Tuesday, January 20

Foggy Day

I like to understand things about nature, science, and astronomy. But I don’t get fog. This fog rolled in last night and is still with us today, and getting thicker. I don’t understand what makes it happen. It has been way too hot for January so I am glad because I like it cool. I play golf tomorrow—good thing I don’t hit it very far…
1-IMG_1576

That little bell hanging on the fence is from Kathmandu. A friend traveled there and brought it to me.

The Progressive Dinner was a success. I made Chicken Dijon, which goes together in a flash. It’s a no-brainer. But how to keep it hot for 3.5 hours without turning it into a chew-fest… So I browned it and put it in the crockpot, then I made the sauce to completion, cooking it way down so it wouldn’t be loose and slurpy later. I turned the slow cooker on low and sent up a little prayer.

It was very good and got raves. Here is the recipe.
1-IMG_1572

We all had a very good time. We have a tight-knit little community here and everyone is so nice—interesting people, interesting stories. The white-haired woman and her husband were competition ballroom dancers. All the people at the table have been married 40+ years except Jim and me, who are both on our third marriages, so we regaled them with a few funny stories from our wild, single days. We an unusual and amusing story about how we met. I’ll tell you sometime.

It’s fun to see each other’s houses and how they decorated them—so different! After the main course, we all (6 groups of 8) met back at the clubhouse for dessert and coffee. Everyone had been drinking wine all evening…imagine 48 baby boomers all talking at once. All new best friends.

There was a nice article about our community here. Below is a picture of our clubhouse, we play bridge here on Monday afternoons and this is where we have our happy hour gatherings once or twice a week. Gavilan_Hacienda

I have been busy planning and organizing a couple of trips we’re taking this year. In the spring we’ll go to the South Pacific, starting in Tahiti and calling at Napa Rui (Easter Island) among others, ending in Peru where we will go to Machu Picchu. In the fall we are taking a Mediterranean cruise with friends Deborah and Tom. We will start in Barcelona and end in Venice, with many ports in between. There is so much to see! We could just take the ship’s tours but they cost five times as much as private tours, so there is a lot of work to find and organize excursions that will make it truly memorable. It’s not really work, it just takes time.

Okay! Let’s go to the studio. I finished the background, which I paper-pieced. Actually I paper-piece everything, but there are two distinctly different techniques. Anyway, I started piecing the elephant. 1-IMG_1569

I started out as I usually do, saying, “who says elephants have to be gray (or brown)! So I incorporated some purples…but I don’t like them. It’s not the color so much as the shapes of the pieces—long strips. I need to break them up into smaller pieces. I will re-do the belly section. I have more than enough gray fabrics to work with…it’s just that I like unexpected color.1-IMG_1574
So it’s on the back burner while I cogitate my next move.

Thanks for stopping by!

Tuesday, January 13

Elephant Tales

For my next quilting project I decided to do an elephant. Yes, it seems a rather weird subject to me, too. Especially given that it will go here…
1-IMG_1556

…and be a focal point. We even had a special spotlight installed for whatever quilt might hang there. It’s called an eyeball, and you can see it on the ceiling. That spot of brightness is coming from the sun reflecting off something outside. Not the spotlight.

I chose the elephant because, when we were on safari in Zimbabwe a few years ago, this elephant turned around and started to charge at us because we were getting a little to close to its space and it had decided enough was enough.
1-IMG_5772a

I snapped the picture just before the driver turned and beat it out of there. It’s really difficult to get a sharp picture because the vehicle is moving—and bumpily, I might add—and so is the animal.

So there is a story behind the upcoming quilt.1-IMG_1558

I made the drawing Saturday and I was pleased with it—it is reversed because that’s how I roll—but after I lived with it for a few days I decided the shapes look a little psychedelic. It’s going to be only slightly colorful, but still...

So I decided to redraw it. This is my lightbox system. You can see that it’s a rather large piece.
1-IMG_1557

In other news, we had the floor repaired again. For the third time. And we are not happy with it, we are going to have it done again. Every time they fix it it gets worse. If it was in a far corner, we’d just go with it but it’s right in the middle. It’s practically impossible to dig up a board without nicking the adjacent boards, then to replace them and get them even. It took seven hours to replace four boards. On top of that, the wood has been discontinued and will be impossible to replace once it’s all gone. This could get even more interesting.

Social life in our little senior community continues to expand. We play bridge on Monday afternoons now, and I play golf every Wednesday. There is a “happy hour” at the clubhouse every week, plus monthly Book Club. There are other things, like Mahjong, Bunco, and Bocce Ball, but there are just not enough hours in the day or days in the week.

We signed up with the Progressive Dinner “club” and got tagged to do the entrĂ©e. Great. My neighbor warned me I might get stuck having six people I did not know come to dinner. She was right. Oh well. The team captain said don’t stress, keep it simple, it’s not about the food, it’s about meeting people and having a good time. It’s this Sunday—I’ll let you know how it went.

