Tuesday, December 17, 2013


Wow, nothing like moving from a big house, where I'd lived for the last 40+ years, to a much smaller house, to really upend a life! I wouldn't say I'm the classic kind of hoarder--you really won't see me profiled on one of those Hoarders TV shows just yet. But I am a collector, and a sentimentalist, as well as a quilter (fabric stash) and knitter (yarn stash) so let's just say, I have a lot of stuff!

Make that a LOT of "stuff." Luckily in all my collecting, the best things I've collected have been my wonderful family. Not just the people I gave birth to, either--they've all done a great job of picking spouses who are pretty damn great too! Amazing how they pulled together to get Good Old Mom out of the old homestead and into the new, more streamlined easier-to-navigate (no stairs!) place.

Oh, you'd like to see what it's looking like? Okay, here's a bit of a virtual tour. Bear in mind that there are a whole lot of unpacked boxes in these pictures, and a whole garage full of more "stuff" that needs to be gone through. Books, for instance. Don't be deceived by pictures showing a little room on one shelf or two--there are still books double-stacked on other shelves.

 So far I've been able to fit most of the "necessities" into the kitchen. It does help that a lot of kitchen stuff is consumables--cleaning supplies, food, coffee fixings--so as I work my way through them it will ease up on the storage situation.

I do miss the big pantry at the old house. And the slide-out drawers for the lower cabinets. So far, the stove and microwave are performing well. The dishwasher is on sufferance. I'll give it a fair trial, though when I made soup last week it took two loads to do what I used to do in one.
View from the kitchen window

Wide hallway = library wall

Fireplace wall

Living room--knitting nook
 The kitchen window looks out on the street and beyond to the hills and the freeway. The trees in the yards across the street do a great job of visually shielding the freeway, and inside the house there's very little noise.

I was hoping to hang the stained-glass watermelon in the window, but it's one of those vinyl all in one units and there's nothing to hang from. For now it's propped up there.
Dining area.

Indoor laundry. No steps. Nirvana!

Bedroom, with wall o' mirror and cat

Nucleus of the sewing area.

Desk and bookcase.
These three bookcases were in the back room at the old house but here there's room to line them up along the wall in the hallway. I do need to go through them (again!) and see if I can cull the collection one more time.

But that's a project for another day, or maybe for next year.

The tall bookcases that held my knitting and quilting books are in the new "office." Oddly enough, they are overflowing, and yet there was space on them in the old place. Hmmm....
Shyla has found her nest.

Living room and fireplace. The "thing" with the metal shelves is the TV stand/entertainment center. It's working all right although the placement here means that the shelving on one side is inaccessible so no room for CDs.

Might be shopping for a replacement but that's way down the road. For now it functions the way it's supposed to: holds the TV, Dish box, and DVD player.

My furniture fits just fine--the smaller scale of these pieces works in the room.  My eucalyptus
lamp works well for knitting light.

Almost sold the dining room table and chairs with the house, but now I'm glad I didn't. They fit just fine here.

We wondered about the placement of the light fixture because there's no room to center a table under it. Aha--it's centered with the kitchen window. If you stand directly in front of the window from outside, the light is centered. Odd but I guess it works.

Thanks to Meg and Marcia, the washer and dryer look practically new! I love having them in the house. So much more pleasant to do laundry now that I don't have to go down those steps to the dark dank garage!

I know, I should have had this arrangement all along. It would have been wonderful back in the days of three-in-diapers  (when all we had to choose from was cloth or cloth).

Doesn't stop me from appreciating it now!

I chose the smaller of the two bedrooms for my sleeping room. It's got more room that I had thought at first, so now I have two dressers and my armoire in it along with my bed. It's on the darker side of the house so it doesn't get the full blast of the morning sun. That's a mixed blessing for someone like me who's a slug in the mornings.

