Friday, September 19, 2014

around my home ~ indoors and out

Hello, friends ~ how's your week been? I was actually sick most of the week; but 
nothing major. Just a raw, sore throat, headache and tiredness. Just enough to make
me feel yucky and not have a lot of energy. I doubled my vitamin D and took a
tried-and-true supplement, Allibiotic. I swear by this stuff. If you take it at the first sign 
of a cold or scratchy throat, you can pretty much avoid a full-blown cold. At least that's
how it's worked for me, Brian, and Tim. (My mom swears by it, too.)

Do you remember the round, wooden mirror I bought a couple of months ago
and couldn't decide where to put it in my living room? I had thought it would look good
on the fireplace wall ~ here's Brian holding it up for me. Nope, too small. And I wasn't 
keen on hanging sconces or anything else beside it to balance it out and fill in the
 white space. 

Turns out, I found a better spot for it: on the wall right inside our front entrance. I hung two
 San Francisco prints on the smaller wall to the side. The larger one is a vintage painting
that we picked up in an antique shop last year and the small print is just a page from
a calendar that I framed. The city of SF holds a special place in our hearts, as that's
where we spent our 25th anniversary five years ago.

I think the new mirror looks a lot better than the gold, oval mirror that was there before.
 I was getting tired of the plates, too. The gold mirror is now in the master bedroom.


The past two weekends, I've frequented a farm in our area to buy a ton of tomatoes
and some other veggies, as this is pretty much it until next summer. (Waah!) 

We enjoyed one last batch of fresh gazpacho ~ so easy to make in a food processor.

Topped with cucumber and avocado, it made a delicious and healthy lunch.

And then with the rest of the crop, I put tomatoes, garlic, and rosemary in a big
roasting pan and tossed all with olive oil and salt. I slow-roasted in the oven for a 
couple of hours until the tomatoes were saucy. The house smelled so good! Then I
packed the sauce into freezer bags. I have five bags in my freezer right now. It'll be
so awesome to use these summer tomatoes in spaghetti sauce, chili and soups 
this winter.

And then going on around my yard...Brian planted these fountain grasses in the little
ditch area in front of our house beside the driveway. We don't have sidewalks in our
neighborhood. The other side of our driveway has a larger ditch and that's filled with 
tiger lilies. I'm happy to see that these grasses are doing well and have grown a lot in 
the past month that they were planted. I can't wait until a few years down the  road when
 they're really tall and they sway in the breeze. Fountain grasses have always been one
 of my favorite plants, especially in the fall.

All my potted flowers are still going strong.

In my butterfly garden, the sedum is in full bloom. I never used it as a cutting flower until
I saw a few bouquets on blogs. I now have a bunch in a Mason jar on my kitchen table
and I'm happy to report that this is a great cutting flower ~ they still are colorful and sturdy
even after a week on my table.

Looks like my cherry tomatoes are pretty much done for. All the leaves are
drying up. Makes me sad. I love being able to step outside my door and pick 
fresh tomatoes off the vine. And cut flowers for the table and pick herbs to use
in my cooking. Can you tell I'm a warm weather person?

Farewell to the Black-Eyed Susans, too.

Have a wonderful weekend!

Monday, September 15, 2014

30 years

Thirty years ago today, I said, "I do" to Brian in front of about 110 loved ones.
It was a beautiful, sunny day and we were married outdoors in a lovely garden
setting. We were just kids - I had just turned 22 and Brian, 24. Of course, when you 
take those wedding vows, you have no idea what life will throw at you in all the years
down the road. Just six weeks after we were married, Brian's mother passed away
 (she had cancer). We've also been through the death of my dad; our firstborn
son, Phil; illnesses; surgeries (me); financial troubles; job security worries; a severe
car accident; sleepless nights with newborns and teenagers; on and on. I don't mean
to be all doom and gloom...naturally, there have also been a lot of wonderful times and
memories, too. It's a good thing we have each other.

We celebrated a little early by spending the day in Madison, Wisconsin on Saturday.
We started out by walking the farmer's market by the Capitol building. We had read
online that this 300-vendor market was crowded and they weren't kidding. We 
could see the throngs of people by the tents as soon as we started crossing the street.

There were a ton of produce vendors...we bought green beans, gold and red beets
(I hate beets, but I roasted them for Brian), parsnips, and even some farm-grown
popcorn kernels. I couldn't get any photos of all the veggies; it was much too crowded.
I did manage to get a photo of this array of beautiful mums though.

After the farmer's market, we walked all around the downtown area, hoping to
find some interesting stores to explore, but didn't see anything that caught
our eyes except for an independent bookstore.

