Catching Up and a Headboard and Nightstand Pair

The months fly by, seemingly faster as I get older. When I started this post, it was a March round up and I was asking, “where did March go?” I’m wondering the same about April! Now that yard/garden work is in the mix, I’ve been keeping ridiculously busy. I’ve actually started posting a few times and just haven’t finished. Today is the day though!

I do want to share one of the highlights of March, which was seeing the eldest, who was on the East Coast for work and was able to hop a bus to spend two days with us.

Another highlight was the youngest having her artwork selected for a second gallery show in Pasadena. It’s bitter-sweet for us as we are super duper proud and would so love to be able to attend these events. We are grateful the kiddos are nearby-ish to each other and can be supportive in person.

Tim and I bought new wedding bands from Groove Life and I posted about them on Instagram. We’ve been wearing them for a few weeks now and we are both really pleased.

I’ve been logging a few miles 3-4 times/week since January. I ran outside a few weeks ago for the first time in WAY TOO long. I’m slower than the slow I already was before, but I’m proud of myself for getting back into the swing of some weekly miles.

Fargo has really taken to his role as driveway workshop dog. He doesn’t always opt for the bed, but he enjoys being outside with me when it’s sunny. It’s hard to see in this picture, but I’m getting quite the silver streaks going on both sides of my hair. I started using a new hashtag on Instagram: #silverhairandsawdust.

Okay, now on to the headboard and nightstand. A friend asked me to build these for her son’s room, with the understanding that I would be learning through the process. I learned a TON through both of these, as they each had elements (such as drawer slides) that I had never done before. I will show some end result pictures here, and hopefully do a more in depth post about the builds.

Both were Ana White plans. Both are finished with two coats of Weatherwash Rusted Stain and Satin Varnish. I know I need to expand beyond Weatherwash at some point, but I really love their results.

We’ve also done so much in the shop (garage) and I will get a post up with all of those pictures/descriptions as well. Hope Spring is treating you all well!

February ’19 Wrap-Up

We are updating our kitchen and dining room lighting after almost fourteen years. Up until now, we’ve used the lights that were here when we bought the house. First up was the kitchen fan light. The others are purchased and are on the to-do list to get installed.

Here is a quick, mostly picture post to share the rest of the empty nest goings on around here.

I tried a new recipe, which we really enjoyed. We still have butternut squash to use, so I found a recipe called Butternut Squash Chickpea Coconut Curry. Really quite yummy (I also added some potato that needed to be used up).

We are making some good progress on the shop (garage)! Tim installed a heater, which we’ve had running to keep the shop comfortable and which is allowing us to do drywall work in Winter. Our electric bill was definitely on the higher side this month.

All of the new drywall is primed and painted. Unfortunately, the folks who taped/mudded the ceiling and wall adjoining the house, did not cover the tape. The tape and mud have been falling off and crumbling for years, so Tim is re-doing all of it. This is taking a lot of time, and requires constant shifting of the HUGE PILES OF STUFF. I can actually see the light at the end of the tunnel, though, which is exciting.

Same wall, next day.

Previous ceiling mud.

I got my first ever work boots a few months ago, and they are getting a workout, and I love them!

I opted for a compromise on the kiddos’ bedrooms. Although they will likely only be home once a year, I still always want them to feel like their rooms. The eldest’s has a queen sized bed (our old one) and is our default guest room. I’ve now moved sewing machines, fabric and all other related items into the youngest’s room. She is the one who sews, so it made sense. It doesn’t change the character of the space so it still feels like it’s her room.

Although I’m not doing yoga every day, I am still making sure to include it 2-3 days/week. I’ve actually been putting in some treadmill miles since the beginning of the year. It’s been a long time since I’ve been consistently logging miles 4-5 times/week. I never thought I could be even more of a “back of the packer” than I was, but it’s possible.

Fargo and I take a moment to pause now and again and reflect on our empty nest life. In this moment, we were pondering the increasing number of gray hairs we both have.

There’s so much more, but I’ll leave on a fun note. One of the many amazing woodworkers I follow on Instagram, The Awesome Orange, came up with a shirt idea that I fell in love with. I couldn’t resist getting it and I was extra excited when I found the sticker she enclosed with the shirt. Trading stickers seems to be a big thing in the woodworking community and I now have my first one.

