CELESTIAL ELECTROJUNGLE. (Office decor updates, redux.)

I wound up having to re-decorate my office barely two months after I finished my Haunted Cathedral theme. It was fun while it lasted, as they say.

What happened? My house had been literally pulled apart and scattered for over six months, and it was finally time to deal with the fall-out. (I opted to keep our major home renovation out of my blog, because it went on and on and on starting when the A/C debacle ended in May. Among other reasons, I didn’t want this to turn into a HOME RENOVATION blog. You already had to sit through my posts about the A/C.)

After ignoring the mess for so long, I finally jostled myself awake from my stupor of resistance and willful procrastination. Being grounded post-surgery left me with no more excuses. Plus, I didn’t like having a room piled high with stuff. I wanted my guest bedroom back!

That’s right – despite minimalizing more during the renovation, we still had things piled up in the guest bedroom. We had furniture and rugs; bedding and lamps; pictures and candles; cushions and clocks and wastebaskets; cat toys and kitchen items; tools and leftover parts; old fixtures and just, I don’t know, odds and ends of all kinds… because in addition to our own stuff, we had renovation leftovers and debris. There were items to be trashed. There were items to be returned to Home Depot. We had yet more things for the Goodwill. Some of the stuff, we gave away. Some of it went into the alley for college students to scavenge.

And inevitably, I guess, some of it ended up in my office, where it disrupted the Haunted Cathedral theme I’d just completed. Truth be told, I felt kind of selfish having this perfectly decorated room all to myself while there were things that had nowhere to go. All the furniture-rearranging and storage space reorganizing (four closets!) I did wasn’t enough.

There was no use in fighting it. Ultimately, though, chaos became a catalyst as creative energy took over and inspired me in the direction of a new vibe. I got into it!

Revolving around the black moon tapestry that used to be in our bedroom, the vibe in my office turned out to be celestial and futuristic, and the space homey rather than merely decorated. Where office v1 was plants-only/no decor, and office v2  was Haunted Cathedral/themed decor, this new version is simply an agglomeration of stuff over which I threw some blue string lights; I took the jumble of miscellany and tried to shape it into something that proclaims I meant to do this. The string lights and the new tapestry above my desk are my only new acquisitions. They help to make sense of it all.

By day:


Office by day

(The moon tapestry used to be in our bedroom. It came down when we painted the whole house, and we never put it back up. It inspired my new vision for this space.)



(Nenette has to have her glass of water at all times. ~I’m trying hard to save Jerome there on the left side of the bookshelf. It’s not looking good. Sad face.)



(Here’s my new tapestry, one of the two things I bought… this, and the string lights.)





(These are the same flowers I had in my Haunted Cathedral theme.)



(I’m already in January. I didn’t want to wait to hang up the calendar, which was a gift from Callaghan.)


cat tree

(I accidentally bought a roll of string lights 10 miles long. The bulk of the roll ended up in the Buddha’s lap.)





(The dress is hanging there temporarily. I wore it to a party last weekend, and I’ll wear it to another party this weekend. Then it will go back into the closet.)



(Still, “No one is perfect.” This tee is still where it was, only it’s behind the dress at the moment. Grendel the Gargoyle also remains.)



(I’m finding it easier to capture Nenette in this new office arrangement.)




At dusk:


Office at dusk

(As the day darkens, you can see my laughable attempt at shaping the lights into a Capricorn symbol. It’s close enough, though. ~The brown patches on the cream rug are made of Nenette’s bronze fur. She loves to sleep on this rug. I didn’t lint-roll it for these pics. This is real life.)







(Flamingo the tree, that is.)



(Office in the front, club in the back!)


At night:


Office at night



(She sleeps on all of the rugs, actually.)



(I love the combination of the pink salt lamp and the blue lights. They create a purple light.)



(Plant family!)





(The antique mirror leans in the corner behind Flamingo, my tree. It’s a place of honor.)




Canterbury Cathedral

(The Haunted Cathedral isn’t going anywhere. It’s staying right where it’s been from Day 1).




And there you have it.

Incidentally, the completion of this project happens to coincide with the revision phase of my novel, which I’ll tell you about in a near-future “writing updates” post.

I hope you enjoyed this unexpected office updates post! Thanks for sticking around, always.



