Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Happy 100th, Julia Child

Julia Child would have turned 100 today. As it was, with her butter and cream-filled diet, both she and her beloved husband Paul both lived well into their 90s. No comment about that, here!

I, like many people of my generation, really became interested in Julia when I watched the movie Julie and Julia. Then I read My Life in France. And I fell in love with their love story as much as with her cookery.

Let's face it, she was no raving beauty. Tall, rather ungainly, yet they had a passion for each other that is not exaggerated in the movie. Sure, looks are great. But they fade. The passion doesn't have to. That is the marriage I want!

A couple of Julia-isms:

Find something you're passionate about and keep tremendously interested in it.

The secret of a happy marriage is finding the right person. You know they're right if you love to be with them all the time.
That must have been a really long tub!



Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Why, Yes....Please!

What?!

A book that combines some of my favorite things...
Mr. Darcy,
Elizabeth Bennett,
PD James,
and a good murder mystery?



How marvelous!

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Winner, Winner....


When it comes to decorating, I have definitely been gifted (if I do say so myself) with my mom's eye for eclectic styles, furnishings and colors. If asked what color my decor is....I have no idea what to say. There is a bit of everything. Nothing appeals to me less than the 7 piece matched set of livingroom furniture.

Last fall, mom and I were wandering around an antique store in Mount Vernon. My eyes found a striking mid-century chair.

"Come look at this chair, mom!"

She replied from the other end of the loft, "I found a chair I like, too."

And she had. The mate to mine.

But guess what! I live here and she doesn't...so they are living with me!

I love the simplicity of the danish modern styling and the fun cutout on the back. Joe picked out the new fabric for the cushions, and I added fresh foam.

As I write this, I am thinking that too much gloating might be a bad idea. Since the great chair arm-wrestling tournament, mom has found a simply gorgeous sideboard that just would not fit in tne overhead bin on my flight back home.

Oh well. You can't win them all.


Tuesday, May 22, 2012

The Hunger Games: or, Why I Usually Avoid Books on the Bestseller List

I won't try to add anything to deep and meaningful to what many others have already written about this series. I will say that the book was a page-turner and a good read...and that I finished it in a day and a half...the first soaking up spring sunshine and the next curled up on the couch in a more typical Washington-rainy-day-weather pose.

Biggest concern: how the book was marketed to kids...and it is all moral relativism. No definite rights or wrongs, just big patches of gray. These are hard enough areas to conquer as an adult; and to be frank, the youth of today, without the responsibility and critical thinking skills gained with maturity, usually lack the depth to be able to navigate these issues.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Decluttering...ad infinitum

I seem to have a never-ending supply of stuff. I'm pretty sure that when I leave the area, it reproduces (asexually, I hope).  I have figured out the biggest problem: Whenever I move, I declutter rather ruthlessly.  But as the day of the move approaches, the last 10 boxes or so get filled up with all the small random stuff that is somehow, possibly, useful. And those boxes are in my garage. Ick. I hate the thought of going through them. Terrible laziness has set in and my ambition has atrophied. And that is the danger of out-of-sight-out-of-mind.

I did finish cleaning out the master closet, for now. I have organized and sorted my clothes until they only take up one side, including my seasonal items which are boxed up.

What I really need to do is watch Hoarders, then set the timer for 20 minutes, and see how much stuff I can get through every night in the garage.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Quote of the Day: Jack London

You can't wait for inspiration. You have to go after it with a club.
~Jack London

Mom and I have been  dealing with this all week, and we are going to have to buckle down today to get-er-done. She has been working on the most beautiful gourds, and we are going to create an etsy shop for her (sparrowinthetree.etsy.com) but need to crack the whip on taking pics and doing our visual layouts for her future photos. So we shall go after that inspiration with a club...right now.

Monday, April 23, 2012

A Day in the Desert

We spent today (it was 100+) at the Arizona-Sonoran Desert Museum and Zoo with my mom. It was wonderful.  This is the kind of place that if I lived here it would be worth buying an annual pass to, just to see it in all different seasons. I could write a long-winded commentary, but you can just peruse a few pictures instead.

