Sunday, December 26, 2010

This has got to stop!




That seems like all I have been doing for several months.  Craig and I have been having some wonderful meals together, and it seems the more willing I am to cook, the more wonderful recipes he finds for me to try.

We have also been eating more deserts and small offerings of candies like English Toffee and chocolates at night.

The other day we stopped at  the Casa De Fruita store and bought $40 worth of dried fruit, trail mix, and candy.  All for the Holidays of course!

Trays of cookies and elaborate whipped cream covered deserts have appeared on a regular schedule.

Because we are together with family this week, we have been having large breakfasts and dinners.

 This year we tried a goose for Christmas dinner and it came out fantastic!  A bit expensive, but since our daughter's Au Pair is from Denmark, we all thought it would be an interesting cultural exchange.  She has also prepared several traditional Danish Christmas dishes.  All very heavy on the cream and butter!

  Tonight we are going to a get together of our daughter's closest friends.  Families that we have known and loved for years as well. And of course there will be lots of great food.  Don't want to be rude and skip anything!

SOOO!  The New Year is going to involve some big changes for me.  Not a wishy- washy January 1, resolution to go on a diet.

Been there, done that.  Failed every time.

I have shed lots of pounds a couple of times and I know how to do it.  Eat less every day, exercise a little more, every day, and not expect huge fast results.  It also helps if I write down what I eat and set goals.

I'm not sure when I'll start.  There are still lots of goodies around, so it may not be until mid January.  But I will do it.

Another thing to work on step by step...

Happy New Year everyone.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Merry Christmas to All

 Merry Christmas 

I bought this little painting by Monika Livingston in 1995 at a local art show.  It makes me smile every time I notice it.

 It was the beginning of a collection of dragon pictures that hang on the wall of the  stairway going down to my studio.  Each is dated and the source noted. 

I will be taking them down when I paint this area and want to scan or photograph them.   I want to keep a few of the special ones.  

I will be sharing them on the blog from time to time.

Exercise Goal:
 miles on the treadmill, 

2.5 miles Tuesday  
Total walked = 293 miles  Aiming for 500 miles by March 2011

Someday I will be hiking 1000 miles in National Parks!


Monday, December 20, 2010


Nothing very exciting.

 If you look at different rooms around this house, there are several different types of wall texture.  Each is a type of knock-down.  Some rooms have quite large splotches of knock-down, and some almost smooth.

 After the 1989 Earthquake we had to do extensive drywall work down in the family room, and hired someone to come in and do the texture.

In 2001 Craig did some drywall repair upstairs, and bought splatter applicator and learned to do it himself.

Last weekend after removing the woodwork we went out and bought the material for the texture application in the front hall, but by the time we got back it was to late  to start the job.

This Saturday, we did it.  It was a bit scary, but everything went quite well.

Craig did the application and I did the knock-down. It looks pretty good, if I do say so myself. It really wasn't very hard, and since there are three other rooms of old ugly wall paper to remove, the skill will come in handy.

Today I did the second coat of BIN on the walls and one on the ceiling.  I plan on painting the ceiling tomorrow, and the walls after Christmas.  I have white ceiling paint and the first gallon of a very light color for the walls.

 I am looking forward to seeing it on the wall.

Exercise Goal:
 miles on the treadmill, 

miles Friday
miles Monday
Total walked = 290.5 miles  Aiming for 500 miles by March 2011

Someday I will be hiking 1000 miles in National Parks!

Grand Canyon

Thursday, December 16, 2010

A Simply, but Yummy Lunch

Last Christmas our daughter gave us a Panini maker.  Craig has always been a fan of grilled cheese sandwiches, and I really love Rubens. Both of which I have simply made in a fry pan.

The Panini maker added more options, but regular bread really flattens out way to much.  Also I followed the directions in the Panini cookbook and put olive oil on the outside of the bread which made it a bit "greasy" to me.