We were getting hungry and wanted to leave so we could go out to lunch, but we
couldn't find the parking garage where we parked our car! Brian usually has a great 
sense of direction and can find anything, but not this time. It was actually me who realized
 we were not going in the right direction and suggested going another way - and I was right. 
By the time we got to our car, we figured we had walked for several miles. We chose to
eat at a place called Tex Tubb's Taco Palace, which had great Yelp reviews.

We started out with chips and salsa and I had a delicious mango margarita. I 
rarely eat steak but the steak tacos sounded good, so I gave those a try. Brian had
the shrimp tacos.

We drove to another area to check out a couple of little shops and while we
were walking to the shops, we came upon some beautiful landscaping. I wish
my side yard looked this lush and pretty!

I thought these tall, purple flowers were so pretty with their interesting stalks.
Anyone know what they are?

I had to laugh when we were by one of the shops and I saw a sidewalk sign
announcing a library book sale. I told Brian we just had to go check it out!
It was the last day of their sale, so you could fill an entire paper bag for only $4.
Here's our loot.

We're lying pretty low today. Brian has the day off work and we met up with Tim
for lunch. I'm under the weather, so that's the most excitement we've had today.
Otherwise, I've just been doing little bits of housework, reading, and napping.
Oh ~ Brian did gift me with a pair of beautiful pearl earrings. Pearls are the
traditional gift for 30 years of marriage. 

 "Grow old with me, the best is yet to be."

Friday, September 12, 2014

for the love of books

 I love me a good library book sale. I traveled 23 miles to get to this one today.
I read somewhere that it was either THE largest library book sale in the country, or
at least one of them. There were over 110,000 books organized into 115 categories.
It was awesome, but a little overwhelming. And the one thing I didn't care for with
this sale was that the books were individually priced. Every other library book sale
I've been to - and I've been to a lot of them - the books had set prices, such as $1
for softcover and $2 for hardcover. Most of the softcover books here were $2 or $3
each which isn't terrible, but a little higher priced than other library book sales.

Sorry for the bad photo quality (I was using my phone), but as you can see, it
was row after row of books. The sale was held in the gym of a big recreation center.
Notice everyone is wearing coats? Yep, it is cold here. It's only been in the 40's the
past couple of days. With clouds and bursts of rain on top of it. Very yucky. Way too
early for this nonsense. Good thing it's not supposed to last long. 

Someone sure came to the book sale in style. Too bad it wasn't me!

So, here's the stack I came home with. The Dennis LeHane book, Sin in the Second
City, and the Frank Sinatra CD are for Brian. I've already read The Snow Child - this
copy was picked up for a friend. I saw on Goodreads that it was on her Want to Read
list. Speaking of Goodreads, are you on this site? It's a great way to keep track of
the books you've read, what you want to read, and see what your friends are reading.

 What are you reading right now? I just finished Carry On, Warrior by Glennon Doyle Melton,
which was excellent. She reminds me a little of Anne Lamott (one of my favorite authors),
but with a little more Christianity thrown in. I just picked up a non-fiction book called,
Inventing the Rest of Our Lives by Suzanne Braun Levine and so far, it's just "OK". I
got the latest issue of Better Homes and Gardens in the mail yesterday, so I'm looking
forward to delving into that. Looks like it's full of autumn goodness. 

Hope you all have a fantastic weekend! We're heading up to Madison, Wisconsin
tomorrow for a day trip. Will be back on Monday to share it with you.

Monday, September 8, 2014

welcome to my office ~ little changes

After several years of just having blinds in my office, we finally got some curtains
hung! And by "we", I mean the husband. He's such a good guy. I would have no idea
how to do something like this. I never did claim to be the DIY type.  

 Granted, the curtains are nothing fancy. Just simple sheer panels from IKEA. I 
wanted this room to stay light, so I just chose to use one panel per window and pull
it to the side. It's far from perfect and they puddle on the floor, but I like the softness
they add to the room. And, obviously I don't stage photos, otherwise that lovely fan
would not be in the photo.

In this view, you can see both windows.

The red chair is a great napping spot for Zippo. Our family photo (last one taken
of the four of us in July 2009 before Phil {green striped shirt} passed away just two
months later) hangs in this room, which is the perfect spot ~ as this used to be Phil's
room. In fact, in person I don't actually call this room my office. We still call it 
"Phil's room".  The beautiful quilt belonged to an elderly friend of ours. He used
to sleep under it as a child at his aunt's house.

Another small change...  I moved a small drop leaf table beside the red chair to hold
 my laptop and a lamp.

The other side of the room has Phil's memory shelf, a bookcase, a bulletin
board, a basket of cookbooks, and my exercise stuff. It looks too busy and
cluttered like this, so I'm working on decluttering this area.

 Happy Monday ~ and thanks for visiting. 