That’s all for now, time to get back to my elephant.

Thursday, January 8

Back To Reality

The holidays are over, YAY!!

And we are back to a stricter diet. I saw 179 today, which was a private milestone. That may seem like a lot to weigh, but—and I’m coming out of hiding about this—I started this diet weighing 208. I can’t believe I’m telling you this.

I always felt if I kept my weight under 200 I was good. But then it started to creep up, and with our busy travel and social life, plus the general busy-ness of life. I stopped getting on the scale. And then I saw a picture of myself and denial was over. We were at a family reunion and the relative who I always thought was really huge? I was bigger.

Today I am 29 pounds lighter. (I am not done yet.) I took 3 inches out of my golf shorts over the weekend because they were about to fall off. These are the same clothes I could barely squeeze into before. Golf clothes are ridiculously expensive and I don’t want to buy any in the interim if I don’t have to, so I am making do and looking a little like a ragamuffin out there. Like I said, I’m not done yet, but I can buy cute golf clothes in the pro shop now (meaning I don’t have to go looking online for plus size), and I can’t describe how wonderful that is.
1-DSCF1393

I went golfing yesterday. This is Saddleback mountain, which is not its real name but what everybody calls it, and it dominates the landscape in south Orange County. We had a frost here over the New Year’s holiday and you can see the grass has taken a hit. Anyway, Linda, my golf partner, asked what my goal [weight] was. I had to say I don’t have a target number, I really don’t know where I will end up.

But this post didn’t start out to be about weight loss, it was to show you the finished landscaping. So let’s get to it—and I promise no more pictures of landscape! We just love it—Bill did a fabulous job on everything. You may wonder why we have such a “jagged” wall and not a straight one…a bistro table and chairs, and orange umbrella, will go in that “notch” across from of the hose. The fountain takes up one of the large planting areas, and light-blocking bushes take up the other one. I would like to put awnings up over the dining room and bedroom windows. The back is south-facing and we really need them in winter. Maybe next year. 1-IMG_1540

By night…1-IMG_1547

This is my little spa. We barely had space for it, but we made it work and I just love it. It’s a wonderful thing.1-IMG_1543

Bill even gave us a nice side yard.1-IMG_1550

This is the view from the house. When we get a table it will go there. It’s a little cloudy today. 1-IMG_1552

We didn’t really do much to the front except change out a few plants and put some path lights at the steps leading up to our porch. It looks nice but I can’t get a good photo until the sun moves farther north.

Here’s a “before” picture.DSCF1373

Here’s something you don’t see every day.IMG_1532

Can you tell what it is? I’ll zoom out.IMG_1530

The glass in our bedroom window broke into a zillion pieces and fell out, hunk by hunk. Every time we walked into the room or rolled over in bed another bit would fall. Jim taped it but it did no good. Fortunately it’s a dual-paned window. We have several theories how this might have happened, but the truth is we have no idea. Yes, they will fix it. 

That’s all for now, see you next time!

Thursday, January 1

Happy New Year 2015

I hope you had a wonderful holiday. Let the diet begin.

When New Yorkers are snug in their beds at 3AM, we in the Pacific Time Zone are just reaching a fevered pitch. In Las Vegas, they close down the Strip to traffic and 320,000 revelers take to the street to watch the fireworks. Times Square has nothing on Vegas. Fireworks fill the Las Vegas sky New Years 2006.

But we were oblivious to all of that. We were inside at a fabulous party in our hotel. The Las Vegas Hilton is a little long in the tooth these days, but they threw a great party. It truly was grand. The food was exceptional, the liquor was free, the band was terrific, and we danced our legs off. Below, the midnight balloon drop:1-20150101_000015

I took two cameras to Vegas but both cameras had low batteries. Figures. I am usually the photographer and I have few photos of myself, which is why I rarely show my face around here. But everybody had cell phones, so I got a few pictures of Jim and me to share.

1908488_911446472213827_2249156619453929874_n

The cast of characters: Tom, Deborah, Jim, Cheryl, Alan, Rian.1-20141231_213208 (1)

20141231_201210

Compare us with last year (below), there are 55 fewer pounds of us. Jim couldn’t button his coat last year. I was busting out of my clothes. We have about 20 more pounds (each) to lose.BEFORE

A selfie.20141231_212119

Tomorrow we head home. The landscaping is finished—I can’t wait to show you!

Monday, December 22

Comin’ Down the Home Stretch

Stuff has been happening!

We went to a Teddy Bear Party. It’s kind of like Toys 4 Tots but everyone brought teddy bears to be donated to the local children’s hospital. Terrific idea! And a really fun party, too.
1-20141220_215756 

We are coming down the home stretch for Christmas, too. We are done with everything except Christmas Eve dinner. I’m making a standing rib roast with creamed spinach and cauliflower/potato mash. And a decadent chocolate dessert, courtesy of Becky B. All low-carb. Pretty much… Thank you, Becky B.

