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What’s Blooming!

Glad it is Friday. It’s been a bumpy week.



My delphiniums are blooming better.



We had huge windy storms roll through the other day and this stem was broken off, so it actually is in a vase inside right now.  I am definitely getting some of these for Radiance Manor.

The tippy pots:


It’s interesting how these wave petunias want to reach upwards instead of drape down.

My liatris is just starting to open up.  I love these plants. They seem to love this spot, too. I think I have had these for at least 5 years now.



Coneflowers are a poppin’ now as well!  The hot papaya is still stunted with no buds on it, but the razzmatazz is going strong:


My newest one I planted last year.  This is Tiki Torch:




Classic White Swan:

white swan

The Milkshake:


Some of the asiatic lilies are open now.  This is a hardy Orienpet – Anastasia:


These smell absolutely heavenly!



The Astilbe Glow just keeps getting prettier and prettier, too.



I am probably going to go astilbe crazy at the new house, too!  That’s about it for now in the garden.

I was asked if Pixie is enjoying the new settee.



That would be a yes :D

It’s a busy weekend around here.  I have a lot of work to do (ugh), my BIL is having a 50th birthday party, and have to fit some riding in there!  See you on the flip side of the weekend!

The finished settee!

Those of you on FB saw my finished settee, but thought I would share the details of the project.

Just a refresher, here was the piece when I bought it for $18.



After I stripped off the 3 layers of upholstery, I had the original piece.



Then I spent a good amount of time stripping and repairing the wood as best as I could. There were so many tack and nail holes, as well as splits in the wood that it was never going to look new.  I can’t understand why someone would cover up the wood in the first place.  Kind of like people who put carpet over perfectly good hardwood floors.  And if any of you have done that, please don’t tell me.  :wink:

The seat was stuffed with hay!  Icky.



Upholstery books say to keep the stuffing of furniture if you can, but there was no way I was keeping this.

All the old springs.  Instead of being attached to the webbing, they are actually attached with metal – which meant I could keep them and just retie them into place.



After stripping and patching what I could, I realized that it wasn’t going to look good just stained, so I opted to paint it. I used 2 cans of rustoleum black glossy enamel spray paint, which allowed all the wood detail to come out.

It still has dings and scratches in it, but it’s an old piece – so we will give it a break.


Then I had to tie down the springs. The idea is to make the springs even in the shape of the seat.  I read a few books and websites about tying down the springs.  Of course, since my springs were attached to a metal frame, it was different than the books showed, so I had to wing it a little bit.


This was about 3/4 of the way through tying. I did more because I was paranoid LOL!

Then time for the good stuff.  A layer of muslin over the springs as a cover.  Then I used the old seat to cut a form for the padding:


I was so glad to throw out that nasty old seat once I traced it. Nas-tay.


Then I put a layer of batting on top and held it all in place with another layer of muslin.


Now I could work on it inside since it was clean and the messy stuff was done.  I ended up using upholstery tacks to attach everything but the dust cover on the bottom. The wood was very hard and it was too hard to get staples to go through the cloth and the wood.

Then I did the pretty fabric.  No pictures of this because I was busy with both hands. I took a long time putting the fabric on because I would put in a few tacks, ponder the piece, put in a few more, make sure I was going straight, etc. The hardest part was going around the front corners and keeping the fabric tight.

And done!



I adore this fabric so much!  I bought it online at Brick House Fabric.  They have really unique fabrics there.

I was thinking I would get some trim to cover the tack line, but I kind of like it. The original piece had the tacks showing and maybe I will just leave it.  It will get left until I get another coupon from JoAnn Fabrics and see if I want to buy any trim.  Always on the hunt for a bargain.  The total cost of the piece was $72 and change, which includes the $18 that the settee cost in the first place.  The most expensive thing was the fabric at $24 a yard (plus $5 shipping).  I got almost everything else half price at JoAnn’s with sales and coupons – so that made me happy!

The piece isn’t perfect, but it is pretty comfy, I have to say. I think for my first upholstery project, this was a pretty good one to do and probably better that I didn’t have as much actual fabric coverage to do as I first was expecting when I got the piece.

Next upholstery project? WP_20140622_011

Although not for a while LOL!

Topsy Turvy

Today was just one of those days, you know? We had some serious storms blow through last night and there was debris everywhere on our ride to breakfast.

Here was one large branch on the path that we moved out of the way.


