Everyone is on break right now. The older kids had taken 10 days off for the holidays as we had rented RVs and were planning a camping trip to Joshua Tree and Death Valley. We had the campgrounds reserved and had planned on bringing all food from home so as to not have to come into contact with anyone not from our pod. Well…COVID had other plans and California, Santa Clara County in particular, is shut down. The campgrounds are closed and our fees returned, the RVs have been cancelled and we are at home. Initially I was soooo very disappointed! I’ve come to terms with it and have embraced being home – the kids are actually enjoying a VERY slow pace, sleeping until noon, some activity or another and hiking every other day. They think hiking everyday is WAAAAY too much. I’ve also been baking and trying out new things.

Salted Caramel Scones

I made these from a mix that I picked up at Cost Plus World Market. We have tried their scone mixes before (raspberry white chocolate is a favorite), but not this flavor. They were a hit!!

I’m not eating any sweets right now (so no scones for me!) and not drinking any alcohol. I am doing the 75Hard program. It’s different than other programs in that the goal is really to create mental toughness and grit – actually the ability to follow through on one’s own goals and not give up or stop. I listened to his podcast and didn’t especially like it – too much profanity for me, but it did strike a cord in me and I was ready for a change.

The rules, I thought, were pretty easy. I was doing most of them anyway – the biggies I thought would be giving up sweets and alcohol.

Things I have learned:

Rule 1: Two 45 minute workouts (at least 3 hours apart), one of the workouts must be outdoors. I thought I had this nailed. My husband and I walk every day at 6:30 before he starts work (from home) and then we lift weights or hike in the afternoons. Weeellll… it turns out that we were not being consistent. Sometimes we didn’t feel like the second workout. We were tired or just didn’t feel like it. Now we do our two workouts EVERY day – no days off. It’s tiring but feels good now. I actually crave those workouts now.

Rule 2: Drink one gallon of water a day. I also thought I had this one nailed. I was drinking a gallon of water a day (I thought). It turns out I was, but not EVERY day. Some days I drank a lot and some days not so much. Now I drink my gallon of water EVERY day.

Rule 3: Read 10 pages a day from a non-fiction book, an actual book. I thought I had this one in the bag as well as I read a ton. Do you see a trend here?? It turns out that I do read a ton, but mostly online. The news, school board docs, articles about things I’m interested in etc. Not an actual book. This has been the hardest for me. To sit down and read 10 pages – not 10 minutes – 10 pages. In order to make this happen I have incorporated it into either my breakfast or lunch. I read until I’ve read my 10 pages. If my lunch isn’t done yet, I keep reading until I’m done.

Rule 4: Take a progress picture. I knew this one would be hard. I have never liked taking photos of myself. I do it, I still don’t like it, but I’m glad I’m doing it. I’m 30 days in and I can visibly see the difference if I compare day one to day 30.

Rule 5: Follow a diet. He doesn’t specify any particular diet. It’s up to me to choose a diet, but I have to stick to it. I don’t really have a diet per se, but I decided to eat healthier. I substitute fresh fruit if I feel like something sweet and eat nuts when I feel like chips. The rest I was pretty much doing anyway.

Rule 6: No alcohol, sweets or cheat meals. This one has been interesting. I have learned that for both the alcohol and the sweets that I am a “situational eater/drinker” (my term). When we go into the hot tub, we used to have a beer or a glass of wine (hubby still does this). I wanted the alcohol at that time. Also we would have a bowl of ice cream and beer/wine after dinner. Once I decided this was not for me, I’ve been fine with it. It’s the situation, not the food or drink. I haven’t missed either the alcohol or the sweets and THAT has been super interesting as I’ve always thought I had a huge sweet tooth. The cheat meals things worked out fine as I had made provisions for when I was hungry and didn’t know what to eat – think 2:00pm, I’m dragging, I used to have something sweet or chips. Now I either grab a piece of fruit or a small handful of nuts.

If you fail to complete any of the rules, you fail the program and go back to day 1. This is a 75 day program – about 2 1/2 months. I started the very first day I heard about the program 11/30 and failed that day because I had eaten a bit of cake after breakfast. I restarted on 12/1 and have been going strong. There have been some really tough days where I didn’t want to do the second workout or really did want one of the cookies I was baking, but I have held firm and feel good about it. I include my own goal now to run 3 days per week – MWF – and I’ve been doing that since the 2nd week of Dec. This has been a goal of mine on and off for years, but something always comes up and I skip a day here and there. Now my mind set is a little different. I don’t skip running day (even on Christmas), I get up and go running on running day before anything else happens.

