New paint, more food, and surgery

It’s been a busy January here in our FAR northwest home.  Since DH is laid off work during the winter, he has managed to accomplish some great painting projects!  The latest is our bedroom which, after much trepidation, we decided to paint purple. All I can say about the finished product is: I love it!!  We both are very very happy with the result.  You may recall in my previous post where I pictured DH getting the walls ready.  Well here are some more snaps of the now finished project…..

The beginning of painting the “feature” wall.

The finished darker “feature” wall and lighter side walls.

This shot shows my new purple/brown chair courtesy of Pier One, under the needlepoint picture my dear Grandma made for me in 1973.

The “dressing area” also a light purple.

We painted our tiny master bathroom an even lighter shade of this purple and are SO happy with the outcome.  I also have to put a plug in for Lowe’s Valspar paints.  They cover in one coat, have very little odor – which is totally gone the next day,  are reasonably priced, and are low in VOC’s.  One thing I haven’t finished is the curtains.  They are on hold until a great inspiration hits me as to what kind and what color!

As you may remember, I’ve been trying to make healthy food in smaller portions lately.  In some cases I’ve succeeded, in others… well I’ve again made more than we needed but at least we’ve been socking that away for future meals.  Here are three dinners that turned out particularly yummy!

Roasted Vegetable Pot Pie, on it’s way into the oven

Potpie on the plate – super yummy for a January day!

Hubby raved about this one for days – honestly! Spicy shrimp caesar salad 🙂

Then it was time to try something totally new —  QUINOA!  Anybody tried this tasty grain that is full of flavor as well as fiber?  Well it was all new to me… so here’s what I made…  The recipe is from Food Network Magazine and this is the dry quinoa before cooking.

Quinoa in the pan getting read to boil

Next, the scallops.  I am not a huge seafood lover, but scallops are nice because they have such a mild flavor and don’t (or shouldn’t) taste “fishy”.

Large sea scallops, gettin’ themselves a saute`

And finally the finished meal,  Scallops with Citrus and Quinoa; Dilled Zucchini on the side.  Very tasty indeed!

And now for our final subject for this post, surgery.  After a two and a half hour visit to the orthopedic surgeon’s office yesterday, we have a date set for dear hubby’s hip replacement.  March 2nd.  Lots of stuff to do prior to the big day such as pre-op classes, blood draws, etc etc.  No doubt there will be more on this as the date approaches.  It’s SO VERY necessary, but also quite scary, and we hope you’ll keep him in your prayers.

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A new year, a fresh start

Here we are, a week into the new year already!  Hopefully it’s been a “happy new year” for everyone.  So far I’d have to say it’s been a promising new year here.  I think it could be a year that may very well involve a fair bit of change for our household.  First off, dear hubby will definitely be getting a brand new hip joint, most likely in early March.  This is a good thing I do believe – but of course I’m not the one undergoing the big surgery.  Or the rehab afterwards.  Still, the doc has told DH that without it, he can expect to say “bye-bye” forever to his beloved game of golf, and in a relatively short time,  “hello” to wheel chair life.  I’ll be taking some time off work to help care for my dear spouse after the big event.

Prior to the surgery, DH has been told that losing  a bit of weight would be a good plan.  So……. we have been trying really hard to not just “lose weight” but to make some definite changes in our eating and exercising habits.  I’ll admit I’m normally a bit of a slug, a couch potato … you get the drift.  Months ago we got a Wii Fit and we are finally trying to get some use out of it.  I wouldn’t say it’s the greatest workout ever, but we are moving more, and some of the stuff is actually fun!  Hey, it can’t hurt!  I take that back.  If you have a bad hip (as we both do) just skip over the hula-hoop activity!!  It’s a killer!  What’s not so fun is the little voice coming over the TV announcing your weight and BMI and then telling us we are “obese”.  YUCK, what a horrible word!  My goal is to get out of obeseland and into overweightville.  A good first step, anyway!

Another of the  changes I mentioned earlier has to do with our intake. We eat a lot of good food.  Key words: a lot.  I don’t mean to brag, but shoot, I do love my own cooking and so does dear hubby.  Most of the stuff I make is pretty healthy, but we consume massive amounts of this good stuff… and that’s not, well, good. So, we are making a concerted effort to eat less and that means I am training myself to cook less (portion wise).  I went through all my January/February issues of Everyday Food and cataloged all the “light” recipes that looked delicious.  This is what we had for dinner last night: Beef and Orange Stir Fry.  Oh my, it was delicious and I made brown rice instead of the white that is shown in the magazine photo.  When the recipe says “Serves 4” I am finally paying attention.  I’m cutting down most of the ingredients in half to feed the TWO of us, instead of making the full amount.  Now I know it might be smart to make the full amount and freeze the leftovers, but for now as we get used to our smaller portions, I’m simply NOT making the extra.  We need to re-learn what normal portions are, even if the food is super yummy!   Tonight I made a delightful pot of soup, some of which I shared with a neighbor who’d had some pretty extensive dental work done today.  I gave her a choice of what soup would suit her fancy and she chose Mushroom Barley.  Here’s how it came to be:  This turned out quite tasty, if I do say so myself 🙂  Hubby agreed.  We had a nice salad along with it too.  I do love to cook and plan nice meals, so you may be seeing more food showing up on my blog this year.

In early November of last year, dear hubby worked his behind off repainting our living room, dining room, kitchen and hall.  Finally we got rid of the stark ‘off-white’ that has been the mantra of this home since the day it was built, since the day we moved in.  Now it’s time to start in on the bedroom.  I used to love traditional, “Early American”, and “country” type decor… but for some reason, my tastes have changed a bit in my middle age.  I now like a bit more modern look and one thing I really can’t stand is clutter!  Not to say I don’t have my fair share of it!  I’m always struggling to try to make my rooms look “cleaner”.  So, in our quest for new bedroom color(s) we bought (not kidding here) at least 10 different samples from Lowe’s, brought them home and tried them out on the walls.  After much trepidation, we’ve come to a conclusion.  Purple.  Well, maybe more like a lavender-gray.  And the “make over” begins tomorrow!  Here’s the “before” snapshot… That’s dear hubby, prying the mirror tiles off the wall.  Not sure they are going back up.  The shelf that runs horizontally above the bed (the brackets are visible in this picture) will be repainted – black – and will go back up.  Even if it turns out horrific, I’ll be sure and post the “after” photos.  We have been so afraid of COLOR for so long… it’s a little scary to go-for-it, but the paint has been purchased, and we’re gonna do it!  Oh, the dark purple color on the right side of the bed is the color we chose for that wall… it will be the “feature wall”… all the other walls will be a lighter shade.  My darling husband says that if we decide we hate the darker color (right now we actually LIKE IT, but we’ll see…..) he will repaint it to the lighter shade we have picked out for the other walls.   More to come…. soon!!!

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!