Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Day 90 of 365

Today was one of those busy days I was not looking forward to. Being sick and having to go out isn't what I would call fun.

Except I spent the day out with my daughter, shopping for her birthday. Which made it a little more fun. Now that I'm not working, money is a bit tighter so we're not spending as much on birthdays and holidays. So it's a good thing that her tastes aren't too expensive.

Actually, her tastes are expensive. She works in one of the clothing departments that cater to her generation (and her size) at a high end department store. So while she works long and hard at that job, she has also acquired a taste for some of the finer, brand-name labels. But she makes her own money and spends her own money (and a lot of it is spent there at her store). She knows better than to ask us to purchase anything for her from there. We don't even shop in that particular store ourselves.

Growing up in a small rural farming community of less than 900, belonging to clubs like FFA (Future Farmers of America), she knows the value of hard work. She also has learned that as long as your basic needs are met, it's not necessary to live a lavish lifestyle.

So as we were shopping for her birthday today she was conscientious about where we shopped. Mass retailers were her preference. We picked up a purse (on sale), but the best couple deals we found were at (surprise) Target. She hit the clearance racks and found a couple of presents that fit her style.

She found:
  • A shirt, regularly priced at $17.99, marked down to $4.48 minus a $3 coupon for a total price of $1.48.
  • A swimsuit top (she already has a bottom) regularly priced at $14.99, marked down to $3.74

$5.53 (including tax) for $32.98 of clothes. That's over $27 off.

I just might be able to afford to keep her!

Monday, May 30, 2011

Day 89 of 365

Today was the day I was giving away that lovely, yet difficult for me to quilt, quilt top. We had 10 people interested, so I used random.org to randomly choose the winner.

Congrats to Cheryl, who wrote:
You have made a very beautiful quilt. For sure to wrap around someone in love while they see stars in there eyes keeping warm. I'm am putting quilts together for my daughters "Childrens's Heart Disease Foundation. There will be a auction this June. I would so love to add this in the auction and include your name on the back. thank you for allowing me to share and be a part of your drawing, most of all thank you for sharing something you at one time so loved. Blessings Cheryl 

As soon as I get your address Cheryl, I'll get it in the mail.

So the quilt will head out, but the batting and backing is still sitting on the sewing room table. With a cat still on it. Just like yesterday.

And just like yesterday, I can't get myself out of the house or out of my sweats. But today, now I can't get hardly get myself out of bed. This week is going to be busy - daughter will be home, have to go shopping to buy her a birthday present, have two meetings on two different days at school this week, and then her birthday. I'll be leaving the house every day this week. I don't know the last time that happened.

The last time a bird talked to a squirrel about the best place to meet me? Looks like today. Thank goodness for cameras and windows. Even if they aren't totally clean (the windows, that is).

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Day 88 of 365

Today was spent watching racing. First Indy 500, then NASCAR. On TV, of course.

We've actually been to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. It was one of our must-stops on the cross-country trip we took a few years ago. The day we went the Richard Petty Driving Experience was going on. That's where folks plop down a nice chunk of money (like over $100 if I remember right) to ride along in a NASCAR race car for a couple laps around the track. We didn't do it, but could certainly hear how loud those cars can be flying around the track at 150+ miles an hour. We also could certainly appreciate how difficult it is to capture pictures of cars going that fast. I probably used more film on that one day of our trip than any other day anywhere. And half of those pictures turned out to be of an empty racetrack. The cars were just too darn fast!

But I know at some point in our lives we'll go back. And we'll go back on Indy race day. But not this year, and not next, and I imagine not the next. It's one of those things we talk about that we always say we are going to do, (and I hope we can), but things have to improve for me substantially before I can see myself traveling that far again. Just security at the airport is going to be an ordeal for me now! I'll be carrying needles and prefilled syringes - and the full body scan is going to light up like a Christmas tree - 3 screws in the right shoulder, 4 screws in the left, and big chunks of metal in my left knee.

So the Indy 500, the Kentucky Derby, and Mardi Gras all get put on a "someday" list.

As if I don't already have enough issues, with the way I'm feeling again today (going into week 2 of the flu) I can't even get myself out of the house or even out of my sweats. I haven't even had enough energy to fold up that batting and backing I took off of the quilt top a couple days back.

Which works out fine for the kitty. She's not looking to leave the house, either.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Day 87 of 365

I think the birds have been talking to each other. About me and this blog.

I imagine the ones I've snapped pictures of have been telling others to stick close to the house and if they happen to see me, pose. That they might get their picture on the internet and might be seen around the world.

In the past 24 hours, I've had several bird encounters:
  • Yesterday evening as I was on the computer, a small bird (don't know what kind) grasped his little claws on my window screen and held himself there. I don't know what he thought he was trying to do, but if it was to get his picture taken it didn't happen. I was so startled it took me a bit to grab the camera out of my purse. By the time I had the camera ready to go, he was gone.
  • This morning as I was getting out of bed, one of the yellow goldfinches was sitting on the trellis right out my bedroom window. I was able to go get the camera, but as I was focusing he flew away.
  • Many mornings I head to my lift chair first to help my back get ready for the day. As I was sitting in the chair looking out the window, a hummingbird hovered right in front of the big window. To get out of the lift chair takes forever since you have to push a button to get the motor moving before you can get out. By the time I got out of the chair, grabbed the camera, and got back to the window I thought he'd be gone. He was still flying around a bit, but came back to the window again. The big ole quilt frame from yesterday was in the way, and just as soon as I moved it to get closer to the window to take the picture, he flew off. And hasn't returned yet.
  • I still didn't have my picture for the day, so I decided to go outside for a while, hoping for a bird to show up, or a flower to be blooming - anything. As I was bending over replanting our watermelon and cantaloupe plants, two mallard ducks came flying low overhead. I had my camera with me, but by the time I got it ready (and got myself upright) they were gone.
  • And just now, as I sat here typing my blog, a bird in the tree outside the window with a big worm hanging from it's mouth. Geez, why don't I just leave my camera on all the time?
What are the odds of all of these missed opportunities happening within the same day of each other? And what are the chances it's going to happen again? Pretty slim on both counts.

