Monday, July 27, 2015

Be My Guest

The plan:

Convert youngest son's former bedroom to a guest room.
When the thought was in it's infancy I envisioned a room void of clutter with a fresh coat of paint.  
With my son's remaining belongings boxed up and stored in the attic, I went to work clearing cobwebs and giving the vacuum cleaner a good work out.  

Next up it was time to choose a paint color.
These walls were currently sporting the builder's paint job from 16 years ago.  Definitely past time for a fresh coat of paint.
I never thought I would be one for paint colors in the beige tones, but after painting our office last year a light(ish) beige, I find they are growing on me.  This time I really surprised myself by also choosing a deeper shade than I normally do.

My thought was that the deeper color would accentuate the white trim in the room.

Beyond the paint color I wasn't quite sure where I was headed with this project.
One day, while looking at bedding on the internet, I stumbled across this.  Thinking the beige just might work with the paint choice and the blue might tie in with the rest of the house, I placed an order thinking if it didn't work out I would just return it.  Shipping was free and it could be returned to the local store.
Nothing ventured, nothing gained as the saying goes.

Upon arrival, it was quickly decided that the bedding was going to work out just fine.
Once the room was painted, the furniture polished and the carpet scrubbed, it was time to hunt down a few accessories. 
Armed with one of the pillow shams, I headed for the local HomeGoods shop to see what I could find.  A lamp seemed like a good idea to add a bit of ambiance to the room.  The blue glass in this one is so pretty and it looked like it might be a match so in the cart it went.

After a few accessory hunting trips I learned that this shade of blue isn't the easiest to match.  When I saw this metal piece at HomeGoods I thought it might be the answer for hanging over the bed.  I like how it picks up the color and pattern in the bedding while adding a bit of textural interest. 
I wasn't having much luck finding pictures for the walls.
If the blue was a match, the picture usually had a beachy theme.  I have nothing against beachy themes except that wasn't what I was going after.
I brought the bird canvas home from PierOne and was pleasantly surprised with how well it worked.
A few more things found at Tuesday Morning.  You never know what you might find there, but the prices are very reasonable.  The blue vase is shaped like a pomegranate and was on the clearance table.
The rattan tray has a dual purpose.  Although the finish on the dresser top looks pretty good in the photo, it's a whole different story in real life.  Nothing, short of a refinishing job, could help it.  So, I did the next best thing... a bit of camouflaging with those accessories.  Ha!  When the guests arrive I plan to set out a dish of candy there.

 I once heard that every room should have a surprise element or bit of whimsy.  With that in mind I couldn't resist placing this sign across from the bed.  At first glance it probably seems a bit rude.
However, since the lake is right across the street, it's really just an invitation to relax and enjoy the lake.  Which is something I hope to do plenty of when our first guests arrive in a few short weeks.

Monday, July 20, 2015

Sweet Summertime Moments

Since it had been a year since Jaxson's last visit to the lake we weren't sure how receptive he would be to the idea.
Things started off on the right foot when he willingly donned his beach ensemble and happily trotted down to the lake with us.

 Safe in mommy's arms he enjoyed a little swim off the end of the dock.
So far, so good.

 Once in the boat he instantly decided he'd like to be the driver.
Grandpa tooted the horn once and that was all it took for him to find the pleasure in tooting it over and over all by himself.

 Thinking we'd better get moving before the neighbors started filing noise complaints, he agreed to be grandpa's assistant at the wheel.

All in all things went very well.
We cruised.  We anchored.  We swam and we even drove across the lake to eat dinner at a lakeside restaurant.
Making our way back home the sun was quickly setting. 

 As we made our away across the lake it got darker and darker.
Glad I wasn't at the wheel or we'd still be trying to find our way back as it all looks the same out there to me at night.
I did find comfort in the crescent moon and the little star that guided our way.

Having no idea if he was still awake, I took a flash photo and discovered that although his eyelids were getting heavy, he was still a happy camper.
Once home he was sound asleep as soon as his head hit the pillow.
Hopefully dreaming sweet dreams of his big day on the lake.

Monday, July 13, 2015

Summer Mornings

I'm not sure I could pick just one favorite in the summer fruit category.  Although if, for some reason, it became necessary to do so I might just have to go with a sweet summer peach.  
The first visit to the local peach stand yielded a deliciously fragrant supply of these tasty gems.
They also came along right about when I was perusing a particularly lovely cookbook that I had just found at the thrift shop.

 Thinking the granola recipe sounded interesting with a mix of pumpkin seeds and pecans along with a spice blend containing cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger, I set to work preparing a batch.

While it was baking, I began to think of how good it was going to be with my peaches and our favorite summer berries too.

 Ah, yes.
Sure enough our new favorite summer breakfast has become yogurt topped with a generous scoop of granola and an even more generous scoop of whatever summer fruit happens to be on hand.

While putting together this post I became curious about that Dr. Gaymont featured on my vintage yogourt bottle.
I guess we have him to thank for the introduction of yogurt into the American diet. In fact, it looks like he deserves credit for many of our dairy products.   See more here.
 One thing I know for sure, the choices in the yogurt section of the grocery store are almost overwhelming.  I tend to stick with plain or vanilla Greek yogurt.  How about you... do you have a favorite yogurt flavor? 