You can't see all the boxes still in here. There's a huge "mountain" that I need to get over--most of them are filled with memorabilia and things of little intrinsic worth but tons of sentiment.tic

The larger bedroom will make a great workroom. For now it's been dubbed "The Office" but we'll see if that sticks. That's my sewing machine cabinet setup starting there--the serger unit is stuck under the main piece, probably because both of their wheels have sunk into the carpet. Until I can get it freed I can't really set up the machines.

To the left of the rocker but out of the picture are the two tall black and white bookcases. The wall is a little too short to hold the CD rack as well so it's in limbo right now.

Here's the other side of the room. The left corner shows the machines in their boxes/carry cases and some of the files that haven't found a home yet.

The bookcase is put together from the two lawyers' bookcases I was trying so hard to sell. Ferdi helped me pick the better of the two bases and top units, and then stacked up the bookshelf sections. Out in the garage for now are the two lateral file sections and the other top and base.

I may decide to use them as long term filing space, but that's in the future.

HiHi has adjusted pretty well to the move. He's a little, okay a lot, clingier and sticks closer to me than he used to, but that's to be expected when he spent so much time at the vet's being boarded.

Shyla on the other hand is not nearly so shy. She has found herself a corner of the closet where she feels safe but she's not spooky about it. I go in to visit and pet her several times a day and I know she's coming out and eating, so I think it's just going to be a matter of time before she's coming out as much as she did before. Doesn't help that there's only one bed here--she and HiHi don't share very well!

So there you have it, the preliminary view of the new place. I deliberately didn't take a picture of the garage yet, nor the storage unit, but they are definitely on the agenda to be done ASAP. Seems among the little things the seller omitted to tell me is that there's a requirement in the CC&Rs that I have to park in the garage. Yeah. I think I'll be able to do it, but it's going to take some work to get there.

I can hardly wait to get back to quilting! At least I've been able to pick up my knitting again.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Giving Thanks

 Checked back this morning to find this notice posted on the front door of my house.

In case you missed the fine print over there, "this building is safe for re-entry on 11-27-13 after 2:00pm."

My advice, if you ever need to have your house fumigated, is move out first if you can.  Otherwise, you'll need a crew as dedicated as mine to help you get everything made safe.

So, to bring you up to date on affairs here, the house has definitely been sold, and most of the papers have been signed.  Once the paperwork is filed and recorded, I will no longer own this house. After 42 years it's kind of surreal.

The other side of that is that the paperwork is also done for my new place. I keep calling it the condo, mostly for convenience, but it's not really a condo.
 The literalist in me knows that first of all, a condominium is not a type of building, but a form of ownership. Most condos are townhouses, or apartment-house-style buildings; I won't go into the difference between a condominium and other forms of ownership, like cooperatives. You're welcome.

So my new place is actually a PUD, a Planned Urban Development, with a homeowners' association and communally maintained outside areas. The inside space is what will belong to me. At this stage of my life, that's perfect!
They managed to put the tent around the big pot!
The building style is what I'd describe as ranch-style duplex, what the Brits call semi-detached. It's all one story and there are no steps. It's even got an inside laundry room!  I think I'm going to like it there. In fact, I know I will.

That's what's keeping me moving ahead as the hurdles are leapt, one after the other. If you've ever bought or sold a house, and especially if you've been selling while buying, you know what I'm talking about!  Just getting the house ready to list and show took huge efforts--not on my part, since I'm still pretty much forbidden to do any heavy lifting. If I try to move something that's out of my range, my body lets me know in no uncetain terms! So I'm floating on the energy and dedication of my darling daughters and their families. Not sure how I got so lucky in the offspring department, but I'm very grateful!
That's one humongous tent!

View from the hotel
 Is that the biggest tent you've ever seen? I like that it's all blue. A circus tent effect wouldn't suit a dignified dowager like this house.

Distracted again, but oh well. Par for the course after the last few months. I mean, who puts their house on the market and then leaves for France for 3 weeks?

