Friday, July 29, 2011

Lovely morning...

I am not a fan of Sacramento's hot summer days. But I DO enjoy the slightly cool sometimes breezy mornings. As usual I got up early and decided to use the oven before the heat set in. I mixed up some mini egg muffins using some of the cooked ground meat (beef and turkey mixture this time) from the freezer and leftover spinach. I wanted to test out my new RED silicone baking cups and made these:

Egg minis

Then I went outside and planted that pretty lantana and a dill plant I got the other day:


The lantana is a trailing kind so I am hoping it trails over the pot while the dill grows in the rest of the pot. I have not had the best luck with dill, not sure why. But we both love it so I am trying again.

Then I had to start thinking about this:

old rosemary

THAT is a very broken, scraggly 20 year old rosemary plant! Yes 20 years old! I planted it soon after getting this house, so actually it may be nearly 23 years old by now. Anyway it is just a mess so I made the decision to take it out and start a new rosemary plant:

new rosemary

Haven't done it yet but I will soon. It may need some deep down digging to get it out. I will worry about it this weekend.

In the meantime, the basil plant Andy planted from Trader Joe's $2.99 plants is doing great!

Andys basil

Guess we need to make some pesto!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Planted lavender and changed blog...

Actually found 2 of the lavender varieties I like best at Capital Nursery a couple days ago and got them into soil this afternoon.

The English lavender (var Munstead) went into the ground by the driveway so when it grows and I walk past it I hope it will give off a wonderful scent!

English lav

And the French variety (provence) went in one of the barrels where the dahlias and foxglove have been sporadically coming up from previous plantings. It is also at the walkway so I can brush past it when it is bigger too and pretend I am in the south of France wandering amongst the lavender fields. Or something like that.

French lav

I also went to Talini's Nursery this morning after a nice breakfast with another teacher friend. Found a lovely yellow lantana that I need to find a place for (photo when it's planted!). I totally cannot wait until it is time to either plant hollyhock seeds (which never really works for me) or get the little starter plants in the Spring for next year! Hard to decide to want an English country garden at the end of the summer when everything needed to be planted in the spring! But I guess that gives me all the more time to plan and dream about it (and web surf other people's lovely gardens in the meantime!).

And I decided it was time to switch around some of the colors on the blog. I love the yellows-browns-rusts of before but I decided I needed some green to help me set the mood for gardening again. And it needed a new name. "Starting Over?" was old. Time for something new.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Garden Transformation begins...

I *LOVE* vacation days like this: up early, coffee and a hearty left-over steak and eggs breakfast, showered and dressed, then out in the garden to start on its transformation and still it is barely 10 am when I come back in to work on the blog... I could REALLY get used to days like this!

So this is a very small part of what I am starting with. This is only the very front of the yard by the house...



So my thinking was, baby steps... one or two square feet to start with... don't try to tackle the whole thing at once.

Before #1:


and around 30 minutes later:


Found a few visitors hiding under the left over foxglove leaves:



So later today I am going to go to a couple of garden centers and see what is available, find out about when I need to get my lavenders (I pulled up my old scraggly lavenders the year before last -- I mean they were old and scraggly -- and now I miss lavender like crazy so I need to find my favorites and replant!), and start thinking about what I will do for a small fall-winter veggie/herb garden. Nothing big, baby steps... start small, go slowly. THEN I should be able to keep it going and get a nice garden going again.

Promise to Andy: I will not start 14 different heirloom tomato plants then take off on a summer trip and leave them for you to take care of!

Sunday, July 24, 2011

A few pictures from the SF Zoo...

So here is the info about the Bike Tour at the San Francisco Zoo:

San Francisco Zoo INFO

The NEXT Bike About event.

An ARTICLE @ SF Gate about it.

And since all important zoos like this one are there for conservation reasons, HERE is info about that too!

I really did not take many pictures as we didn't stop very long at any one place and by the time we got off our bikes and tried to listen to the docent talking, there wasn't much quality photo time left. And towards the end he was pressed for time so we didn't stop much. That said, I was also more in a looking than a photo taking mood but here are a few I did manage:




and a stray peacock hanging out:


Saturday, July 23, 2011

I had an apostrophe!