Because it's still July, I'm posting my favorite firework photo.
I thought about doing a post for the Fourth of July, but never got around to it.  I've thought about doing a lot of things lately, but don't seem to be getting around to them.  :-D.  I'm blaming it on the heat.   

Monday, June 29, 2015

Summer Evening

 Oh gosh it feels great to be sitting outside after dinner tonight.
A light breeze is blowing and the sounds of summer are in the air.
I couldn't resist bringing my after dinner mint with me.  This mint is in the form of an iced beverage fresh from my herb garden.  I snipped a few sprigs this morning, brought a pan of water to a boil and dropped the mint in.  After letting it steep for a few hours I took the mint sprigs out and poured the tea into a pitcher to cool in the refrigerator all day.
Now that the dishes are done, I am enjoying the fruits of my labor.

 The recent heatwave here brought days upon days of temperatures near or at 100 degrees.  Coupled with our normal high humidity and lack of rain, the lawn was rapidly turning brown despite a regular watering schedule.  You may notice a series of green stripes across the back lawn.  Any guesses why that would be?

 Now that the weather has reached a more comfortable temperature, it is like being set free to venture outside once again.  So here I sit as darkness descends enjoying this beautiful summer evening.
I was hoping to see a hummingbird come to visit the Cannas.
So far, no luck, but I've got the camera ready just in case :).
 I wasn't sure if those Cannas would return this year.  They were newly planted at the top of the waterfall last summer.  When spring arrived there was no sign of them.  I was assured that they were perennials.  Sure enough they popped out of the ground and once they got going, they really shot up fast.

 I haven't featured the pond and waterfall on the blog this spring/summer as we are having an issue with algae.  The water is completely green.  Can't even see the goldfish.  We've been actively treating the water hoping it will clear up.  This is a learning experience for sure.  We did, however, add a water lily plant.  It only had two leaves when we planted it so I was a little leery about how it would do.  Apparently it isn't phased by the algae issues as it seems like every day when we look at it, it has formed more leaves and today we had the first flower open. 

 The timing on our most recent landscaping project wasn't the greatest.  The heatwave hit before the plants had a chance to get established and many of them are ailing or have already died.
There's nothing like a good rainfall.  My supplemental waterings helped, but sadly didn't go far enough to get things off on the right foot.
The hydrangeas above are a "new to me" variety called Pistachio.
I thought they were so pretty when they were first planted, now they are struggling to survive.  I hope with plenty of TLC they will be okay.

 On a happier note the newly planted purple coneflowers are thriving.  They seem to do well even in drought-like conditions.

I guess I must reluctantly head inside.
I was wondering why I was having such a hard time seeing the keyboard until I looked up and saw this.
Yes, a full moon.  Although in real life it's not nearly as blurry.
I hope you are enjoying your summer evenings too.
Happy Summer!!


Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Just Do It... Darn It

 Those three little words seem to say it all when it comes to exercise.
As much as I believe this to be true, the fact is, if I am being honest with myself, I just wasn't doing it.  Well at least not as much as I know I should have.

I once heard a fitness trainer say that the best piece of equipment you can buy is the one that will get used.  After all, if it is going to sit and collect dust, it's about useless as far as furthering any fitness goals.
My own fitness goals have become sporadic (at best) these past few years.  I religiously do the core strength exercises recommended by my chiropractor five years ago.  They are easy to do while watching tv, don't require much effort and make me feel hopeful that I can keep my lower back issues in check.
If the weather conditions meet my approval, I take a walk around the neighborhood.  I park far from the door when I go shopping and use the stairs when possible.  I clean my own house and garden.  Other than that, I know that I spend far too much time being sedentary.
In the back of my mind I know I should be doing more, but yet I seem to find a million excuses not to Just Do It.
That is until two weeks ago when the results of my recent bone density test came back as ostopeniaWhile I wasn't totally surprised as my mom had osteoporosis and my sister has ostopenia, I set out to educate myself on what this all meant for me.  I was encouraged to learn that exercise can go a long way in helping to build bone mass.  This article explains it so well.
I knew in that moment that it was time to be honest with myself.
I thought through my sorry excuses and figured out a way to get out of my own way.
It started with the treadmill.
I knew that there was no way I wanted to walk outside in our current heatwave so I put on my tennis shoes and got on that treadmill with the goal of staying on there for 30 minutes walking at a brisk pace.  I lowered the thermostat, put on the ceiling fan and just did it.  
Once I was done, I found an old calendar and jotted down my accomplishment.  Honestly in the past I could have made the excuse that I would walk when the weather was cooler or when I had bought a journal to start keeping track of my goals in.  Not any more... the treadmill and old calendar get the job done.

 Leaving my tennis shoes next to the treadmill for convenience sake.