In case you wondered, the cats have once again been exiled to the vet's for boarding. I don't think they would have been happy in a hotel, and I certainly think they'll be happier settled into a comfortable situation for the duration of the moving madness. Poor Shyla was freaked out enough by losing the beds--no place left to hide! Well, she did find herself a little cubby and was concealed enough to make me feel very panicky about finding her in time! But once she was crated, she calmed right down, and she was a total lovey at the vet's. HiHi was his usual cool calm self, but I think both of them have charmed their temporary caregivers and will be getting lots of attention and love while they're there. One less worry for me! And they'll come home to their new digs after it's safe for them!
Tea cups feel so grown up!
 So, while the guys were setting up the tent on the house, I was off playing Elegant Ladies with the birthday girls at the Huntington Gardens' Tea Room.  This has become an annual tradition for Courtney and the girls and me. 

The girls have now reached a great age to take to tea. Audrey even associated "the coffee place" with her birthday.

Apple juice in a tea cup. Quite grown up, while Mom and Grandma have real tea.

Looks good!
 The Tea Room service is buffet style, with a wonderful spread of crustless sandwiches, salads, fruits, cheese, crackers, cookies and tea breads and little pretty one-bite (if you have a big enough mouth) cakes and tarts. Oh, and little chocolate cups filled with whipped chocolate mousse or lemon filling.

After tea, we took the girls over to the Children's Garden, which they remembered very well. One disappointment was the fountain which normally holds lots of big koi. It's being renovated, the basin is dry and there was a man on a scaffold patching the statues.
Pumpkin bread is tasty!

So enjoy the rest of the pictures. There are more on my Flickr page, lots more. Blogging may be a bit scattered in the next couple of weeks as I'll be doing a lot of packing and arranging. 
Small girl, big strawberry!

Taste testing

Mom and the girls

A giant leaf--it's this big!

Hand rails make great gymnastic equipment!

Pitcher Plant in the Conservatory

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Soup's On!

 A few weeks ago, I saw a recipe for Broccoli Cheese Soup that was made without milk or cream. It sounded really good!

I had picked up all the ingredients earlier this week, and today being one of those kind of overcast days that lend themselves to cooking, and with the last of the clam chowder eaten for lunch, the time was right to make some soup!

Besides, it's also a day that I've spent going back and forth to the laundry area.

The extra (guest room) beds are being picked up tomorrow, so I stripped off the sheets and quilts and pillow shams etc and have been getting them washed and ready to pack.

I also have been trying to put together boxes, but that's a little harder for me. Don't ask me why, I've certainly put together enough boxes in my time!

Anyway, making soup seemed like a good thing to do. So I got out the broccoli and my soup pot, and got busy "chopping btoccoli."  (There was a very annoying song that my kids used to sing, mostly to harass me I think, about "chopping broccoli." I can never cut up broccoli now without that earworm!

 Cooked the broccoli for the length of time specified in the recipe, which is pretty much "overcooking" it. Supposed to bring out the flavor.

Added fresh spinach and cooked that for a few minutes.

Then the "fun" part. I should say right off that I am not a blender kind of person. Mine doesn't get used much, poor thing, but it works like a champ.

Took two batches to get all the broccoli/spinach/cheese pureed.

This might work really well with an immersion blender, but I don't have one, and really for as much of this sort of thing as I do, Old Faithful is just fine.

I kind of like the layers of broccoli, spinach, and cheese in the glass blender. It did puree quite nicely.

And, in the end, this is what I wound up with for dinner: a nice big bowl of delicious broccoli soup!

Garnished with some curls of shaved parmesan, courtesy of my good buddy Trader Joe. 

I like the way this came out. The seasoning was good--it includes some hot mustard powder and a pinch of cayenne pepper, but it doesn't have any bite at all.

I didn't have any fresh garlic, having  used up my last cloves in the chowder earlier in the week, so I used garlic salt, which was all I had. Tastes fine.

Maybe next time I'll have real garlic around. Right now, it's "use it up" time in the pantry!

There are five more servings in the fridge now. Going to be some good lunching around here, I think!

