Wednesday, February 29

Doin’ Stuff with Friends

Our pals Ron and Kay from the central coast came for a visit. It was so good to see them. We took them hiking at Indian Canyons in Palm Springs. It was a lovely day.

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Indian Canyons is a very pretty place, with many trails so you can go as hard or as easy or as long as you want.

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We were trying to do healthy things.

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After the hike we went to the Palm Springs Air Museum, which focuses on WWII planes. Below is the B-17 “Flying Fortress.” It is a fine museum.

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Keeping with the healthy habits theme, for dinner we had grilled salmon on sautéed fresh spinach, and roasted asparagus. Simple and easy.

I hope you’re having a great week.

Saturday, February 25

Ah, Spring

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The sun is shining, the pool is sparkling, the flowers are flowering, and the bougainvillea is goin’ to town.

We got our front door. We like it.

Outside                        Inside

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I have a free weekend before Kay and Ron, our friends from the central coast, come for a visit. So I started making something. It’s going to be a table runner. I’m having fun with it.

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That’s all the news!

Tuesday, February 21

Yep, I’m Here

We had houseguests over Presidents weekend. My sister Judy brought her teenagers, and a friend from Ohio who I have met a few times. We had lots of conversations over wine, and several good dinners. The teens actually liked the Souvlaki and Greek salad. They turned their noses up at the Spanakopita, which was fine because it meant more for us! I made a tri-tip salad the second night and they scarfed up every last bite. I think the key is to not let them have their usual amount of snacks. They are big snackers. They pretty much only eat things that come in a box or turn your fingers orange, so it was cool when they said how much they liked my food. That was how they put it—“We liked your food.”

Sorry no pictures today, my camera has been collecting dust on the shelf. But we got the new front door and I got a fab bundle of batiks for a table runner that I’m going to start soon, so I’ll have pictures next time.

I’m golfing tomorrow with a new friend. I have never met her--a mutual friend/neighbor from Cypress Ridge Women’s Golf Club where I used to play when I lived on the central coast connected us. She lives there and has a second home here in the desert. She doesn’t have anybody to golf with here because her husband doesn’t play, so we have a lot in common. It’s always nice to meet a new friend. Especially one who golfs and has about the same index.

We have more houseguests coming this week and next, friends from the central coast. Our calendar is full—nary an empty square, hardly a moment of down time. We are researching/planning excursions for our upcoming trips this summer (Alaska, Europe), and I’m working on a book of our Croatia trip when I have a few moments. Everything takes so much time. So, as much as I’ve been hoping to get into the studio, I’ve been busy doing everything but that.

It’s all good.

Monday, February 13

Monday Musings

Another beautiful morning in the desert. I love it here. I said I wanted to stay home from traveling and enjoy winter in the desert—there are a lot of things to do and the weather is nothing less than perfect. Since we are not traveling, we’re spending our money on house stuff. It’s slow going but we are making progress.

We finally found some rugs we BOTH liked. The dining room: IMG_6416-1

The table screams for a table runner and I am going to start on that very soon. I have been waiting to get the rug first. Next is the hated chandelier--can’t wait to get that gone. We are shopping for lighting.

We got a rug for the family room. Love, love love it! And I finally talked J into getting rid of that dated old grandpa recliner for something smaller, lighter, and more contemporary. IMG_6418-1

We even got a new rug for the powder room. Finally! The old one was left by the previous owners. It doesn’t come across in the photo, but it’s silk and has a lovely sheen to it, and some texture.  IMG_6422-1

Well, the new DR rug clashed mightily with the entry hall rug, so we moved it under the K table. It looks fine there. It was perfect for the last house, not so much for this one, and Riley had had a few accidents on it that multiple shampooing couldn’t fix. So now it has a new home and it adds some much-needed focus and color to the monochromatic kitchen. I love the pleated shade I had made for that glass wall. The afternoon sun is wicked.