Two Year Blogaversary

Facebook reminded me that a year ago was my first blogaversary. Honed critical thinking skills lead me to conclude that it is now my two year blogaversary. Where do the days go when they fly by so quickly? It doesn’t help that we feel like we lost about four plus months of our year to family illnesses and deaths. I’m still having a little bit of a tough time posting regularly but I’m hoping to catch up over the next week when it will be too cold for me to want to leave the house unless absolutely necessary.

There are no posts about running as it’s been a year since I’ve done any. I haven’t even walked much. This needs to change and I’m hoping to find my mojo and to get moving again. I had actually registered for an event in Oct 2017, but deferred to 2018. Maybe I’ll have some “back of the pack” fodder to share, but it’s so so so hard to get moving once the inertia is gone. Wish me luck.

In the meantime, here are posts I am considering to kickoff my blog in 2018:

The first post will detail what I did with the wood.

I’d also like to talk about our first go at making pickles.

And this lentil stew is pretty incredible, so I’ll write more about it.

Beleve it or not, it’s time to start thinking about seeds for the garden, so I’ll write my annual Fedco/seed ordering post. (catalog pic from last year)

I’m going to enjoy the last few days with the kiddos before my nest empties out again. I’m going to spend some more time learning about my camera. I’m going to think about goals for this blog and for me in 2018. If you are on Instagram, I tend to do a better job with (almost) daily pictures there. I very much appreciate those of you who visit here and follow my Empty Nest journey.

 

 

 

It’s That Pumpkin Time of Year!

Fall happens to be my favorite time of year. Amongst all of the stress and emotions, I have tried really hard to stop and breathe and look at the colors, even though they were fairly muted this year. These are cell phone pics. I did get the new camera about 2 weeks ago, and I’ve been reading the manual, but haven’t gotten the guts up to use it yet.

We even got some pumpkins and mums and attempted to decorate.

I hadn’t really had a chance to do too much pumpkin baking, but made time last week to try something new. Sally’s Baking Addiction Pumpkin Cream Cheese Bundt Cake was the winner.

Unfortunately, we didn’t grow any type of pumpkins or pumpkin-like baking squash this year, so had to settle for canned. It is what it is. Here are just a few pics.

I have a pretty narrow bundt pan with a wide circumference, so I knew it wouldn’t turn out quite the same as Sally’s.

I should have thought to cut some of the pointier peaks off because once I turned it upside down and cut individual pieces, they toppled over. Next time.

So so soooooooo good!!!!

It really has continued to be unusual times in our household. We have been trying so hard to catch up. I have been trying hard to get back to moving the body, though it’s in the form of walking, and only a mile or two at a time. In the few moments when I do stop and relax, I sometimes have company.

Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cake

A few weeks ago our neighbor dropped off a yummy treat. As soon as we tried it, I asked her for the recipe because it was amazing. Apparently, it’s an old recipe, so old that she can’t remember where it originally came from. In addition, she has tweaked it a bit, so there is no link and I am crediting our neighbor. I have now made it twice, and I tweaked it a bit too which I will mention later.

The first thing that stood out to me about the recipe instructions, was to combine boiling water and the oats. (I just noticed that my finger is photobombing this picture…nice…)

I had fun trying to spread the chips and the walnuts evenly and prettily across the top.

Finished product.

The first time I made the cake, I mostly followed the recipe, just used dark chocolate chunks in the batter vs chips. It seems to me to be fairly low in sugar to begin with, but the second time, I replaced a bit of sugar with honey, and used all dark chocolate chunks, no chips. The dark chocolate chunks from Trader Joes seem less sweet than the chips. It is still delicious the second time around, even with my tweaks. I froze and mailed some of the first batch to the kiddos, hoping to get a taste test report soon.

I have not yet figured out how to add recipes so that they are easily printed. SORRY!!

Recipe:

Preheat oven to 350. In a large bowl, combine 1 3/4 cups boiling water and 1 cup of old fashioned or quick cooking oats and let stand 10 minutes.

Sift together:

1 3/4 C flour (I used 1 cup of white wheat and 3/4 cup freshly ground hard white wheat)

1/2 t salt

2 T cocoa powder (I used Special Dark Cocoa)

1 t baking soda

 

Add to oatmeal and mix well:

1/2 c butter

1/2 c white sugar (I used a little less and subbed in honey)

1/2 c brown sugar

2 large eggs

Add flour mixture and 6 oz chocolate chips. Pour into a 13″ x 9″ greased pan (I use coconut oil for greasing) and sprinkle top with 6 oz chocolate chips and 1 3/4 c chopped walnuts. Bake about 40 minutes.

