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Before/After and More

July 18th, 2010 at 11:58 am

Hope everyone is having a great summer. Ours has been busy. We are back in Idaho after spending two weeks in Hawaii and then two weeks in our CA condo. The Hawaii trip was planned to help my DS and BIL celebrate their 40th wedding anniversary. My dh had never been to Hawaii and he liked it so much he wants to go back... I LOVE Hawaii, especially the weather, so we will go back in 2011.

We spent the first week on a cruise circling the islands of Maui, Hawaii, and Kauai, and the second week we spent in a timeshare condo on Oahu that I exchanged through Interval International. Here is a view from our room:


One of my favorite memories is of the spectacular Naapali cliffs in Kauai:


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Back in Idaho, the landscape contractor completed our patio project. I love the low maintenance aspect of our new patio. Our back yard is very small and faces an alley that gets very little traffic. BEFORE all we had was a patch of lawn and a concrete patio:


Now we have pavers and rock planters with excellent soil and an automatic watering system. Dh and I spent the last two days planting. The planters contain perennials and I also have 8 large pots with annuals. Here is a picture AFTER the project was completed:


We're Moving

May 17th, 2010 at 09:06 pm

A few months back dh and I decided it was time to make Idaho our legal residence... we plan to spend more than 50% of our time there, and it makes sense from a financial standpoint. We bought our ID home in 2006. We will definitely save on some basic expenses:

Homeowner’s insurance:
ID - $320
CA - $578 (changed carriers)

Registration for my car (2007 Murano):
ID - $74
CA - $376

Auto Insurance:
ID - $1067
CA - $1459 (two cars)

State Income Tax:
ID - 7.8%
CA - 9.55%

State Sales Tax:
ID - 6%
CA - 9.25%

Property Tax Homeowner's Exemption Savings:
ID - $1,005
CA - $70

When I use Sperling's cost of living comparison calculator, it's 42% cheaper to live in Idaho than our city in California. We've been in Idaho for about two weeks now and I definitely notice the savings at the grocery store and the gas pump.

We will keep the CA condo in Silicon Valley, at least for a few years. We have family and friends in the Bay Area that we will visit frequently so the condo will be used regularly. And, when it gets too cold in Idaho, or if we have to fly out of SFO or SJC for one of our trips, we have a nice place to stay. The Prius will remain at the condo for use while we're in CA.

In other news, I am scheduling some landscaping work in our back yard using Basalite pavers/stones. Right now, the back yard is a patch of grass with a small concrete patio... that's it. My vision is to create an "outdoor room" with pavers and stone planter boxes to be filled with perennials and annuals. We will also plant a tall, narrow tree for privacy in one corner. The work is scheduled to be done in June. Before and after pictures to be posted when the work is done.

Economical Herb Gardening

October 1st, 2009 at 11:40 am


I love to cook with fresh herbs but find that they are quite expensive at the supermarket and they are also very perishable. Several years ago I began to cultivate my favorite herbs in pots and keep these on the patio. When I need some for cooking, I just step outside and clip. My herb garden includes:
~ rosemary
~ thyme
~ oregano
~ basil
~ mint
~ lavender

I probably have less than $20 invested in the original plants and because we live in a mild climate, they usually last several years. Herbs are easy to care for and great for small or patio gardens. The exception is basil which I buy each spring from Trader Joe's. A a gallon plant is ~$2.99 and I will use it until December.

I also dry my own bay leaves because I have access to a beautiful Bay Laurel on one of my walks. A very small clipping will yield dozens of leaves that will quickly dry and will last for a good long while.

Have you ever eaten a dish that contains lavender? A lot of folks don't realize that lavender is edible and there are many culinary uses. A few years back, at a little quaint restaurant, I tried a "flower omelet" that included lavender flowers... it was one of the best I've had.

Quiet Winter Day

February 10th, 2009 at 03:54 pm

The morning's thick gray fog burned off by 10:00 a.m. so it seemed a good day to spend a few hours working in my small patio, sweeping leaves and birdseed shells, and tending to my potted plants. TC the cat loves to explore while I'm working there but I have to keep an eye on her for fear she will hop the fence. It would be easier to leave her in the house but I am a pushover for her cute little silent meow as she watches me intently through the patio door. So, out she comes to get some fresh air and have a little fun chasing leaves, bugs, and feathers.

The potted herbs were ready to be pulled so I did that and also pruned the brugmansia I keep in a giant pot. I will replant the herbs in late March or early April. The trumpet vine looks slightly frostbitten where it is most exposed to the elements at the top of the fence. I will have to trim it when all danger of frost is over. In the spring, I will focus on planting more geraniums and succulents since these seem to be the most hardy.

After lunch, I went to Walmart where I get the best price on the black oil sunflower seeds and thistle (niger) that the birds like so much, and stocked up. These are the only two seeds I offer the wild birds. I also provide nectar for the humming birds.

I cleaned and sterilized the feeders and filled them, so now it's just a matter of time for the birds to re-discover them. I love to watch the birds at the feeder and don't mind spending money on this hobby. I spend ~$20 a month, well worth the enjoyment I get in return.

The Spice of Life

June 2nd, 2008 at 07:01 pm

Yesterday the weather was delightful and I spent some time on my patio enjoying the sun, the birds at the feeder, and marveling at how quickly things grow when the weather cooperates.

Since my patio is small, my garden is a collection of containers. In addition to the plants that are solely for the enjoyment of their beauty, I also like to grow edible plants. So far, I have planted pots with:
~ four types of mint (for tea, garnishes, salads, and mojitos)
~ basil (for salads, marinades, and pesto)
~ oregano and thyme (for marinades, sauces, rubs)
~ Fresno peppers (grilling, stuffing, salsa)

These are fun and easy to grow and do not require lots of water. The herbs are much more economical than buying fresh bunches at the store. I just snip what I need for my recipe.

The basil is ready to begin harvesting. It will grow all summer long.



The mint and thyme are ready to use but we will have to wait until July for the peppers.


Just for the beauty...these are a couple of my favorites. Million bells are easy to grow and they resist bud worms. These are planted in a pot I brought back from a trip to Mexico.



This stag horn fern is happy to just hang on a piece of bark nailed to my fence.