Back at Body Pump? Cardio re-set? Starting zumba?! (Gym updates!)

This week was rad, because I WENT BACK TO THE GYM.


I hadn’t seen the inside of a gym since before Halloween, which is crazy. I went to Body Pump on Monday, and again yesterday, and I already feel 100% better. It’s incredible how working out transforms my entire being for the positive.

Since we’re here, let’s do a quick “2019 workout year in review”:

The year’s shenanegans included random life interruptions such as medical appointments, people coming to do work on the house, and out-of-town commitments, but it was due to big events starting at the end of July that I’ve stayed home from the gym more this year than any year since 2013. Since I wounded my ankle on July 25, I’ve only gone to the gym 25 times until this week.

It was the ankle incident (there following an extended period of healing and not being able to wear shoes), and surgery (there following an extended period of healing and not being able to eat). In between, I had two severe 5-8 day autoimmune flares three weeks apart.

We’ve arrived at December, and there are eight Body Pump days left between now and Christmas. I plan to hit all of them and get back into cardio. Unbelievably, I haven’t done any cardio at all in over six months!

My gym will open two new locations in the next six weeks; between them, I’m hoping to find a morning BODY COMBAT class I can attend. Meanwhile, I’m going to start walking. I can wear shoes other than high-tops now, so I need to get my ass moving to make up for lost time. A body needs cardio. It’s mandatory.

It was just such a relief to return to Body Pump this week. It was interesting, too: I came back to more changes. I found myself getting emotional with nostalgia during yesterday’s class when the instructor took us through a mix of old, old tracks. Everything is different now, going to a new gym and attending three different locations and doing Body Pump classes with all new instructors, and I miss the old days of Pump when I first started… but things do change.

All I can say is that a person is lucky to have a gym friend turned very cool friend-friend who’s been a constant since BODY COMBAT DAY 1 waaay back. She’s the one who convinced me to start Body Pump after I said I’d NEVER. I think I might finally join her at zumba (another thing I’ve insisted I’d NEVER). You’ll know if I’m there. I’ll be the one in the back flailing around like an inflatable air tube man advertising a car dealership.


Me at my future first zumba class.


Okay, bye!



No tricks, all treats. (November Favorites!)

In this “monthly favorites” post, I’m doing something different in including a few recipes. I figured, why not? I believe it was last month that I started posting food ingredients, so this is just an extension of that. If I discover good recipes, then I should share them with you, after all. Good recipes are definitely “little things” that qualify for the “favorites” list.

November was fairly low-key. We saw one good film that we loved, one good streaming series that we enjoyed (and that we’re still watching), one bad series that we also enjoyed, and the new Jack Reacher novel came out at the end of October (which I’m still reading, as I got a late start), and I discovered awesome foodstuffs even before I could eat “for real” again toward the end of the month.

Let’s go!


1). Ford v Ferrari



Fabulous, entertaining flick. Matt Damon and Christian Bale have great chemistry, and if I ever doubted that either of them could act, I’m not doubting it now!


2). Sneaky Pete (Amazon Prime Original Series)



After passing over this Netflix Original Series for years, we finally landed on it and decided to try it. We’re almost at the end of Season 1, and we’re into it! Bryan Cranston (Breaking Bad) is one of the crime thriller series’ co-creators, and he’s featured in it, as well. It’s interesting to see him in a role other than Walter White. I’m always a little thrown during his scenes. Aside: It’s funny how an actor becomes a character so thoroughly that they’re always that character, no matter how talented they are. In my mind, Jeff Bridges will always be The Dude. Bryan Cranston will always be Walter White.

Anyway, we’re enjoying Sneaky Pete. You might like it, too.


3). The Mist (Netflix)



Here’s the series that apparently everyone in the world hated except for us. I’ve read nothing even remotely positive about this badly rated series, but we really enjoyed it! Granted, I haven’t read the novel, nor have I seen the film version of the story, so I had no basis of comparison… yet there were many others new to The Mist who gave this production a thumbs-down. At any rate, we got into the story and had ourselves a good time watching the series on Netflix.