In between the baking, cooking, cleaning, volunteering for a dog rescue, blogging and yard work, I humor my spoiled empty nest pup when he wants me to hold his chew toy while he chews.

I got out twice this past week for just over two miles each time. I’m trying to get back into the groove, but it is darn freaking hard. I may sign up for a half in early November to try and motivate myself to do better. I just wish I knew if it would actually motivate me, or just make me feel guilty if I don’t get miles logged.

Butternut Risotto

One of my favorite recipes for our butternut squash is Butternut Risotto. I found this recipe years ago…so many years ago that I cut it out of a magazine page and have it taped in the recipe binder. I was happily surprised this morning to find a link to the online version which makes it easy to share with you.

I need to add a note here that the pictures did not turn out well and do not do this dish justice in how pretty it looks while cooking and when finished.

I’m sure I use way more butternut than called for because it is yummy, especially (I think) when grown in the backyard garden. Even though the picture isn’t clear, the amazing color of the squash sure is.

beautiful butternut

Although the recipe calls for chicken broth, I have always used vegetable broth. I switch back and forth between cooking this in a large saute pan and a larger pot and I haven’t noticed a difference in the finished product.

The main piece when making risotto is the constant stirring. It is not a start and simmer dish, it is a high maintenance process.

risotto

The recipe gives the option to choose either saffron or turmeric and I have always used turmeric. It certainly tastes amazing, though saffron may also taste amazing, or it may be even better. If you make this with saffron, let me know your thoughts.

Butternut with butter and parm and rice…how can it not be a favorite?

butternut risotto

For the past few years I have used vegetable broth in the 4 cup cartons, mostly from Trader Joes. In my blog and book perusals, I read about Better Than Bouillon vegetable broth.

I will be using it the next time a recipe calls for broth and I will report back on flavor.

I have no running to report on however, we have been managing to walk at least a mile almost every day (on Saturday I even walked twice! 😉 ). I don’t necessarily think my running days are over, but it is scary how easy it is to not run after not running for a while. It gets easier and easier and easier to not do it. Sigh…

Wood Furnace Workout

Our house is fun in that it has two furnaces. There is an oil furnace, and there is a wood/coal furnace. For the first few years, we only used the oil furnace. Then the cost of oil went so high that we decided to switch over to using wood once a long stretch of colder weather was in the forecast. When I say “we,” I really mean hubby, because he has done 99.9% of the wood furnace work.

I gained a greater appreciation a few weeks ago, when he was out of commission and I took over the wood furnace responsibilities. I have helped out here and there by loading wood mid day, and by helping with the wood pile a bit in the Fall, but that’s it. You may remember the pictures I shared a few months ago.

wood stacking art

wood piles

The first thing is, if we are using the wood furnace, it is COLD out. The (large/heavy) pieces of wood need to go from the wood shed in the pic right above, to the bottom of the outdoor stairwell.

outside stairwell

Let me tell you, it’s a workout to carry all those pieces of wood down the steps. I was moving 30 ish pieces every day and a half and most of the time, I carried one piece of wood at a time because I didn’t want to fall.

Fargo supervised and watched to make sure I was doing okay.

fargo stairwell

And he was very helpful by moving some sticks.

fargo stick time

Once the wood is (not so) neatly stacked at the bottom of the steps, it’s wasn’t over. Every 6-8 hours, I needed to bring 6-7 (big/heavy) “sticks” of wood inside, one at a time to put into the furnace.

wood furnace

Then, there is a whole process of how to open the door so that smoke doesn’t set off the alarms (still sorry girls, mom, dad and hubby about that happening at 2:30am), letting the wood burn hot, then shutting down the vents, etc.

I honestly could have just shut it down and reverted to oil, but the difference in how cozy warm the house feels with the wood furnace heat vs the oil furnace heat is really pretty amazing. The floors are even warm. Thankfully, by the time the next cold snap comes through, hubby should be able to at least help, even if he can’t do it all on his own. I’ll happily help and be grateful that I’m not doing it all on my own.

Side note: I ran outside this morning. The first time in way too long. One of my young, energetic co-worker friends was nice enough to plod along with me for 3.4. It was a good one.

 

2016 Running Recap

Up until the middle of October, 2016 was probably my best year of consistent running in a long time. I am proud of my accomplishments. I am not so proud that I have run about 10 miles since the middle of October…but that’s for another day.

I was very dedicated in keeping a tally of my miles. I know a lot of people use a gps watch and then upload data, but I’m low tech and I wrote miles on the wall calendar. I ran 747 miles in 2016, which averages out to about 71 miles/month. I know that there are a lot of runners who log that type of mileage weekly, but it’s an average I’m proud of (in addition to being proud I kept track like I did).