I need to find out if this will freeze well.  I would imagine that it might, since most of the ingredients are freezable on their own. For now, this will get eaten this week so I'm not going to try. Perhaps for the next Soup Day?
Oh yes.

The aftermath.

Lots and lots of dishes, pans, bowls, measuring cups, utensils, not to mention splashed around the countertops.

I did manage to get it all cleaned up--amazing what I can find to do when faced with a really repellent task (ie, making up boxes) to procrastinate on.

Now to go put the rest of the boxes together, fold the sheets and quilts and  towels, and maybe I'll be able to sit and knit for a little while tonight. Tomorrow I can start filling those boxes!

Friday, November 15, 2013

And Now For Something Completely Different

 A note of explanation about the blurred quality of the following photos. I don't think it's the camera (but it might be the photographer), most likely it's the lighting and the fact that the subjects are never, ever still.

There was a birthday party tonight, for A1, who is now 6. It was held at Jumping Jack's,  one of those "why didn't I think of that?" kind of places. Talk about a great organization and a way for kids to have fun! The place is set up with "rooms" that your party can move through, half an hour in each bouncy room (there are three) and then an hour in the "cake room."

This is what a bouncer looks like when it's filled with lively bouncy kids. Boing boing boing. The room also has an area for tamer pastimes, like a pirate ship climber for toddlers. I think there were four big bouncers in this room, though I may have lost track.

The second room is lit by black light. Sort of a 70s flashback, but done in glowing "space" themes.

I have no idea how many bouncy houses this room had. The third room had a basketball hoop and a few other sports-themed activities. Oh, and bouncy houses.

Lots and lots of bouncing.

Then the party moved to the cake room. 
A1 loves horses. Loves. Horses. Yes, there were a couple of large horses among the gifts.

There was pizza and spaghetti, a selection of sodas, and the birthday girl's mom brought a big tray of raw veggies and dip, and a big BIG platter of cut fruit, all of which got devoured.

The spaghetti was (surprisingly to this jaded grandmother) quite tasty. Nice bite to the meatballs and the sauce was yummy too.
 This is one of the tables full of party-ers.

Birthday girl is on the far right, looking a bit pensive. This was just before the pizza was served.
 A2 and Cousin N8 enjoyed the cake.

Yes, they are always slightly out of focus like this. Believe me, this was the best picture I could get of them.
 Cousin G really likes pizza and veggies.

He's also really good at shooting baskets!

A2 with her uncle Jeff--well, she has two uncles named Jeff, but since the other one lives in Conn., he wasn't available to hold her up so she could watch big sister open presents.

However, he may be coming out soon, as he's said he'll come help me move.

Oh yeah. This was all a nice distraction from escrow worries.

My other activities today included getting a flu shot and meeting with a CPA to talk about some financial things that have been concerning me. Turns out that one of them was easy-peasy, and the other had him scratching his head. He'll look into it and get back to me.

Tomorrow will be filling boxes. Time to start emptying bookshelves, I think. Now there's a task to make me flinch!

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Catchup, Ketchup, Catsup!

"Great" room

Master bedroom--or sewing studio?
 Maybe one of these days/months/years I can start a post off without having the disclaimer about how oh my, time does fly when you're having fun, or even when you're not, and wherever has the time gone that I haven't spent blogging?

Well, I can say that for this month, and the last few, it's been flying by pretty fast, and accompanied by a world of changes.

I am now in escrow on two properties--one to sell, one to buy. It actually begins to look as if I dare to hope that they might actually both close successfully. If you've ever been in escrow, you know what I mean. I really do think the only thing that compares to being in escrow for discomfort, uncertainty of outcome, and general stress, is pregnancy. I will not carry that simile any further. That would be painful for all concerned.