4). Blue Moon (new Jack Reacher novel by Lee Child)


“Blue Moon” by Lee Child (Jack Reacher novel, 2019)


I’ve only just started reading Lee Child’s new Jack Reacher novel, but I liked it from its opening pages. I would love to get inside Lee Child’s mind to see where/how he comes up with his plot ideas. How many different sorts of adventures can one character have? Reacher lands in the middle of some shit going down every single year. I like some of the stories more than others, but I’m always impressed. REACHER FAN FOR LIFE OVER HERE.


5). Vega Protein Nutrition Shakes. (Vegan and gluten-free)


Vega Protein Nutrition Shakes


These ready-made protein shakes saved me in the month following my surgery! I’d usually mix up my own, but drinking two of these a day, it was just easier to grab them from the fridge. I like both the chocolate and the vanilla, but the chocolate is my favorite!

Ingredients and nutrients in a nutshell and quoted directly from Vega’s site (“sic” all the way through):

  • 20 grams protein: each bottle has 20 grams plant-based protein from a multisource blend of pea protein, hemp protein, and pumpkin seed protein
  • Veggies & greens: with ingredients including spinach powder, kale powder, carrot juice powder, and organic spirulina
  • 25% DV of at least 11 vitamins and minerals
  • 3-4 grams fiber: Vanilla flavor has 3 grams fiber, or 12% DV, while Chocolate flavor has 4 grams fiber, or 16% DV. The fiber in both flavors comes primarily from flaxseed
  • 1 gram Omega-3 ALA: You’ll get essential fatty acids from flaxseed


6). Imagine Organic Miso Broth. (Vegan and gluten-free)


Imagine Organic Miso Broth


INGREDIENTS: Filtered Water, Organic Yellow and Red Miso Paste (Organic Whole Soybeans, Organic Rice, Sea Salt, Koji Starter [Aspergillus Oryzae]), Organic Flavors, Organic Onion Powder, Natural Flavors, Organic Evaporated Cane Syrup, Organic Potato Starch, Yeast Extract, Organic Ginger Juice, Organic Expeller Pressed Canola Oil and/or Organic Safflower Oil and/or Organic Sunflower Oil.

This miso broth was another life-saver, the warm and savory to Vega’s cold and sweet. I love adding silken tofu to this broth. Did you know that you can eat silken tofu without chewing it? Neither did I.


7). Mandarin oranges.




Once I could eat again, I found that mandarins are great for when you can’t bite into fruit and you want to add to your selection of bite-size options. I’ve been cutting up strawberries and tossing them into a bowl with red grapes and mandarin slices to make a little bite-size fruit bowl for dessert, and it’s wonderful!


8). One Degree Organic Foods Sprouted Oat Vanilla Chia Granola. (Vegan and gluten-free)


One Degree Organic Foods Sprouted Oat Vanilla Chia Granola


INGREDIENTS: Sprouted gluten-free organic oats, organic cane sugar, sprouted organic brown rice, organic sunflower oil, organic flax seeds, sprouted organic sunflower seeds, organic chia seeds, organic vanilla, unrefined salt, tocopherols (Vitamin E).

This granola! Is so! Delicious! Enough said.


9). Impossible Pumpkin Pie (recipe from Chocolate Covered Katie). (Vegan)


Impossible Pumpkin Pie, aka Crustless Pumpkin Pie (recipe by Chocolate Covered Katie)


WHAT I PUT INTO THIS PIE: Pumpkin puree, plain unsweetened soy milk, flaxseed meal, agave syrup, whole wheat flour, canola oil, vanilla extract, pumpkin pie spice, cinnamon, salt, baking powder

(For the exact ingredients list, see Katie’s recipe)

The whole concept of Thanksgiving is still somewhat foreign to my French husband. He never liked pumpkin pie, and he typically dislikes pumpkin anything (pumpkin is very New World and pretty much doesn’t figure in French cuisine), but he loved this pie that I made for Thanksgiving this year! I loved it, too. I made another one this morning and took the pic you see above.

This dessert is called “Impossible” because it’s a crustless pie. The flour you mix in with the other ingredients gives it a structure while it maintains the classic pumpkin pie texture. (You can see in the pic how it kind of forms its own “crust.”) I got verification of its awesomeness when one of my exacting Thanksgiving guests – a pumpkin pie purist, mind you – remarked that “it tastes just like pumpkin pie.” I suspect that if it doesn’t taste “healthy” to him, it won’t taste “healthy” to anyone.