While on the treadmill I thought about other ways to exercise.  The treadmill is good for cardio and also weight bearing exercise which is so necessary in trying to increase bone mass.  I wanted to create an exercise program for myself that would target the areas I needed to work on while offering some variety as well.  I remembered a video series I had bought several years ago after seeing the host demonstrate it on QVC.  Mirabai Holland provides a thorough workout especially geared for women 50 and over. Just what this (well) over 50 woman needs.  She covers all of the areas that I want to work on in a gentle, yet thorough manner.
I made the decision to do the strength training video  the next day.
It uses light weights and resistance bands to work the muscles and bones.  I was getting on board now and looking forward to the next day's workout.

The large screen tv my son left behind would be perfect for my DVD workouts. 

The next day dawned and I headed up to the bonus exercise room raring to go.  That is until I remembered one of my other excuses for not exercising... figuring out which remote operates what and which setting the tv has to be on to make the DVD player work.  Brett... help!
I don't know about you, but I have little patience for all of this technological stuff.  I just want to pop the DVD in and get going.  
After much trial and error Brett got that mess straightened out for me.
Until I hit play on the DVD player remote and nothing happened.
Lucky for me Brett is a patient man.
He played around with the remote and advised me to operate it manually until he could figure out the problem.
I did and discovered that these old DVDs would work just fine for my new workout routine.

I was surprised to discover that a search of closets and drawers yielded all of the various weights and resistance bands that I would need.  I even pulled out the yoga mat I used in the yoga classes I occasionally took 20 or so years ago.  My new workout will include at least one session of yoga per week.  I am far from flexible, however my chiropractor has been recommending yoga for years.  My dedication to it has been very hit or miss lately.
I do find it calming and relaxing when I do it.  I guess it was just another thing that was lost in my excuses.  I'm too tired, maybe tomorrow, etc...
When I stopped to think about it, I realize that everything I needed has been here all along.  I'm also discovering that thrift shops are a great source for finding books and DVDs to add to my collection.
I know that in order to keep my interest level up I'll need to change things around from time to time.  

The only thing that had been standing in the way was me.
So, here I stand today sans make-up and "glistening" after my morning workout.  As Mirabai Holland says, it's never to late to start exercising.

I hope it doesn't sound to you like I think I'm an expert at all this in the few short weeks I've been back on board.  It's just that I've had every excuse in the book for not doing what I know I should be doing.  For me it took finding out that I have "significant bone loss" to make me mad enough to think No More Excuses...  Just Do It and Do It Now!!!
Only time will tell if my bones get stronger, but I also knew that I was getting winded too easily, my balance isn't as good as I'd like it to be and my energy is often lacking.  In just this short time I'm already feeling better in each of those areas.  Instead of feeling like the little old lady I am becoming, I feel slightly empowered and greatly inspired to get my workout in each day.  I've set my own goals and don't compare my accomplishments to others.  I look forward to jotting down the days exercise goal on the calendar.  I've never been the type to go to the gym, run in a marathon or play a competitive sport.  But, that's okay.  The important thing is deciding what works for you and then 

Just so you know, I'm not planning to take my blog in a new direction here.  I partially want to put it out there to help hold myself accountable.  By the same token if you care to comment on your own fitness routines or goals I think it would be wonderful to possibly inspire one another in that manner.  If not, the gardening and homemaking will continue as usual.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

A New Look in the Garden

I think we've all heard that old expression "looks can be deceiving".
That would most definitely hold true for this photo of the Kwanzan Cherry tree blooming away in the garden in April.

Upon closer inspection it would be easy to see a trunk that was diseased and beginning to decay.

It would also be evident that the root system was heading for the nearby cement sidewalk.  In truth, the tree had outgrown it's home.

In fact the entire bed had become overgrown.
It's funny how you can live somewhere for years and know that the landscaping has grown through the years, but then one day it really hits you how out of control it has become.  These camellias used to be a nice tidy row under the kitchen windows.  Suddenly no amount of pruning could keep them below the windows and it was gradually obstructing the view as well as making the kitchen feel a bit closed in.  Call me strange, but when I look out the window I like to see the view and not feel like the view is overtaking the house.

Along with the overgrown vegetation, the lighting was in a sorry state.  We talked a bit about spray painting them all until we discovered that several of them were rusted right through.  Believe it or not, this is one of the better looking ones :/.
Clearly action needed to be taken.
 Lacking the proper equipment for the job, we called in the experts.

In under an hour my beautiful Kwanzan Cherry was no longer with us.

One day's work was all it took to totally eliminate sixteen years of growth.  I wouldn't even want to guess how long it would have taken Brett and I to do that.  Maybe another sixteen years :D.

On a side note,
see that little hole between the bricks?
One of the workers rang the doorbell to let us know he had watched a five foot long black snake slither in there.  He wondered if that might lead into the house.  Yikes!!  Thankfully it is an air vent into the crawl space.  I guess that's something to be thankful for although it still gives me the creeps to think of him slithering about under my house.  I'm hoping that the removal of the tall shrubbery will make him feel more vulnerable and perhaps he will mosey on out of here.

Although we will miss the week in April when that Kwanzan Cherry put on her show, we now look forward to getting to know this new garden space.  Much less to keep pruned and hopefully less to camouflage that unwanted visitor.