I’m ready for Fall!

Okay, so it’s obvious I’ve neglected my blog for awhile.  I could probably dream up a long list of “whys”, but I won’t even try.  I think it will suffice to say that I’ve simply been focused elsewhere.  Who knew retirement would be so busy, so fun, so time consuming?! Ha!  I’m really enjoying my life these days and am thankful that I CAN enjoy it.  It’s not like we are busy every moment of every day – going somewhere, doing something, because that is not the case. Sometimes (oft times) the joy for me is in the NOT going and doing. After all, up until my retirement a few years ago, my every moment was pretty much planned out for me. Now *I* make my schedule, and frequently my “schedule” includes things like sitting on the back deck, reading my library book!   I am so happy, so content, and so grateful for both.  Sometimes people get bored as they age and don’t have a job to keep them involved in life so to speak – well, that is not me. A long time ago I used to love a song by James Taylor called “The Secret of Life”.  The first line goes: The secret of life is enjoying the passing of time……  I remember hearing that when I was young, really young, and wondered if I’d enjoy my “older years” as much as I was loving my younger ones.  Yes, life is sure different now, but I’m still enjoying the passing of time. Here’s a link to a video of that song – one of my all time faves.    So here are some of the things that have been happening here this summer…..

  • Since returning home from southern California in early June, we’ve gone camping 4 times and are slated to go again in a week or so.  We love camping and it’s especially fun when we go with our neighbors who also have a motor home. I wish that our kids would also get RV’s so we could plan trips with them as well!!
  • We have had fun with our now 9 1/2 month old kitten, Frankie.  Frankie has been with us since February – he’s made a trip down I-5 all the way to So-Cal and back. He spent 3 months in Palm Springs, and is now an official RV Cat too.  He seems to enjoy camping almost as much as we do.  He’s great on his harness & leash as well. Our late kitty, Jinx, was an indoor/outdoor cat.  He was pretty savvy regarding all the wildlife around here.  Frankie is an outdoor-only-on-a-leash kinda kitty.  BUT, he loves watching out the windows at the birds every day and alerts us the moment a raccoon or deer appear on the back deck!! I’ve only seen Frankie hiss twice, and both times were at large, bold raccoons. We put peanuts out daily for the Blue Jays and squirrels, and have suet hanging for the wild birds as well… so the window is like “cat TV” for little Frankie, who, by the way, is NOT so little anymore! He’s a robust 12 pounds now!
  • I’ve been doing lots of reading lately – check out the tab above, “Books 2017”. In the summer, I love slipping out onto the back deck with my latest read in the afternoon and spending an hour or sometimes two, in another time and place.
  • My nemesis “Mr Diverticulitis” has unfortunately reared his ugly head this summer as well.  Now that I’m over the latest flare-up, I’m trying some different things in the hopes of preventing these attacks from happening.  I’ve added drinking ALOE water to my daily regimen. It’s supposed to be very soothing to the digestive tract. I’m trying to be much better at remembering to take my Vitamin D, Flax Seed Oil, and other supplements. I am now consuming some raw, organic, unfiltered apple cider vinegar daily. I actually don’t mind the flavor, mixed in with my aloe water. I’m still culturing kefir also.
  • We went kayaking once so far this summer, and oh my how I love it!!  Hubby just ordered new roof racks called “J-Hooks” to make transporting the kayaks much easier. I’m thinking that we’ll get one or two more kayak expeditions in before the cool, wet weather arrives.
  • Speaking of weather, it has been exceptionally dry this year. I think we’ve had only two or three days of rain since returning in early June!  I hate to say it, but I’m actually getting a little sick of sunshine!  We traveled to Palm Springs in early March and if you count the three months of nothing but sun down there, and now three months of nearly nothing but sun up here, well, I haven’t hardly seen a cloud or raindrop for SIX MONTHS!  I’m ready!  I’m ready for some cool, crisp autumnal weather — the kind that makes you want to light amazing smelling candles and cook soup!

Yes, I’m more than ready for some cool weather – but there is none in our forecast at the moment, that’s for sure.  I always proclaim Sundays as “Soup Sunday” in the autumn and winter, and make some pretty darn delicious meals…. some of our faves are: Split Pea; Lentil-Veggie-Barley; French Onion; Cheesy Potato; Broccoli-Cheddar; Beef, Mushroom, and Barley; Hot & Sour…. oh my I could go on and on.  Chili is one of my personal faves too, both “con Carne” and “vegetarian” chili.  Hubby will eat it, though he doesn’t crave it like I do.     Another reason I love fall is —- FOOTBALL!!!  I truly enjoy watching both our Seattle Seahawks as well as the University of Washington Huskies. It’s in my blood. I’ve been a huge sports fan since I was about 10 years old and my dad started taking me to local high school games.      One more wonderful thing about cooler weather – I can put away my shorts and T-shirts and move into sweats, long sleeves, and jeans!  I’m just ready for a change, I guess.