Recently, I discovered the perfect, easy, Panini bread.  English muffins!  They stand up to being squashed quite nicely.  I have also discovered that using oil on the outside is not necessary.

My latest favorite is Apple and Swiss cheese.

A thick slice of  Granny Smith apple give a nice tartness, and is a perfect combination with the swiss cheese.

Of course the same could be done with a fry pan and a foil wrapped brick.  You just have to turn them a few times.

I have been wondering if the panini maker was a worthwhile use of space and weight, but I have found it is great for making grilled veggies (wrap in foil,) and works for a  breakfast addition of frozen hash brown patties (defrosted in microwave first., and also wrapped in foil.)  Easy Clean-up is always a plus in my book!

Hmmm ...  What next?  Peanut butter and bananas?  Any suggestions?

Exercise Goal:
 miles on the treadmill, 

miles Wednesday
miles Thursday
Total walked = 284.5 miles  Aiming for 500 miles by March 2011

Someday I will be hiking 1000 miles in National Parks!


Tuesday, December 14, 2010

He Told the Judge we are going to be fulltimers!

I'm not sure why, but I'm always a little surprised when Craig tells me he has told someone we are planning to sell the house and go off in a big RV.  But it does.

This week his boss told him he had a job for the next year, and maybe two. (He works as an independent contractor, so it is always a question that needs to be addressed at this time of the year.)  But Craig told him that we plan on selling the house sometime next fall and leave on our adventure.

 Another year of income is good, but we have so much to do on the house.

Today he had to go thru the Federal Grand Jury Selection process.  It is an 18 month commitment.  Once a week.

As with any jury selection process, more are called than needed, and many are excused for a variety of reasons.

 He was excused because he told the judge that we planned on selling our home next fall and leave the area in an RV.

Sounds to me like he is coming on board.

I walked three miles this morning, then went Christmas shopping and walked three more!  I only have a few more gifts to find.    I was pleasantly surprised by the total lack of crowds in the mall and on the town streets.  I guess it was because it was a Tuesday.  Maybe it is because the economy has slowed down, or because more people are doing their shopping online.  But things sure were empty.

I heard Yahoo laid off a bunch of people today.  How bad is that.  To loose your job just before Christmas really must suck.

On a happier note, I culled out a couple of cookbooks and tossed an old file folder before I left this morning.

Exercise Goal:
 miles on the treadmill, 

miles Tuesday
Total walked = 278.5 miles  Aiming for 500 miles by March 2011

Someday I will be hiking 1000 miles in National Parks!

Sequoia National Park

Monday, December 13, 2010

A small step today

Last spring I tried to either cull something or put something aside for donation or flea market just about every day.

Work on the exterior painting took over that spot all summer.

I count walking as a step as well.  (3 miles today!)

Today I culled another bag of clothes from my closet that are destine for Goodwill.
I think everything left on my side fits me and are things I still will wear.  It won't take much more culling to fit into an RV closet.  It will be easy.

I've got some Christmas shopping to do tomorrow.
 But maybe I'll find something to put into the flea market box before I go.

Exercise Goal:
 miles on the treadmill, 

miles Monday
Total walked = 275.5 miles  Aiming for 500 miles by March 2011

Someday I will be hiking 1000 miles in National Parks!


Sunday, December 12, 2010

I Think I'll Keep Him ...

I know I grinch about the pace at which Craig does things around here, and frown about his ongoing reluctance to part with stuff, but all in all I think I'll keep him.

Although I do most of the cooking, from time to time he makes dinner for me.
Craig Cooks

Every morning, while I make coffee and get our juice,  he drives to the top of the road and gets the Newspaper, which we read in bed before starting the day.  (No picture)

Every evening, round about 8:30 PM he makes tea for both of us, and brings my cup to me as I sit in my recliner reading blogs.  (Also no picture.)

Today the front hall project got a little bit bigger when he removed all of the wood baseboards and door trim.