My picture search for the day is not yet over, but at this late hour the chances are also pretty slim of getting a good picture, especially with me feeling as crappy as I feel.

How about a picture I took yesterday at the end of the day as the storms finished up? It's worth posting, even if it's a day late.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Day 86 of 365

Google appears to be having some issues with the "Followers" section. There also appears to be an issue for some when trying to post a comment. This is a known issue and they are working on fixing it. Remember, you can always contact me by clicking on the "Contact Me" button at the bottom of the page. 

Today was a very rainy day and I got frustrated.

Not by the rain, but by what I decided to to do inside to fill my time.

A darn quilt that's been giving me trouble since the beginning. I should know by now that if I'm cursing at something, it can't be good.

And this one isn't good. It all started back on Day 38. Way back then I spent some frustrating time getting a quilt into the floor frame. Was looking forward to the refreshing change from machine quilting. I had big plans to spend several days a week looking out the front window while I sat working on the quilt.

Except here it is, 48 days later and I haven't done much more than a foot by foot square on it.

So today I decided to work on it. But as I sat there thinking about how long it would take me to finish it and how long it's already been taking up space in my living room, I changed my mind. I decided to machine quilt it instead. It was already on the frame, so I pin basted it. Except when I got it off the frame, it was all bunched up. All 100 or so safety pins came right back out. Spread it out on the table, repinned it, then started to sew. But even with my walking foot, there was some bunching happened.

I also have a frame that I can use with my plain Jane sewing machine. So I unpinned the quilt again to roll it onto the rails of the other frame. The other too-small frame.

Fold over part of the quilt to fit on the frame, roll it, and it starts rolling crooked. Again. And again, and again.

This quilt has been an enemy to me for almost two months now. I originally was quite fond of it, but have now come to not like it so much. So I decided to take out the stitches, keep the batting and backing, and give away the quilt top. I'm sure there is someone out there who can love it in a way I can't.

Any takers?

It's a quilt top only (no batting, no backing), approximately 61"x67". I hope it can find a loving home. Just leave me a comment here (be sure to leave a screen name or something). Or, use the "Contact Me" button at the very bottom of the page. If more than one person is interested, I'll draw a name.

Check back Monday to see if I'll be mailing it your way.

We have a winner! Congrats to Cheryl, who wrote:
You have made a very beautiful quilt. For sure to wrap around someone in love while they see stars in there eyes keeping warm. I'm am putting quilts together for my daughters "Childrens's Heart Disease Foundation. There will be a auction this June. I would so love to add this in the auction and include your name on the back. thank you for allowing me to share and be a part of your drawing, most of all thank you for sharing something you at one time so loved. 
Exercise update: 40 days in a row! Since I ride the exercise bike everyday, I'm going to switch from a daily report to a weekly miles rode report. Look for an update next Friday!

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Day 85 of 365

I'm not really into birds all that much. I have a bird book that we use to look up the birds we see here at the house, but we don't ever go birdwatching.

Since we live by the river, we have ducks and geese we see around ever so often. There are some quail in our neighborhood, a hummingbird that has nested in our tree a couple times, the pretty goldfinches that eat at our sunflowers in the fall (and were oh-so-friendly this week), the robins we see every day, and the occasional woodpecker.

But the most pain in the rear birds we have around are the blackbirds. They've capitalized on the holes the woodpeckers have made in the shed. We cover up the holes, but the persistent blackbirds hurl themselves against the covered holes and punch their way through again. They've nested under the eaves in the shed. We cover the hole, they peck and push again and again until they get the hole big enough to squeeze through.

We probably don't have as much patience for them because they're not as pretty as other birds. I'm not sure we'd complain if we found pretty blue robin eggs in the shed. Or if the goldfinches had nested.

But when I've had just about enough of the blackbirds, one of them goes and does this. Sitting still, singing away, just begging me to take his picture as he (or she) is perching on my not yet blooming rosebushes.

Maybe I shouldn't be so harsh to judge. It had better stay away from my shed, though.
Exercise update: 39 for 39.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Day 84 of 365

After being in a funk for most of the day yesterday, today became a let's get all this crap done day.

Between the high school kid we hired, my husband who is home every day now, and me, we have moved along nicely on the to-do list.
  • Cut out winter damage in roses.
  • Clip back tulips and other spring bulbs.
  • Dig grass out of all gardens.
  • Cut up broken branch from last week's windstorm.
  • Replant herbs (except parsley and oregano).
  • Cut landscape timbers to fit around new climbing roses.
  • Bring out patio table.
  • Put new bench together.
  • Plant morning glory.
  • Cut branches back from roof.
  • Pinch off peony side shoots.
  • Empty garbage cans of dirt/weeds.
  • Cover woodpecker hole in shed.
  • Weed strawberry bed.
  • Pinch off blooms from strawberries
  • Build trellis for tomatoes.
  • Put sealant on new bench and rocking chair.
  • Finish cement edging in wildflowers.
  • Remove landscape fabric/edging around tree.
  • Use edging from around tree to edge vegetable garden.
  • Finish terracing behind shed
  • Re-stain all landscape timbers.

As we've been working on the list, I again am reminded of how much I miss being outside. Fresh air helps with grumpy attitudes.

Without being outside I wouldn't get to see that we have blossoms on the tomatoes and pumpkins.

I would also have missed my clematis blooming.
Exercise update: 38 for 38.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Day 83 of 365

I had a doctor's appointment today and left there in a funk.

I got weighed. I usually decline having myself weighed but was excited today to see how much I lost. I've been exercising faithfully for 37 days in a row. I've been watching what I eat. We cut out sugar a while back, I'm eating salads (only 4 days so far, but jeez), and I've been cutting down my portions. But when I stepped on the scale, I was shocked. I have gained weight. So as I sat waiting for the ever-so-late doctor to show up I was alone with my thoughts. My frustrated, angry, and downright upsetting thoughts.

Then, based on the medications I'm taking, my weight gain, and some other symptoms, the doctor decided to run some tests. Seven different tubes of blood. Not two, three, or five. Seven. I almost got out my camera and took a picture right then and there, but decided there had to be something better in my day than that.