Smee: I've just had an apostrophe!
Hook: I think you mean an epiphany.
Smee: Right...lightening has just struck my brain.
Hook: That must hurt.
-Smee and Hook from the movie "Hook"

Andy had a surprise for me today (for my birthday which isn't for a couple of weeks yet but he always surprises me with something on or around my birthday)... and all I knew was it involved our bicycles and getting up early.

Did I mention, I HATE surprises?
Well, let me rephrase, I hated surprises until around 4 hours ago but I am getting ahead of myself...

So I got duly nervous as I always do before one of his surprises (which have for the most part been wonderful so by all rights I should have been excited not nervous), didn't sleep much and woke up early as instructed. We set off with our bicycles in the truck around 6 am and headed south. Got to San Francisco an hour and a half later and ended up at the Zoo. Ok, I thought to myself, bikes at a zoo... right.

Well... it turns out it was a pre-opening bicycle tour of the Zoo! They do it once a month and this was the one closest to said birthday so that is why we went today. And after a few moments of abject terror of having to ride my bicycle again after a year without practice (I fall down a lot), I rode around the empty parking lot a little and figured I could stay on.

So off we went on a most lovely hour and a half tour of the SF Zoo on bicycles, stopping often for photos. I didn't take all that many but Andy took a lot of lovely ones which I will post soon.

And then on the way home we even managed to stop at a little cafe off a roadside exit that we had seen forever and never stopped at and had a most filling breakfast-lunch that has carried us through the whole day but that is not important to this story.

What is important is the epiphany. Yesterday I had posted on Facebook that I was going to be surprised today and that I did not like surprises. After we got home today I added what we had done and how much fun it was. Then I typed this paragraph:

"I don't know why I hate surprises though, it doesn't make sense... well yes actually it makes perfect sense. I like to be in control and I have a hard time giving that up. Duh, I knew that. I gotta get over that!"

Then I went and took a nap and now, four hours later I am still thinking of what I wrote.
DING DING DING DING... bells are going off! "I like to be in control and I have a hard time giving that up."

Everyone who knows me is probably saying "well duh, of course Rhonda, we knew that!" but the point is -- I had never connected the two thoughts! Until now. A couple of weeks away from turning 59. It has taken THAT long to figure that out!

Wow. That is a major paradigm shift for me... one that I am smiling about as I type this. Not that I want this next year to pass all that quickly, but I think for next year I will look my birthday surprise in the face and say "Bring it on!"

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Getting the rest of my summer on...

I am turning into one of the "Ladies Who Lunch" this week as I visit with a few (ahem lucky to be retired) teacher friends.

Yesterday: lunch with Marilyne @ Crepeville on 24th (left my camera at home)
Today: lunch with Roz @ Magpie Cafe on R Street. Salad Nicoise with seared tuna, yum!

Magpie salad

And I am getting my energy back to do some of the things I got started before I left this summer:

1. Continuing to rework my art room and declutter (a LOT). Having a hard time coming up with what works best for me but I think getting rid of half the junk will help! Decided to donate the art stuff I no longer have use for to Women's Wisdom Art Project. Then I will have room for all my mixed-media and journaling stuff that is now just stuck in boxes waiting for a home! Dropped my first box off today after lunch!

2. Simplify my stuff in other rooms of the house and put my own stuff away before I complain about the mess. The hard part is the shared clutter (like household appliances and such). It has taken me ages to realize the major problem with this old house is that there are NO closets or places to hide all that junk!

3, Refine my eating habits, figuring out more how to do meals with no grains especially when I go out to eat. I am not celiac per-se but I sure do feel a TON better when I go more towards a "paleo" or "Primal" way of eating. Cutting out grains, refined sugars, and all packaged foods and refocusing on eating only real foods that help my body (meats, vegetables, healthy fats).