Over the years he has replaced some of the dark rough wood baseboards around the house with new stained oak.  New woodwork will really make the entry hall more appealing.

I didn't agree to the removal at first because I was concerned about how long it would take to get the new up, but I think we have agreed it would be done as soon as possible after I finish the painting.

He is always happy to tear out things, but  I am firm on limiting this to just the front hall for now.

I have finished doing the first primer coat and next weekend he is going to apply the texture material.

Yes, I think I'll keep him.

Today is Craig's 66th Birthday.

Instead of getting a fancy "store-bought" cake I made him one of his childhood favorites.

In Wisconsin it is called a Schaum Torte.  In New Zealand and Australia call it a Pavlova.

A sweet meringue, covered in strawberries and piled high with fresh Whipped Cream.

Being a thrifty person, I saved the six from my cake and bought another.

Happy Birthday Craig.

Friday, December 10, 2010

I'm the Camel

The Camel's Nose In The Tent.  (a traditional folk tale)

One cold night, as an Arab sat in his tent, a camel gently thrust his nose under the flap and looked in. "Master," he said, "let me put my nose in your tent. It's cold and stormy out here." "By all means," said the Arab, "and welcome" as he turned over and went to sleep.
A little later the Arab awoke to find that the camel had not only put his nose in the tent but his head and neck also. The camel, who had been turning his head from side to side, said, "I will take but little more room if I place my forelegs within the tent. It is difficult standing out here." "Yes, you may put your forelegs within," said the Arab, moving a little to make room, for the tent was small.
Finally, the camel said, "May I not stand wholly inside? I keep the tent open by standing as I do." "Yes, yes," said the Arab. "Come wholly inside. Perhaps it will be better for both of us." So the camel crowded in. The Arab with difficulty in the crowded quarters again went to sleep. When he woke up the next time, he was outside in the cold and the camel had the tent to himself. 
This story is meant to warn people to "guard their turf."  Or watch out for the "slippery slope."

But for us camels,

 it's a reminder that success can be achieved a little at a time.  Perseverance is the key.

Exercise Goal:
 miles on the treadmill, 

2.5 miles Friday
Total walked = 272.5 miles  Aiming for 500 miles by March 2011

Someday I will be hiking 1000 miles in National Parks!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Front Hall Project #2

If KILZ is good, BIN is better, or so I was told by the paint men at two different stores. It is a shellac-base sealer and is said to seal in tough stains, pet, smoke and firs odors.  It is also good to seal cigarette smoke smell.

So hopefully it will seal the closet walls.  Craig doesn't agree, and says we will have to replace all the drywall and insulation in the closets and hall to do the job right.

I hate to be a "b...." about it, but he has had twenty years to replace the drywall and it hasn't happened!

A number of years ago we sealed the ground area of the crawl space beneath it, and I think that got rid of the cause. There is also some heavy duty dry rot on an outside wall of that area.  It was more than I could deal with when I was painting, and is one of the areas we still have to work on next spring.  I think getting wood replaced and painted will also reduce the "cause."

So for now the closets have been given two good coats of BIN.  I have to do the rest of the hall before we rehang the doors, and then we will see if after some time of being closed the odor returns.

At the moment they are empty, and I don't want to put anything back into them.   I especially do not want to put the boxes of papers back.  I think they held onto the musty smell.  Nor do I want to hang any clothing in them.  (I got rid of the old coats that were in there months ago.)

So they will be empty for awhile. (Maybe forever!)

Tomorrow I will be working on fixing dings and nail holes in the hall walls.

Exercise Goal:
 miles on the treadmill, 

2.5 miles Thursday
Total walked = 270 miles  Aiming for 500 miles by February 15, 2011

Someday I will be hiking 1000 miles in National Parks!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Dungeness Crab season is here

I had never seen, nor eaten Dungeness Crab before we moved to California.