And because of my ten years on anti-inflammatories that are tough on the stomach, the almost two years spent on pain pills and Methotrexate, and some bad stomach issues I've been having, a referral to a gastroenterologist for treatment of a possible ulcer or hiatal hernia.

When I left there for the hour long drive home, I wasn't a happy camper. I had to stop at the grocery store and drug store and was still a grump.

When I got home I read up on how to give myself the new prescription I picked up. (The new Methotrexate injections.) After that I was even grumpier.

So I sat down here to write. Without a taking a picture yet.

As usual, I looked at the tree out the window. My goldfinch from Day 81 was back. But he wasn't alone. On a nearby branch sat another goldfinch. A goldfinch that kept inching closer and closer to my buddy.

I couldn't help but smile at what happened next.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Day 82 of 365

I set a personal best last night. A record of something I've never done before.

It's not that I've taken a picture and written about it every day for 82 days. It's not that I've exercised for 36 straight days. (Even though those are also personal bests.)

It was that I had a salad for two days in a row.

My husband loves vegetables. I don't. To say I hate them would be more accurate. Can't stand salad. Can't stand radishes, broccoli, cabbage, kohlrabi, peas, carrots, spinach, arugula, kale - all of which we planted this year. Tomatoes? Only if they're in salsa. Cucumbers? Only when they are pickles.

The fact that I handpicked the spinach, arugula, and radishes from the garden isn't a big deal. Making a salad from them was no big deal. But the fact that I actually ate some of that salad these last two days is a very big deal. It is quite comical to watch me eat it, though. I can't eat it plain, but I don't like salad dressing. So I mix it into something else we're having. Take a bite of potato and pile the salad on it. Anything to get it down. And down it went two nights in a row.

There are a couple vegetables I wouldn't mind eating so much. Of course they are starchy vegetables that aren't as healthy as the others. At least I'll be able to eat potatoes and corn without grimacing.

Come on corn, grow!

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Day 81 of 365

It appears there are more and more times where I find that I don't notice something because it's just been there too long.

It's become part of the landscape, part of the furniture, part of the decor. It's there all the time so it's not noticeable anymore.

Like one of the puzzles I got for Christmas. I haven't opened the box and don't even know what the picture is (although I think there's yellow/orange and green in it). Yet, it's been sitting on the table with my sewing machine since December. Next to the sewing machine I've been using most days for the last couple months. The puzzle box has been in my way the entire time. Sometimes I move it to the left, sometimes I move it to the back. But for some reason, I keep forgetting it's there. Keep forgetting to actually pick it up and put it away. Or even pick it up and see what the picture is. The only reason I finally realized it was there (and didn't belong there) was because I was cleaning up the sewing room and had to dust it. (And believe me, after five months it was quite dusty.)

And like the quilt I have in the living room. The one in the huge frame. Even though I see it there every single day, it's like it doesn't register. I haven't done much more on it. Even yesterday when I was writing on my blog about being done quilting, I forgot all about it. So technically, I'm not done with quilts. I don't know how I missed that big thing in the middle of my living room.

And yesterday's radishes, too. First thing planted, first thing harvested? Nope. How did I forget that we've been eating off the arugula these last few weeks? Spinach? Yep, had that for dinner last night with the arugula and radishes. But I thought radishes were the only thing we'd planted that we'd been eating.

Finally I did catch something before it became too familiar. Every day when I'm typing away here, I look out the window. I might look at the lawn, the rose garden, or the tree right out the window. In one of my glances a couple days back I noticed a tree limb that had busted in the latest windstorm. Which then lead my mind to wander about how we're going to get it out since it's so high up in the tree, we don't have a ladder tall enough, don't want to have the high school kid climb the tree (liability issues), and how my daughter will probably have to climb it or we'll just have to leave the dead branch up there. So every day I glance up there to see if the leaves have completely died yet and how bad it would look to just leave it.

But something yellow was sitting on a branch up there. Something new, not part of the landscape, not expected. So I snapped a picture through our double paned (and somewhat dirty) windows.
Exercise update: 35 for 35.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Day 80 of 365

Now that the quilts are gone, I've decided to close up my sewing shop for the summer.

I really don't have a sewing shop, but I've used my sewing machine more in these last couple months than I have in probably the last five years combined. But the sewing room is a disaster with all the bits of pieces of fabric left over, and all the different colored threads around, and batting pieces, and ... The list goes on and on. So I'll be cleaning it up in there, organizing it all pretty, and then not messing it up again for some time. I do still have a couple small projects I'd like to get to, but nothing like doing five quilts in five days. What was I thinking?

I know what I'm thinking now, though. Now that the weather is warmer, and the gardens (and the weeds) have been calling my name, it's time for me to focus on something else for a bit.

Every year I do that anyway. For the past 17 years I've been working full time, crazy hours, bringing work home with me. Usually around the first or second week of June or so, I'm out of school and ready to leave it all behind. And ready to focus on the outside stuff. Since my husband had his last day of school yesterday (and I'm not working), I'm ready to start that outside focus now. A whole month early.

Focus on the outside of the house and the gardens. Focus on watering and weeding. Pruning and clipping. And on harvesting the vegetables we planted.

Like radishes. Our first thing planted back on April 1 is the first thing we got to eat from the garden today.
Exercise update: 34 for 34.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Day 79 of 365

There's a lot I didn't do today.

I didn't pull the tree seedlings out of the rose garden and wildflower garden, or cut out the winter damage in the roses.

I didn't dig the grass out of all the gardens or bring out the patio table.

I didn't put the new bench together or cut branches back from the roof.

I didn't empty the garbage cans of the dirt and weeds or cover the woodpecker hole in shed.

But I did do something important.

I met a goal I set this week. Quilting, binding, washing, clipping threads, sewing on labels. Five kids' quilts in one week. Quilt number five is finished. Now all of them are done, over, washed, folded, boxed up, and at the post office. Headed to the Quilts for Kids organization.

The lofty goal is now a completed goal. 
Exercise update: 33 for 33.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Day 78 of 365

I was watching someone being interviewed on TV today and she was talking about having had 9 surgeries in her lifetime. That number seemed shocking when she said it.

But as I started to think about it, I've already bypassed that number these past several years.

