Friday, August 31, 2007

The Long Hot Days Of Summer's End

This is the fourth consecutive day of 100+ degrees. And we are not done yet. We have two more over 100 and then a few 99 degree days. The house was at 80 when I got up this morning. The air conditioning runs constantly. I'm thankful we have it but I still don't like being cooped up in the house. I don't handle heat very well. I have fans pointed directly at me during the night and wherever I am in the house. Kerry isn't affected the same way I am.

Had my quilt class on Wednesday. What a difference between the class at Joann's and this one. First the class is during the day so I'm definitely more wide awake. Second the classroom is very large with room for everyone and all the stuff you need when you quilt. And third, the teacher takes her time with everyone to make sure you get it. She's been teaching quilting full time for 12 years.

For some reason, in all this heat, I decided to make Moussaka for Wednesday night dinner. It involved three burners on the stove and the oven. I won't make this dish again until December. It was yummy, but by the time I was done I was so worn out from the heat of cooking that I barely ate any. At least we have lots of leftovers. I find that Kerry can eat the same thing two nights in a row but after that he wants a change. I'm like "blogauthor," I can eat the same thing day after day. So I will be the one to finish the Moussaka.

This weekend we are going wine tasting on Saturday and to see the movie "Becoming Jane" on Sunday. The wine tasting is at a little higher elevation which will cut the temperature by about 10 degrees. We go wine tasting with these folks about twice a year. It's always great fun, and we stock up for the next few months. Rick and Margo always bring a great picnic lunch. At supper time we are going out on Tal and Alicia's pontoon boat where we will have dinner.

Has anyone out there seen "Being Jane?" It sounds sort of like a chic flick but the menfolk have agreed to see it.

Today is my sister-in-laws birthday. Happy Birthday Charlotte.

Well, I'm off to have a pedicure and then run a bunch of errands. Gotta have cute toes for wine tasting.

Hope everyone has a great long weekend.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Accessorized Crocs

A trip to Albuquerque always includes a shopping spree at Shoes on a Shoestring. It's possibly the largest shoe store I've ever been to. Beverly and I always spend a couple of hours there while Kerry and her husband, George, do something else. They do have a waiting room for husbands/significant others, but it doesn't have a TV or beer so isn't well attended.

This year Mark's girlfriend Robin joined us for her first time. We had so much fun; giggles abounded. Lots of help from Sales Clerk Lorraine who sort of adopted us soon after we arrived. Beverly is losing her eyesight. She uses a can and my elbow when we shop so there is always lots of help. At one point we were all going to buy the same shoe. Luckily for the universe and the men in our lives, Lorraine could not find the shoe in our sizes. Beverly chose not to get anything and Robin and I got different Privos. Robin left first because she had some film editing to do for her business. When I got to the check out counter Lorraine informed me that Robin had bought me these wonderful little add-ons for Crocs (sunflowers and daisies). The photo shows them on the side of my Crocs, which I bought in Costa Rica for a fraction of the cost. The store even have Crocs with heels and Croc bedroom slippers.

Our trip to Albuquerque was wonderful even though it started on a rather dour note when Kerry and I had a disagreement (that's putting it mildly) about our GPS. I had carefully programmed it to get us from the airport to Beverly and George's house near the UNM campus. I was driving and Kerry was in charge of the GPS. Something happened and all of a sudden we were way far away from where we wanted to be. Finally we switched; he drove and I navigated. That little thing is a miracle worker. We got stuck in traffic on the way back to the airport so rather than wait I pushed a couple of buttons and had a non-freeway route to the airport.

The night of the opera we had dinner at Gabriel's a little north of the opera exit. They come to your table and make you guacamole. It is scrumptious. We only stayed at the opera until half time because it was so warm in the area where we were standing. I didn't mind leaving early because we had paid just $10 each to stand. We got to see Mark perform and that was the whole reason to be there. Mark stayed late for a party because it was the end of the Santa Fe Opera season.

We went home and got some sleep to get ready for all the meals and conversations the next day. Albuquerque trips always seems to be about having great discussions with Mark, his friends and girlfriend, and Beverly and George...and eating. I had a great egg salad sandwich at the Flying Star. I managed to live a pretty vegetarian lifestyle; I don't want to eat cornfed beef or unhappy chickens (raised in tight little cages) so I just stuck to vegetarian. It's easy to do in a college town.