Frozen Crab Cakes,  yes.
Deviled crab made with canned crab meat, yes.
Soft shelled crab in Boston, yes.

But never the West Coast's delectable Dungeness.

The season has just begun and the  groceries are having the first sale.

You can spend lots going to a fancy restaurant, or chow down on cleaned and cracked crab at home with dips of melted butter and/or soy-ginger-seam oil.

One crab each is about right. (On sale $4 - $7 per person.)

Usually the fish man will clean and crack it for you while you wait.

Never, never buy previously frozen crab, it get very soggy.

At the table you will need a nutcracker and pick, a good cloth napkin or towel, and a relaxed attitude.

Serve with a good sourdough baguette and a glass or two of Sauvignon Blanc.

Thats what we had for dinner tonight.   Yumm.   Local Delight.

Exercise Goal:
 miles on the treadmill, 

2.5 miles Wednesday
Total walked = 267.5 miles  Aiming for 500 miles by March  2011

Someday I will be hiking 1000 miles in National Parks!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Walking on the treadmill

Since I have a few new followers, -hello The Good Luck Duck,- I thought I'd write a few words about how keeping track of the miles I walk on the treadmill is helping to keep me motivated.

I want to be able to enjoy the adventures I am going to have Rving someday.  But it is easier to sit and read blogs than to do the work needed to get there, and as I get older I find I am not in top condition. Walking on the treadmill is good for my legs and my heart.

In general I find it very easy to not exercise at all.  By setting a goal, and recording my progress I seem to do better than just waiting for inspiration.

Reporting miles walked gives me a sense of achievement.  I guess I never did get enough gold stars as a child.

 I also have a tendency to get discouraged about reaching my goal of getting the house fixed up enough to sell it, and getting thru all of the sorting and disposal  of   stuff we have accumulated over the years.

On days when I really feel stuck about the house, I find walking is a better distraction than eating.

Actually I walk and then I eat!

So, I keep this log.  One step at a time,  one project at a time.  It all adds up.

Exercise Goal:
 miles on the treadmill, 

2.5 miles Friday
2.5 miles Sunday     Thinking of  Margie
 mile Tuesday  
Total walked = 265 miles  
Someday I will be hiking 1000 miles in National Parks!

Monday, December 6, 2010

Front Hall Project

First off, helllo to new followers Kimopolo and Renee.  It's fascinating how the blog web spreads.

Living where I do, it is not hard to find beauty in the " here and now.

The day started out rather gloomy and gray.  It had rained about an inch overnight.  Our living room has six large windows, and although the nearest trees are about 45 feet from them, sometimes it feels like I live in a wonderful tree house.

Most of the maples have lost their leaves by now. Note the one out the window to by the lamp.  But the one out the left three windows is still hanging in there.  The sun came out for awhile this afternoon and it was just beautiful!

The wallpaper in the front hall was just "dated!"  I never did like it very much.  The chandelier is probably dated too, but we will hold off n replacing it until we are ready to list.
I figure it took me about 28 hours to strip all of the wallpaper and clean the walls in the front hall. I asked the handyman what his rates were and he said $45 per hour, or a set amount per job.  Does that mean my removal work was worth $1260?

There is still work to be done on the walls before I can paint them. There are some nail holes, a dent where the door nob hit, and some scratches and gouges from the scraper.  I think it should be textured before painting as well.

After I cleaned up the mess from removing the wallpaper I emptied the closets.  I've been sorting some of the things from them over the year, but there is still some to go thru.  I admit I put some of the things into other closets, but most when up to the dining room.  I figure since they don't belong there I will be more motivated to look thru them than if they are hidden away.

I'm going to have Craig take the doors off before I start painting so I don't mess them up.  They are pretty clean, unlike some of the others around the house.

Tomorrow I am going down to Home Depot to buy some KILZ.

One more job underway.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Had to Share this!

Wine doesn't make you fat ...
It makes you lean ... 
Against walls, tables, chairs ....