My body has been making things more difficult for me. I'm aging faster than I should be. I had to have a hysterectomy at age 30. Had to have a total knee replacement at age 44. And just yesterday the doctor told me I have the back of a 60 year old. Excuse me, I'm only 45? What's that back going to look like when I am 60?

And the next not-so-great news from the rheumatologist? That Methotrexate that I take on Wednesday nights? The pills that I take 8 of all at the same time? Well, it's time to switch to an injection there, too. So next week I will start taking two shots. One injection of the chemotherapy drug Methotrexate and one injection of the TB and cancer-causing drug Enbrel.

I know my situation is not unique. I know there are others out there suffering (or managing) better than I am. But some days I just have to live one day at a time.

One more day of exercising (that's 32 in a row now). One more day of finishing up a kids quilt.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Day 77 of 365

It's true that one thing leads to another.

I had an appointment with the rheumatologist today. Since I had to drive towards the big city to get there, I went ahead and went all the way to the city to see my daughter. And since Target is at the freeway interchange on the way to the doctor's and my daughter's, I made a Target run, too.

My Target take: (AC=After Coupons)
  • 4 trays of Whiskas Cat food $2.28  ($1.14 AC)
  • Up & Up baby shampoo $1.37  ($.62 AC)
  • 2 bottles French's Mustard $2.14  ($.57 each AC)
  • 2 packs Dentyne Gum $2.08  ($.04 each AC)
  • 2 Dulcolax $9.48 ($.74 each AC)
  • 2 Propel $1.84 ($.42 each AC)
  • 3 Crystal Light $7.47 ($1.49 each AC)

I paid with a gift card my husband received last week, so no out of pocket expenses for me.

When I got to my daughter's she gave me my Mother's Day present. A new rolling pin from Williams-Sonoma. Just the one I wanted! (Thanks kiddo.) And she treated me to lunch today - sandwiches from Jimmy Johns (thanks again kiddo).

After my doctor's appointment I went to the McDonald's across the street and picked up my free frozen strawberry lemonade (from the coupon in Sunday's paper).

My only expense was the doctors co-pay. (Except there will be a bill that follows for the several tubes of blood they took.)

Didn't pay at Target, didn't pay for a new rolling pin, didn't pay for lunch, didn't pay for strawberry lemonade.

And on top of that, finished a quilt and exercised for the 31st day in a row.

A productive but cheap day.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Day 76 of 365

What a day.

Some days I sit down at the computer and am not sure what I want to write about. Today was not one of those days. It seemed that so much happened out of the ordinary that I wanted to write about too many things.

I wanted to write about that fact that we had a frost last night and I'm not sure if our plants made it or not.

    I wanted to write about all I did this morning - got up early, exercised first thing (30 days in a row), paid bills, got a load of laundry on the clothesline. (All before 9:30.)

    I also wanted to write about how I went to school for a meeting, visited there for a while, picked up a hamburger for lunch, and worked on the computer in the afternoon.

    Of all of those things the only thing that is in a normal, average day is the exercise. (Well, that and laundry and bill paying ever so often.) Laundry, bill paying, and all of those other things combined to make it an unusual day.

    But since I've done too many me, me, me posts lately, I won't be writing about any of those things.

    Today's it's all about the kids quilt I finished. These first few I'm finishing are with material that the quilting for kids organization sent me. Two down and three to go.

    Now when I send these five quilts out the door, can I count that as downsizing?

    Monday, May 16, 2011

    Day 75 of 365

    By reading back on my posts, it seems I've been a bit selfish lately. My garden, my to-do list, my exercising, my pain, my fabric, my organizing, my downsizing, my unknown job status. My, my, my.

    Time to get back to doing what I set out to do. Be thankful for what I have. Be thankful for being able to, on my good days, do things for others.

    So today I finished one of those things I was oh-so-excited about doing a few weeks back. Doing kids quilts for charity. I was so excited when I received fabric, excited when I made the quilt tops, but the excitement waned as the spring garden season came around.

    The weather has cooled off again so the work in the gardens can wait (even those weeds).  This week's goal is to get five (yep, 5) quilts finished. All the top parts are ready, but I need to add the batting and backing (which I now have thanks to that fabric arrival a few days back). I'm quilting all of them on the machine, then will wash them and send them on their way. Having them done by Friday might be pushing it, but that's the plan.

    Today's picture is one of the now finished quilts hanging on my clothesline. (Which in itself is exciting - my shoulders work well enough that I can hang things on a clothesline now!)
    Exercise update: 29 for 29.

    Sunday, May 15, 2011

    Day 74 of 365

    I've never been one to write in a journal.

    There have been a couple times in my life where I've put pen to paper at the end of every day, but in total it probably hasn't been for more than just a few months.

    So I'm surprised at myself for actually writing here each day. And putting it out for all to read. When I first started this blog I didn't know if anyone would read it. Now I have a few followers, a few people who post comments, but according to the statistics I have access to, many more read it every day.

    I'm glad I'm writing things down here. Writing down my thoughts and activities, taking a picture of something noteworthy, and keeping track of how many days I'm exercising has given me a project. Something to keep me moving forward and a record of how far I've come.

    But most importantly, it has kept me accountable. Especially when it comes to the exercise department.

    28 days in a row. 28 days of riding the exercise bike. 28 days of getting my blood pumping. Of getting my shoulders, arms, and legs stronger.

    I can honestly say I have never in my entire life exercised for 28 days in a row before. There's an interesting thing that happens when you exercise every day for a month. Your muscles feel stronger. Your clothes fit better. You stand up a bit taller. And you don't feel like you need to eat as much.

    Last time when I lost a significant amount of weight, I was on prescription amphetamines. Kept me going all day, kept me up all night. They made me not want to eat, but they didn't necessarily make me want to exercise. So some days I did, and some days I didn't.

    But by having people I don't even know check up on me and give me encouraging words does make me want to exercise. And makes me want to do it each day.

    So to all who read my blog daily or occasionally, and to those who are on this road with me, I thank you. I thank you for your positive comments, your encouragement, and your interest in what I'm doing. Just a few short months ago, I certainly didn't think I was going to make it out of the mess I was in.