So we are back. Turtle Doug has been here and gone; Kate is with us until after Burning Man. The cats are not too sure about Kate and vice versa. Tomorrow I have the first of four quilting clases. I am so excited.
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Thursday, August 23, 2007

A Weekend Of Travel

Tomorrow we fly to Albuquerque for a four-day visit with my son Mark. The photo is the Santa Fe Opera House where we will be on Saturday night for "La Boheme." Mark is playing in the on-stage orchestra. It's an incredible setting in the high desert outside Santa Fe. Due to the outdoor setting they start rather late in the early summer (9 p.m.) but by this time of year they start at 8 p.m. Much better for folks like me who don't seem to be able to stay up as late as I once did.

We are also going to see our friends Beverly and George who live in Albuquerque. We are staying at Mark's house, which is so much nicer than staying at a hotel.

Friday night we are dining at Bucca de Beppo, a great family Italian restaurant where the portions are so large you just have to share.

We will probably spend some time riding around in Mark's new car. He bought a 2001 Nissan Maxima yesterday. At the ripe old age of 32, it was the first car he's purchased. First he drove our 1976 Volvo and then our 1993 Ford Explorer. The Explorer is having transmission problems so he decided it was time to get something newer. He bought a house before he bought a car. Usually doesn't happen that way.

We will probably do some train watching with Mark. He loves trains; has loved them since he was three. There is a spot near Albuquerque where lots of trains go through each day. We go out there and wait for a train and then Mark takes pictures. Don't have a lot of other activities planned. We just like to hang out with Mark. Oh and Beverly and I have to go to our favorite shoe store. The sign in the window says, "If you are looking for your wife, she's probably here." It is the biggest discount shoe store I've ever seen. George and Kerry will drop us off for several hours of uninterrupted shopping. Beverly and I are very good at this. It's our little tradition.
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Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Quilt Number 2-1/2

I say 2-1/2 because there was one between this one and my first quilt that quickly became a UFO; quilt jargon for unfinished object. I have a lot of trouble reading and understanding directions. This has been a problem for my entire life. Only after I had made mistakes on the UFO did I understand what I needed to do with the quilt. I guess I'm a "trial and error" kind of gal. So far I have six rows of eight blocks. I need ten rows. Getting everything to match up is a real challenge. One of the tools you have to buy for quilt class is a ripper, also known as a way to rip out what you did wrong. I couldn't figure out why I would need one of these, but I bought it anyway. Now I know why; next to my rotary cutter this is my favorite tool. Makes ripping much more pleasant. I still love it. I actually skipped lunch today so I could quilt. Prior to quilting, nothing has ever come between me and food. I could be on to something.
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Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Kerry's Birthday Celebration

At 10:30 a.m. yesterday he turned 61. We went to a new restaurant in Roseville called Crush 29. Crush refers to the grape crush and 29 is the main highway that goes through the Napa Valley. The wine list was extensive but I decided to start with a pomegranate martini (left photo). It was so scrumptious that I could have downed it in one gulp. Then I reminded myself how much alcohol was in it and started to sip slowly.

Our appetizer was coconut encrusted shrimp. It was good but did not compare to the semi-sleazy restaurant we went to in Homestead, Florida where we first had this appetizer. At that restaurant they rolled the shrimp in coconut and macadamia nuts and the sauce was an orange marmalade with a bit of mustard added.

We both had large green salads; mine had caramelized walnuts and apples plus dried sour cherries. Then I had the portobello mushroom risotto and Kerry had the Bombay chicken. I won't eat meat when we are out because I don't know where it came from (grass fed vs. corn fed). Grass fed is better for the cow and me.

For dessert we shared a butterscotch creme brulee. We could barely walk by the time we left the restaurant. The place is a bit pretentious but the service was good and we will return. The wait staff could stand with a bit more training on how to talk to customers but our waiter was attentive. So in a short while I will get on the treadmill and try to sweat off a bit of what I consumed last night.
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Friday, August 17, 2007

My New Purse And Wine

In China they called these "knock-offs," but in this country when they are sold at my favorite wine bar, they are "replicas." This one is a Coach replica that is reversal. The inside is the usual tan and brown with the Big C for Coach. I probably won't ever use that side but I do love this side.

