? I guess just wait until I get the word and hope the dreams subside. But to box up all the stuff in this office and bring it home? And move the furniture back home? The furniture that couldn't even fit in the picture? Talk about a bad dream...


And a physical therapy/exercise update: 8 for 8.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Day 53 of 365

Now that the body had gone kaput, I don't see the sunrise as much as I used to.

I love the time just before the sun comes up in the morning. When we'd travel, we'd take off in the dark and be a hundred or so miles down the road before daybreak. Back when I walked every morning, I'd leave the house in the dark and return just before the sun came up. It made me feel like I was starting the day right. I've taken a few pictures of sunrises, and even have had some shown on a Boise TV station a few years back during their morning show.

I also have taken pictures of sunsets. Lots of sunsets. But all of those sunsets have been of the sun setting over the water. Oregon Coast, Florida Coast, Alaska, Hawaii. I enjoy the colors, the reflections off the water, and the sun as it disappears below the horizon of the oceans. Now that we've halted our travels (other than our little Spring Break mini getaway and this husband-wife weekend we're on), I don't see many sunsets either. The sun setting at our house sets over a building. Not exactly something noteworthy or special.

But on this Easter Sunday, I do have a noteworthy sunset picture from McCall. It's probably the only sunset picture I've taken that is not over water. There may not be any reflection off the water, but there sure is a reflection off the sky.

I've never quite seen a sunset like this one. I'm not sure what accounts for the shine in the sky, but it was spectacular.

Happy Easter to all.

  
And a physical therapy/exercise update: 7 for 7.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Day 52 of 365

It's not like I don't like exercising. I used to walk 2-3 miles each and every day and even did some 5K walks. But as my body got worse, the pain got more intense, and the walking became too much for me. And even now with the exercise bike, the knee pain is pretty bad.

But for the last couple days, I've done an exercise that is my favorite of favorites. Something I've done since I was a little kid, something I wish I could do every day of my life. Something that makes my body not hurt so much when I'm doing it. Something I look forward to, not dread (like I do those stupid shoulder exercises).

That would be swimming.

I learned to swim when I was about six or so in the backyard pool. My recollection was that my mom was teaching me to swim and I couldn't get the hang of it. But one day I said a bad word and got my mouth washed out with soap. And the next day I could swim. (Whether that really happened or not I don't know, but that's what I remember.)

I spent most of my childhood years going to school in California, where junior highs and high schools had swimming pools. So every spring in PE we had swimming. Once I started in junior high I realized how much I didn't know about swimming. And about swimming underwater, and diving from the side, and diving from the board. I learned a lot then, but I don't use most of it now.

I'm not big on going underwater anymore. Don't know why, I just don't like it. I spend my time kicking, and floating, and treading water, and swimming above water, and doing water exercises. Just keep moving in the water has become my motto.

But the best part is the joints. The buoyancy I have in the water and the lack of pressure on the knees/back/shoulders/elbows/hips/ankles is amazing. It's probably as close as I'll ever come to being pain free when moving.

We've often thought of putting in a pool, but being in Idaho it wouldn't get year round use. My husband has also talked about a jacuzzi, but I couldn't exactly swim and get myself moving around too much in a jacuzzi. If I could get over my embarrassment of being in a swimsuit I probably would drive the 15 miles to the YMCA to swim, but I'm not sure that will happen. I've wished we lived in Arizona where I could step out every single day from my back door into a swimming pool. Don't know if that'll ever happen, either.

The hotel we're staying in right now has a nice big pool, and being the off season, the place is empty and I can swim and swim and swim. Thank goodness for the pool, because usually when we come to McCall in the summers we swim in the lake.

That's something I'm certain won't be happening anytime soon.

And a physical therapy/exercise update: 6 for 6.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Day 51 of 365

This weekend has been girls weekend for the last 10 years or so. But not this year.

Every year my daughter and I have gone away for a girls weekend. We always take three days in April to go on a mini vacation, just the two of us. We've gone to Portland and California, but mostly we go to Sun Valley. We walk around the grounds of the resort, watch some ice skating, and hit the yard sales. There's nothing like going to a yard sale at a multi-million dollar home. We've gotten high quality items at cheap prices and have enjoyed peeking into lives we'll never have. The Gold Mine thrift store in Ketchum has been another not-to-be missed stopped. The things rich people donate!

But this year there will be no Sun Valley, no ice skating, no yard sales. My daughter has to work this weekend and besides, she says, we've already spent enough time together this year. She's probably right on that one - I did live at her apartment with her for two months when I was recovering from my latest surgery.

Not all is lost, though. The school districts in our state took a hard hit last year with budget cuts and most schools have had teachers on furlough days this year. It just so happens that today is a furlough day for my husband. So for the first time we're having a husband-wife weekend. I shouldn't admit this, but I could count on one hand the number of times we've been away together - alone - in the past 26 years of marriage.

This is our first "official" weekend and we've decided to head to the mountains for some rest, relaxation, and writing. (Not that I need rest and relaxation - I get plenty of that at home when he's at work!)