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But that left us with an empty entry. We liked the round rug there, it widened the area. So we are shopping for a replacement. The door, by the way, is being replaced by one that is being made as I type this. I’d like to get the four columns in the entry faux-painted to look like granite.IMG_6421-1I’

Changes have been happening outside, too. We took out the pepper tree and put in some more desert-looking landscape. Now the light shines on the house, but it looks neat at night.IMG_6423-1

In other news, we are gearing up for several groups of houseguests at La Casa A, and very much looking forward to it. Of course I have been playing a lot of golf, too. Tis the season! However, my golf swing has gone missing, if you see it please tell it to go home.

We have slowly been making new friends; it’s challenging because this is a seasonal area and our street is NEVER fully occupied, and our neighbors only visit their houses a couple times a year. But we went to a neighbor’s house for dinner Saturday and I took this salad. I lost the recipe for this terrific salad ten years ago and couldn’t remember it, but the other day it came to me (thank you), and I am quite sure I got it right. I want to share the recipe with you.

Fabulous Spinach Salad (serves 4, all measurements approximate)

8 oz pkg baby spinach
3-4 slices bacon, cooked crisp, chopped
4-5 button mushrooms, thinly sliced
1/3 cup candied pecans*
1/8 red onion, thinly sliced
1/4 cup raisins or dried cranberries

Dressing
3 TBS good balsamic vinegar
1 tsp finely chopped shallot
salt & pepper
1 TBS maple syrup
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

*You can buy candied pecans, but I just toasted plain pecans in a skillet and sprinkled on a tiny bit of brown sugar.

Have a great week!

Saturday, February 4

Let’s Go Golfing

Today Janice and I played “The Nick.” It’s a very beautiful course but very challenging. Cheryl, this one’s for you.

Par 4. Even if you hit a perfect tee shot you have to lay up and then hit over the water. The green is surrounded by bunkers and moguls of dead Bermuda grass (it's a seasonal thing).
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Par 5 to a blind green. Not too much trouble until you take your second shot, and then there are bunkers all along the left, and moguls all along the right. Tiny apron. But it’s beautiful, isn’t it.
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Same hole as above, standing at my ball, ready to take my third shot. The pin is about 130 yards away. Must carry the deep bunker to get on the green. Unless you hit your second shot on the right side of the fairway, which I did not.

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No, you don’t have to carry the water. Just fotograffin here.
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Par 4. Stay out of that ugly bunker on the left and it’s not a difficult hole.
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Here’s Janice addressing the ball for a 117-yard par 3. Sand and water on the left, mountain on the right, and a very narrow, very sloping green.
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After Janice hit her shot (above), I took mine. My best shot of the day, and an easy birdie.
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Hope you had a good time!

Wednesday, February 1

Lemon Almond Chicken

Let’s cook something easy and delicious.
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When I make dinner for JJ and me, we split one chicken breast. It’s not a lot to eat, but it’s enough, and we ARE trying to lose weight. This entire meal is about 280 calories, and it’s easy and quick to make. I’ll show you.
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Here are the ingredients for two:
Sliced almonds, about 1/3 the little bag
1 boneless skinless chicken breast
Salt and pepper (not pictured)
Olive oil to lightly coat a skillet
Chicken broth, about 1/2 cup (I never measure)
White wine, a splash or two, plus a glass to keep the cook happy (optional of course)
Juice of a small lemon
2 or 3 cloves garlic, smashed/sliced, whatever
1 big tablespoon Dijon mustard
Rosemary
Cornstarch
Chopped parsley
Pound the chicken breast until it’s an even thickness. Salt and pepper.
In a large skillet over medium-high heat, toast the almonds until they are golden brown. Remove almonds from pan and set aside. Add olive oil to the pan and brown the chicken breast. Don’t cook it, just brown it. Remove and set aside.
In the hot skillet, add the chicken broth, wine, lemon juice, garlic, mustard, and rosemary. Cook together for a few minutes until the ingredients are melded together. Add the chicken back to the pan. Sauté the chicken in the goodness until it is cooked through. Mix a half-teaspoon of the cornstarch in a little chicken broth and add it to the sauce to thicken. Bring to a boil and turn down the heat until ready to serve. Sprinkle with almonds and parsley.
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We served it with roasted asparagus, which is just coming into season. The calorie count includes the roasted asparagus with olive oil. I roast it at 400 for 30 minutes.