    Now I feel like there's a light at the end of the tunnel. (And this time I don't think it's a train.)

    I'm like the peas my daughter replanted a couple weeks back. The first batch was planted back on April 1. Those dissolved in the ground from too much rain and not enough warmth. The second batch was planted just 10 days ago. The combination of good weather and enriched soil has them bursting from the ground and inching toward the trellis, looking to grow tall and strong.

    And thanks to the combination of my daily writing, picture taking, and your positive support, I'm doing the same.

    Saturday, May 14, 2011

    Day 73 of 365

    Some days I have no sense of time.

    I used to (when I was working) always wear a watch. I even wore a watch on the weekends. Being on time, knowing what time it was, knowing how much time something was taking - all important. Crucially important. But now? Now that I have nowhere to be and no schedule to keep, time just flies by. On those days I get a lot done, time flies by. On those days where I feel like I get nothing done, time flies by.

    And all without looking at a watch or a clock. My watch battery died last year and I have no intention of replacing it. When I was taking down my watermelon things out of my kitchen back on Day 68, I knocked my kitchen clock off the wall and broke it. Haven't fixed it, haven't even thought of getting a new one.

    Really, how many clocks do we need? We've cut down the number in the last few years, but we still have a clock in the kitchen (on the microwave), one in the dining room, one in the living room, one in the sewing room, the alarm clock in the bedroom, the one on the computer, the one on the cell phone, one in my daughter's old room, and one in the room off the carport.

    In the summer we definitely don't pay attention to time. As a high school teacher, most of the year for my husband revolves around time, specific to the minute. A class might start at 1:13. Not 1:15, not 1:20, but 1:13. So during the year he - and all other teachers - have to be obsessive about the specific time. When summer break comes (five days and counting), all time seems to disappear.

    Which is where I've been living for quite some time now. So much time under the influence of doctor-prescribed pain medication. And now, as I'm getting back to living, so much time doing the things I love. Sewing, baking, and gardening. It's been so long since I've been able to get out and enjoy working outside, I am now remembering how much I missed it.

    Time flies so fast when I'm outside. My typical sewing/workout/blog writing schedule got skewed today because I was still busy outside, not a care in the world, doing what needed to be done. And thanks to me exercising everyday (27 out of 27 days so far), I'm feeling stronger. Stronger to do my outside work.

    But a storm is brewing, and outside work time is over for today. Black skies are all around and thunderstorms are headed our way. Nothing like the pretty clouds billowing up when I was outside earlier.

    Friday, May 13, 2011

    Day 72 of 365

    I spent quite a bit of time outside today.

    I still got my exercising done (26 for 26) , got some quilting work on the kids' quilts done, but with the weather heading towards 80 degrees today, I just couldn't resist.

    Part of the reason I stayed outside more than usual was because of the issues with the blog. Not just my blog, but everyone who has their blog hosted by Google had service issues for the past couple days. We were able to look at our blogs but not able to post anything. So instead of getting all upset and ranting and raving like some folks were, I decided to ride out the down time outside working on that huge list from the other day, crossing off things as I went.
    • Pull tree seedlings out of rose garden and wildflower garden.
    • Cut out winter damage in roses.
    • Clip back tulips and other spring bulbs.
    • Dig grass out of all gardens.
    • Cut up broken branch from last week's windstorm.
    • Replant herbs (except parsley and oregano).
    • Cut landscape timbers to fit around new climbing roses.
    • Bring out patio table.
    • Put new bench together.
    • Plant morning glory.
    • Cut branches back from roof.
    • Pinch off peony side shoots.
    • Empty garbage cans of dirt/weeds.
    • Cover woodpecker hole in shed.
    • Weed strawberry bed.
    • Pinch off blooms from strawberries.
    And a clarification about the pinching of the strawberry blooms. We planted brand new bareroot strawberries this year. Since they are in their first year and they are everbearing strawberries (setting fruit more than once), it's necessary to pinch off all the blooms until the first of July. By doing this, the plants will be stronger and healthier and we'll have a better crop next year. We won't have to pinch the blooms again - it's just a first year thing.

    As for pinching off the side shoots from the peonies, that's an every year thing. By pinching off the side flowers early, the main flower will be bigger and stronger.

    Since I'm starting to feel like a photographer (and a gardener), I started taking my camera outside with me every time I go. As I was cutting back the tulips (not the leaves, just the main stem of the spent plants), I took one last picture of them. I have a few pink ones that are just now coming on, but for the most part the tulips are gone. So one last attempt at taking a close up picture.

    Thursday, May 12, 2011

    Day 71 of 365

    I look at what my husband eats and don’t get why I weigh more than him.

    Stopping at restaurants he had seen on the Food Network and Travel Channel was a high priority when we traveled coast to coast a few years back. It seems every trip we’ve taken has revolved around food.

    Hot Dogs in New York City. Beignets in New Orleans. Barbecue in Memphis. Pukka Dogs in Hawaii.  Reindeer Sausage in Anchorage. Throwed rolls at Lambert’s CafĂ© in Missouri. Ben and Jerry’s Ice Cream in Vermont.

    And my husband always eats more than me. And he doesn’t exercise (unless you count teaching). Yet year after year, I always outweigh him.

    Some years I change my eating habits, some years he does. We never seem to be on the same schedule.

    A couple years back, we coordinated our change in eating habits. He had some to lose; I had a bunch to lose. I was on a “medically supervised program” (meaning the doctor prescribed me amphetamines and restricted me to less than 1000 calories a day). We both lost weight, but I lost quite a bit more than my husband. But when we started veering from the plan, we both gained it back. And mine came back on a lot faster.

    So now that summer is just about here, my husband and I have been talking about looking at an anti-inflammatory diet. Fruits and veggies, fish and some lean meats. With rheumatoid arthritis, inflammation is something I have big problems with, so it might be a good option for both reducing inflammation and losing some pounds. My exercise routine is already in place (25 days in a row now!), so maybe it’s a good time for us to try controlling the diet.

    But not tonight. We had pulled pork sandwiches and homemade oven fries. But as usual, my husband had to turn it into Diners, Drive Ins, and Dives (a Food Network show).

    Pulled pork, coleslaw, and fries all in one. Yuck.