McCall, Idaho is our home for the next few days. Snowy, cold, it's-still-winter-here, McCall. But such a beautiful drive!

And a physical therapy/exercise update: 5 for 5!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Day 50 of 365

We've got to break this sugar addiction we have going on in this house, so today (I think, I plan, I hope) will be my last baking project for a while.

Usually  when I make sugar cookies they go to someone else. My family gets the rejects, but I've never made a batch just for us. So when my husband came home and saw yesterday's Peeps cookies, his first question was, "Who are the cookies for?" and was quite surprised when I said they were for us. We, of course, devoured them for dessert.

Which leads us to today. I went to the trouble on Monday of going to WinCo and bagging my own groceries to get ingredients from the bulk aisle for the White Chocolate and Peach Oatmeal Cookies. Which then, because of the absence of dried peaches, became the White Chocolate and Apricot Oatmeal Cookies. But as I looked at the ingredient list closer in this month's Food Network Magazine, I had to/wanted to make some adjustments.

So today to celebrate (or mourn) my last baking project for a while(?) I'm posting the recipe along with my picture. I use my KitchenAid mixer for all my mixing, but if you don't have one, just use a large bowl to mix the ingredients. (But the mixer sure is handy!) I'm not a recipe writer, so I hope the directions are clear. If not, let me know and I can clarify.

Debz Apricot and White Chocolate Oatmeal Cookies
1 stick butter, softened
1/2 c packed brown sugar
1/4 c granulated sugar
1 large egg
3/4 c flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 c oats
3/4 c dried apricots, chopped
1/2 c walnuts, chopped
3/4 c white chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 350. In mixer, cream butter and sugars until light and fluffy. Add the egg and mix well. Scrape bowl. Add the flour, baking soda, and oatmeal and mix until combined. Add apricots, walnuts, and white chocolate chips and mix until blended. Roll mixture into balls (my recipe made 20) and put on cookie sheet about 2 inches apart. Press the dough a bit with the palm of your hand to make round cookies. Bake 15 minutes or so. Let cool and enjoy!

And a physical therapy/exercise update: 4 for 4.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Day 49 of 365

When I was growing up, Easter was more about the Easter basket for me than anything else. We didn't go to church and I don't remember if we had Easter dinner with the family or not. But the Easter basket? I remember that.

It was a large pink plastic basket with a white handle. Full of Easter grass and candy. Jelly beans, a chocolate bunny, marshmallow eggs, and the best candy ever made - pink and yellow marshmallow Peeps.

I know some people hate Peeps. And I understand that. I feel that way about those disgusting, nasty, paste-tasting orange marshmallow Circus Peanuts. I know some people love them, but I can't even look at a bag of those without wanting to gag.

But I love my Peeps. Except now I buy them for myself, and they are usually eaten before I pull in the driveway. And it's only the yellow bunnies that I buy. It seems the pink ones and the yellow chicks don't quite taste the same. There are also many other different colors out and I've tried a few, but they're still not as good as yellow bunnies. I've tried the Halloween ghosts and pumpkins. No thank you. I've tried the chocolate covered ones. Not again.

So I anxiously look towards Easter so I can get me some Peeps. Yellow bunny Peeps. But this year, I didn't buy any Peeps. I don't know why. And I missed them. A lot.

Which led me to make some sugar cookies. Some Peeps sugar cookies. They're not made from Peeps, but they sure look like them. And they taste almost as good.


A physical therapy/exercise update: worked on the shoulder again today. I've done 3 days out of 3 so far this week. Yay!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Day 48 of 365

I did it again. Worked out, that is. I didn't do too much shoulder work (didn't want to do two days in a row), so I did the exercise bike instead since my new knee has been getting a bit stiff lately. I'll get back to full-blown shoulder work tomorrow. (I hope.)

I made some sugar cookies again today. I'll decorate them tonight or tomorrow, so that might wind up being tomorrow's picture for the day. I haven't finished them, but I'm sure they're going to be cute! (I hope.)

I was also itching to get outside and do some garden work since we finally have a sunny day. It was in the 20s here last night so it's having a hard time warming up much. Doesn't look like it's going to get out of the 40s. And the joints don't work as well when it's cold. Maybe it'll warm up more before the day is over so I can at least do something out there. (I hope.)

I did do a walkabout around the yard to see how things are doing. I finally have arugula coming up - and that was planted way back on Day 30. I also have one cucumber coming up, but those planting boxes aren't really working out too well. They're getting watered, but these cool nights and cool days haven't helped the sprouting process. The strawberries we planted on Day 16 are up and have several leaves. I have tulips blooming (even those that were covered in snow on Day 5). Our trees are beginning to turn green, and our tree out front is starting to have pink blooms.

Although I am a little jealous of the beautiful pink blossoms on our neighbor's tree.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Day 47 of 365

Well, I did it. I did my physical therapy exercises today. Just a short session, but I did them nonetheless.