In 30 days I have lost just over 15 pounds. I don’t feel hungry, I don’t feel like I’m missing anything. BUT it does make me think, “What the heck was I eating, drinking and doing prior to this!”. More importantly though is my mind set. I more carefully think about things, try to envision where I might want to be in 1 year or 5 years and am working on making that happen. Lots of work still to do!!

Gingerbread Houses

Every year we make gingerbread houses as a family. We don’t buy pre made houses and we don’t cook the dough in a mold. Each person comes up with their own design, makes a pattern and then cuts it out of gingerbread dough. This year we made 9 batches of dough (we do have a little bit left over for cookies!). The design process usually takes the better part of an afternoon, then the cutting and baking. We have found over the years that stale gingerbread is better for building so we leave the baked pieces out for a couple of days.

Then the building begins and then the decorating! 5 batches of frosting and many hours later, we finished our creations. I love this tradition!!! We are all around the table, music is playing, and we are laughing (especially when things go awry with the building as they usually do!), joking and just having some good old fashioned fun.

We finally finished these last night!

The hubby’s pirate ship
Oldest daughter’s tree house complete with smoke from the chimney and ladder.
Minimalist youngest son’s creation, tent and paths. He’s really only in it for the candy!
Older son’s tent house. Do you see the chimney at the back. Every year he does some sort of tent cabin. I’m convinced that he is going to live in a tent in the wilderness one day.
Middle daughter’s two story affair complete with balcony and cotton candy bushes. The door is the perfect size for a little gummy bear.
Oldest daughter’s boyfriend’s Lord of the Rings Tower.
This one is mine. A simple little house with a chicken coop and duck pond.
I left the back part of the roof off so that I could put in a little tea light. Doesn’t it look homey?!

It felt a little weird to be making these without one of my daughters here (she is with her boyfriend’s family), but I guess as they grow I have to learn how to share.

Today we are set for another hike and some cookie baking!!

Last SAL Update for 2020

i am thrilled to share my big happy dance! If it wasn’t for this SAL and my embroidery guild, I’m not sure this would have been completed this year!

Where I was at the last update:

And as of the day before Christmas:

Finished 12/23/2020
Closeup of the patch. I used a velour ribbon thread to hide the overlap piece.
My son chose the fabric for the back as well as the lining. The back is quilted in a simple hatch line 1.5 inches apart.
Two of the three that are complete now. The third is waiting to be opened until she gets home.

I was really happy to finally finish this project. I have a few more stockings to do but I am going to take a break from those for a little bit and choose something smaller. I haven’t decided what my next project will be but will be ready next time.

Please take a look at all the other talented stitchers taking part in this SAL:

AvisClaireGunCaroleSueConstanzeChristinaKathyMargaretCindyHeidiJackieSunnyHayleyMeganDeborahMary MargaretReneeCarmelaSharonDaisyAnneAJJennyLauraCathieLindaHelen

December HQAL Update

The last month or so has been focused primarily on gifts for the holidays. My poor HQAL, Grandmother’s Flower Garden, is sitting gathering dust patiently awaiting my attention. Here is where I was the last time I posted:


I think that I will have progress to show for the next update!!

This Hand Quilt Along is an opportunity for hand quilters and piecers to share and motivate one another. We post every three weeks, to show our progress and encourage one another.  If you have a hand quilting project and would like to join our group contact Kathy at the link below.

KathyMargaretDebNanetteSharonKarrinGretchenDaisyConnieMonica and Sherrie

I’m also sharing over at Kathy’s Quilts for Slow Sunday Stitching.

December SAL Update

It always seems that this update, every 3 weeks, rolls around so quickly!! Here is where I was last time:

11/15/2020 SAL Update – Heel section

I continued working in the same area. Besides the backstitching, this is the last area to be stitched. Now I am here:

12/6/2020-SAL Update

It’s getting there. I’m not sure I’ll make it for this Christmas, but I am so close!!

Well, back to stitching!!

Please take a look at all the other talented stitchers taking part in this SAL:

AvisClaireGunCaroleSueConstanzeChristinaKathyMargaretCindyHeidiJackieSunnyHayleyMeganDeborahMary MargaretReneeCarmelaSharonDaisyAnneAJJennyLauraCathieLindaHelen