    Wednesday, May 11, 2011

    Day 70 of 365

    I sat down today and made a to-do list of all the things that need to happen outside in the next couple weeks.

    The list is long:
    • Pull tree seedlings out of rose garden and wildflower garden.
    • Cut out winter damage in roses.
    • Clip back tulips and other spring bulbs.
    • Dig grass out of all gardens.
    • Cut up broken branch from last week's windstorm.
    • Replant herbs (except parsley and oregano).
    • Cut landscape timbers to fit around new climbing roses.
    • Bring out patio table.
    • Put new bench together.
    • Plant morning glory.
    • Cut branches back from roof.
    • Pinch off peony side shoots.
    • Empty garbage cans of dirt/weeds.
    • Cover woodpecker hole in shed.
    • Weed strawberry bed.
    • Pinch off blooms from strawberries.
    And in prioritizing them, a few projects that can wait a bit:
    • Clean out gutters.
    • Cut board for ditch.
    • Build trellis for tomatoes.
    • Put sealant on new bench and rocking chair.
    • Finish cement edging in wildflowers.
    • Remove landscape fabric/edging around tree.
    • Use edging from around tree to edge vegetable garden.
    • Finish terracing behind shed
    • Re-stain all landscape timbers.
    Now that the weather is finally warming up, we're a bit behind. We will hopefully have the high school student help us out with a few of the more labor intensive ones. And two things on the list I already did today. I (finally) weeded the strawberry bed, and since it's the first year for them, I had to pluck off all the blossoms.

    Before I did, I snapped a picture of one of them. I see that I missed some weed roots, but the strawberries sure look different than when I planted them as bare-roots back on Day 16.
    Exercise update: 24 for 24.

    Tuesday, May 10, 2011

    Day 69 of 365

    I feel like a slacker today.

    I'm so far behind on everything. I thought I'd be farther down the road on the downsizing. I'm working at it quite often, but it isn't my priority so it slides. I'm falling farther behind on the quilt that's in the frame. I've worked on it a few days, but haven't even finished one section of it yet. My rose garden is full of tree seedlings that have sprouted after the seed pods dropped from the trees last year. If I don't watch it, we're going to wind up with a tree farm instead of a rose garden. My strawberries still haven't been weeded. And thank goodness my husband has been watering our newly planted vegetable garden, because I certainly haven't.

    I don't know where the time goes. I spend an hour or two on the computer each day, working on the blog and printing recipes, coupons, and patterns. I exercise. I eat cereal for breakfast, a sandwich for lunch, and cook dinner. I don't sit down to watch TV but a couple times a week in the evenings.

    So where does it go? I can't get a handle on it. I spend time figuring out what I'm going to take a picture of. I walk across the street to get the mail. I take a shower. I get dressed. (Not in that order.)

    I look back at the blog and know I've done a lot. And some days I'm excited about it. But today even that isn't enough to pull me out of my funk. Maybe I'm just tired. Or maybe it's because I know I only have a few days left to be home by myself. Next Friday is my husband's last day of school. Out for the summer, home every day, never leaving (unless I drive him). My private quiet time days are going to be gone, replaced with a husband who has no hobbies (unless you count watching sports on TV). I'll miss my quiet times, but I'm not sure I really deserve them if I can't figure out how I'm using them.

    One thing that did take some time today will help me get one of my projects finished up. When I put backings on quilts, I've always used sheets. I made several kids' quilt tops a little while back, but wanted to put some brighter backings on them instead of the basic sheet colors I usually use. So I found a great deal (less than $15 for over 35 yards) on some solid colored fabrics on ebay a couple weeks back. They arrived today (there goes the downsizing) and I have them all nicely folded, ready to pick from so I can finish up these tops and get them out the door.

    I just need to have something finished. Maybe then I can feel good about where my day has gone. Because right now I don't.
    Exercise update: 23 for 23.

    Monday, May 9, 2011

    Day 68 of 365

    When we moved into this house, we went from a rental that had less than 900 square feet to our own home with 2000 square feet. It was the first house we'd ever owned after many years of renting.

    In the past 12 years in this house we've proceeded to fill up every empty room, every empty wall, every empty corner. Furniture, pictures, books and magazines, and wall quilts. A couple of rooms are especially bad. The bedroom and the kitchen.

    For some reason (which I don't remember now), we decided when we moved here we wanted a cabin-themed bedroom. So all the furniture is dark wood, the walls are green, the bedspread is woodsy, and the walls are covered with pictures, signs, and cabin decor. Moose, bears, trees - anything that could resemble the mountains. But last year as I spent torturous hours and hours in bed with my leg strapped in the CPM machine (a machine that forces your knee to bend after replacement surgery), I had nothing to do but stare at the walls and ceiling. And I started to have a strong dislike for the bedroom decor. I wanted it simpler, more peaceful. Even after I was up and about out of the machine and spent fewer hours in the bedroom, I realized I was just plain tired of all the junk in there.

    A spa theme might be more relaxing. Some blue, some brown, and minimalist decorations. So when I was at my daughter's recouping from the shoulder surgery, my husband took down all the cabin themed things. And the bedroom looked empty. Now I'm used to the blankness of the bedroom. I may change the wall color and come up with a different bedspread, but am not at all interested in adding anything back.

    Then there's the kitchen. A watermelon-themed kitchen is what I started out with here. And I've added to it, and added, and added. Now it's time to take away. I love the look of red and white, but the watermelons are going. No more signs, decor, pictures (well, maybe one picture). And just like a few months back, it now looks blank. But I'm sure I'll get used to it. I know I have more watermelon things around, but I must have stuck them somewhere else because I can't find them today.

    Maybe I can't find the rest because it's harder for me to give these things up than the bedroom things. But I'm sure I'll be glad I did (eventually).

    The downsizing continues...
    Exercise update: 22 for 22.

    Sunday, May 8, 2011

    Day 67 of 365

    Today is Mother's Day. But since we celebrated on Thursday when my daughter was home, today isn't Mother's Day for me.