Thursday, September 4, 2014

exercising at home

You can probably tell by the title of this post that I decided not to join a gym. I did check
out a second gym a couple of days ago. I actually signed up on a whim, but after thinking
about it, went back yesterday and cancelled my membership. (This was not a place where
you had to sign a contract.) The price was right at this place, but it was so crowded. And the
lady that was showing me around said it wasn't even their busy time - that the morning was
worse. As an introvert, I find it very unnerving to be in a small room with lots of people. 
Especially where you feel that people are looking at you. Ick. This place also didn't have
the machines I needed for shoulder strengthening - which is what I'm working on with 
having a torn rotator cuff.

It's just as easy to exercise at home - and it's free. And I can be by myself. And no one is looking me. Hooray! 
Yesterday was a beautiful, sunny day so I walked briskly down to the lake.

And then I swung on one of the swings. :-) How long has it been since you've done that?
When I got home, I did some yard work, a little yoga, and my shoulder exercises. 

 Today has been rainy, hot, and humid so no exercising outdoors for me. This is 
the view out my front door, by the way. Look at all the leaves that are already on
the ground. It makes me sad. I love summer.

I can easily exercise indoors though because I have my yoga mats, foam roller, and small 
hand weights for my shoulder exercises tucked away in a corner in my office. I do belong
to a weekly yoga class, but it's totally different from being in a gym.

 I roll out the yoga mat on the rug and do my exercises in the peace and quiet
of my own home. In fact, that's all I'm going to do for exercise today because my
lower back is a little sore. The yoga stretches always make it feel better. 
(Little side note: notice the new curtains in this room? I didn't have any up before.
I've done a few updates to this room, which I'll share later.)

On other days where the weather may not be favorable to walk or ride my
bike outdoors, I have a treadmill (the "dreadmill", as I call it) in my basement.
So: no gym needed for me after all. And no excuses not to exercise either!

Do you fit exercise into your daily routine? Do you work out in a gym or do you prefer
to exercise at home? Do you take walks or bike ride in your neighborhood? Dance?
Play tennis? Practice yoga or martial arts?

Monday, September 1, 2014

and then it was september

Hello, you guys! I'm finally back from my blog break. Here it is, September 1st already.
How did that happen so quickly? Those painting projects I said I was going to do - painting
furniture and my front door? Nope. Didn't happen. Instead, my month was filled with fun ~
some day trips, my birthday celebration, family and friend get-togethers, yoga classes~ and
lots of obligatory not-so-fun dates with the physical therapist. 

One thing I did take the time to do was to really take stock of my time. I've been sitting
at my desk with journals and my calendar and making goals for myself. One thing I want
 and need to focus on is exercise. My physical therapy is finally over but I need to keep up 
with the shoulder and arm strengthening so that I don't lose it. I checked out a local gym 
last week and wasn't impressed, but tomorrow I am checking out another. If I do join a gym,
 I must be 99.9% committed to going at least twice/week. Otherwise, what is the point in
 joining? I'm also starting back to a regular yoga class next week instead of staying "stuck"
 in the gentle class. The gentle class served its purpose for when I had pain and not much
 range of motion in my shoulder, but it's (thankfully) time to move on. 

 Maybe because it's not just the start of a new season, but a new school year too, that
makes me stop and take stock of my life and what direction it's going. I find this time of
year to be more in line with thinking about these things instead of January 1st.

  My lovely friend, Jen - from The Cottage Nest says, "I'm entering a new season, not just of 
the year, but of my life. It is one that requires peace and as few obligations as possible,
an empty calendar. Time to think. One that I hope is filled with creativity and beauty, small
moments, spontaneity and life. I have things I want to do and learn this year. I have given
myself homework." I'm working on that stuff, too. I'm an introvert, so I need a lot of alone
time. When I look at my September calendar, it is already filled with appointments and 
outings and get-togethers. I don't think I'll ever have an empty calendar. But I'm working on
making time for the things I truly want to be doing and learning new things.

As much as I hate to see summer leave, here's to the start of a new season.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

taking a break

 Hello friends ~

I'm taking a little break from blogging. Nothing is wrong, no worries. I'm just a little
 overwhelmed with projects on my to-do list and it's like all of a sudden, it's already  
August (almost) and soon summer will be over. How did that happen? 

Dare I say, I've been as busy as a bee? (Groan.)

While the weather is nice, I need to take some furniture pieces outside and paint them.
I also need to sand and paint our front door - a big project. Can't get to that if I'm sitting
inside on a computer. Which I don't want to be doing in this beautiful weather anyway.

 And, since summer is so fleeting, I also want to take some quiet time out in my yard
more often. I've been saying all summer that one morning when I don't have to be anywhere,
I'm going to take my morning coffee out on the patio and simply savor the quietness.

I'll miss you all - but I'll be back shortly!