Momma and baby groundhogs

Harris' Hawk

Saguaro buds. We are a week early for all the stellar blooms, but they are still beautiful.

Grey Fox. I'm pretty sure this little guy wants to come home with us. The kitties won't mind, I'm sure.
Prickly pear in bloom.

The requisite "I'm holding my arm out to take a picture" shot.

Sweet dove nesting atop a saguaro cactus. My favorite shot of the day, as I just happened to look up and see her settling in.


I believe these are called Firework Cacti (or something like that).
As a matter of fact, an ordinary desert supports a much greater variety of plants than does either a forest or a prairie.  ~Ellsworth Huntington

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Hanging out in Casa Grande

Joe and I at Old Tucson
Yesterday was a bit of a wash-out. After seeing some lovely home gardens for the annual Garden Tour, I ended up with a nasty nasty nasty headache and spent the rest of the day down-and-out.

I thought this painted wall in one garden was so interesting and coolingly beautiful. I would never have thought to paint the wall blue. Now mom and Bruce are thinking of doing the same.

Blue Garden Wall
 Today we are going to bowl with Mom (aka: Ms. My-League-Team-Came-in-6th-in-State). We shall see if I can break 100 with my game the way the thermometer is!

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Mount Rainier from Above


This was the gorgeous view of Mt Rainier peeking her head through the clouds as we headed south to Arizona last evening.


I think Joe might have been sorry that he pointed it out to me, because then I was pretty much leaning from the aisle seat all the way over him to take pictures (while attempting to keep my seatbelt fastened).  It was so beautiful the way the clouds on the mountain lay in the crevasses...looking so soft and smooth that you could just slide right down.

31 Day Challenge: I'm Done!

And my grand total of weight loss for the first round of this diet is (drum roll, please....) 21pounds!

What I need to do is highlight that number with fireworks and a neon sign. Would that be overkill? I think not.

So now the work continues, but I feel like I have had a good start and am on my way.

Monday, April 16, 2012

31 Day Challenge: Day Twenty-Eight

Weight loss so far: 18.5 pounds

As I near the end of my initial 31-day kickoff to my new life, I was contemplating what my next month's goal should look like. Here's what I have come up with. Next month, my focus will be another 10 pounds and a conscious effort to tone up my belly, also known as The Bane of My Existence.  This means a minimum of 15 minute abdominal workouts on the ball every day, and incorporating at least three days of week of either yoga or cardio/abs.

I probably won't blog about this quite so often, as this was really needed to keep me accountable publicly. Its rather funny that no one has commented, but I have received numerous emails. Silence is NOT golden, people!

Friday, April 13, 2012

31 Day Challenge: Day Twenty-Five (I think!)

Total Weight Loss so far: 18 pounds

Wow. That's all I can say about being so close to my initial 20 pound goal. And I think I am going to make it. We get on the plane for Arizona next Wednesday evening, and I am going to make this goal!

Here is an interesting side note to the complete change of diet. My body chemistry is all out of whack. I mean my womanly body chemistry. Is totally whack-a-doodle. Oh well....our clinic doc says it will all sort itself out in a month or two. There are benefits to working in the maternity area...free OB/GYN advice.

Monday, April 9, 2012

31 Day Challenge: Day Twenty-One

Total Weight Loss: 16 pounds

Holy cow....I can see my goal in sight!

Honestly, I haven't been really tempted to cheat. Ate very well this weekend, even with Easter and all the yummy treats waved in front of me. I did make some turkey meatballs to take with me to the family gathering so that I wouldn't feel deprived. Covered them in a marinara/fat-free ricotta sauce. Yum. Then Joe and I went for a nice post-dinner walk that was just the icing on the cake (so to speak). I can see I will have to come up with some sugar-free euphamisms.

Here's an interesting side note: I had a very stressful evening on Saturday. After that I dreamed of food...all of the decadent, sugar-filled, cheese-filled food that I am not going to eat. Woke up famished. So I had an oat-bran gallette with scrambled eggs. So apparently there is something to being a stress-eater.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Quote(s) of the Day: Mario Andretti



Desire is the key to motivation, but it's determination and commitment to an unrelenting pursuit of your goal - a commitment to excellence - that will enable you to attain the success you seek.
~Mario Andretti

...and on a completely unrelated note...but it popped into my head...