Nothing will stop us from bagels! :D



It was funny, just yesterday I was saying to John how I was starting to feel more relaxed because work had calmed down, I was going to be stopping tutoring andwith that stress and feeling sort of more relaxed about the endless house closing.

As soon as we pulled in to the driveway, my phone rang and it was work.  The first of 16 phone calls between me and work today… Not good when the call starts with “Do you want the good news or bad news first?”.  Always take the bad first, right? Well, my main account has been threatening to leave for a long time and today they pulled the plug.  That is probably 80% of my paycheck right there. I am not surprised, but still this was not news I wanted.  The good news was that they had a new account they wanted me to start on right away.  However, due to their poor planning and dinking around – it was utterly urgent that I start the account pretty much immediately.  That meant new software, which had to be installed on my computer.  At first one of the tech guys was going to come to my place, then they wanted *me* to drive up there and pick up the disk.  Really?  Your emergency is not my problem.  Anyway, I agreed to meet them half way – about 20 minutes or so from home – to pick up a thumb drive with software on it.  It was like doing a drug deal. Then I had to wait all day while the tech guys virtually installed the stuff on my computer.  So, not only did I lose my main account, but then I couldn’t work on any of my backups because my computer was busy.  I was not really a happy camper about that because I hate losing money and knowing I have to make this up over the weekend.  That’s the bummer about being paid by production and not salary. 

Anyway, the new software is *finally* installed and I got ‘training’ on the new account, which was basically “They are really picky and do things weird, so good luck.”  No account specifications, no samples, just thrown to the wolves.  I wasn’t even put on QA review for the account because they were so desperate to have me working on it right away.  

So, I hope this works out, but it doesn’t sound like a great situation. It is really an overflow account that apparently is terribly behind right now to the tune of 3 weeks (should be a 24 hour turnaround).  I don’t know what will happen when it gets caught up, but I guess I will just have to wait and see.  My company told me that I was their priorityall  of the MTs to find work for.  Finally some acknowledgement of appreciation for how much work I do for them on weekends and such.  

I am trying not to stress too much about it.  I will take a money hit for a while until I get up to speed on the account. Again – a downfall to production work. Hopefully it won’t take too long. And I will be polishing up my resume in the meantime.

Never a dull moment around here, I tell you.

AIM Food: It’s All in a Day!


This month, we are doing a virtual progressive food day with each of us giving a staple recipe for a meal.  If you want to follow in order, start with Breakfast at Shelley’s big grin, then Cammy’s for lunch, Lynn’s for appetizer/main dish #1, me for main dish #2 and Debby’s for dessert!

Welcome to Casa Radiance on the next stop of our progressive meal day!  I am taking care of the ominvores for dinner.  I am a protein lover and include protein in all my meals and snacks as much as possible. This is a recipe that is easy to make, tastes good and really is good enough to serve company!  It’s Chicken with Balsamic Tomatoes:

Chicken with Balsamic Tomatoes

Based on a recipe from Ready, Set, Eat

  • 2 tablespoons oil
  • 4 boneless skinless chicken breasts (4 oz each)
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon oregano
  • 1/2 cup diced onion
  • 1 can (14.5 oz each) diced tomatoes, undrained
  • 1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon of cornstarch
  • 1 tablespoon cold water

Heat oil in medium skillet over medium-high heat.  Sprinkle chicken with garlic salt and pepper; cook chicken 5  minutes or until browned, turning once. Remove from skillet and set aside.

Add the onion to skillet; cook 1 to 2 minutes over medium heat or until crisp-tender.

Add undrained tomatoes and vinegar to skillet along with the oregano; bring to a simmer. Return chicken to skillet; cook 10 to 12 minutes more or until chicken is no longer pink in center.  

In a small bowl, combine the cornstarch and cold water and stir into the skillet. Let this come back to a simmer to thicken up the sauce a bit. If you have really watery tomatoes, you might need 2 teaspoons of cornstarch.

Serve!  You can do a nice presentation where you slice each chicken breast and serve the sauce on top as in the picture above or just do the whole chicken breast.  This goes great with pasta, spaghetti squash, rice, zuchini noodles – the sky is the limit! You can also just make the tomato topping without the chicken and have it on various different foods. 

Serves 4

Calories: 226

Fat: 9.3 g

Protein: 23.2 g

Carbs: 12.4 g

For the next course, head on down to Debby’s blog for dessert!

Make sure you read more at my fellow AIMers’ blogs for their thoughts on this topic!