I almost talked myself out of it. I went grocery shopping this morning and it wore me out. I like shopping during a weekday when the stores aren't as crowded, but the trade off is that I have to go by myself then. And for me driving 20 miles, then shopping and bending to get things off shelves and putting them in the cart, then on the belt at the register, then in the car, driving 20 miles back, then up the stairs into my house, then unpacking and bending and lifting again - it just does me in. Mostly my back. That's why I usually do small grocery shopping (just a few bags) each week. But this week we were out of some things, plus I have plans for some new recipes this week and needed specific items.

Like dried peaches. My husband got a subscription to Food Network Magazine for Christmas, and as he was perusing this month's issue he came across a recipe for White Chocolate and Peach Oatmeal Cookies. (He likes cooking, but if there ever is a recipe that he likes that involving baking, he turns it over to me.)

I got up early to go to town to WinCo. I typically never shop there since it's always so very busy and you have to bag your own groceries (and you can imagine what that would be like for me). I figured if I was going to get dried peaches that would be the most likely place to have them since they have a huge bulk foods department. Rows and rows of bulk foods. About anything you'd ever want. From flour to chocolate covered gummi bears to dried pineapple and mangoes. I found white chocolate chips for the recipe, but do you think they had dried peaches anywhere on row three? Nope.

All the bottom barrels (two rows deep of bottom barrels) and no dried peaches. And no dried peaches in the regular baking section. So now I have a bag of dried apricots instead. More than I need for the newly named White Chocolate and Apricot Oatmeal Cookies.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Day 46 of 365

I think I should start calling my sewing room a quilt studio.

I have been hammering out these quilt tops like crazy. I used some of the fabric I received in the mail yesterday and now have three more finished. My plan is to do two more, then start assembling the batting and backing and start the actual quilting. That will give me eight kids' quilts to send off. Whew!

Eight quilts within a month is a bit excessive, I suppose. But when I decide to start something, I can get a bit obsessive about finishing it. Although, that quilt in the frame that I fought with on Day 38 is still sitting in the frame, untouched. I imagine it needs my attention, but I've been so overly focused on these children's quilts that I haven't come up for air. And I've been slacking on something else, too.

Last month when I went back to my shoulder surgeon, he had given me until the end of April to put both arms behind my back or I'd have to go back and be treated for frozen shoulder. Which could mean more surgeries. Well, it's almost the end of April and I still can't get both arms behind my back. But part of it is my fault. I've been slacking on my physical therapy. Really slacking.

I was given exercises to do at home several times a week, but I haven't been making it a priority. You'd think the threat of more surgeries would get me in gear, but after a year and a half of going to physical therapy non stop for my back, my knee, and my shoulders, I guess I just got tired of doing it. And I guess I got lazy.

It's not like I don't have the time. I don't have a job and don't have kids at home. I've just been spending my time doing things that don't tax my body. Things like sewing and sometimes baking. (And writing my blog, of course.) Part of the issue is that always-always-always before physical therapy I had to take pain medication. That's not happening now. I'm totally and completely free of pain medication. Even those days I struggle the most I am refusing to take those meds, and I'm not about to start again now. So I know doing the physical therapy I need will hurt. And like I've written before, I've become more of a pain-avoider than a pleasure seeker these days.

But I need to get myself in gear, and now. I have to commit to therapy sessions (it's more of a cram session now) to avoid the frozen shoulder syndrome. Besides, I can't wait to be able to finally, on my own without assistance, affix a certain undergarment that requires a lady to have her hands behind her back.

Guess these quilt tops won't get as much attention as I had planned. Or at least they might move down on my priority list.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Day 45 of 365

I was the recipient of a Pay It Forward today.

I've been working on the Quilting for Kids organization's kits they sent me a while back. I had ordered three kits (and those tops are now finished) but they ask that you also make some additional quilts with your own stash. And they especially need boys quilts. Well, my fabric stash isn't all that abundant in kid-type fabrics (especially for boys) so I've been struggling with whether to buy more, or get creative with what I have, or ??

But the other day I was on the quilting website I go to daily and saw that a coordinator for Project Linus (another kids blanket donation group) in New Hampshire was giving away freebies for people who do volunteer blanket projects. I had entered to get the freebies, but did not win. However, she decided to go ahead and provide some freebies to several others anyway. Including me. I had kind of forgotten about it until I received a package of fabrics in the mail today. Actually, a box stuffed full.

Several fabrics. Yards of fabrics. Of boy-themed fabrics, too. A generous gift from someone I don't know. Put to use in quilts for kids I don't know.

Gotta get cranking on those quilt tops now!

Friday, April 15, 2011

Day 44 of 365

It's true, things do have to get worse before they get better. Yesterday was bad, today was a bit better. Not lots better, but a bit.

I took my arthritis shot last night and got worse for a while. Every time I do the shot, I get sick to my stomach and dizzy and just feel allover icky and have to go to bed early. So I had that going for me last night. I was asleep by 8:30, but probably should have been asleep by 8. (I had to watch the new episode of The Office first. Will Farrell wasn't nearly as funny as I thought he would be.) And this morning I woke up a little after 8:30. So I definitely got myself some sleep.