Anyway, there are four pictures here of what may become my new home. It's a 2 bedroom one-story condo--more like half of a duplex. Once it's all a done deal and I'm really moving in, I'll get more pictures. It's a smallish development and very nicely landscaped and maintained. I can hardly dare to believe that the only outside maintenance I'm going to have is what you see in the two pictures here--a nice sunny patio (faces south) with a little bit of planting area if I choose to do anything with it other than keep the sago palms.
Patio looking left

Patio looking right
 And yes, that is the trunk of a palm tree. At least it's a pretty "cute" palm tree, the kind that is just slightly taller than the pergola. It has a respectable spread of fronds, too, and it's not one of those spindly skinny things with a teeny tiny cluster of frill at the top.

I could learn to love a palm tree. It's easy to take care of!

There's another small patio too, off the second bedroom. It's pretty shady and is part of the front entryway. I'm currently planning to use the second, smaller bedroom, as my "sleeping room." It's big enough for my bed and hopefully both dressers, and that way the big open sunny room can be my sewing room/craft room/studio/whatever. I might as well have the most pleasant place be the one where I'll probably spend the most time!

Meanwhile, there are still a lot of things left in the big old house that I won't have room for. So I guess I have to try to sell some of it, if I can, or palm it off on family. I've also been reminded that my "moving crew" is older than it used to be, and some of them are injured.
 I won't complain about them. After all, I'm not at all the energetic young thing I was the last time we moved. That was 41 years ago!!

Changes, changes. Always changes and the need to adjust my attitude to make the best of the new situation. At least in this case, it's going to make for a much easier life in a lot of ways.

It will be interesting to see what the cats do when they have to share half as much space, and all on one floor!
 I have managed to get a wee bit of quilting time in, fortunately. Well, prep work.

Cutting out papers for a paper piecing project counts as quilting, right? I picked this one because it was available--much of my quilting "stuff" is in storage or in the garage.

I'm also on the last sleeve of the last of the four little sweaters, so this was my "rest my hand from the scissors" activity.  Monday was the monthly meeting of the "Dear Jane, I Hate You" informal group--at least Anne was working on a Dear Jane block.

I was working on the paper piecing prep, Ethel was drawing out an applique design, and Judy was working on her hand piecing.

Well, as you can see in the picture to the right (or that's where it should be), HiHi had other ideas of what she should be doing! She is HiHi's babysitter when I'm gone, and she will spend lots of time with him when she comes over... in addition to feeding him. He was rather disappointed that she didn't open a can for him this day, but he did take over her box of project so she could do what he clearly saw as the most important activity of the day--petting the cat!

The last picture is a gratuitous food shot--pumpkin croissants from Trader Joe's, which are twice as delicious as they look!

Time to start packing and winnowing possessions again. This is the most not-fun activity on my agenda, and in fact, it's so not-appealing that I think I'll go get my flu shot instead!

Monday, October 28, 2013

Catchup Time

Just a quick short post today and no pictures to share just yet. Mainly I've been taking pictures with my new phone, and while I can upload them from there to Facebook and Flickr, I don't seem to be able to transfer them to the laptop. I even tried using Blogpress from the iPad (since it gets copies of my phone photos via iCloud) but it decided not to cooperate today. Much heavy sighing going on!

So this post is just a bit of a placeholder till I have more photos and more "stuff" to share. It's been a busy couple of weeks--having the house listed for sale means that it always has to be 10 minutes away from show-ready, no matter how unlikely it might seem to be. With two long-haired cats, it means more dusting and sweeping and picking up of fur than I'm used to doing. No one ever accused me of being a compulsive cleaner, and it's hard not being able to even leave my coffee mug out in case I want another cuppa later on!

Not meant to be a complaint, really. It just is what it is. My purchase of the condo has fallen through, so there's even more uncertainty about the future. The vision of what life would be like in that sunny and spacious place, with no worries about outside maintenance and pesky stuff like that, was what sustained me through the pain of moving a lot of my possessions along--things I still cared for, but that just wouldn't fit the new life. Now I've still got a lot more things to go through, and without a clear vision of what my new life could be like (or even where it could be) it's just that much harder to make choices. Oh well.

There will be more pictures soon, I think. I am working on my attitude, which quite frankly stinks right now. I am trying to remember this: