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.
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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.
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Here are the fruits of his labors—pretty nice, huh. Way more than I expected.
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And we have fountain! Coolness!
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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…
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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.
 
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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’.
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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!

Thursday, December 4

The Week in Review

We had rain! We got a good soaking. We need rain desperately and we don’t get much, so it’s a good thing.

So we hunkered down and I made pot roast. See that light in the lower left? That’s the one that shines in our bedroom at night. Bastard. 1-IMG_1465

I did get a chance to play golf before the rain came. I went with a neighbor who said she wasn’t very good, and boy was she right! It made for a tough day on the links. We got paired with two Japanese women…at the risk of stereotyping, those little Asian ladies can hit the hell out of the ball! Man! I’ve never known one that couldn’t, and I don’t know how they do it. They were very patient with my friend, who really didn’t belong out there. I’m going to take her to a smaller executive course next week. At least I’m getting some practice in—I re-upped my membership in the ladies’ league and I’m going to start playing regularly again, so I need to get some semblance of a game back.

Here are a couple pictures of the tree: It’s small, but then we have a much smaller house now. It goes up real fast, I like that. 

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I want to get some gold sparkly garland. It needs more gold. 1-IMG_1461

The landscaping is going well, it doesn’t look terribly different so I didn’t put up a photo. It occurred to me that I never showed you the front of our house, which is a staging area for the stone—they gotta put it somewhere. This is Pedro. He’s a cutie. 

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Inside, I have been quilting the cactus. For the life of me I couldn’t come up with an idea how to do it and then I spied a real prickly pear cactus on the hill and there was my answer. You may notice a hole with the batting showing, a big flower will go there. Big.

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That’s all, Folks! Have a good weekend! Christmas is only 3 weeks away…yikes!

Saturday, November 29

The Holiday Season Begins

Can you believe it’s less than a month until Christmas? Thanksgiving came late this year, so we lost a week. Aside from buying a new holiday outfit because nothing fits (the other way—everything’s too big), I am done with the shopping. Done! Thank you, Amazon Dot Com. I bought everything online and I saved shipping fees, and everything is perfect. I even got the Toys 4 Tots toy and a bear for the teddy bear party.

It’s football season, so you know what you-know-who is doing. Ah, the soundtrack of fall… The other part of “we” started decorating the tree. We got a new (fake) tree this year, we had a coupon at Michael’s. It’s okay, not as nice as the old one, it’s a little guy, which is good because the old one wouldn’t have fit anyway, so it worked out. At least we didn’t have to move it and THEN find out it wouldn’t light. That happened last year. It went poof. Timing, baby. This is as far as I got. The decorator needs mass quantities of brandy and tunes to do her best work…it’s tradition.

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I finished piecing this little commission piece and it’s ready to quilt. I swear, I did that cactus three times before I was satisfied. I pieced it to give it shading/depth but it ended up looking like two hot-air balloons, so I started over. Then I cut it too small… 1-IMG_1449

Outside, they laid more pavers. This is the spot where the hot tub will go. You really can’t tell that there is a cement slab under there. Look farther down on the page and you can see it being poured. The guy is a real artisan.
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Isn’t it amazing how much space we have back here after all? 1-IMG_1443

Here’s “before:”
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I really like the subtle shadings of the stones. When the pallets arrived, the stones looked like the ugliest khaki/ocher you could imagine. Jim thought they were awful and he was sick about it. So I marched outside and said, “Take ‘em back, the mister hates ‘em.” So Landscape Guy laid some out and I talked Jim down from the ceiling, saying they’d be okay. And they are—I love ‘em. And, in the end, Jim loves ‘em too. 1-IMG_1444

Well, that’s all the news this week. Next week will be more of the same except I have some golf games scheduled. I hope I don’t embarrass myself too bad.

Tuesday, November 25

What It Is

I can’t tell you because it’s a surprise. It’s a little piece for an old friend. 1-IMG_1437

I’m scurrying around in the studio every day to get it done for Christmas.

In other news, we had a little dinner party last night…of course I forgot the camera, which is a bummer because it was a really beautiful plate. I roasted thick, Yukon gold potato slices, then I sauteed fresh baby spinach with caramelized shallots. I piled the spinach/shallots on top of the potato, then I topped that with a piece of salmon that I grilled and finished in the oven. I spooned a beurre blanc sauce over all. Nary a morsel was left. We had gluten-free brownies for dessert. GF brownies are a little like sandy mudpies, but they are slightly better than no brownies.

I usually make hollandaise for salmon, but beurre blanc is easier because you can prepare the wine and shallots ahead, and just whisk in the cold butter at serving time. Hollandaise isn’t difficult but it requires last-minute concentration and focus. Things this cook is seriously lacking when the wine has been flowing freely.

We had our Carlsbad friends come to dinner because the guys were trying to use air miles to book a flight (together) that will take place next October. It’s a major headache to use air miles—almost not worth it. You have to do it yourself and you have to do it exactly 330 days in advance, which is when the airlines release a few “free” seats (damn few, and they don’t last long), and getting FOUR seats on the same flight was a nearly insurmountable feat. It took several hours, but they did it. They persevered and won.

Outside, we continue to be beset with delays. This time our pallets of pavers are sitting on a truck down the hill (maybe 300 yards away) because the guy’s forklift broke. They have called for another, but the lunch truck came, so who knows what the afternoon will bring.

Meanwhile they are pouring the slab that the hot tub will sit on. I got to worrying about the pointy corners of the slab, so I mentioned it to Bill  (Landscape Guy) and he said, “Darlin’, I’m way ahead of ya. It will be covered with pavers and you will never know there is cement underneath. You’ll never see it.” Cool. 1-IMG_1440

In other news, our beautiful Michelle celebrated her 40th birthday on the rooftop of a swanky midtown Manhattan hotel. Does this girl know how to party?
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She said everything was fabulous. Happy for her. They will spend Thanksgiving with family and friends in Connecticut. We have no plans other than of a can of pumpkin that will be turned into some kind of mousse, and a sweet potato. Neither one of us is fond of turkey. I will miss the stuffing, though.

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving! Enjoy your loved ones and don’t stress.

Saturday, November 15

Taking Shape


We saw some progress on the landscaping this week. Now that they are back at it, they’re going full steam ahead.
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Here’s looking the other way, toward where the barbecue has been started. Our neighbors are getting underway with their landscape too. They are at the trench-digging phase, which means jackhammers. 1-IMG_1425

They’ve laid the first row of block to separate the planting area at the fence from the patio side. Now you can see the pattern—I drew it this way because it’s more visually appealing than just straight lines and I think we can use the space on both sides better. There will be a fountain in the farther hexagon, and some light-blocking bushes in the closer one. The poor little upside down bistro table at the left of the frame will go in the middle between the two out-notches…for lack of a better descriptor.1-IMG_1428

A little closer, you can see the barbecue taking shape on the right of the frame. And we’ll have room for a table and chairs in the area in front of the BBQ, which I was concerned about. A small one, not a big one. 1-IMG_1427

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While I was outside taking these photos just before sunset, the crows started going home for the night. They do this every day. There are thousands of them (just a few in this picture obviously), they gather in the sky and go west, over the hills toward the ocean. They keep coming and coming. And going and going. It’s so strange.1-IMG_1430