But I did notice something about my hands. Usually when my arthritis is about to get even worse, I notice it in my hands first. I can't tie my shoes, I can't grasp a spoon, and I can't open the orange juice container. But at lunch time today, I opened a new jar of peanut butter. And later in the afternoon, I opened a bottle of water. And without much trouble at all. It may not seem like a lot, but it's big for me. While I'm not feeling super duper, for me to be able to grasp something - and open it - is a huge milestone. Maybe these shots are working? (Oops, maybe I shouldn't say it. Don't want to jinx myself - again.)

But it gave me some hope. Hope that I can move forward and get some things done today.

I had some things listed on etsy.com to sell, but decided to pull them off. Maybe I'll relist later, but who am I kidding? I put them on as I was starting this blog as a way to try and make some extra money. Well, nothing sold (they were just pincushions and fabric memory games), and I don't want the hassle of checking every day to see if they sold. It's not like ebay where your item lists for 5 days or whatever. On etsy it was 3 or 4 months. I'd rather spend my time on other things, not checking again and again to see that no one wants my stuff.

I did finish up some of the kids quilts. I hadn't taken pictures of the newest two, so I went ahead and snapped a pic. I keep a quilting binder of all my projects, so I'll print a copy to put in there. I haven't updated that binder in a while so I'll have to put that on my to do list for another day. Especially since I have several non-quilting projects I can add to it. Maybe the quilting binder will become a sewing binder?

I especially like the pink pinwheel one on the right.

And remember, today's also the drawing day for the Dick and Jane magnets from Day 41. I'll randomly choose the winner (did you know there is a website that generates random numbers?) and post it at 5 pm Mountain time this evening. If you entered, check back right here to see if you're the winner. You'll only have until Sunday at noon to claim your prize.

And the winner is... Lisa from Sherwood, Oregon who said:
I love the magnets, especially the ones with the words. I currently only have 3 magnets on my frig..so I'm in need of more! :)

Congrats, Lisa! Please contact me at debzdays@yahoo.com before noon on Sunday to claim your prize!  Prize claimed.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Day 43 of 365

My daughter tells me all the time, "Don't jinx it, mom". Guess I should have listened to her.

Yesterday I was bragging all about how, now 40 some days later, I thought that taking a picture a day was getting me somewhere. That it gave me a reason to get up in the morning and how every night before I go to bed I run through in my mind what I want to accomplish for the next day. And that I was learning that if I kept myself focused enough on something else, I could ignore my pain for short periods of time.

Yeah, right.

Not so much today. Actually, not at all today. I went to bed last night not feeling well and not caring about today, woke up not feeling well, and spent the entire day not feeling well.

What did I get done today? I took a shower. I wiped down the counters. I fixed my husband's tie. To quote the late Chris Farley on a Saturday Night Live sketch, "Well, la di fricken da!"

What changed? I've been keeping myself busy doing something every day - maybe my body just needed a break. Last night was my chemotherapy drug night, so it could account for me not feeling so hot.  Or it could be that my daughter is right. Don't talk about things going well or you'll jinx them.

This picture of a bus at the salvage yard down the road sums up how I feel today.
Here's hoping for a better tomorrow.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Day 42 of 365

It seems as though this blog, which originally was planned just to be a picture-a-day blog, has turned into a "look what I made" picture-a-day. And today isn't any different.

When I first started writing this 40+ days ago, I knew I had to make some changes. I was just coming off of my last rotator cuff surgery, still going to physical therapy several times a week, and was getting ready to start new arthritis medicine. I was struggling with pain all day, every day, and knew that I had to change my outlook. I had looked back and realized after living in the previous year and a half I had nothing to show for it. I didn't know if taking a picture a day would get me anywhere, but now 40 some days later, I think it's starting to.

It has given me a reason to get up in the morning. Now, every night before I go to bed I run through in my mind what I want to accomplish for the next day. It's small things. Like yesterday. I wanted to get through all the old receipts for the year and get the Dick and Jane magnets done. Today I wanted to gather all the old magazines in the house into a pile and decide what to keep and what to discard. I also wanted to do something with one of the cake mixes I bought on sale the other day. I still can't keep myself working throughout the entire day. And there are some days it takes all I have just to get out of bed and write.

But as I'm writing every day, I am finding hope. I have documentation that I've already lived (and baked, and sewed, and wrote) for a month and a half. Even on my worst days, I can pull myself out of my pain. It's still there - always - but I'm learning that if I keep myself focused enough on something else, I can ignore it for short periods of time.

Baby steps. I hope that I can continue to take these small steps forward.

Speaking of baby steps, I made some baby chicks today out of a chocolate cake mix, homemade buttercream frosting, and some yellow candy coating.


They're called Cake Pops, and I got the idea from Bakerella here. She also has a book with LOTS of ideas for cake pops.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Day 41 of 365

You can win the items in today's picture of the day!

