Monday, January 31, 2011

45 years

Not much to post tonight.
Except it is our anniversary. 

45 years!  

Same number as the super bowl!

Thursday, January 27, 2011

A VERY Special Place

Two weeks ago, on  Saturday, Craig and I drove 61 miles to our favorite grocery store.  

A grocery store unlike any we have ever experienced before. 

 A grocery store that is like Whole Foods on steroids!

What Quartzside is to RVers, Berkeley Bowl is to Foodies! 

(Except I understand that some of the things for sale in Quartzside are not exactly the best.)

 If you ever come to the San Francisco Bay area, go see the Golden Gate, eat in China Town, visit the corner of  Height and Ashbury, then go across the bay to Berkeley, and see this phenomenal store.

Note: there is no place to park an RV.  But you can park your car or truck in the parking lot or on the street.

You may be wondering, what can be so exciting about a grocery store?

All I can do is share a few pictures:
More than 25 kinds of apples

                      SOME of the Melons. 
 Notice the entire back wall area is varieties of oranges and tangerines.


Bananas:  Perfectly ripe, or very green.  
The Organic ones were in a different part of the store.

Part of the pepper selection. 
AND   The prices are less than a regular store's!

These are all mushrooms!  
We were disappointed to find the Morel bin empty, But we did get some dried. 

In the tropical  fruit area there were the usual than pineapple, mangos and papayas of many different varieties, and many exotic fruits that you don't usually see at Safeway. 
 I've written about the Dragon Fruit and Chimoya we bought that day. 

The fruit in the picture above is called a Buddha's Hand.  
According to the web it is  not for eating, but is used for decor and fragrance.

In some stores you might find a sad little box of fruit or vegetables that are a bit to old to sell at full price, but not quite ready for the trash bin. 

 At the Berkeley Bowl there is a large stand full of bags of ripe, but still very nice produce.  There was a crowd around it filling their baskets with bargains.  The bald guy in the back looks like a University Professor to me!

The above pictures are only a small part of the produce section of the store.  There are huge selections of salad greens, potatoes, root vegetables, herbs, and of course a large Organic selection.  

Many stores are offering  Bulk  foods these days.
 This is one side of the Bulk Foods area,

This is the other.

You will have to come yourselves to discover the rest of the store.  Meats, seafood, deli, cheeses, breads, and even mundane things like canned goods and laundry supplies.

For us it's worth the 122 mile round trip. 

Not every week.   But worth the drive every couple of months.  It's one place we will miss when we leave this part of the country that for sure!

Was (or still is) there a special store in your home town?

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Playing hooky is good for the soul

One thing I just do not do enough of is getting out and experiencing the many wonderful places within easy driving distance from my home.

Just before Christmas I met up with Levonne a camp host and  fellow blogger. We decided that since she expected to be in the area for awhile,  we would make date for January.

It seems that is just about the only way I get out!  If I plan ahead and make a date.  

It feels a bit like playing hooky.  We went to Carmel, had a nice lunch and went to a photography exhibit.  Levonne tells it far better on her blog a camphost housewives meanderings than I can.

It's getting late and I'm ready for a nice cup of Sleepy Time tea.

Good night friends.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Painting the Living Room

Today, Saturday, I go back to working on painting the living room.

The biggest part of doing the painting is all of the "cut in" or "edging" work. I started some of it in the hall area at the beginning of the month.

Before I started, I took pictures of the room and the hall.  This was before I took down the pictures or put way any of the "stuff."  As you can see, it is a complex area.

facing pocket door to kitchen
Two closets to the right of kitchen door
Round the corner (two more doors, one to the Master Bedroom and one to the Bathroom)

Going from the hall into the living room

Another wall

The wall above the six large windows.  The highest point here is twelve feet.

And finally, the door way into the dinning room and another pocket door entrance into the kitchen.

It is presently a cold white.  The new color is taken from the fireplace stone.  It is very close to white, but hints a bit of golden pinkish glow.  

At least I don't have to do the ceiling!