"I wanna go fast." ~Ricky Bobby

Sorry, couldn't help it.

31 Day Challenge: Day Seventeen

Total Weight Loss: 15 pounds (insert picture of me jumping up and down here!)

How I feel:

Fantabulous
Splenderific
and full of Awesomeness

Friday, March 30, 2012

Poem for Today: Daffodils

I wandered lonely as a cloud

That floats on high o'er vales and hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd,
A host of golden daffodils;
Beside the lake, beneath the trees,
Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.

Continuous as the stars that shine
and twinkle on the Milky Way,
They stretched in never-ending line
along the margin of a bay:
Ten thousand saw I at a glance,
tossing their heads in sprightly dance.

The waves beside them danced; but they
Out-did the sparkling waves in glee:
A poet could not but be gay,
in such a jocund company:
I gazed - and gazed - but little thought
what wealth the show to me had brought:

For oft, when on my couch I lie
In vacant or in pensive mood,
They flash upon that inward eye
Which is the bliss of solitude;
And then my heart with pleasure fills,
And dances with the daffodils.


 
~William Wordsworth

31 Day Challenge: Day Twelve



Weight loss total:  12 pounds

Today I (being a number geek) wanted to play with a few numbers. Numbers are fun. How come I hated math, and yet love spreadsheets?

Here are a couple of numbers that are fun and encouraging:
  • Percentage of total body weight lost so far 4.58%
  • BMI points dropped 1.2
I hope we have another awesome weather weekend so I can spend some time outside! I don't dare look at the forecast...it might be depressing.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

31 Day Challenge: Day Ten

Total Weight Loss: 10.5 pounds

Oh. My. Goodness!

I am over the moon!

Monday, March 26, 2012

31 Day Challenge: Day Eight

Total weight loss: 8 pounds, baby!

I must say that I really needed that big jolt of encouragement this morning on the scale. We had a marvelous and healthy weekend that included great food and nice walks. Thank you, Lord, for a bit of good weather to kick this in gear!

Last night, I made salmon from our stash that we caught in the fall. Let me say that the vaccuum sealer was a great investment. Add a little broccoli and dinner was amazing. Mmmm.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

31 Day Challenge: Day Seven

Total weight loss: well...its the weekend and I don't have my work scale...but lat I checked... 5 pounds

Feeling super good on the pure protien. Added in some veggies yesterday, but I think for the next two weeks I will alternate two days of protien with one day of protien/veg. We will see how that works.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

31 Day Challenge: Day Three

Total Weight Loss: 3.5 pounds

I'm hungry. Ok, that's a lie.

Oh how I hate these first few days when I seem to be constantly thinking about my next meal. And how good it will taste. And what I can eat after that. Etcetera.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

31 Day Challenge: Day Two

Weight loss: 3 pounds

Today I shall employ a bit of fuzzy logic. Everyone "knows" that your first few pounds of weight loss is "water weight".

Okay...lets look at it this way.

1 pint of water=1.04375 lbs
Therefore, my 3 pounds of water weight is the equivalent of 5.7485 cups of water.

My mind works in mysterious (or just plain weird) ways.

Monday, March 19, 2012

31 Day Challenge: Day One

Total weight loss: 0 pounds (well, duh)

I have exactly one month before we head out to our vacation in Arizona. This is NOT why I am setting some personal goals for myself. But the timing is good, so I will take advantage of it.

I will be down at least 20 pounds (and at least one size) by then. Yes, I know that the initial weight loss is mostly "water weight". Whatever. That's my winter weight, and what makes me "puffy". And I am quite annoyed with myself.

This week is pure protien for 7 days. Lean meats, non-fat dairy, etc. And LOTS of water. I'll keep you posted.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

A Fitting Project


I have mentioned before how artistic my mom and her siblings are. She made these little clay hearts years ago, and we pulled them out earlier this week as part of a test to see how her focus and creativity had come back. This was not our intended project, but I ended up putting these necklaces together. It seems like a fitting tribute to her recovery.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Movie Review: The King's Speech

I think it is no secret that, in my opinion, any movie where I can gaze upon Colin Firth starring Colin Firth is probably worth watching. The Kingi's Speech exceeded expectation.