Yep, my newest creation is my next good deed for the day, my service to others, my way of paying it forward. And if you have fond memories of the Dick and Jane reading series, you'll probably like today's project. 

If you've been following my blog, you know that I use sewing, baking, and charity/donation projects to get my mind off of my pain and problems and focus on service to others. And that I take a picture every single day of what I did or saw. You also know that I get frustrated with the quality of work sometimes because I use patterns and tutorials off the internet that are incomplete or that have measurements off.

But I found a clear tutorial on how to make fabric covered magnets (here) that guided me step by step. My collection of Dick and Jane fabrics have still gone unused, other than the camera bag I made. So it was time to get back into them. So at yesterday's great Sale-A-Bration Day that I had, I picked up some button cover kits (at 50% off) and some magnets (using a 50% off coupon).

I used my Dick and Jane fabric stash to cut select pictures and words to make the magnets. I used both 1 1/8" and 1 1/2" sized buttons. It was a quick and easy project and I loved how they turned out!

So now you can love them, too. To win this set of five magnets all you have to do is comment on this post telling us why you'd like to win. Be sure to leave your name or a screen name.

The fine print:
*A winner will be chosen randomly Friday, April 15 at 5 PM Mountain Time. Since I don't collect e-mails on my comment page, you will have to come back to see if you won.
*Winner will have until Sunday at noon to claim their prize. Otherwise, a new winner will be chosen.
*Only one entry per person, please.

Good luck!

And the winner is Lisa from Sherwood, Oregon who said:
I love the magnets, especially the ones with the words. I currently only have 3 magnets on my frig..so I'm in need of more! :)

Congrats, Lisa! Please contact me at debzdays@yahoo.com before noon on Sunday to claim your prize. Prize claimed.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Day 40 of 365

I think I'm going to call today a Sale-A-Bration day.

I had to go to the fabric store to get some quilt batting for the kids quilts I'm making. I also needed several other things and was hoping they were on sale. I got my batting (40% off), new rotary cutter blades (50% off), some basting spray (50% off), sewing machine needles (50% off), some buttons you cover with fabric for another (yikes) non-quilting project (50% off), and some magnets (yikes again) for that same non-quilting project (50% off coupon). Guess I hit the store on a good sales day!

As I drove by Goodwill on the way to the grocery store, the Goodwill had "50% off red tag items" on their sign. I stopped in and found some gorgeous floral silky-type fabric that was red tagged. Grabbed that.

At the grocery store I picked up chicken (on sale), fish oil (buy one get one free plus I had a $4 off coupon), salad mix (buy one get one free), some orange juice and chocolate milk (both on sale), and walnuts (alas, not on sale but hubby needed them for his breakfast), and cakes mixes (on sale).

But my biggest haul was again at my favorite place to combine manufacturer's coupons and store coupons - Target.

My take:
Purina One Cat Food $7.49 minus a $3 coupon and a $2 Target coupon
2 tubes of Pro Pet Hairball Eliminator $6.28 minus a $2.50 coupon and a $2.50 coupon
6 trays of Whiskas Cat food $3 minus $1.50 in buy one get one free coupons
Zantac 24 count $7.59 minus $5 coupon and $2 Target coupon
2 packs Up & Up pantiliners $1.78 minus a .50 and a .50 coupon
Bic Twin Disposable Razors $2.59 minus $2 coupon
Orbit Gum .99 minus .75 Target coupon
1 M&M and 1 Snickers Easter eggs $1.98 minus $2 coupon
2 travel size packs of BandAids $1.98 minus $1.98 coupon

Before the coupons, the price was $33.68
After coupons, the price was $7.45 + $1.68 tax

Total cost of all items was $9.13

$9.13 for almost $34 worth of items. A Sale-A-Bration Day!

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Day 39 of 365

When I was at school the other day dropping off my Elton John concert tickets it occurred to me that I haven't been doing much quilting lately. Actually, it took the school secretary to make me realize that.

She was asking if I'd been doing lots of quilting to which I replied that I had and that it was on my blog. So we got onto my blog to look. Except I didn't have many quilting projects pictured on there. Sewing pictures, baking pictures, but only a couple quilting pictures.

Looking back over the last 38 days I have sewed:
Pincushions
Cloth Memory Games
A Camera Bag
A Baby Quilt
Pillowcases
T-Shirt Grocery Bags
A Clothespin Bag
Potholders
A Make Up Bag
Bread Basket Liner

One quilt. That's it. Way back at the beginning I also had mailed out a flag quilt top, but that had already been finished. But to actively work and finish a quilt? Nope.

So that's why I've decided to cut back on my sewing and move ahead quickly on my quilting.

That's why I wound up fighting with my quilting frame yesterday. That's also why in the last two days I have put together another baby quilt top. Quilts for Kids sent me the fabric for the top and back as well as the pattern. The top is now complete, but I still have to add the batting and start quilting it. It's small enough I think I can use my sewing machine for it. It's the closest thing to a boy's quilt that I've ever made.