Wallpaper removal is going well.  All I need is patience.  I'm using DEF and a scraper.  I have a steamer if I need it.

Yes, KILZ is what has been recommended for the closet.   We shall see next week how it does.

Happy Sunday everyone.  

Saturday, December 4, 2010

New Start

When I finished as much painting on the outside of the house that I could do, I decided to take a little time off.  That little time stretched into two months!  I did have several orders for my animal sculptures, and did some work on culling the contents of the attic and garage, so at least I wasn't totally idle. Cleaning the house for the Thanksgiving Holiday, after a summer of neglect, took some effort as well.

But this week I finally got back to work.  I started stripping the wallpaper from the front hall.

I have found it is not as easy as the videos I have watched.  The metallic type of wallpaper is very heavy and resists wetting.

 I went over it all with a tool that was supposed to "score" the paper, and am using a commercial product to help loosen it, but it is going very slowly!

I actually took this picture a few days ago.  I have since gotten one wall completely clean.

I find the process soothing in a way.  If I am patient and let the solvent do it's work the process works.  Inch by inch.

Just another version of taking one step at a time.

I never liked this wallpaper.  I have wanted to remove it for at least 20 years.

Craig wanted to "remodel" the front hall  because there is a musty smell in the two closets in the hall.  I agree there is a problem there, but if the walls of the hall had a moisture problem, I don't think the wallpaper would be as tight as it is.

 Also as I have spent many hours now with my nose quite close to the walls, I cannot perceive any musty smell.  I do smell it in the closets so it's not my nose.

The previous owners played a sneaky trick on us.  They filled the closets with wool clothes and hung mothballs in them.  So when we opened them, all we could smell was the mothballs.  I firmly believe they were covering up the problem!

We have sealed the ground in the crawl space  below the hallway with cement. I think this may have solved the basic problem. But we may have to replace the drywall in the closets. But I'm going to try a waterproofing primer first. Craig has had 20 years to do it, so now it's my go. If I can get rid of the mussy smell with primer-sealer, great, if not we will go on to the harder solution.

As I strip away the paper I think that at one time, someone thought it was beautiful.

Tastes change with time. Choice of wallpaper is very personal. I'm going with basic paint.  People can see repainting as an option easier than removing wallpaper.

Friday, December 3, 2010


 I had never seen a persimmon before we moved to California.  At least not the orange kind.  We had some decorative trees around our house in the Dallas area called Texas persimmons, but the only one who wanted to eat them was an opossum that showed up one night!   (Another story!)

Yesterday I went out and took some pictures of persimmons growing nearby in the Santa Cruz Mountains.

 There are two kinds of persimmons:

These are Hachiyas.   They are globe shaped.  They need to be exposed to cold before you can eat them.  They are good for making bread, cookies, and puddings.  If you freeze them, you can just defrost them and they will be soft and ready to use.

This is a tree full of Fuyu persimmons.  It looks like the tree is dead, but it isn't.  The fruit stays on the tree after the leaves have all fallen off.

 They look quite like odd orange ornaments!

Fuyu persimmons are flatter and look somewhat like orange tomatoes.  They can be eaten like an apple while they are still firm, but you must peel them first.

Fuyu persimmons are the type I bought recently and I use in one of our very favorite autumn dinner salads.

 Here's the recipe and a picture story to go with it.  We divide the recipe below into two large bowls and eat it as a main course.  With a light soup  it makes a nice meal.  It could also be divided in 4 servings as a starter salad.

Frisee, Persimmons and red onion
 with pomegranate dressing and 
warm goat cheese

1/2 cup pomegranate juice
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 or two cloves garlic finely chopped
2 tablespoons chopped basil
salt and pepper to taste

4 - 6 ounces soft goat cheese
1/2 cup or more finely chopped walnuts,
2 or 3 heads frisee lettuce, washed and cut 

4 fuyu persimmons
1/2 small red onion, sliced thin

Peel, slice, and chunk persimmons.
(I only used four of these, the fifth went back to the fruit bowl)

I had soaked the frisee in a sink of cold water for a couple of hours to refresh it. This seems to plump it up a bit.