You can use whatever sweetener you want, and Chocolate Covered Katie gives options to make the pie gluten-free and/or fat-free, so there’s a version of this simple and easy recipe for everyone. And I do mean it’s easy: you mix everything together by hand and pour it into the pie pan without having to deal with a pastry, and it’s in the oven for less than 30 minutes. Clean-up is easy, too. You need this recipe in your life if you like pumpkin pie.


10). Single Serving Chocolate Chip Cookie Baked Oatmeal (recipe from Chocolate Covered Katie). (Vegan)


Single Serving Chocolate Chip Cookie Baked Oatmeal, aka Chocolate Chip Baked Oatmeal for One (recipe from Chocolate Covered Katie)


WHAT I PUT INTO THESE OATMEAL SQUARES: Rolled oats, plain unsweetened coconut milk yogurt, plain unsweetened soy milk, agave syrup, peanut butter, salt, cinnamon, vanilla extract, mini chocolate chips [ETA: I use Enjoy Life Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips… they’re vegan.]

(For the exact ingredients list, see Katie’s recipe)

I wanted to eat oatmeal. I was not in the mood for oatmeal. I was tired of mushy food. I had a feeling that Chocolate Covered Katie’s The Healthy Dessert Blog would hold the answer, and it did. Put 1/2 cup of oats into a bowl, she said, and mix in these other things, and throw the whole shebang into the oven, and there you go – oatmeal that isn’t oatmeal.

Like the pie, this baked oatmeal is so simple and so good. The most difficult part is having to break it to Callaghan that the oatmeal isn’t for sharing. It’s one serving, the same serving I’d have were I to make it the traditional way. It looks like a lot because I make it in a loaf pan and cut it up into squares, but it’s really not a lot. In fact, it’s not enough.

I did tell him that I’d make him his own pan, though. No guilt!

Also, I think that Chocolate Covered Katie is my new spirit animal.

The End.

p.s. December’s already grand, because I started the month by going back to the gym!! I did my first Body Pump workout in a month yesterday.



Thanksgiving Weekend: Being thankful for things I don’t like.

Hello! Welcome to today’s post that’s actually yesterday’s real post. (You may have seen my non-post post from nearly midnight last night.)

Maybe it was because yesterday was Thanksgiving Day that I woke up in a weird, meditative state this morning and started thinking about the concept of gratitude. Counterintuitively, I wondered, could I be thankful for things in my life that generally cause angst or distress?

I realized that:

1). I’m thankful for my depression, because it reminds me that I can’t guess a person’s struggles. Every stranger is a mystery, and it doesn’t make sense to judge a mystery. It doesn’t make sense to react to a mystery, either, no matter the rudeness or awfulness of it.

2). I’m thankful for my phobia, because it means that I can feel something. I can think of nothing positive about my paralyzing fear of roaches, but I can appreciate that it evokes a pureness of any emotion.

3). I’m thankful for stressful situations, because they force me to practice patience, self-control, and nonchalance.

4). I’m thankful for awkward situations, because they force me into a place of self-scrutiny.

5). I’m thankful for pain, because it heightens the bliss of not being in pain.

6). I’m thankful for cold, because it heightens the bliss of warmth.

7). I’m thankful for bad days, because they make me eager for the next day. Every day is a new day.

8). I’m thankful for the intensely trying or traumatic experiences in my life, because remembering them gives me perspective.

9). I’m thankful for hard times, because I come through them – I hope – as a more understanding person.

I realize that I can choose to see my struggles as positives; they can help me to become a better human out in the world.


“Without darkness, you can’t see the stars”




One hour before midnight on Thanksgiving Day…

It is indeed Thursday! It’s Thanksgiving here in the States, and after a full, exhilarating day of food and family-related activities, I’m just now – in the middle of doing dishes and cleaning up the kitchen – realizing that today is a Thursday… and it’s an hour before midnight.

So I’m here to say Happy Thanksgiving to my people who celebrate gratitude with family and friends, and also to let you know that tomorrow I’ll be back with a proper Thursday post.  It’ll be my Black Friday of blog posts, buy one and get one free.