Some years we have made an October through November trip to the Palm Springs area. This year, that’s not in the plan, and frankly, I’m thrilled.  Autumn is my favorite time of year and I’ve missed it the past few years.  Maybe it’s because I’m getting older, and let’s face it, the years we have are finite, so I feel as if  I appreciate the gorgeous changing leaves and magnificent colors so much more than I used to. I’ve missed you, Autumn, but this year, we’ll get up close and personal once again!

 

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A Friday in Fall ~~ plus Twin update!

Eight years ago I was finishing up my fourth year of living in the Southern California desert.  It was really fun to live in an area that was soooo foreign to me – weather wise, but after four years of “the fun” I was sure missing something.  Missing it real bad.  That something was the changing of the seasons.  For the most part, the trees never lose their leaves in Palm Springs.  If an evening temp gets down to the 40’s (around 7C for my non-American readers), well, that’s pretty miraculous.  I think what I missed most was Autumn.  I love the changing colors, crisp days, extra blue skies, or – the pouring rain like we had today.  Today was lovely.  We didn’t have to go anywhere… and I sure do enjoy my days at home.  Hubby and I got the house nice and clean and also performed an autumn rite of passage…. we put the flannel sheets on the bed today!  Ohhhhh I DO love the coziness of flannel sheets 🙂  Eight years ago, there were NEVER any flannel sheets on the bed.  I rarely made hot soups on weekend evenings, and huddling up before the fireplace was unheard of!

Today I also fired up the oven and baked a batch of yummy pumpkin-apple-walnut muffins… oh the delectable aromas in our house!  That and my wonderful “Scentsy” warmer with “Sentimental Cider” making our home smell heavenly.  For dinner I made a delicious meal of pork chops with apples, garlic smashed potates, and sauteed brussels sprouts with lemon zest.  Ahhhhhhhh……. the joys of Autumn.

Last week we made a trip over the mountains to visit family.  It was probably the last trip over with our motorhome, until spring.  There’s just no chance we want to have to drive that thing in the snow.  Anyway, we had a nice visit with Son #2, dear DIL and my brother.   I am hoping to get weekly updates in the way of “baby bump” photos that I can share.

Here is dear DIL at 12 weeks.

Then on Monday, they had another ultrasound… Here are the twins, both looking great according to the Doc. 🙂

Then today I received the latest baby bump photo….Still pretty tiny, but definitely growing!! 🙂  Won’t it be fun to watch the twins (and dear DIL) grow?!

Here are a couple more photos from last week’s trip.

I’ll end this post with a Happy Halloween greeting from our beautiful black cat, Mr. Jinx!!

Autumnal hodgepodge

October 09 042You knew we lived in the midst of a forest.  You knew that there are mostly evergreen trees in the forest up here.  But did you know that some evergreen trees lose bits and pieces of their needles/branches?  Here’s a snap of a nearby Cedar tree… each fall, all the cedar trees have sections that turn a rust color and eventually drop off – normally during the wind and rain storms that come in November.   There.  An autumnal bit of etcetera.

Hey, it’s great living in a forest!  You get to see lots of wildlife… like these very tame and laid back deer, lounging in our next door neighbor’s back yard a few days back.  Some days I think the deer are cute.  Some days I’d like to make them all into deer jerky.  lounging deer

This happy little photo is of the mommy deer and twins that have spent the entire summer going from home to home, devouring every edible flower, tree, and plant  in the vicinity.  They look so content, don’t they?

Last week, on one of our truly glorious autumn days, we took a drive with our neighbors Irv & Elaine over to Anacortes, WA.  They took us to the top of a large hill where Cap Sante Park is located.  We’d never been there – and on a nice day (like we had) the view is stunning.  Here is a photo of our good friends with Fidalgo Bay in the background.  October 09 006

Irv and Elaine are now back in Florida, where they live most of the year.  You may remember we went to see them last March and had a fantastic visit!   Today we woke to 32 degrees and saw that it’s in the 70’s in Florida.  I’m going to try not to think too hard about that.