Cut frisse, discarding any very dark green or discolored stems.

Prepare Goat Cheese Balls:
Divide goat cheese into 12 portions
sprinkle with pepper
form into balls and spray with pam or brush with olive oil
roll in finely chopped walnuts
place on foil lines tray

Preheat oven to 375

Make dressing
put Pomegranate juice, garlic,olive oil,brown sugar,
 basil, and a bit of salt and pepper
into a jar or small bowl.  Mix or shake.

Put half of the frisee and half of the persimmons in each bowl  
divide dressing between them and toss to coat

I did not picture the sliced red onion because I  put it in Craig's salad at the table.  If you can eat raw onions it adds yet another flavor and is quite nice.

Warm Goat Cheese
When you are ready to serve the salad, 
pop the tray of goat cheese into the 375 degree oven for about 3 minutes. 
 Let it warm, but not melt.

Divide it between the two salads.
Add onions if desired.

Serve with a nice white wine

So,  thats what I do with persimmons.  It may seem like a lot of work and some pretty exotic ingredients, but the taste is well worth it.  Each element adds something very special.  Frisee is a very bitter lettuce.  It looks like it has had a very bad perm!  The first time I had it I didn't like it at all.  But in this recipe it really "works."

The goat cheese is bring everything together and is really yummy.

Before I sign off for the night, I must say welcome to a couple of new followers.  If you have read this far, this is my longest post ever!   don't do food very often.


Thursday, December 2, 2010

Dancing Lights

I have been trying to enjoy my life as it is, where it is, and see the beauty around me now, rather than just "dream" and work towards travel in the future.  I say it to myself every day.  I live in a beautiful place.

I love the sky.
 I love light.
 I love weather and wind.

At this time of year the angle of the sunlight is lower.  The leaves are gone from many of the deciduous trees, and many are still sporting a golden cape, allowing the light to filter thru in a different way than in  summer.

Late yesterday afternoon we had a short period of the most remarkable light.

 The shadows and evergreens were dark, and where the light came thru it was glowing.

The shadows of the wind tossed branches were projected onto the side of the house in animated splendor.

 The air itself seemed to shimmer.

As the light came thru the large windows of the dining room, the shadows danced with the wind.

(Because I only hand my little point and shoot camera I was unable to capture the more subtle displays.)

So, this is the beauty I found in my own world yesterday.

 It was brief and changing, much like a sunset, but it was thrilling to behold!

What magic will I see today?

(Persimmon and artichoke recipes still to come!)

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

San Francisco Bay at Sunset

Karen asked for more pictures of the area where we live.

While San Francisco is only an hour away, and we don't get up there as often as we should. This is a picture of the city, from Sausalito.  ( The first place on the other side of the Golden Gate Bridge.)

Over the Thanksgiving weekend we went to the Science Academy Museum with the family and then drove over the bridge for dinner.

Judy and Levonne have asked what I am going to do with the persimmons. I will be using them in a main dish salad tomorrow night.  Pictures and recipe will be posted.

Tonight I'm using the avocados, some left over turkey, ranch dressing and the cherry tomatoes in a favorite pasta salad.

Last night we had the artichokes, which were very nice, and the corn, which should have been sold for feed.  I put two of them out for the deer!  Oh well, you can't win them all, and I'm still pleased with the cost of that vegetable stand stop!

I just finished my treadmill walk and am going to start working on that front hall wall paper with the "scoring" tool.

Exercise Goal:
 miles on the treadmill, 

2.5 miles Monday
2.5 miles Wednesday     Thinking of  Margie
Total walked = 259 miles
Someday I will be hiking 1000 miles in National Parks!