4, Getting excited about a new school year (I always get this way before school starts... hopefully this year it will last longer into the school year!). Decided that since I like to travel so much in the summers I would put off retiring a few more years so I have money to travel.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Back home....

And still a bunch of other pictures and such to upload and post, but that will happen (just not now).

This morning I woke up early and got started on my day, embarking on a massive house clean up over the next few days is the plan. Got a little in today, then Andy and I went shopping for some food, and have been just sort of hanging out this afternoon with the cats, trying to nap but can't quite (even though I am tired!)...

It is good to be home, jet lag and all.

More to come, along with wherever this blog will take me now that I am back home! Just wanted to say hi if anyone is still reading and send along a wave for later...

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Fancy an eel?

Only in England...


Garbage day...

This would be nice to have in our neighborhoods. Sometimes we just don't know when they are picking up what...


News of the World...

What a huge scandal in the news about all the phone hackings and the demise of this tabloid! I managed to get a souvenir copy of the last edition that came out today, lucky timing!


Friday, July 8, 2011

A tube station, a museum, and an amazing marketplace...

So yesterday ended up being stormy and I gave up all my explorations when I kept getting soaked going from place to place. Plus, I had a sniffle and felt a bit run down. So on the way back from wherever I started, I stopped off at the Marble Arch Underground (Tube) station because I had seen it in passing and wanted to take some photos of the tile work inside...


Most tube stations just have white tile and the traditional red circle with blue station name. This one however, has very elaborate arch tiles along the name plates...



Today I started out, again on a rainy day but determined to get to the Tate Modern Museum to see the huge Miro exhibit. I had seen a lot of his works in Spain already but I really like his work so decided to pay the cost (15.50 pounds, around $24) to see this huge retrospective.


So passing through the other exhibits of Modern Art (unfortunately even though they allowed photos, the rooms tended to be dark and flash was forbidden, so my photos mostly did not turn out)...



To finally get to the Miro exhibit which was wonderful!


So then I walked along the Thames river in the light rain...



until I got to Borough Market...


The most incredible smells of foods cooking and enticing visitors in, along with displays of all sorts of edibles...





Made me really wish I had a proper kitchen this week (I do have a microwave and a fridge in this hotel but that doesn't work for burgers)...


Eventually I gave in and had a lamb kebob on salad for my lunch...


All in all, a wonderful day!

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

More London...

Today I went on a few quests...

First I went looking for an obscure CD that Andy wanted which brought me to Oxford Circus area. Decided it was too pricey and didn't get it.

But since I was there I went over to the imaginary site from one of my all time favorite movies...


If you don't know the film, 84 Charing Cross Road is a lovely movie! I also read the book but I loved how Anthony Hopkins and Anne Bancroft portrayed the characters.

Then I went over to a wonderful little shopping enclave...


Oh did I mention it was a bright and colorful shopping square?




And notice if you will it was dry before I went into the shop I mention below and then started raining... an hour later, all clear again! That's London weather!

With one of the greatest herb and oils shop...




And great quotes on a side wall of the yard...


And an incredible cheese shop around the corner...



This photo is for you Andy...


I remember this little square from one of my first trips to London. The rubber stamp store Rubber Blade used to be in here as well. It has since moved over near the British Museum and I visited it as well last month when I was in London the first time.

I hate the large crowds, extreme prices and the annoying tourist noise of a lot of London places, but there are little sections like this (and the garden I already wrote about earlier) that remind me how much I also love this city!

A Secret Garden in the middle of London...

I found a treasure in London today -- a secret garden that has risen from the ashes of an empty unused space thanks to the residents and volunteers around it. From what I was told, the whole garden was made by volunteers (adults and kids alike), full of nooks and crannies and hidden gems.


It's called the PHOENIX GARDEN -- a secluded tranquil spot in the middle of busy crazy London...


It is full of the flower I have been gushing over lately, the lovely hollyhock!!


And many other lovely species...



I am noticing most of my flower photos today are purple flowers -- there were a lot of other things, but it seemed the predominant color in bloom today was purple...


What a lovely way to spend part of my day today!