Here are a couple of shots of our cat, Jinx.  He wanted to show off his Halloween “Beastie Bands” collar so I told him, “just turn your head the other way so we can see it, Jinx”.  And he did.   By the way, in my humble opinion, “Beastie Bands” are simply the nicest (but definitely NOT the most expensive) cat collars.  Jinx likes to change his neckwear as the seasons change 🙂  October 09 034

October 09 035

I absolutely love Autumn.  It means I can start making more homemade soups and stews, roasts in the oven, and baked goods.  So far, I’ve made a pot of chili and an apple crisp.  I’m thinking tonight might be a great night for my homemade potato soup.  Lots of evenings in the fall and winter, we’ll make our dinner on soup and bread.  I still am intimidated at the thought of making my own bread… not so much in the technique exactly, but in the time it takes.  Ok, I’ll admit it, the technique scares me a bit also.   At any rate, I love to buy (at Costco in a pack of six) the small sourdough baguettes that are not completely baked.  They need about 20 minutes in a 375 degree oven to finish them off to perfection.  This time of year I keep them in the freezer to go along with the soups and stews.

Here is a snap shot of an open-faced sandwich I made for lunch a few days ago.  I got the idea out of my favorite “Everyday Food” magazine – I think it was in an issue about 5 years ago.  October 09 001

They are cheese, apple, and bacon on a nice whole grain brown bread.  I cooked the bacon first, then assembled the sandwiches and baked them in the oven at 350 for approx 12-14 minutes.  Long enough for the bread to get sort of crispy and the cheese to melt.  I used extra sharp cheddar and golden delicious apples.  You could use any cheese that you like and even change the fruit to thinly sliced pears.  Yep, that would be soooo good too!

On the subject of food, I’m pretty sure you’ve heard of The Pioneer Woman and her website, and all the great food she makes.  Well, she’s started another website, the Tasty Kitchen– described as: “Favorite Recipes from Real Kitchens Everywhere!”  – where anyone can submit recipes that are tried and true family favorites.  It’s a great website and if you enjoy cooking like I do, you may discover a great recipe or two there!

The final subject for todays “Autumnal hodgepodge” is painting. An eight-letter word that describes perseverance and determination.  We moved in to our new home (yes, it was actually new when we moved in) in 2003.  The builder, bless his heart, painted (with a spray gun I am sure) every wall and ceiling in this house the famous off-white color.  Five years ago we ventured into the world of color and painted the guest room a sort of ‘whole-grain-mustard’ gold.  Sounds horrible doesn’t it?  Well, it looks okay and goes well with the “African” theme we sort of have in there.  It took two coats of color to cover the off-white walls.  Fast forward to 2009.  Finally, hubby and I agree that we absolutely must update the walls in our “great room” – which encompasses the living room, dining room, and kitchen.  I kid you not, we made FIVE trips to Home Depot and Lowe’s before deciding upon the two colors.  The painting has been in process for much of this past week.  It is not yet done.  But here are a few shots of the prep and beginning of the debacle!

Taping in the kitchen

Taping in the kitchen

The big wall in living room area

The big wall in living room area

Let the painting and 'cutting in' begin~

Let the painting and 'cutting in' begin~

Obviously, I’ll post some “after” pictures once we are done.  Having the house in total chaos is a yucky feeling, but it was definitely a must.  All I’ll say is we are very happy with the outcome — so far!

Plants around the house

How can it be?  Autumn is already sneaking up on us and beginning her marvelous color show.  I’ve always loved this time of year.  Actually when I was living those four years in Southern California, I desperately missed the transforming of the seasons.  I missed the huge differences in the length of the days… waking up to cool, crisp mornings, and most especially the gorgeous autumnal changing colors.  Here is a snapshot taken this cool, rather cloudy afternoon, off our back deck, showing just the beginning of yellow taking over on the leaves of the wild cherry trees.

Hint of yellow just showing up on the wild cherry trees.

Hint of yellow just showing up on the wild cherry trees.

In a way, the beginning of Autumn is bittersweet.  It means the end… the death of the lovely flowers of summer.   Here’s one of my hanging baskets – obviously on it’s last leg.

The end of the line for the Verbena basket

The end of the line for the Verbena basket

While most of summer’s flowers are at their end, others are breaking into full bloom!  Here’s a mum basket I purchased and positioned at the front of our home.  LOVE IT! 