Speaking of the Elton John concert, the gal that I gave the tickets to sent me an e-mail:
The concert was AWESOME!!   The seats were only 21 rows from the stage!  It appeared to be a sold out crowd from where we were sitting.  He played for 3 hours straight without any breaks. I don't know how someone can do that for such a long time and not look even a little tired. The crowd was on their feet at the end of every song. He got up from his piano and walked around the stage bowing and waving to each side after most of the songs. He played all of his classics with the addition of some selections from his new duet CD with Leon Russell. The crowd exploded (and sang along) when he played Crocodile Rock and Benny and the Jets near the end of the concert  For his encore presentation he came out and signed some autographs for some of those "groupies" up next to the stage, and then he thanked the fans of Boise with "Your Song". He said that he is enjoying playing for the fans more now than ever.  My husband, Rick enjoyed it thoroughly too.  I can't thank you enough for sharing your tickets with me.  I read your blog about how badly you had wanted to attend. Hopefully, next time he comes to town you will be feeling 100% better and able to get up and dance on the stage with him!!!   I have attached a few pictures from the concert.   Again, THANK YOU from the bottom of my heart!!       

You can just hear the excitement of the night and her appreciation for the tickets. Those tickets definitely went to the right person. Here's one of her pictures.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Day 38 of 365

I had a fight today. Not with a person, but with a thing. A quilting thing.

A quilting frame, to be exact. I have a large Grace hand quilting frame that stands on the floor. It's been hanging on the wall of my sewing room holding my unfinished projects for quite some time now. I decided to finally finish up on one of my larger quilts (I think it's about 60" x 65") and wanted to hand quilt it. So it was time to get the frame off the wall and onto the floor.

I usually do all my hand quilting on that frame in front of our big picture window in the living room. That way I get the morning sun and get to look out at the river when I need to give my eyes a break. I used to do all my quilts on it. Since I was working I mostly quilted on the weekends, 5-6 hours a day. But that amount of time of the hands was tough, so I just stopped doing hand quilting and went to smaller projects that I could machine quilt on my plain old machine.

So this new larger quilt was going to be a refreshing change. And with me not working right now, I could spread the time I worked on it throughout the week.

Except the frame is a pain to put up. Setting it upright isn't too tough, but this quilt was just a couple inches too wide for the bars I had on the frame. Which meant I had to get my extension bars and attach them. Which is the pain in the rear part. Which means bolts and nuts and screws and washers and pliers and wrenches and Allen wrenches. And bars falling down and washers rolling away and nuts coming oh-so-close to falling down the heat vent.

And me getting frustrated, cursing at myself, at the quilt, at the frame. Finally, after several hours and lots of breaks to clear my head, it is up. And the quilt and the batting and the backing are secured. And it's ready to go. And time for me to relax. But not with that quilt.

There are two things I like to do best to relax. If you've read many of my posts, you know it's all about the baking and the sewing. So this afternoon I did both, as you can see in today's picture.

Homemade buttermilk biscuits and a new homemade bread basket liner. Ahh, relaxation.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Day 37 of 365

It was an eventful day today.

The mail itself was exciting. I received a little makeup bag from Target with samples of lip gloss, shampoos, and lotion. I also got a check from Aflac to help cover some of my physical therapy costs. If that wasn't enough, UPS came with my three free quilt kits that I'll be making for the Quilts for Kids organization. Nice, bright fabrics! It even made up a bit for the internet being down all day.

Earlier this week, I had received an e-mail I had won some tickets to tomorrow's Elton John concert. When we first heard he was coming a couple months back, we knew we wanted to go. But with me recovering from surgery, I never got around to ordering tickets. Then a few weeks back I entered a contest put on by the Boise paper. And I won! So today on my way over to Boise to take my daughter back home, I picked up the tickets.

My husband and I had been talking about the tickets all week. I've been having more bad days than good so I was contemplating not going to the concert. Now I love Elton John and all, but knowing I had to sit/stand for 3 hours was worrying me. As time goes by, I'm learning what I can and can't put my body through. I knew if I went to the concert, I would pay for it for several days to come. And I wasn't willing to experience any more pain than necessary. It seems I'm becoming more of a pain avoider instead of a pleasure seeker these days.

So the question became - as I was sitting in the parking lot of the ticket office today- do I go or not? I decided not to. Then the decision had to be made about what to do with the tickets. So in between the time I left the parking lot and the time I pulled into the auto service center to have my burned out headlight replaced, I had an idea. I texted a friend from work to see if she wanted them. Nope. I also worked with her sister. How about her?

As I was sitting waiting for the headlight to get fixed, her sister called. Told me about being a big Elton John fan, having his albums growing up, having been to his concert last time he was in Boise, and how she had been trying to win tickets herself. A perfect match for my tickets.

So I drove out to work this afternoon to give her the tickets. For free. No charge. No strings attached. My good deed for the day. My service to others, my own version of paying it forward.

Enjoy the concert, Marcie. Can't wait to hear all about it!

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Day 36 of 365

I used to like decorating cakes.