The drapery is another depressing problem.  It is very old, dirty, ripped in one place, and has some water stains.  When we moved in here I couldn't quite afford to buy new drapes, so I had these relined.  By now, they would fall apart if they were cleaned!  I had Coit do them a few years back. They don't take them down, and just steam them where they hang.  But they still looked pretty bad after that.

Several years ago I got an estimate for replacing them plus the ones in the dining room with similar custom treatments.  

The estimate was close to $10,000!  Since I was already starting to think about selling the house, I said "no way" to that.  I knew by the time we got the house on the market they would no longer be new, and I just couldn't spend that much.

A few weeks ago I went to JC Penny's and found some drapes that might work for a lot less!  The current ones are 96" long, and the maximum length on ready mades is 95".  

We can use the current rods and be a bit short, or move the rods down one inch! 

 I should be able to do the job for less than two thousand.  They may not be the high end fabric, but they will be clean. 

 But I have decided to wait until the house goes on the market to get new drapery. I want the realtors input.  

I think I can mend the ripped place  so it is less noticeable. 

Having this type of drapery in this room is essential.  We draw them to keep out the sun in the summer daytime, and the cold in the winter night.  They also are important to the acoustical nature of the room. 


Thursday, January 20, 2011

Art Work vs Working on the House

I have felt very conflicted this month.  I started the month with two animal sculpture orders, (Christmas shoppers that ordered for themselves.) One Polar Bear, and  one Large Moose.  I was pleased with this because it felt good to start the year with some business.

I also started working on painting the front hall and living room.

Shortly after the New Year, on of my Christmas customers was so pleased with the Large Elephant, he had ordered for his wife's Christmas gift, that he ordered four more sculptures. A  Mandrill, a Hippo, an Armadillo, and  a Polar Bear.  Then he contacted me again and  ordered a Large Horse as a gift for a friend.

 The horse is on hold at the moment because he needs to get a better picture of her horse for me to use as a reference for the blaze marking.

Last week I got my first international order of the year.  I'm making an Aardvark for someone in Denmark.  (I don't ask "why?"  I just make the animals the customer wants!)

Now then, all of this is very nice, and since the recession started, I've had months when I have had no orders at all.  So I should be very happy. I do enjoy doing the sculptures.  The days just fly by!

But, it is cutting into time I really want to be spending on painting the living room!

My goal was to have that room done by the end of the month.

I've shipped the moose and first polar bear, and have the next four almost finished.  I'm quite sure I will get the aardvark done next week, and that leaves me with about a week left in the month to paint.  Not really a big deal.  It will get done eventually.

I really don't see how those of you with real jobs get anything done!

On another subject:

I have been doing OK with finding things to put in the "flea market" boxes each day.

 I'm  looking at everything with a very critical eye these days.  Some days I wonder why I have  this stuff in the first place. I find I really have very little sentimental    attachment to  things.  The question I keep asking myself is "will I need this again?"  and most of the time the answer is "probably not!"

As my Mother always said: "Tomorrow is another day."Mandrill

Wednesday, January 19, 2011


On Saturday, when we brought it home our cherimoya was quite green and hard.

The sign in the produce section said to allow several days for it to ripen.  This  gave me time to read up on how to know when it was ready to eat, and if it needed any special preparations.

The web said you could just "eat them out of hand",  in a fruit salad, or use them in recipes ranging from cherimoya creme brulee, to something that sounded like a cherimoya piƱa colada.

I opted for a simple fruit plate.

After three days the cherimoya felt soft and had turned brown. So I cut into it.  The flesh was soft, much like a ripe banana and there were large black seeds throughout. The peel stripped off easily and I cut out a couple of bruised areas.

I made two plates with an apple, an asian pear, an orange and the chunked up cherimoya.

The web had suggested using a poppy seed dressing or a simple vinaigrette, but we went without.

The word that best describes the cherimoya's flavor is "tropical."

 Like a banana, but not,
 like a pineapple, but not,
 like a mango or papaya, but not...

If we see them at a reasonable price in the future, we will buy them.  Thumbs up on the taste meter.

But, I did notice it seemed to discolor rather quickly so would advise that if you put it in a fruit salad you  serve it in a timely fashion.  They don't seem to keep well once cut.