Outside, the landscaping is also nearing the finish line. Rico worked on the barbecue all day, by himself. He is such an artisan…you don’t find real artisans often these days.
1-IMG_1513

Here are the fruits of his labors—pretty nice, huh. Way more than I expected.
1-IMG_1515

And we have fountain! Coolness!
1-IMG_1516

The plants have been arriving, too. We are doing succulents because of water concerns in southern California. Plus, we like them. I don’t know where they’ll go, I’m leaving the artistry up to Landscape Guy. He gets us.
1-IMG_1517

Last but not least, the spa. It’s a wonderful thing. It’s the smallest one they make, but it fits, which was really iffy when there was no margin for error in the plans. 1-IMG_1518

Happy Christmas/Hanukkah/Festivus everyone!

Thursday, December 18

Kibbles ‘n Bits

Today’s post is a variety of things, a real bowl of granola. Which is something I miss, come to think of it. I have been eating low carb for nine months now and, while I weigh nearly thirty pounds less and feel ten years younger, I miss things like granola and potatoes. I do have a taste now and then when the opportunity presents itself; I seem to be able to do that without going completely off the rails. I ate a big fat brownie at my book club’s holiday party and I felt like crap for a whole day.

We have had a good soaking (rain), and we are all gobsmacked by the green hills around here. We don’t see a lot of green, and we’re all amazed by how quickly the hills turned green. This is the view out my back “yard,” taken through the fence.1-IMG_1499

We got a delivery yesterday…what is it! 1-IMG_1497

It’s my new hot tub! Yay!! Thank you, Santa! Jim watches from a safe distance. We both wear droopy drawers around here because our clothes are too big. And these used to be his tight ones!  1-IMG_1501

I haven’t shown you the finished pavers and walls. Looks nice, huh. You can see the walls and the house are really wet from the rain.1-IMG_1492

After that we went to Savannah’s Christmas recital. The kids, all first-graders, were so cute. Savannah is the blonde in the center of the photo, but check out the kid in the blue hat. Priceless! Taken with my cell phone because we had to hurry and I forgot my camera.
60668_10204211772127837_5706320494489664616_n

That evening we went to Newport Beach to see the Boat Parade of Lights. We ate at this restaurant, The Harborside, which was surprisingly pretty good.
christmas-boat-parade

As we dined we watched the boats pass by. I brought my camera this time but didn’t take a picture because we were inside, so I stole this one.boatparade

Because Savannah was so hopped up on sugar (I don’t think she ate anything but ketchup, chocolate milk and ice cream), we cruised around the Fun Zone for a while. Remember “Big?”1-IMG_1504

Savannah wanted to do the bungee jumping thing. 1-IMG_1508

Here’s what it looked like with the flash.1-IMG_1511

Sunday, December 7

Piecing Artistry

These guys knock me out. You don’t see many true artisans these days.
1-IMG_1477

I know you’re probably sick of looking at this. They pieced the ribbons (borders) and the walkway down the side of the house yesterday. I was fascinated with how they do this. I mean, look at these cuts in the stone! 1-IMG_1478

Below, the finished path. They still have to fill the cracks with whatever they fill them with. I LOVE IT! I am very happy with how everything looks so far.
1-IMG_1482

Continuing with the piecing theme, here is a little “Beauty” I pieced about a decade ago. I made it for a specific bedroom and then we moved. It’s finished, but I never quilted it. Maybe someday.1-IMG_1485

Wait, there are more piecing stories. If you’ve been following along you know they have replaced some floorboards because some moron rolled a bathtub over the newly-laid floor. Well, they replaced a bunch of the boards (and missed several) and many of the ones they “fixed” are uneven. There is like a dime-thickness difference between these two boards, the edges are sharp, and you can feel them with your bare feet. They return again to re-do the job next week. Will it ever end? Sigh…
1-IMG_1486

Finally, I finished piecing Prickly Pear. It’s square, I just didn’t get a very good angle (it’s on the floor). I just have to put on the facing and hanging sleeve. But it’s done.
 
1-IMG_1483

I looked everywhere but I couldn’t find my beads so I made French knots. And then I found the beads. 1-IMG_1484

Lastly, I got some giftwrapping done. All this was yesterday. I hit the wall about 7 PM. I made the best pot roast we ever had and I did it in a Dutch oven in the oven. I did not use the Crock-Pot. It was light-years better, just sayin’.
1-IMG_1488

I find this rather amusing…I am not in the shot. I took the picture, but you can’t see my reflection. Uh oh, this can’t be good.1-IMG_1488-001

A very busy week ahead!