 

 

 

 

 

I think I may have inherited a love for plants, both indoor and outdoor, from my Mom.  I can hardly believe she’s been gone almost four years.  I know she’s happy in Heaven, probably enjoying nurturing a garden there! 

Last week I tried for the first time to propagate African violets from leaves!  I followed directions in my much-loved garage sale indoor plant book… took the leaf cuttings, dipped them in rooting hormone powder, and have planted them just as instructed at a 45 degree angle into the soil.  Now patience must take over because it can take up to three months for the “plantlets” to appear.  Here are my two African Violet plants, and the 4-leaf experiment — in progress. 

African Violets on my kitchen window sill

African Violets on my kitchen window sill

Leaf cuttings from my white/purple African Violet

Leaf cuttings from my white/purple African Violet

This summer I allowed one of my indoor plants to grow like crazy without any trimming like I usually do.  About two weeks ago I noticed there were two red “tassel” like things hanging off of it!  I’d never seen anything like that before – in fact, I don’t even know what the name of the plant is!  Well, the tassel like things have BLOOMED!  Here are a couple of pictures showing the suprising flowers from the mystery plant. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

They are an amazing, tiny, perfect, pink and red, sort of fuzzy, flower!  If anyone has a clue what this plant is, PLEASE tell me! 

I do love my indoor plants — I can keep them safe and protected from those darned deer!  For some reason, the deer have ignored my big pot of mums – for which I am eternally grateful!  Ok, enough about my plants and how I love them! 🙂  Any other plant lovers out there?

Nesting

autumnIn the medical world, “nesting” is usually taken as the time shortly before a woman gives birth, when she gets her world ready for the new little one…. when she gets prepared to focus mostly on the new baby.   Obviously that’s not the case for me 🙂  But I still feel like I’ve been “nesting” this week.  I think it’s more like getting ready for the long, gray, wet winter that is undoubtedly coming our way – as it does every year.   I got very motivated this week on my stretch of days off, to do some serious cleaning.  Part of it may be from reading this blog.  This woman inspires me!!!  Anyway, I took on several of my kitchen cupboards – specifically my “spice” cabinet.  First I took everything out and noticed that I had lots of duplicates of stuff.  Much of it was actually quite old – and what is it ‘they’ say about how long to keep spices?  1 year for herbs or ground spices. 2 years for whole spices.  Ok, well most of my stuff was quite a bit older than that.  After looking it all over, I discarded the things I felt were past their prime, and rearranged what was left.  Then I took stock of stuff I was missing or had to discard due to age.  I made a small list of what I needed, and happily meandered to the computer to order from my favorite spice people, Penzeys.  I love their spices and selection!  Here is a photo of the newly cleaned and reorganized spice cupboard! 

spice cupboard

After finishing that, and several other cupboards, I felt compelled to continue 🙂  I remembered something I either heard or read years ago from good ol’ Martha Stewart.  She was encouraging people to actually use their good dishes, flatware, crystal, etc instead of keeping them locked up for 364 days a year in a china cabinet — or in my case, the garage in a box!  So what did I do?  I removed all my everyday Corelle dishes from the cupboard and tucked them away for safekeeping.  Then I carried in the box full of Spode.  Not only does this stuff have sentimental value, I think it’s really quite pretty.  It was given to me about 17 years ago by my (now deceased) Aunt and Uncle, who never had children of their own.  They had received it (or purchased it) as a wedding gift in 1936.  I’m not sure, but I think these dishes could now truly qualify as ‘antique’.  Prior to Thursday of this week, I had used these lovely old dishes a total of 4 times.  Four times in 17 years.  How ridiculous is that???  I carefully unwrapped each plate, cup, and saucer, setting them aside to be cleaned.  After a good wipe-out of the cabinet, and a good wash-up of the dishes, I happily replaced them into my cupboard, ready to be used and enjoyed every day.  Which is precisely what I think my dear Aunt would have wanted.  Here are a couple of pictures of my pretty Spode Buttercup.  Circa 1936.

spode.jpg

Spode Buttercup

Who uses teacups and saucers anymore?  Well, call me crazy, but I intend to give it a try.  When we were in Australia back in 2001 I remember being amazed that every time you ordered coffee (or tea), it arrived in a proper teacup with a saucer and teaspoon!  I loved that!  So, knowing that someday I’d want them, I bought a set of 8 cute, proper, teaspoons.  I do believe that now is the time to bring them out, polish them up, and begin to have as my English husband would say, “civilized” tea…. (or coffee).