Tomorrow we will cut into the REI melon from Brazil.  It looks pretty ordinary from the outside. but who knows what lies within!  (It came in it's own mesh bag with a handle!)

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Dragon Fruit

Today was a busy Saturday as usual, but we decided to play hooky in the afternoon and drive up to Berkeley (about 45 miles) and go to our favorite store , Berkeley Bowl.

The store deserves it's own post, and since I took some pictures I will write one tomorrow!

Anyway, being adventurous eaters we bought something we had never eaten before.

A Dragon Fruit
A dragon Fruit.  They are red and about the size of a large pear.

When we got home, I Googled "Dragon Fruit" and found that they grow on a cactus like vine and are pollinated by bats.

The serving instructions were to cut it in half and spoon out the pulp,  then cube it and return it to the skin as a decorative bowl.

It was really quite good.  It tasted something like a kiwi fruit, and would be an interesting addition to any fruit salad.

 According to the web article they are very good for you, and high in vitamins, fiber, and all that stuff.

Well, Evelyn, something else for you to look for on your travels.

We also bought a  cherimoya but it has to ripen before we can eat it.  

If we can't have adventures on the road, we will just have to have them in the grocery store. 

Thursday, January 13, 2011


I was having a really "down" day today.  I wrote a long whinny blog and then deleted it.

The I Googled "Goals" and here are a few good thoughts!

One half of knowing what you want is knowing what you must give up before you get it.  ~Sidney Howard

Goals are dreams with deadlines.  ~Diana Scharf Hunt

The question isn't who is going to let me; it's who is going to stop me.  ~Ayn Rand, The Fountainhead

Motivation is when your dreams put on work clothes.  ~Author Unknown

The world needs dreamers and the world needs doers.  But above all, the world needs dreamers who do.  ~Sarah Ban Breathnach, Simple Abundance: A Daybook of Comfort and Joy, 1996

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

First Daffodil

On Monday, when I was taking some trash out to the cans, I notice this, my first daffodil of the season.

It reminded me to take a moment and enjoy the beauty that is all around me.

Every year, for the first ten years we were living here, I planted at least 100 daffodils.  Most came back up for several years, so I figured at one point I must have had at least 1000.

Then we had a few very dry years and I was too busy in fall to plant.  They began to die off, and now many of the places I had planted are no longer blooming.

  In a few places they continue to come up and do well.  I enjoy seeing them each spring.

I walk to remind myself that I will reach my goal only by taking one step at a time.
Exercise Goal:  1000 miles on the treadmill, 

2.5 miles Friday
2.5 miles Monday
2.5 miles Tuesday
Total walked = 307.5 miles  Aiming for 500 miles by end of March 2011

Someday I will be hiking 1000 miles in National Parks!
Arches National Park, Utah

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Happiness is ...

Fo me happiness is a good supply of Firewood!  This has been true all of the years we have lived here, and knowing we did not have enough to see us thru the winter has been  discomforting to me.

 Not as much as it would have been ten years ago, when we didn't have central - propane- forced air heat in the house and we depended on the fireplace and wood stove for heat.  But still  discomforting!

A I sit here tonight, I feel a pleasant exhaustion from a very hard weekend of work, but a comfortable knowing the wood is up.

Yesterday I mentioned the last 40 feet of the path up as being steep.

 This picture doesn't really show it, but I am standing at the top of the hill and Craig is just making the  turn into the more gentle grade part of the path.  The top of his head would be about level with my feet.

We only harvest trees that have already fallen, and of course they are never near the path.

I'm standing with the cart on the path and Craig is climbing up the side of a hill to a nice deadfall.

After he cut it up, I joined him to get it down to the path.
We have to be careful not to fall, and not to let the logs roll to far astray.

The fork of this dead tree was caught in it's fall by another one a few year ago.

It was quite close to the path.

 In fact some of it was across the path and we had harvested that when if first went down.

Now it was perfectly seasoned and dry because it was off the ground.

The big negative was that once cut up, the logs were on a steep hill below the path.  It was really hard work to bring it up to where we could load it.

Hard work, but worth it because it was a madrone.  Some of the finest hardwood firewood on our land.