Lynn @ Lynn’s Weigh

Debby @ Debby Weighs in

Shelley @ My Journey to Fit

Cammy @ The Tippy Toe Diet

AIM: Adventures in Maintenance is Lynn, Lori, Debby, Shelley, and Cammy, former weight-loss bloggers who now write about life in maintenance. We formed AIM to work together to turn up the volume on the issues facing people in weight maintenance. We publish a post on the same topic on the first Monday of each month. Let us know if there is a topic you would like us to address!

Saratoga Ride!

Riding, riding, riding!  It was a biking weekend, that’s for sure.  I had barely any work on Friday – so I ended up with a much needed 3-day weekend!  Friday we went out riding and I ended up with a broken chain. That is really very uncommon to totally break a chain, but leave it to me.  Once we got the bike home, John was able to repair the chain, so all is well now.

Saturday was the usual long ride day.  We decided to head to Saratoga.  It was really a gorgeous day, sunny and in the 70s.  It was windy, however, and that is really the riding condition that I dislike the most.  Going to Saratoga is all road riding as there are no paths going down there.



Lots of sunshine today! River Road is really such a pretty route to take down.  It gets hardly any traffic, which is wonderful in itself, but it has some really great scenery.



This is farm country.  I took this picture as this llama was just going away.  He did not want his picture taken!



At mile 20, we stopped for a shade break and a snack:



Dried pineapple and mini chocolate bars.  I was getting a little hungry. We each had a protein bar right before we left the house, but that didn’t last long.

I think these are wild daisies?


It was only about 7 miles to go to get to lunch, so we moved on out.  We got to Saratoga and stopped at The Local to eat. I was hangry by this time!



They serve a lot of locally sourced products, which is nice.  I decided to get a breakfast burrito.  I almost got a sandwich with fries, but I didn’t feel like getting anything greasy.


I didn’t eat the beans. Why serve beans with a breakfast burrito that has eggs, potato and cheese? 

Anyway, a couple doors down from The Local was a bike shop.


We stopped here after lunch so I could buy a few spare chain links in case my chain ever gives me problems again.  Do you ever buy something you think will just be a few bucks and you are shocked at the price?  That would be me. I bought 4 links. They are half an inch, if that. Anyway, 4 links cost $20!! Not sure how much that would make a whole chain.  Anyway, I need to treat those links like gold.

We biked back into the downtown area and walked around the shops – and then you know what time it was!!


Now, this was a big cupcake. This picture doesn’t really show how big it is. Normally I get the smaller size and John and I will split another one and 1.5 of the smaller cuppies is still smaller than this single bigger one.  I was feeling still somewhat hungry and my burrito wasn’t that big – so I went for the big one.  Note to self – no matter how long the ride, don’t get the big one.  It was delicious, though.  Cookie dough – it had a ball of cookie dough at the bottom of the cuppie!

By this time, it was after 3:30 and time to head home, although I was really full LOL. I was a little concerned that my cupcake might revisit, but it stayed down.

This is when the wind really started to take a toll. Usually around here the wind will be at our backs for one way and headwind the other.  That’s fine.  The wind this day was a cross wind and a changing wind, so you hardly ever got a break.  It was relentless. Plus it would get gusty.  It’s hard having wind push you from the side because it can knock you over if you aren’t paying attention. Then it would suddenly change and be right in your face. Phew!

We ended up back at the Wildlife Preserve again for a break on the way home.  This would be a fun trail to hike some day.


Again, this is really such a pretty ride.


Here is a peak point of the ride.



We were swapping the lead so that one person could draft and the other would take the brunt of the wind. On a windy day, drafting can really help save energy, but we still stopped a few more times than usual. Not to mention this ended up being a really long ride. This was around mile 48 or so?



Then no more pictures. I was really starting to drag.  Normally in a ride I gain strength as the ride goes on and I finish really strong, but the wind just plum wore me out!  Not to mention I got a stinger in my shoulder blade. Do you ever get those? Ugh.

The last 5 miles or so, I really hit the wall and John told me to just stay behind him and he let me draft the rest of the way home. Now that is an awesome husband!

Finally home!



Ride stats:

Total miles: 57.4

Average speed: 13.1 mph

Top speed: 31.2 mph – downhill, baby!

Saddle time:  4 hours 28 minutes

Calories burned: 1477

Calories burned probably higher than that considering the wind, but what are you going to do? It’s just an estimate anyway.  This was a tough ride, but a pretty one.