Since our daughter was little, I've made her birthday cakes most years. And made my husband's cakes. And my cakes. Then a few years back I got into making baby shower cakes for other people. I always got great feedback about them. Except cakes were hard for me. I wanted the cake to be perfect, and when I made a mistake I would have to scrape frosting off and start again. It was no longer fun.

But one thing that did continue to be fun was decorating sugar cookies. Many, many, years back I started giving decorated Christmas cookies for gifts. I've been doing it most years since. I have also added heart cookies for Valentine's Day, shamrocks for St. Patrick's Day (like on Day 12), and ghosts on Halloween. And I've gotten great feedback on all of those, too.

It's something I loved to do so I kept with it. Now I have over 250 cookie cutters for all occasions. Need a pirate ship cookie? I've got that. Need a tyrannosaurus rex? Got it. A cactus? Yep. A hammer? Yep. How about a barn? Yep, I've got that, too. I have everything from an acorn to a camel to a hockey stick and worm.

So now I decorate sugar cookies for anyone anytime they want them. The best part for me is I get to enjoy the process. If I make a mistake on a cookie, it becomes a "reject" (and my family likes those).

Today's sugar cookie beneficiary is the folks attending my husband's meeting this afternoon. It might be early for Easter, but I think they're not going to be complaining about a basket of Easter egg sugar cookies.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Day 35 of 365

I got my helper daughter home for a couple days. She's always looking to make some money, so she's doing some outside work for us. Weeding, plugging up woodpeckers holes in the shed, planting my gladiolus (those bursting in Day 32's picture), raking some leftover leaves from the fall. Basically the stuff I can't reach or bend over to do.

And the cat finally decided to give up her napping spot from Day 31's picture, so I was able to get going on my daughter's make up bag. I used a tutorial from the internet, and thank goodness this one finally was written correctly with all directions clearly explained.

Except that this pattern called for iron-on vinyl for the inside. But my daughter said she didn't want vinyl so I used a piece of fabric for lining. Which would have been okay, but when I finished the bag wasn't very stiff and didn't hold its shape well (unless propped up for my picture). It then occurred to me (only after the entire bag was completely finished) that since I didn't use vinyl, I should have used something else like the iron-on fleece that I have. The same fleece I used for my camera bag that turned out so nice on Day 14. Why I didn't think of that before I finished the bag?

So a floppy, non-shape-holding makeup bag is complete. Now I have to go back and figure a way to put some interfacing or fleece or batting or something into it without having to tear the entire thing apart and start over. My sewing skills are just a bit off lately.

And my counting skills are obviously off, too. As I was looking back for the pictures of my glads, of the cat napping, and of the camera bag I made I realized my post numbers were off. At around Day 12, I skipped a day somewhere. I've now gone back and made things right. I'm on Day 35 now, not Day 34.

Boy, I need some remediation!

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Day 34 of 365

I've been learning lots of new things about sewing lately.

I'm not a natural born sewer. I used to sew some of my daughter's clothes when she was a toddler, but had no clue what I was doing. A quarter inch seam allowance? On the bias? Cut notches? Sew interfacing? Make a button hole? I had not a clue to any of those. Yet, I continued to sew for her because I enjoyed it.

Skip ahead 20 years later and I'm still learning. I just found out last week that I have a quarter inch sewing machine foot. I still can't make a proper buttonhole. But I've been reading up on the internet. I've been following people's step-by-step tutorials and watching how-to videos. And through the process of creating each project I've been learning from my mistakes. My seam ripper is becoming my good friend.

I have enough problems making enough mistakes on my own that I don't need the internet messing me up, too.

This week I made four potholders. For three of them I followed a step-by-step tutorial and for the fourth I watched a video. Unfortunately (as I found out much too late) the directions on one of the tutorials wasn't complete and the measurements on the video were off. So I wound up having to re-do/guess/cut corners as best I could.

And that best wasn't good enough for me. So while they may look okay in the picture, they're not up to my perfectionist standards.

And that's another thing I'm learning about sewing. I can't be perfect. My skills, although improving, aren't there yet. But I'm not sure it matters. Is there a sewing police that will check to see if my seams line up or my points are folded correctly?

If so, I'm in trouble.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Day 33 of 365

I love my red KitchenAid stand mixer. I've had one for almost 25 years now and would never go back to any other mixer. The best part is I can add ingredients, turn it on, and let it be. No standing over the mixer, no kneading, just let the mixer's motor do all the work. I recently got a more powerful, bigger one (red again) and love this one even more. I use it all the time. Like today.

It was another cloudy, windy day and I had some baking to do. My husband needed some sugar cookies for a meeting later this week so I mixed up a double batch of dough in the mixer. We're having homemade pizza for dinner so I mixed up a batch of pizza dough.