Another positive was finally getting the new Hoka Cliftons and loving them almost as much as the original Cliftons. I was so happy with them I got two pairs, which will last me a while, especially at the rate of 10 miles in 3 months.

clifton 3s

I trained for two events, the first was in April. I used a new training plan for this Half Marathon and I followed it almost exactly. It was a great day and, though it was my fifth time participating, there were unique aspects, support from the hubster and good friends, and a near PR miss. I wrote a real Race Report for the first time as well.

beautiful course

Due to a trip out West to see the eldest, I knew that the Marine Corps Marathon was out of the picture for 2016. It might actually be out of the picture for good, though I would totally run the 10k just to be a part of the fun and to see some amazing people. Instead, I went way far out of my comfort zone and registered for a multi-run weekend. I must admit, I did not stick to a training plan like I should have, but my only goal was to finish.

I wrote a Race Report for this Hat Trick weekend but could never capture how great it was and how much fun I had. If I can get myself back into the swing of things again, I would definitely consider registering again for the Hat Trick, or at least the Half or the 5 & Dime.

rw half finish

And then there was that time I came home from a run with a cabbage (wearing my sparkle skirt and new sneakers).

 

run cabbage

Now it’s time to figure out what this back-of-the-packer needs to do to get moving in 2017!

 

Monthly Hobby Update

I just decided this morning, as I started typing, that I would include a Monthly Hobby Update this year. I’m hoping to be working on a few hobbies at any given time, though life has definitely gotten in the way the past few weeks. Mostly good derailment, some I could do without.

Anyway, I’m working with the youngest on a furniture project. Given that the girls are heading out way too soon, I’m reminded that I need some things from her before she leaves so that I can get moving on it without her.

This leads me to the garage project. Although it’s been slow going, there has been enough progress so that the car once again fits inside.

car garage

I think the next steps on the garage will likely need to wait a few months for Spring, but I am actually really pleased and I owe hubby a huge thank you for the time he has put in.

The main hobby I have been spending time on is cross stitch. I decided to make gifts for both girls and two of their close friends. I finished two, this is the third, in progress.

love is

If I were to do it again, I would do at least one thing differently. I have never before used pre-framed canvas, and, unless it is for a VERY small design, I will not use it again. Stitching, and pulling thread through at the end is incredibly difficult near the edges. I have inadvertently stretched the canvas in a few small areas. It seemed like a great idea when I saw them at the store, but not so much in reality.

I keep looking at the bags full of yarn every time I walk by them, so I think I will attempt a knitting project next after the cross stitches are finished. I ground more flour yesterday for the loaf of bread which is in the oven as I type. I am still enjoying watching the flour fall into the measuring cup.

Still trying to figure out the camera, especially the lighting.

dark pic

light pic

In the meantime, the usual chores are still happening. Fargo continues to be quite helpful, especially when it’s time to make the beds.

fargo helping bed

Also, yay me, I logged a whopping two miles on the treadmill Monday! Hopefully I’m going to get a little more back on track with that. Must I register for an event to keep myself motivated?

Odds and Ends

I took the Rosie’s Workwear (http://www.rosiesworkwear.com/) overalls I ordered at the Mother Earth News Fair for a test run today. I LOVE them!! I had hubby take pictures when they first arrived (ignore the work shirt/socks/shoes which don’t go with the overalls).

overalls

Removable knee pads (I did not use them today).

knee pads

Lots of very cool pockets.

pockets

In other news, I started a top secret cross stitch project. And by started, I thought about how I am going to approach it. I will share pictures if it turns out as I’m hoping.

We made yogurt again, and it came out delicious again. Yes!!

I had a gingerbread disaster cake. I have no idea what went wrong, but yikes!

gingerbread disaster

I had to quick throw a baking dish underneath to catch the cascade of batter flowing over the sides.

baking sheet

The good news is that it tasted fine. Really, no idea what happened.

My friend who ran the Hat Trick with me discovered that our medals had magnets, so they could do this cool thing.

medal magnets

If I had done the Friday trail race, for a total weekend mileage of 26.2, I would have gotten the medal to attach to the remaining magnet. But even without it I think this is way cool!

First frost a few days ago took it’s toll on some of the flowers, which looked pretty in the morning.

frosty flowers

frosty flowers 2

But the zinnias did not look so good later in the day.

dead zinnias