We did our usual 20 mile breakfast ride on Sunday, which is good to do after a long ride to keep from being too stiff. All these miles helped put a dent in my 400 mile goal for the month. Only 285 miles to go!

What’s Blooming!

Happy Independence Day!



The storms yesterday hit the garden pretty hard.  Lots of plants knocked over and broken.  You can see the butterfly weed laying on the ground by my cone flower. This coneflower is the hot papaya and look at how small it is? The ones next to it are normal size and this one is all stunted. I am not sure why.


Close up of said butterfly weed (Asclepias)



Just to show how my garden isn’t perfect, I have had a huge problem with red lily beetles this year.



Since I am trying to attract butterflies and bees, I don’t spray insecticide. Organic or not – they don’t discriminate on which bugs die. So, I don’t spray. I pick them off and squish them when I see them, but they do damage.  Those lilies are ready to pop open, too. Yay!

My oldest coneflower friend – the razzmatazz. Again, this is one of the plants I brought with me from Illinois 8 years ago.  It’s an oldie and will be coming to our new house.



I also have delphiniums starting to bloom! I struggle with finding plants that like this strip of garden, and decided to try some delphiniums.



( I also desperately need to weed under my bird feeder LOL ). I wasn’t sure the delphinium would bloom this year, so maybe they like this spot.


Lots of tall daylilies in bloom now:



I actually think the shade garden looks better than the front garden this year!



The astilbes are blooming. The white ones have faded, but the Bressingham and Glow are still going. I mistakenly called Glow by the name Flame last week. CRS disease.




A little slow in the garden now. It’s resting before all the coneflowers open up. :D

Settee update – All the padding is in place and now it’s time for the fabric!



I moved the piece inside to work on now that it’s all clean and any cooties it might have had are off of it.  I will be putting on the final fabric while watching the Tour de France this weekend!

Tutoring break

Just about the holiday weekend!  I will be working a bit on the 4th. Not quite sure how much, but I should have the rest of the weekend off, which  will feel pretty darn good.

Got in some biking this morning:


We did a quick 9 miles. Now I only have 378 to go :D  

I also did a lifting workout today, which is the reason I only did 9 miles on the bike.

So, you all know I have been feeling pretty stressed for quite a while now with the endless house closing, work, etc.  I also have been feeling a lot of stress with my literacy learner. I have been working with the same learner for a year and a half now and we have made only a small amount of progress – even though he works very, very hard.  We have met every Monday for the last 1.5 years with only a few holidays in there. Without getting into a huge amount of detail, my learner has a learning disability and some emotional problems as well and it has just gotten hard to do the tutoring for me.  I was beginning to dread each weekly meeting and that isn’t fair to me or the learner. So today I had a long talk with the coordinator and she is going to find another tutor to work with him and I will be taking a break. Maybe permanently, I don’t know.  I will be working with him for a few more weeks to transition, but I have to say that I feel a *huge* sense of relief about this now. On the other hand, I also feel like a bit of a failure. None of my learners went on to get their GEDs, although this current one could possibly do that with a couple more years of hard work. Literacy tutoring was not what I thought it would be, but it is okay to admit that it doesn’t fit for me. I certainly gave it enough time to figure that out.

That really is going to relieve a good chunk of stress for me.

I also fixed the espresso machine…again! This thing drives me nuts. First was the electrical cord and we got that straightend out. Then the water sensor stopped working. There is a little magnet inside that detects water levels and it kept saying the tank was empty when it was full, which meant no espresso. I was about ready to throw in the towel, but then found a replacement magnet online for $15 and we figured it was worth a shot. I guess magnets can lose their magnetivity (??) over time. We got that part in and now the machine works again.  For now LOL.  Iced latte on a hot and humid day:



Poor Pixie with her long hair doesn’t like this heat.  She curls up and sleeps all day (more than usual), usually in a corner somewhere:



Poor girl.  I have brushed an extra cat’s worth of hair out of her the last couple days.

However, there is a front coming through with storms tonight and what looks to be a great 3 days of weather!

Street lights are on as it was getting really dark.



Good thing nice biking weather is rolling in.  I have a lot of miles to do :D

Happy 4th everyone! I will still be doing a blooming post tomorrow because I love them, but you all have a super weekend!