And as I was reading this month's Food Network Magazine this morning, I came across a recipe for Almost-Famous Rosemary Bread. It's a recipe that is supposed to be like Macaroni Grill's Rosemary Peasant Bread. (And I'm a sucker for a recipe that replicates a restaurant one.) Now, I've never been to Macaroni Grill and have no idea what their bread tastes like, but the picture in the magazine sure looked good. And since I just planted rosemary and should have plenty on hand later in the summer (fingers crossed), I figured today was as good a time as any to try out a new rosemary recipe.

If you like bread and you like rosemary, this is a recipe for you. Yum!

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Day 32 of 365

Some days I just don't want to get out of bed.

Just too many things hurt.  My shoulders, my hands, my knees, my hips, and my back. Today was one of those days where everything ached. But I forced myself out of bed and took it easy for a while. Usually when I have really bad days, I do some type of organizing where I can sit in a chair and do something. I enjoy straightening shelves, organizing drawers, color coding fabric - something that is easy for me, that I get pleasure from, that doesn't tax my system, yet takes my mind off of hurting.

Most of today was just too much for even that. So I sat in the chair for a while, had some breakfast, read Readers Digest for a while, watched some NASCAR with hubby, and then finally got around to do some organizing. Actually, it was more of a straightening up project.

I've been working on several small sewing projects. I haven't finished any of them, but am getting close. Usually when I sew I pull out the fabrics I'm using and keep them nearby on the table in case I need them again before I'm done. Being I have three or four projects nearing the end right now, I have quite a few fabrics and bindings sitting out. I keep all my fabrics wrapped on boards and organized on the shelves by color, so it's been driving me crazy to have fabrics out loose.

So when I felt a bit better this afternoon, I got to work folding and wrapping my bindings and fabrics and putting them back on my shelves. I picked up scraps, refilled my iron with water, covered my sewing machine, and put my unfinished projects in a neat pile.

All projects except one.

I'm making my daughter a make up bag. We have the fabric, I have a pattern printed from the internet, and I have the zipper. I haven't started it yet, but I wanted to put it with the other projects. But I couldn't get to that project. It was temporarily unavailable. It was being used as a napping place.

It seems I'm not the only one needing to take it a little easy today.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Day 31 of 365

Our nice 60 degree weather has disappeared. Today is cloudy, rainy, windy, and cool. Not a good day to be working outside, so I decided to dig through our old seed packets to see what else I had to plant. Which then led me to checking on my glads.

I've never had much luck growing gladiolus. I love them all tall and colorful, but have always had problems with digging them up in the fall and replanting them in spring.  I'd plant them, they'd bloom (or not) and then I'd get too busy with school and forget to dig them out. Sometimes I even forgot where I planted them so I couldn't dig them out if I wanted to. One year I bought some that were touted as winter hardy, but after they flowered in the summer they never reappeared again.

But a couple years ago I decided I was going to try and do glads again. I was committed. I was going to mark where I planted them. I was going to make sure I didn't get too busy to dig them up and would have a dedicated container where I would store them for the winter.

Except that between the time I ordered them in the late summer and the time they arrived for planting in the following spring, I had hurt my back at work, been diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis, and had knee replacement surgery. When the bulbs arrived in April in a box marked "live plants", I knew my gladiolus days would not happen.

Then along came my helper. (My daughter, of course.) A couple weeks later she was able to come home and get them planted. Out front, in the back, on the side of the fence, in the planter box - wherever she could find a space. My hopes weren't too high since they'd been sitting in the box for a couple weeks, but some of them did bloom. They fell over in the wind and wound up on the ground most of the time (I didn't realize at the time that we were supposed to stake them or plant them along a wall or fence for support), but they did bloom. My helper girl even dug them up in the fall for me and put them in my "designated container" with some potting soil. All I could do was hope they'd survive the winter so they could be planted again.

So imagine my surprise with the bad luck I've had with this flower when I went looking for seeds and decided to check on my glads. In their designated plastic container with a lid. Or, maybe I should say, their designated plastic container with the lid pushed off (and not by me).

I think it might be a good year for glads.


Now to just get my daughter over here...

Friday, April 1, 2011

Day 30 of 365

We finally got a break in the weather. Today is the second day the temps have been in the 60s, plus today we have no wind. I've been itching to get outside and get some planting done.

In years past we've done planting over Spring Break (which is usually the 3rd week of March), but since our our helper/daughter left home we don't adhere to that schedule as much. And last year during Spring Break I was in the hospital with my knee replacement so we didn't even attempt a garden.

Just like my big plans to hang up laundry on the clothesline all summer, we have big garden plans this summer. My husband has some things growing in the greenhouse at his school, but we needed to get some other seeds started ASAP.

So today in the nice, bright, warm sunshine I planted seeds in some pots. Some of them will stay in the pots and will eventually make it to our porch and others were planted in a pot as a temporary "growing until they're big enough to put in the ground" spot. Spinach, arugula, kale, rosemary, oregano, dill, basil, cucumbers, and cantaloupe seeds are now planted. We have them on the south side of the house where it is always so warm. I guess I'm hoping the extra warmth they'll get there will make up for lost time. Kind of like me.

I guess I'm hoping this picture-a-day project will help me make up for lost time, too.