Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Our November Color Wheel

I love the colors of autumn in the South.  You've got your traditional reds, browns, yellows, and oranges...

But you also have unexpected splashes of pink, white, and green.  The camellias are just starting to bud out, and what beauties we have this year!

Lovely creamy orange ginger lilies are still holding up their heads...

...and we've got more nice spheres of white all around our front door.

The fir trees are setting up their cones, which are light green, all over the yard.

We even have a few late-season zinnias still producing!

Somehow these odd blends of colors go together well and produce a very pleasing appearance in our late November yard.  And those branches of yellow leaves on our driveway?  I picked them all up, of course, and made big bouquets.

It's especially nice when the late-afternoon sun comes slanting in the windows...


I haven't had much time for crafting lately.  This is my busy season and I'm generally working 9 hour days (or longer) on my business.  However, I gave myself a day off this weekend and made a quick and festive plaid pillow in about 30 minutes. 

I will post a tutorial later.  I'll be making plenty more of these!

I've also been baking like crazy!  In preparation for Thanksgiving, and some extra for Todd's office, I baked about 7 batches of cookies, 2 loaves of pumpkin bread, and a plate of cheesecake bars in the past week alone.  Our freezer is fairly bursting!  I haven't had any myself, though...not one single bite.  I'm not there yet, but I'm officially nearing the end of my "six weeks of no sugar" plan, and I'm ready to wax philosophical about it. 

I've always been crazy about sugar.  I love to bake, and sweet treats are my favorite.  I crave sugar all the time, and in the past have tried to limit my consumption to a few servings a week, although that tended to grow when I was cranky, tired, busy, or stressed.   I noticed that I gained weight this past spring and early summer, and I knew there was a direct correlation between the amount of sugar I was eating and the number on the scale.  I have always been too afraid to limit my sugar - what else is left?  What about my baking? It's just too hard!  I'm fond of saying, too, that I don't want to live in a world where I couldn't have a cupcake when I wanted one.  Six weeks, though, seemed manageable. 

I stopped eating all sweets - cupcakes, ice cream, candy, pie, cookies, bars, syrups, etc.  I allowed myself 1 TB of honey a day and WHATEVER ELSE I WANTED THAT WASN'T SUGAR.  I had tried to be relatively low-carb before, but now I embraced them.  Oatmeal every day!  An occasional sandwich...with bread!  Roasted potatoes!  I didn't really miss the sugar because I so enjoyed my meals.  I had other pleasant side effects to help me along:  I suddenly started having higher-quality sleep.  No more waking up at 3 a.m. and reading for an hour - I slept all the way through the night.  I had more energy and felt better.  A weird but definitely welcomed side effect was weight loss.  Sugar triggers me to eat a lot, so take out the trigger, and my eating naturally moderated.  I lost 8 pounds in 5 weeks, doing nothing different except removing sugar from the equation.  I bounced back up a couple of pounds recently, but I realized that my desire to eat has become so quiet, and I've been so swamped with work, that I've been forgetting to eat like I should.  Not eating enough + regular vigorous exercise = weight gain.  I'm happily eating an extra 200 calories today!

With all of these wonderful discoveries, will I ever go back to sugar?  Oh, yeah!  My six weeks are up on Thanksgiving and I plan on having several cookies and a big piece of pie.  But I won't stay on sugar.  I've decided to live one week on sugar/three weeks off sugar every month.  I'll have a few days a month when I can get an ice cream cone, have a brownie, and make a big cookie sandwich dripping with homemade buttercream filling.  I'll have a week where I won't sleep as well, won't feel as well, and won't perform as well at the gym.  Then I'll have three weeks where I will.  I think it's a nice, tidy ratio and I look forward to putting it into place after my Thanksgiving week!

Happy eating!

Monday, November 16, 2015

The Trouble With Tribbles

Beautiful sunny weather and leaves, leaves, leaves! 

Leaves on the pond...

...and blown into big piles by Todd with the leaf blower.

It seems like all the little creatures are out and enjoying the sunshine.  Meet Irving, our resident woodchuck, who finally sat still for a photo.

He's great fun to watch.  He waddles, then sits and sniffs the air.  He has a pretty funny rolling romp.  When hunched over on all fours, he looks just like a tribble!

Our turtles are still out, taking advantage of the sunny days.

The reclusive anoles can be seen draped over any available surface, drowsing in the sun.

The turkeys are very active this time of year, too.  I love looking through my office window in the morning and seeing a big flock feeding just a few yards away.

I counted 16 turkeys this morning, and I was glad to see that many of them were female.  I can't wait to see some turkey chicks!

How do you tell a female from a male?  Males have those large feathery protrusions on their chests, and females don't.  Females are also smaller than the males. They still have beautiful feathers, though!

Hope you're enjoying these beautiful fall days.

Have a great week!

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Raindrops keep fallin' on my head...

We've had several cold, rainy days, and it's caused a nice transformation outside.

Mushroom villages have been springing up all over.

Many of the golden leaves are darkening, but we still have many beautiful reds.

A few late-season gardenias are wilting in the bushes.

A hosta, which somehow escaped our roving pack of deer, bravely put up a few stalks:

Our camellias are still a month away from blooming, but some of our earlier blooming varieties are showing nicely.

Our japonica fatsia bushes are putting out their funny spiky balls now.  Soon they'll swell into berries for the birds.  Here they are in front of the house:

And closer:

Normally they're teeming with ants, who love the sweet nectar...

 ...but on wet days, we see only raindrops.  Still, they're really beautiful.

Not much wildlife on cold, rainy days.

Still, I surprised this wild turkey, dozing in the rain at the edge of our property.

At least the acorns love the rain.  It's just the push they need to start sprouting!

I haven't really done any baking lately.  I've been sick for almost a week.  It's a very strange thing.  Four days of intermittent hives, sore-feeling lungs (with a deep breath), a little early morning nausea, and general malaise.  No allergies and no pregnancy, just a virus, I think.  It's been just enough to keep me indoors and taking it easy.  I'm finally feeling better, and I want to get back into the kitchen soon.  I *have* been doing a lot of craft projects, but they're all for Christmas and therefore cannot be shown here in the moment.  I finished the quilt I've been working on, though, in a manner of speaking.

I laid out all the squares and gave them a critical look.  I've been hoping that the fabric would grow on me, but it hasn't.  I was hoping that I could "iron out" and/or trim off the excess fabric and everything would line up, but it didn't.  Star corners had been slashed in half.  One fourth inch seam allowances were almost an inch in some places.  The pattern didn't "pop" and I shuddered at the thought on investing the time it would take to sew sashing in between all the squares and then add the filling and backing.  I'm chalking this up to the dreaded "learning experience" and putting away the squares for now.  I will probably cut them up and use the fabric bits for something else in the future!

Have a great week!