    My husband never has been one to celebrate it with me. When my daughter was young, Mother's Day often went by unnoticed. His belief is that the child should be the doing/ buying for the mother, so until my daughter got old enough and had some money, I knew not to expect the day to be anything special. I'm sure there are other men that feel the same way, but I also know there are other men who, no matter how young the child is, celebrate the day with their wives.

    So today is a plain ole' day for me. My daughter did call this morning to wish me happy Mother's Day. And I called my mom. She and her good friend Nona had a wonderful - and sugar filled - time eating the treats I sent her way. She even sent me a picture of the remains of their feast and I'm posting it here today. (Although when I spoke to her this morning, she let me know the goodies have now all been devoured.)

    In looking for my picture for today, I decided on a single red rose. We don't have any of our roses blooming yet, but the new climbing rose we planted this week is blooming.

    So for all the moms out there, here's a rose and a wish for a Happy Mother's Day!

    And to my mom, Happy Mother's Day. Here's her picture of the leftovers (what little there is) for all to see! (Remember what it looked like on Day 65?)
    Exercise update: 21 for 21. That's 3 weeks straight!

    Saturday, May 7, 2011

    Day 66 of 365

    What a day today was.

    Our poor kitty. She didn't come in last night. Lately she's been staying inside when we're inside and going outside when we go outside. She was out with us yesterday, but wasn't around when we went back in. She doesn't wander too far, so we figured she'd show up again at some point. By night time, she still hadn't popped up. Sometimes she finds a good sleeping spot and stays there so we still weren't too worried. Early this morning she was at the door and hubby let her in. I didn't see her until I got up and noticed she was covered in mud and leaves. And she had a bit of a limp. (I guess hubby missed this?) I cleaned her up, she ate and drank a bit and then headed downstairs to sleep. I checked on her and she seems fine except she's still favoring one leg over the other. There's been a tomcat around the last couple nights, so I have a feeling she might have tussled with him (she's fixed though). I'll be keeping a close eye on her. She doesn't appear to be in pain, but maybe a vet trip is in the very near future.

    Then we spent a couple hours trying to get our irrigation pump working. Now that the garden is planted and we only have water in the ditch Thursday-Sunday it's important we get it going. We put in a new sprinkler system last year, but this year it's not wanting to start up. Finally hubby got it going for a few minutes, but then it went out again. We may need to be making an (expensive) call to the sprinkler guy.

    When we gave up on the sprinklers, I went to check out the strawberry bed. There are blooms! But there are also weeds. Too many for that pretty bed. I may be out tackling those in the next few days.

    After looking at the strawberry bed, I noticed our clematis needed to be tucked in the trellis a bit better. As I was grabbing vines and moving them around (unfortunately without my gloves), I felt quite the sharp pain in my finger. I moved it away fast, but not before I got stung /bit. Not sure if it was a wasp or a spider, but my finger throbbed, swelled up, and turned red. I immediately took some Benadryl (since I tend to have issues with wasp stings), but my finger is on fire and is swelled up like a sausage as I type this.

    So I took a picture of my pretty purple violets blooming under my soon-to-be-blooming roses and called it a day. No more outside play for me today. Guess today's Kentucky Derby and NASCAR will be how I'll spend my afternoon.

    Exercise update: Despite the sausage finger and Benadryl daze, I managed to make it 20 days out of 20. I've worked too hard at this exercise streak to break it now.

    Friday, May 6, 2011

    Day 65 of 365

    My mom received her Mother's Day present in the mail today so I can let the cat out of the bag.

    My mom lives in another state right now. She's moved several times over the last few years, downsizing each time she moved. Sometimes kicking and screaming at the downsizing, but getting rid of things nonetheless. Several years ago when I was visiting I helped her purge items that she had a hard time letting go of. Things like a dried bean collage I made when I was 8 or so.

    I felt like one of those professional organizers you see on Hoarders. If you've seen the show, you know how difficult the decision is for some people to get rid of old newspapers, pizza boxes, or busted shoes. Now my mom isn't a hoarder, but she did struggle with getting rid of things that held sentimental value. Things like old bean collages. (She did finally toss it out.)

    As she's moved multiple more times over the past several years, I think it's gotten easier for her to get rid of things. Most recently she moved back to California where she was born, raised, and lived most of her life.

    She lives near a dear friend, and they both are faithful readers of my blog. And when my mom calls me every week or so, she talks about the pictures, the food, and the creations.

    So as I was searching for what to give to my mom for Mother's Day, I came up with what I thought to be a pretty darn good gift.

    I sent her a large box, priority mail. A box full of those things she's talked about and commented on. I sent it Wednesday afternoon, and she received it on Friday. Way to go US Postal Service!

    She was headed out to her friends' house when the package showed up. I imagine right now the two of them are on a sugar high!

    She received:
    A pincushion (Day 1)
    Blueberry Muffins (Day 19)
    Rosemary Bread (Day 33)
    A Potholder (Day 34)
    Dick and Jane Magnets (Day 41)
    Mimi's Cafe Carrot Bread (Day 62)
    Sugar Cookies (Day 63)

    Happy (early) Mother's Day, Mom! 

    Exercise update: 19 for 19

    Thursday, May 5, 2011

    Day 64 of 365

    Thursdays are usually pretty rough for me but today was a full, productive day.
    • The plumber came and put in my new kitchen faucet from Day 56 and fixed our leaky toilets and showers. Now maybe our water bill will go back down.
    • We had a high school kid come and do some yard work for us this afternoon. He's a keeper so we'll have him back again and again.
    • My daughter got our new climbing roses from Day 62 planted. Red roses on a white arbor for the entrance to our rose garden.
    • I finally (yes, finally) started on the quilt that I fought putting in the frame way back on Day 38. Better late than never.
    • I rode the exercise bike for the 18th straight day. Yay!
    • We celebrated Mother's Day today. My daughter heads home tomorrow and works through the weekend so we had a Mother's Day dinner tonight. We had barbecued steak, corn on the cob, baked potatoes, and grilled garlic bread. Yum! 
    • My daughter helped me (or I should say I helped her) finish up planting our garden. Corn, tomatoes, cucumbers, radishes, broccoli, cabbage, bell peppers, hot peppers, red potatoes, russet potatoes, kohlrabi, carrots, spinach, arugula, zucchini, cantaloupe, watermelon, kale, rosemary, basil, Italian parsley, and pumpkins. It's not pretty right now, but it will be soon.

