Wednesday, May 01, 2013
Aside from being the 1st of May it is a holiday in France (I don't remember which one). So I have the day off work.
Today, in no particular order, I am going to trim the 6 foot or more hedges that line 3 sides of the yard with my new electric hedge trimmer; edge the sidewalks with my decidedly low tech edging tool (a curved blade on a stick); use the Claw to turn up the ground along the fence line and plant my tulips; practice my saxophone; cook something for dinner; clean the house; work on work; if the garden store is open today find bottoms for my new pots so I can repot the hibiscus when it gets warm enough and then repot the mini roses and ornamental peppers, and get some sage, parsley and heirloom tomato plants...and keep up on SP.
I will need a holiday from my holiday when today is over.
I have been trying to avoid buying electrical things here since I can't take them back to the US with me in a few years but I have had little choice with the yard equipment. The yard here...sucks...basically; full of weed clumps that my reel mower won't cut down. And since I am renting I am not going to go to the trouble and expense of killing the yard and replanting grass. So I bought this tiny little toy electric mower. It is so cute, it looks just like a child's toy mower except it is a real one. It works though and last weekend I mowed the lawn for the first time since August. It looks a lot nicer now.
And I needed a weed wacker, primarily because I do not want to be crawling along the perimeter with a pair of manual clippers to trim the edges. And now the thing with the hedges. I got a pair of manual clippers first...but that is such a pain in the backside...the hedges are huge and long it was taking forever to do just one side of one hedge I broke down yesterday and got an electric one. I've never used a hedge trimmer before so I'm keeping my fingers crossed that the shaggy hedge bits are the only things I cut off!
Of course, if I can chainsaw a 30 foot pine tree section that fell in my yard mere hedge trimmers (and cheap low power ones at that!) are no match for the mighty FANGFACEKITTY!
I am still anxiously awaiting my veggie and herb seeds to sprout, but it has only been a week so it is probably too soon. The lettuce has started coming up but that is the only veggie I did not have to replant last week so it has had a head start.
2 of my cats love to go outside in the yard and I have caught them in the neighbors' yards or in the field behind the house so soon I will have to get some wire fencing to attach along the bottom of the existing fences to keep them in my yard. Or at least try to, they will still be able to get out through the gate onto the sidewalk and road, which they have been avoiding so far. So maybe I will just leave things be unless the neighbors complain...mine are far from being the only cats wandering about the yards.
Oh yes, in addition to everything else today I will go for a run too.
I should certainly sleep well tonight!
Time to get to work.
Friday, April 26, 2013
Variety is the spice of life, as they say, so that is what you're getting in this blog...a little bit of this & that.
My spice grinder (aka repurposed coffee grinder) works here with the adapter/converter, which is a very good thing. I like to mix up my own spice blends and spent an afternoon recently grinding away. I needed to replenish my chili and Italian seasonings, mixed up some pumpkin pie spice (note to self, skip the all spice next time), created the ground versions of some herbs and spices (garlic, cumin, nutmeg, ginger). And now that it is spring I am planting my herb & veggie "garden" again, although everything has to be in pots. It's a good thing too since I am running out of some of my dried herbs and need to replenish.
Did you know that when you dry your own herbs they last longer than the store bought? At least it seems that way to me. Mine still have a good smell and flavor which I don't remember ever having from store bought before I started growing my own.
I'm excited this year, I found cumin seeds at the store so I can try to grow my own. With some veggies/herbs there is a lot more variety here than in SE Michigan...there were over a dozen varieties of beets for example. And in other things...nothing, or next to it. A single or very few varieties of eggplant and pumpkin and corn; no tomatillos, no watermelon, no catnip. I will be home in the US in June so I will have to pick up some seed packets to bring back with me.
A few of my spices, most of which I grew myself:
I love these little spice jars, they have the magnets on the bottom so I can keep them out and always see how much I have. I need more of them, I have again as many spices stored on a shelf and would prefer to have them out where I can get at them easier.
My search for steel cut oats has ended. I find regular oatmeal back when I first moved here. There are several varieties of the "flacons" for various types of grains. They are like the old fashioned oats and take a while to cook, and even more "old fashioned" than we are used to having grown up on Quaker. They are kind of chewy.
But I haven't been able to find steel cut oats anywhere so I have been having my son mail them to me which is much too expensive to do long term. Finally last month I went into the organic food store and found "gruaus d'avoine"...whole grains of oats. Just like steel cut oats before they are steel cut.
So I run them through my spice grinder and voila! My own steel cut oats! Sort of. Good enough for me anyway.
AND...I figured out how to make them in the slow cooker. The first few times I tried I cooked them overnight on low but they would burn on the sides and stick to the crock pot and the top would be all crusty...yuck. I'd lose at least a third of whatever I made. Finally, with the new crock pot I bought here, I tried just leaving it on the "warm" setting instead...and it worked beautifully. Life is good. Now if I could only find my White Chocolate Wonderful peanut butter here too...
I started training in karate again a few weeks ago. My style is not taught here, the class I've been going to is in Shotokan. It is similar enough to Tang Soo Do that I recognize many of the techniques, they are just executed differently. Which is weird, especially since the class is (of course) in French, so I end up staring a lot and am generally a beat or two behind everyone else. Several people from work attend this particular school, and the class is small, so I will continue with it for a while to see if I want to stick with this style. I've always wanted to learn kung fu, which is also available here, but mostly so I could legitimately use an old on-line id bestowed by my kids when they were small, "kungfumomma".
I haven't run in the last month, waiting for the knee twinges to go away. I think this weekend I am ready to try a run and see how it goes. I want to get back to running the HMs. I am changing one of my goals to move up a moon level as a Half Fanatic and I want to improve my "speed", although even my fastest is still pretty darn slow.
Over Christmas I read the book Running for Women. It had some good advice for exercises, which is why I'm keeping it for now, but other than that I had some issues with the book. There were several perfect gems like..."Muscle weighs more than fat"...ummm, a pound is a pound the last time I checked. Or "Runners should not do yoga because they will become too flexible to run well"...what? Or "Always wear sunglasses so you won't get wrinkles"...OK, sunglasses yes, but giving wrinkle avoidance as the reason?
And my biggest gripe is that all the women profiled in the book, included the author, spent time bemoaning their fate in growing older and how it slowed them down to previously unimaginable levels....like the slowest of them running a 10 minute mile.
Poor women. So sorry, but if I was a new runner reading this book I would be unimaginably discouraged because these women were all so fast and now suffering the horrid fate of...still running a hell of a lot faster than me. So not motivating.
Good thing I am not a new runner and only compare myself to myself.
Back to the garden. I can't dig in the ground here so my garden will be all in pots this year. I planted all my seeds 2 weeks ago, and then replanted them this week because the wind blew over my greenhouse rack. I have all the usuals...tomato, eggplant, varieties of peppers, zuccini, onions, chives, garlic, lettuce, spinach, lots of herbs, papaya and pomegranate (gotta try something new!) and more than I am not remembering right now. I have catnip & tomatillo seeds ordered since they are not available here in France and I hope to be able to still get peanuts when I go home in June.
Wednesday, April 10, 2013
The Paris Marathon was last Sunday, April 7.
I did not run.
The weekend before my knees still felt wonky so I made the decision to not run the marathon and avoid the possibility of doing real damage to my knees.
I am resting them for another week or two and will then start training again. Depending on how the training goes I will pick a different marathon for later this summer or fall.
It was the right decision but I'm not happy with it.
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