In this picture Craig is driving  crate load of wood along the path.

 I went ahead to the bottom of the hard place (where I have to help push) so I could take his picture.

And when the day was done, fat old Merikay poses with the unsplit logs.

Until we get it split I will put  a tarp over it when it rains, and take it off when the weather is dry.

We also stowed quite a nice bit of ready to burn size wood in the woodshed.  So now we should have enough to last us for the bun season.

Happiness is ...

By the way, I have several new followers lately and I want to welcome them to my Wannabe blog.  The encouragement I get from all of my followers helps me stay focused and keep working toward the dream!  If you're also held captive with your house or your job(s), my efforts may help you keep on tack as well.  If you are already "free" you remember how it was!

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Firewood and Pulled Pork

Today's exercise was helping Craig cut and haul some firewood up from our forest.  We knew we would be short this winter, and considered buying some, but as it has turned out we harvested one bunch from the roadside and are supplementing it with wood we are collecting now.

I like to have the winters supply all dried and stacked in the wood shed, with additional wood stacked along the garage, but this summer the painting just took all of our energy and time.

We have had a lot of rain during most of December, but it has been dry again for the last week or so.  Since rain is forecast for Tuesday, this was our chance to do a bit of cutting.

Getting the cut wood from the forest to the back yard is reasonably easy except near the end.  There is a pretty good path, and we have a DR power wagon.  But the rise at the end is about 14 feet in the last 40 feet.  When we get to that place we both have to give our all to push the power cart up the last bit.  We will be cutting again tomorrow and maybe I'll be able to get a few pictures.

Recently I signed onto the allrecipes site to use their recipe "box" feature.

 They have been sending me a daily recipe email ever since and the couple we have tried have been very good.

On Friday they had "the year's Best."  A pulled pork made in a slow cooker. Craig saw the recipe and decided we should try it this weekend.

But he also remembered that our old crock pot hasn't been working right and bought a new one at COSTCO after work.

Not the actual one he bought, but the wine bottle implies the size!

 When I saw the box I made lots of negative noises!  It was a COSTCO size slow cooker.  I think you could have made a 20 pound turkey in it.

"It's too big!"
 "This proves you don't want to go with me!"
 "Yadda, Yadda, Yadda."

So without being opened, the box went back into the car, we went out to dinner and then shopping for a new slow cooker that was a bit more reasonable in size!

After checking Target and Walmart, we found a very niceProgrammable  3 1/2 Quart Cuisinart slow cooker at Macy's.

Craig was happy with the controls (more than just High and Low) and I was satisfied with the size.

The pulled Pork was absolutely delicious, and so easy!


2 pounds pork tenderloin
Root Beer to cover
1 (18 ounce) bottle BBQ sauce
8 hamburger  buns

Put pork and root beer in slow cooker.  Cook on low 7-8 hours.  Check liquid level halfway through and top it
 back up to cover.

Remove pork from slow cooker and discard liquid.
Shred, return to slow cooker, and add BBQ sauce.  Rewarm.

Serve on lightly toasted buns.

I put half away before rewarming it. We each had two sandwiches tonight, and will have a second meal tomorrow.  We had french fries on the side, and would have liked to have had either a coleslaw or a nice salad too.

Root Beer...  who would have thought!

Later, as I put the new slow cooker away, I started thinking about what I might  store inside of it.  I'm sure the space won't go unused for long in an RV cupboard.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

300 miles!

I only walked one mile on the treadmill today so I could put up the number

I walk to remind myself that I will reach my goal only by taking one step at a time.
Exercise Goal:
 miles on the treadmill, 

miles Thursday
Total walked = 300 miles  Aiming for 500 miles by end of March 2011

Someday I will be hiking 1000 miles in National Parks!

Puerto Princesa

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Busy Day

I had six items on my to do list today.

  I accomplished five of them:
  •  Epoxied the moose antlers,
  •  painted the ceiling of the hall by the kitchen,
  •  installed the eyes on the moose sculpture, 
  • walked on treadmill, 
  • and found two things to send to the Goodwill. 
The sixth item was to set up the sewing machine and work on a new pair of PJ's for Craig, but then when I found an order for four more animal sculptures in the email, I decided to go the first step on them instead.