    Wednesday, May 4, 2011

    Day 63 of 365

     I sure miss my daughter.

    I didn't really notice until she came home yesterday. She lives in the big city (big for Idaho) and has a job, an apartment, and a boyfriend. She calls me every day, but since I don't get out much I don't see her much. She comes home ever so often to visit but mostly she comes home to help out.

    But that's not why I miss her most. During the week, my conversations with people are nil. I say goodbye to my husband at 6:30 in the morning and go pick him up from school at 4:00 or so. My daughter calls in the evenings. In between the time my husband leaves and the time I see him again, I talk to no one (unless you count the cat). I don't leave the house but once every couple weeks for shopping and even then I can almost get through the day without speaking to anyone.

    So when my daughter came home yesterday and helped me bake, we talked and talked and talked. I mostly listened, but I did get a few words in here and there. And it made me realize how much I miss her being around. When I lived with her the first two months of this year as I recovered from shoulder surgery I don't think we talked as much. I think this time home she was glad to be here, glad to hang out, glad to see her kitty. She wasn't always glad to be here. We certainly had teenage troubles, but that seems like so long ago.

    We did do some more baking beside the carrot raisin bread yesterday. I had to make some sugar cookies for someone. Unfortunately we kept - and ate - the rejects.

    So now this is the absolutely, positively, last time I will bake.  Sugar and flour, be gone!

    Exercise update: 17 for 17.

    Tuesday, May 3, 2011

    Day 62 of 365

    I tried hard for today to be another Sale-A-Bration day like on Day 40.  But it wasn't meant to be. The bad luck at my first stop kind of clouded my day.

    This extreme couponing that's getting all the press is hurting those of us who use coupons not in an extreme way. The word is out that one of the gals portrayed on the show committed fraud with her coupon usage, using coupons for items she did not purchase. The show also portrays people nonchalantly clearing shelves with no concern for subsequent shoppers. More and more often, I see people with multiple items in the stores. Not just three or four items of the same items, but 30 or 40 of the same item. 

    I started my trip off at Albertsons to use some double coupons. I would have walked away with free pizzas, but the shelves were bare. No sale pizzas anywhere to be found. Sounded like coupon use at that store had increased quite a bit. So I got a raincheck (won't help too much since today is the last day for double coupons) and only came away with free Yakisoba noodles and a 69 cent can of enchilada sauce. If I really cared that much about pizzas, I imagine I would have showed up first thing Sunday morning. Oh, well. Maybe next time.  

    I returned my bathroom faucets from Day 56 (so I guess I made money there - except I then turned around and bought two climbing roses), and had to pick up my Enbrel injections (got those free because of the prescription assistance so I didn't have to pay $2037.09).

    Target wasn't too bad. Before the coupons, the price was $25.95 After coupons, the price was $12.66. I paid with a $10 rebate card I received earlier in the week so the total cash out of pocket was $2.66.

    Shopping wasn't my only activity today. My mom has been telling me about this Mimi's Cafe Carrot bread. I've never even heard of Mimi's Cafe, but I guess they're all over the place. Their rich dark carrot bread is supposedly unbelievable rich and delicious. I checked around on the internet and found a recipe here on how to make it. Even though I said no more baking so we can cut back on the sweets, I decided to try it. For those of you who have had this bread before, is it typically this dark?

    Rich? Oh, yea. And full of carrots, raisins, and nuts. We certainly won't be eating all of it ourselves.
    Exercise update: 16 for 16.

    Monday, May 2, 2011

    Day 61 of 365

    I realized I've just about finished up two months of this journey so far. My, how time passes. I can't even imagine where I'll be two more months from now!

    Two months ago:

    *I didn't know if I'd have a job to go back to or not. Still don't.
    *I was still going to physical therapy several times a week. Now, I do it at home.
    *I was thankful that on some days I could do things for others, like sending out coupons and taking cookies to folks. Now I still do that, but have added pillowcases, quilts, and even concert tickets.
    *I hadn't started injections for rheumatoid arthritis. Now I give myself shots every week.
    *I didn't know why on certain days I felt worse than others. Now I do (it's a medication issue).
    *It hadn't even occurred to me that I should be exercising every day. Now I do - every day - 15 out of 15 today!
    *I couldn't raise my arms above my head or bend my knee all the way. Now, thanks to exercising, I've made progress on both.
    *I had more bad days than good. Now, I think I just might be having more good days than bad.
    *I set a goal to take a picture a day. Now I'm 61 consecutive days into it.
    *I didn't know where this all was going to lead me, but hoped it would lead me back into the land of the living instead of the land of the existing. Now, I think it might be doing just that.

    And today I forced myself to go outside. Doesn't feel like 70 degrees with the wind, but my phlox sure are happy.

    The picture also sums up how I feel about the progress I've made so far.

    Sunday, May 1, 2011

    Day 60 of 365

    My husband forced me to go outside today.

    He forces me to do a lot of things, especially when it comes to watching television. Makes me watch NASCAR with him, Boise State football, movies, and even tries to get me to watch baseball. For years, I let him have his sports. I left him alone so he could watch what he wanted to watch, when he wanted to watch it. And with me being sick for so long and our main TV being in the basement, it worked well for me. But he's been trying to get me down the stairs, and with me going downstairs to exercise every day, it's getting easier. (And I actually like NASCAR now.)

    Usually when he forces me to to do something it's in my best interest. Like making me go outside today. It was a sunny day and being in the sun is always a good thing. It was cold so I bundled up and was dragged out there to sit in the sun. I'm glad he made me go because it gave me a chance to take a little walk around the house and check out the gardens.

    We have several gardens. We have a flower bed under our front window. We have the vegetable garden we're starting. We have a wildflower garden that's turning into a perennial garden. We have a shade garden. And our biggest garden is our rose garden. So we certainly have lots of flowers.

    Very few of them are blooming right now. Some of them have been a little nipped with the recent weather, but most of my Bleeding Hearts made it through fine. And thanks to my husband forcing me outside, I got to see them today.

    Exercise update: 14 for 14.