Every Wednesday night Vine Connections, a local wine store/bar/eatery, has WOW, which stands for Women of Wine. Several friends and I go for an hour or two about twice a month. You get an array of free appetizers, a glass or two or wine (not free) and great company. This time the owner brought in someone who was selling replica purses. I didn't expect to buy, one but when I saw the colors I just couldn't resist. Price: $80. In China it would have been $12.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

My New "Life" Cards And Food, Glorious Food

I've ordered "life" cards for myself. It's a nice card with a drawing of a large tree. Under my name it says "retired." There are still times when it's easier to hand someone your card then to write down information. The woman with whom I'm taking my next quilt class had a card like this. I had to write down my information, and that's when the light bulb went on; get cards.

We journeyed to Grass Valley last Friday to visit a food co-op called Briarpatch. They carry grass fed local beef and a lot of other people/health friendly products. It's a new store that was built entirely with previously used material; it is very energy efficient: We joined.

I also stopped by my favorite local produce store, Newcastle Produce. All the produce there is grown in Placer County; that's where we live. I bought fresh orange beets, fingerling potatoes that are pink and red inside, spinach and turnips. All of these eventually got mashed together; add salt and pepper, sweet butter and a bit of half and half. I had never had fresh beets or turnips before. My brother loves them so he's quite happy that I've finally seen the light. I also cooked a "happy" chicken in our crock pot. I stuffed it with chunks of onions and liberal doses of Herbs de Provence from our local lavender farm.

I know this way of eating isn't for everyone. It takes a lot more time to just find the products, but hey, I'm retired. I finally have all the time I want (well I'd still like a bit more). Tonight we are having chicken and vegetable melange leftovers.

Kerry seems pretty okay with this. He certainly likes what I cook; the one-hour trip to Briarpatch is a family outing. Besides you drive through some beautiful country to get there.

My book group met last night. We had read "The Namesake" by Jhumpa Lahiri. It got mixed reviews but a pretty good discussion. For our October book, Mary Kay suggested reading Thomas Friedman's book "The World is Flat" a brief history of the 21st century. It sounds pretty serious, and it's 304 pages. Has anyone out there read it and if so what did you think?

I've started working on my next quilt. So far so good; it's going to take a lot longer because it's bigger and more complicated than my first one. I've decided that I really have taken to quilting because I like to solve puzzles. With quilting you first have to try to understand directions (I'm much better when someone demonstrates something), then cut out all the fabric and then sew the pieces together. It's sort of the next type of puzzle for me; I still love jigsaw puzzles.

Well, that's all for now. I'll take a picture of the fabric for my new quilt; it's very colorful.

Friday, August 10, 2007

The Crooked Belly Buddha

This is a photo from the Lincoln Arts Gallery; I'm on the board. It's amazing to me how many wonderful and inventive artists live in the area. I love the buddha. If I had $1,100 I would buy it for my brother, the family buddhist. In the background on the left you can see a gourd. This is what we bought. It's about as tall as Bird Girl. The artist has carved the image of sea turtles in the gourd. I'll try to take pictures of it in our great room. I do love the buddha.
We took our GPS our for a ride today. I've named her Maggie. If you are driving and feeling lonely, she can be a great companion.
The artist is Yvon Doktor from Davis, California. Google her and you will see how wonderful her work is. Dinner is ready. Wild salmon with no injectable dyes.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Quilting And Blood Tests

The quilt top is completed. Next step is to assemble the back and the batting and then sew them together. My lines are a little wavy; hopefully my next quilt will be a bit straighter. It's been really a lot of fun to do. I'll probably start another small one next week just to get the practice in before I got to my new class.

My blood tests came back normal. My cholesterol is just fine and my happy cholesterol (HDL) are really good. I eat butter, beef, ice cream and put cream in my coffee. Go figure. It's got to be genetic.
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Tuesday, August 07, 2007

The Quilt Class From Hell

Yes, last night was not fun at all. It's not the teacher's fault; it's the way Joann's sets up the classes. I'm glad I'm switching to Cabin Fever Quilt Shoppe. You get four three-hour classes for $60, which is the same price Joann's charges for two classes of the same length. Plus they are during the day. I think I convinced another woman in my class to join me. We both live in Lincoln so we could drive together.

At the beginning of class last night we found out that we had our choice of three ways to put together our blocks to make a quilt; I chose one, which I'm still glad I did, but it required a total of 16 blocks. I had six. That meant I had to cut and stitch 10 blocks. If I had been an advanced student it would have been easy, but I'm not.