Firth won the Oscar for Best Actor, and the movie won for Best Film, and for once, I agree with the Acadamy's decisions.


The story is set in pre-WWII England, and is based upon King George VI's struggle with a stutter. After his older brother abdicates the throne to marry a divorced commoner (and an American, no less), the new King must make a very public, nationally broadcast show of strength as the country heads into war. I thought it interesting that while he fully understands that his position is as a figurehead, and that he has no real power, he takes his responsibility seriously that he "speak(s) for the people". He knows that if he is unable to communicate strength and national pride it will be detrimental for the country.

A beautiful friendship develops between the King and his speech therapist. Even though the therapist refuses to bow, and calls him "Bertie", he does so not from a lack of respect, but rather the opposite. He respects the King as a man, and wants to aid him in success.

I definitely recommend this movie. Mom does as well.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Saturday, January 14, 2012

For My Love



Saguaro Cactus by Ansel Adams
For your sake, I hurry over land and water:
For your sake, I cross the desert and split the mountain in two,
And turn my face from all things,
Until the time I reach the place
Where I am alone with You
~unknown



In the Sonoran Desert

Welcome to Arizona. The US Border Patrol helicopter flew over while I was taking this picture. I don't think the smiley faces are standard.


 Things are prickly here. This tree looks so nice and fuzzy....


Until you look a little closer.  I know some people like that. But that's another blog post.


These big ones are Saguaro Cacti. They are pretty darned awesome. Please keep in mind I've only seen them in pictures before. This one was about 20 feet tall.


Friday, January 13, 2012

Thai Curry Chicken with Peanut Sauce




Here is the trick to this delicious dinner: I cheat.

Marinate (for the day) a couple of sliced chicken breasts in most of a can of coconut milk and liberally sprinkle with some good curry. Saute. Preferably in peanut oil.

For the peanut sauce, I use a bottle of House of Tsang's Bangkok Padang Peanut Sauce, heated and mixed with about 3/4 cup peanut butter and 1/2 cup coconut milk. This keeps a bit of the kick without knocking you on your tush.

Serve with rice noodles.

Tonight we added a romaine salad with mandarin oranges and apples, topped with mom's homemade poppyseed dressing. It was the perfect combination of spicy and sweet.

Couldn't be easier, or yummier!

The Wall

Well, it had to happen. Mom hit the wall. Yesterday was the energy day. She wanted (understandably) to escape the house, so we went to the library for chick flicks. (Les Miserables, Calendar Girls, The King's Speech) Then, she wanted lunch. Are you up for it? Oh, sure. So we hit Chick-fil-A, yet another first on my culinary venture here in Arizona. Yummy. Then to the grocery store. Which is going out of business. Which means everything is on sale. Which means mom was in there wandering around a whole lot longer than she had any business doing.

So today we have been taking it easy. I did drag her to the park. In my defense, it's a short walk, and she's supposed to be walking. Then back home to watch Julia Child videos on you tube. If you haven't seen Julia (we're buddies) on David Letterman, watch this. Unless, of course, you had open heart surgery a week ago. Then it will hurt to laugh.

So she's back in bed. Wiped out. Not understanding why she's weepy. My goodness! She has no idea how strong she has been, and how incredibly well she is doing. I've seen a lot of post surgical patients, and I don't know of any who have done better than her.

I need to keep reminding her that post-procedure, today might not be better than yesterday, but next week will almost certainly be better than this one!

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Quote of the Day: Judy Garland

For it was not into my ear you whispered,
But into my heart.
It was not my lips you kissed,
But my soul.

~Judy Garland

I find myself missing you lots today. Can't wait to be home with you.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Book List 2011

My reading has slipped a little this year. I have, I confess shamefacedly, been watching too much television.  But here's an abbreviated list of some that I either read, or listened to during my commute.