It was a busy, but productive day.

Oh, about that RV with the sky deck,  It is a large Class A from Airstream and apparently it is a regular production feature.  I can imagine it being used by a business of some sort for promotional parties!  Great for parking along a parade route!

I walk to remind myself that I will reach my goal by taking one step at a time.
Exercise Goal:
 miles on the treadmill, 

2.5 miles Wednesday
Total walked = 299 miles  Aiming for 500 miles by March 2011

Someday I will be hiking 1000 miles in National Parks!
Glacier National Park

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Something Different!

Sometimes, when I'm relaxing in the evening, and I don't feel like reading, I like to just look at the RV's for sale on the RVT site.

  Tonight I came across a floor plan I had never seen before.  

It has a staircase inside.

Where does it go?

To the Sky deck of course!

I don't think this is the model for us.  We are a bit more "down to earth" types!
But I'd like to see one someday.  (It is an Airstream.)

On the home front, I've gotten several  chores I put off until the New Year taken care of today, and resumed my treadmill walking!

Exercise Goal:
 miles on the treadmill, 

1.5 miles Monday
 miles Tuesday  
Total walked = 296.5 miles  Aiming for 500 miles by March 2011

Someday I will be hiking 1000 miles in National Parks!

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Getting Going Again

Now that the holidays are over, I am determined to get going again on the many projects around the house.  I know I do have to balance time spent on them with time required to work on my animal sculptures.  I'm pleased that I already have two orders to do, a moose and a polar bear.  A  good start for 2011.

I finished the painting in the front hall after we got back from San Diego.  We have decided to wait to replace the woodwork until all of the painting is finished in all of the rooms that might also want to have new baseboards.  We will remove them, or not as we go.

You may wonder why we want to replace the woodwork. Simple, it is ugly and it is cheap!  When this house was built the trend was to use rough wood with a dark stain for trim.  Over the years we have replace it in the family room, the upper hall and kitchen with stained oak.  This house is already a hodgepodge of woods, so it probably won't matter if we don't replace all of it, but I think we would like to.

My next two areas to paint are this half wall on the stairs from the entry hall to the living room:

And one of the walls of the staircase going down to the studio and family room.

The other wall of this staircase is quite tall and will require using the extension ladder.

I'm going to skip it for now.

I spent a couple of hours on Saturday wrapping the railing in newspaper and poster board.  The slick advertisement sections are better than the newsprint pages. 

Today I painted the first coat behind the rail, but ran out of paint. I think I am going to change brands of paint.  I used a Gliddon outside and it was great.  I bought a BAER Premium for indoors and it seems very thin and needs two coats to look good. 

 I didn't mind doing two coats outside, but I think one coat should be enough for an off white, over white inside.  Since I only bought one gallon, and finished the hall with it,  I'm going to look at the Gliddon colors tomorrow. They can always mix a match to the Baer color card, and I think the Gliddon covers much better. There are a lot of walls and I hate to do it all twice.

I have also restarted jotting down several "to do" things in my book of lists each evening.  I found that very helpful last summer when I was working on the outside.

I have skipped walking for a few days, too busy, but I will get back to it tomorrow, or the next day!

Saturday, January 1, 2011

I'm Glad I live in a HOUSE Today

Like many of you we spent a very pleasant Christmas with our family.

While we were in San Diego we also had the pleasure of meeting ,
 Kevin and Evelyn for lunch.  It was fun to see them "in person."  Although I feel a connection with most of the bloggers I follow, an in person meeting makes it that much more real! I hope there will be many more meetings in the future.

Today, New Year's Day, was very foggy. These pictures were taken at about noon.  It never did clear. It wasn't cold, and it didn't rain.  Actually it was a bit magical which was why I decided to go out and snap a few pictures.  

After working on a house project for a few hours, Craig watched the Rose Bowl on my laptop.  Yes he is awake.

(The poor squashed penguin is the pillow pet I gave him for his birthday.)

It's been a good year.  We are healthy and working toward a dream together.

Maybe tomorrow the sun will shine, but for today I'm glad I live in a house!