I wish she had given us our choice last week so I could have made the blocks outside of class and then learned more slowly about "sashing." I even had to wander the store with the teacher to pick out the sashing fabric and then wait in line to have it cut. There was a long line for paying so I just used the fabric and paid after class. The cashier was a little surprised to see the fabric was all cut up.

The other part I didn't like was the Wilton cake decorating class two feet from my sewing machine. I smelled vanilla the during the entire class. The quilting teacher was talking to my right ear and the cake teacher was working on my left ear. I can multi-task with the best but that was going a bit far especially when I don't know what I'm doing.

Last night was the last class for me. It's on to Cabin Fever and a better pace of learning.

Monday, August 06, 2007

Quiet Weekend Plus Clean Meat

Pretty quiet weekend around here. Friday I had lunch with my friend Jean who is also in my book group and knitting group. She wanted to knit a baby blanket; so we met for lunch and then went searching for yarn for a pattern that I loaned her. We found this great color called Bubble Gum. It's sort of a light coral color. She is going to be a very chic baby.

At lunch I explained to Jean that Kerry and I are eating in a new way. If we know the meat has been raised on grass not corn, then we eat it. Otherwise we eat non-meat items on the menu. She had a Chinese chicken salad; I had the spinach tortellini smothered in sliced zucchini and a wonderful cream sauce. I ate half and Kerry had the rest at dinner Friday night.

I spent much of Saturday working on my quilt blocks. I need to complete nine by Monday night; I have seven so far. Went to Beverly's to see if they had some quilting supplies that I couldn't find at Joann's. I finally found the book I was supposed to have for the first class and some more measuring tools. In quilting accurate measuring is a necessity. I'm not the kind of person who is good at that so this is a real learning experience for me. I find that I get a great deal of satisfaction when I sew a block and everything lines up.

Saturday night we went out for sushi; that's something we've decided is okay for our food plan.

One interesting aspect of the book "The Omnivore's Dilemma" is a section on Polyface Farm in the Shenandoah Valley

I really like the introduction to the farm: "We are in the redemption business: healing the land, healing the food, healing the economy, and healing the culture." They refer to themselves as the "clean meat connection."

I recently found a local store that promises to be a great place for clean meat; Greenbriar Co-op. It's in Grass Valley, which is about an hour from here. It's great fun to go to Grass Valley for dinner and shopping so from now on we will include a little food shopping as well. Plus we belong to a wine club there. Everything in the store is organic and grass fed. Heaven!

Tonight I have my last quilt class at Joann's; then on to Cabin Fever Quilt Shoppe for four lessons starting August 29. I can hardly wait. See how much fun it is to be retired.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

The Bridge, Blood Pressure, Liver Function Test And Directions

Most of my immediate family lives in the Minneapolis area so I was quite concerned when the bridge went down. Luckily everyone in the family is accounted for and very grateful to fall into that category. The link below was sent to me by my brother in Evergreen, CO Pretty amazing video.,1,5546538.story?ctrack=2&cset=true

Now for the blood pressure part. I have spent 99% of my life with low blood pressure. Even now that I am very much overweight, my blood pressure has been just fine. I know this because twice a month I made a platelet donation which included my blood pressure. Now, for some reason it is borderline hypertensive. Now I know for many people that is a minor problem but when you've spent your whole life at the other end of the spectrum; well it's disconcerting (especially after the earlier mammogram worry). My doctor ordered a bunch of blood work which I have to fast for so will do it on Monday. I really like my doctor. He also set me up for physical therapy for my rotator cuff problem.

Liver function is next. I didn't know that one of my antidepressants, Wellbutrin, can cause liver problems. Saw my psychiatrist and she ordered the liver test. I had wine the night before so was sure I would be caught with bad function. Got the results this morning by e-mail; just fine. It was an expensive chardonnay!

The last part is the fun part. I bought a GPS that we can use in all of our cars. Actually we bought a GPS. On Wednesday I was out going to doctor appointments, getting blood drawn, etc. when I decided to stop by Fry's Electronics in Roseville to see about a GPS. I wanted to be able to talk to a person about it although I wasn't sure what I would ask him or her. I stopped by, had a good discussion with a very helpful young man and bought the Magellan 3100. I came home and discovered that Kerry had the same thought only he bought the TomTom for $50 more than I paid. His goes back.

So now you know what's happening in my neighborhood. Kerry just got home with dinner so have to go.