Anne of Green Gables by LM Montgomery: an old favorite. It's like comfort food. Non-fat comfort food.

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen: Somehow this makes my list every year. I don't always read the whole thing, but it's one that I can pick up at anytime. This year, however, I listened to it. And laughed aloud in the car. Here are a few comments on P and P.

Right Ho, Jeeves by PG Wodehouse: I love Wodehouse's dry wit. Bertie Wooster makes me giggle. For the longest time, I had a terrible time watching House, because Hugh Laurie will always be Bertie in my mind. He's an accidental genius.

Little Women, Little Men and Jo's Boys by Louisa May Alcott:  The first two I had read years ago, but it was fun to reread them, and to finish the story and see my favorite heroine Jo, not only as a young woman, but as an older, married, and surprisingly mature woman.

North to the Orient by Anne Morrow Lindbergh: Anne has a way of writing that makes me think I could have been an adventuress with her. I am kidding myself. This is her journal of her trip with husband Charles through the arctic circle to China in an all-too-small (in my opinion) plane.

Quiet Strength by Tony Dungy: Yes, a football book.. Sort of. It's really more of a pull-yourself-up-by-your-bootstraps and live-your-faith-in-action book. Great read for men.

Murder at the Library of Congress by Margaret Truman: The late M. Truman was the only daughter of President Harry Truman. She wrote this great series of mysteries set in DC in a way that is realistic about politics without being terribly cynical.

Creating a Beautiful Home by Alexandra Stoddard: Another one that is ALWAYS on my bookshelf. Stoddard's philosophy of home-keeping (not housework!) are inspiring to me and strike a chord.

Made in America by Bill Bryson: subtitled, An Informal History of the English Language in the United States. Bryson is funny. I mean, I read a whole book not just IN English, but ABOUT English. And mostly about how we Americans have butchered it for years.

The Merry Adventures of Robin Hood by Howard Pyle: Brought back fond memories of reading this to Michael when he was about seven.

For Women Only by Shaunti Feldhaun: An interesting compilation of survey info about what men really think. Pretty eye opening.

King Solomon's Mines by H Rider Haggard: Read my review here.

Where the Heart Is by Billie Letts: A sweet easy read about a girl whose life begins as a train wreck, but who finds a family in Wal-mart. Okay, that's an over-simplification, but it was a nice bedtime read.

Happiness for Two by Alexandra Stoddard: Pointers on making your honey happy. For a lifetime. Written in short chapters so I kept it in my purse for when I was waiting for something. Usually my honey.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

The Road Begun

Seeing my mom, my very vibrant and youthful mom, in her post-surgery condition was really tough yesterday. Even though she has struggled with joint stiffness and some relatively minor aches and pains in the past, she has never been down for too long.

I think this recovery may be hard on her emotionally for that very reason. She's the doer, the fixer of problems. When the surgeon today asked her if she regularly took anything for anxiety, she literally did not comprehend the question. Of course she doesn't. (I, on the other hand...) But I saw discouragement on her face numerous times today. While she was puffing into her spirometer (measuring her lung capacity), I watched her face as she was willing the bubble to rise higher. It didn't. I saw defeat in her face as she could only do one lap around the ICU. And I saw near panic as the doctor told her she could most likely return home in two days.

What she doesn't realize is that I also saw huge steps being taken. Yesterday, the walk around the ward was the shuffle of a sick, old woman. Today, those steps were much more certain and sure. Today I watched them remove the chest tubes from her wound. And most encouragingly, I watched her tease the ICU nurse, and in fact, make him laugh so hard he was shaking.

She has a long road ahead of her. My prayer is that she will see these milestones as what they are, steps on her road back to "normal".

Have you not known? Have you not heard? The everlasting God, the LORD, The Creator of the ends of the earth, Neither faints nor is weary. His understanding is unsearchable. He gives power to the weak, And to [those who have] no might He increases strength. Even the youths shall faint and be weary, And the young men shall utterly fall, but those who wait on the LORD Shall renew [their] strength; They shall mount up with wings like eagles, They shall run and not be weary, They shall walk and not faint. ~Isaiah 40:28-31