July Goals

We finally broke out the downstairs window AC unit today.  We have had the unit in the upstairs bedroom window for a while now, but the downstairs usually doesn’t get too bad, especially since we got the new windows with the E glass a few years ago.  Anyway, it was 80 degrees in the living room by late morning and we decided it was time to put it in knowing it would only get worse.

That makes it officially feel like summer.

July Goals:

1. 400 bike miles this month. A biking goal! This averages out to be 13 miles a day or so, but obviously it doesn’t work like that. The majority of the miles will come on weekends, but this means dedicating myself to early morning exercise when it is cool.


2.  Declutter and reorganize these 2 bookshelves.  They are just a mess and a catch-all for stuff.


3.  Eat more veggies.  I have been pretty slack about the veggies lately. Even my beloved broccoli!

4.  Deep clean rooms. This is another one I am moving from the June list. It’s gotta get done.

I think I will stop at 4 because I really want to do a better job on acheiving these than I did with June goals. Not to mention finishing up my settee. I hope to be done with that this weekend. Yay!


June Wrap Up!

Ahhhhh!!!! The end of June!  It seems every month I keep saying how fast the time goes.  I need something new to say.  We started off the month with the little weekend getaway to Portsmouth and here it is just about July!

Let’s move on to the goals, shall we?

1.  Continue the last stage of Female Body Breakthrough.  Done. I am ready to move on to something else now. I definitely am stronger, but I didn’t lose any inches after 4 months. 

2.  Be more disciplined with eating. Ehhh… some days okay, some days not. Stress eating really is getting the better of me lately.

3.Deep cleaning in rooms of the house. I did a little bit of this, but got waylaid by other things.

4. Keep doing my projects. Working on currently with my little settee find!

5. Try to write a couple garden how-to posts. I did not do this. I kept thinking about it, though.

Hoo boy, this was a strange month for the goals. Swing and a miss on most of them! But that’s what the next month is for, right? It’s just that feeling of spinning my wheels and getting nowhere in several aspects of my life currently, some my own fault, some caused by forces I cannot control. I love progress and it gets frustrating when I stagnate.

Anyway, here is some settee progress.  I had to paint it. After patching the wood, it just wasn’t going to take the stain and look good at all, so I went ahead and spray painted it (and my feet).


Now it is ready for spring tying and fabric! And welcome to my garage in all it’s glory.  :oops:

This is the fabric I got, which I have to say I love.


It has music, birds and flowers – 3 of my favorite things! I really hope I don’t mess it up LOL.  I also have to find our iron, which I think we still have.

Tomorrow is July and a fresh set of goals, thank goodness!

Bagpipes and Sundaes

It really feels like summer now! We had a hot weekend around here.  Need to remember to do early rides on days like this, but we had stuff to do in the morning – and then there was the parade for our town’s Heritage Days.

As I have said before, we live on the main road in town, which is annoying for traffic, but gets us great seats for all the parades!


I love the bagpipes, too:


They are really good!

After lunch, we headed on out to the lake! Very sunny, so I loaded up on the sunscreen today.



I made us stop fairly often in the shade to keep cool.


That’s sweat on my nose and not sunscreen :D

John was laughing at me taking a selfie, so I took his picture.


Now who’s laughing?  That would be me.

Now for the climbs to the lake!



The lake was busy!



This was about 16.5 miles into our ride.  We didn’t go into Lake George Village, but just stopped here and had a snack and a rest:



Then it was time to turn around.  It’s all innocent looking, but this is the start of a 2 mile climb up.



Then zooming along in the shade.


Our destination was Martha’s!  Mile 22. John missed the first trip to Martha’s a couple weeks ago when I went by myself, so he wanted a visit.  Mine was a hot apple sundae with cheesecake flavored ice cream.  Yeah, baby.



Now I think Martha’s sundaes are the best. They don’t just put the ice cream in and pour a topping on it. They put in some ice cream, then a bit of topping, then more ice cream and the rest of the topping. Their sundaes are very ride worthy :D

After a fill up of water bottles, it was time to head back home.  Someone had taken the time to work on their property that abuts the path. This was all new.





I am getting me some of these in our new house.  

This is the cinder part of the path that we don’t go on very often.  We stopped here to look at some ducks. 



Home, sweet home. You can see the settee project in the background, too.



Ride stats:

Total miles:  32.4

Average speed:  12.3 mph

Top speed:  31.3 mph

Calories burned:  1047.

Not a super long ride, but a good distance on a hot day.