For those of you who aren’t aware, Black Friday is the day after Thanksgiving, aka Retail Insanity Day (RID) as retailers mark down some of their wares to irresistibly low costs and millions of salivating Americans lose their minds trying to get them. I believe the day is actually meant to kick off Christmas-shopping season. Black Friday is a whole shopping event. For sure it’s a great time to get your appliances and other things that you need!

I prefer the online option to going out and getting trampled in the aisles, but I’m going to do less of that this year. Do I really need to stock up on a year’s worth of stuff from The Body Shop? I’m still trying to use up my stock from last year’s Black Friday!

At any rate, I’m now blathering (about I don’t even know what) while my kitchen needs me desperately. Until tomorrow, then.



Unstitched at last. (Post-op update 4!)

The corny word of the day is “whew.” I was so terribly relieved to walk out of the oral surgeon’s office this morning with no stitches.

I don’t have pics of my new gums yet, though. “It’ll take a good two, maybe three months for your gums in the front to drop,” said the doctor. I might have pics at the end of February, then… I mean, I’ll have them for my own reference. If any of you are still interested in seeing the before/after, I’ll post them here!

The doctor showed me how to brush my teeth to coax my new gums down.

As for eating, I’m not permitted to bite into anything with my front teeth or to use my front teeth at all for “at least” another month. I don’t feel that I’m that limited in what I can eat, though! If I can put the food on a utensil and stick it into my mouth and chew it with my back teeth, then we’re good! I suppose I can eat almost anything I want if I cut it up into little pieces. I’m also having to take small bites and eat slowly, which I’m finding feels natural as I transition from not eating to eating.

Examples of foods I’ll avoid due to lack of patience and little trust that I can chew them with just my back teeth: sandwiches, protein bars, any solid fruits or sturdy, raw veggies, hearty breads, etc.

I’m just so happy to be able to eat anything at all. I weighed myself yesterday. I’ve lost about eight pounds since the surgery.

Oh! As time passes, my new gums will start to feel like they belong in my mouth, and that’ll also be nice!

I’m still lisping a little bit, but that will resolve itself soon. My gums are still tender. (It hurt like a mofo having the stitches removed.) I’m still not totally comfortable smiling normally, which is, like, whatever at this point. My face has been mostly immobile for three weeks, so I’m used to it now. Ha!

I’m so grateful to be feeling better. The uncomfortable stitches are gone, my appetite is coming back, and I can eat again. I’ll be able to have Thanksgiving side dishes, and I’ve got some really good ones on my menu. I can’t believe that Thanksgiving is in two days!



Geronimo update: Hibernation, then not, and now for real. (Desert tortoise update!)

A week after I posted my last Geronimo update post, we stopped seeing our little guy nighttime temperatures had dropped below the mid-50’s. He was right on schedule for hibernation. I thought it’d be months before I’d see my little boy again. Then, about four weeks later, I went outside to find that he was out!! SURPRISE!




It was November 11, Veteran’s Day. Of course I thought he’d come out to wish his mommy a happy Veteran’s Day. He’d been out of sight for weeks, and then suddenly, there he was! The temps had risen again. It was like a false hibernation had happened.

My day was totally made. Geronimo roamed around his universe (our yard his yard) and ate everything in sight. I helped.

I fed him hibiscus flowers.






I fed him hibiscus leaves.








He went around eating weeds. I shadowed him everywhere he went, and he loved it. “Where are we going, Geronimo?”

He loves all of the weeds in the yard.




ALL of the weeds.




He loves the grass.




ALL of the grass.




He loves plowing through fallen Bougainvillea petals!




He loves to see me sitting on the patio. If I stop following him, he comes to me.




He loves, he loves, he loves. That’s what Geronimo does. (And he says “hello.”)

When he finally made his way to the path behind his burrow, I knew he was heading in… maybe for good, this time. I went around the front and crouched down in my usual spot so he could meet me at his doorway.






My heart!






Then I watched his butt disappear into his burrow. I haven’t seen it since.




That was just about two weeks ago, and I know that my precious scale-son is in for the winter for real this time. These last two days, we’ve been having some weather (AZ-speak for “rain”), and once we get weather in the colder months, the desert tortoises settle in for their long sleep.

Sweet dreams, Geronimo. See you in 2020!