Spring in our own backyard

When the kids were young I would take them exploring to see what treasures were in their own yard. We would look at rocks, flowers-whatever we could find. I have carried out that tradition with the grandkids. Today, however, without any kids in tow, I decided to head outside to see what signs of spring I could find.

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I found this beauty growing in an obscure corner of our yard.

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I love succulents.

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They offer such unique colors…

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…and shapes.

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The textures of the cactus…

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…give interesting diversity to our yard.

This herb left from last summer is crawling along its terracotta pot.

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A potato vine is in full bloom.

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 I rescued these snapdragon from our local home improvement store (they were about to be discarded).

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The Heavenly Bamboo has some interesting blooms.

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This lone beauty was poking out.

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Nearby, roses are in full bloom.

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The vegetable garden has been started.

We have several varieties of tomatoes,

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cilantro (love this versatile herb!)

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yellow squash, zucchini, jalapeno, carrots, bell peppers,

and lettuce so far.

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We actually have a very small backyard.

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Yes, spring is definitely here!

 

Day trip: San Diego

We live about 100 miles from San Diego so when out-of-town family showed up there this week, we headed off to meet  with them. They were visiting from Connecticut and were very much enjoying an opportunity to thaw out from a brutal winter. We were only to happy to  share our beautiful weather.  Bright and early the next morning we headed south.

Thommmee drove the coastal route.

We made a stop…

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 …or two along the way.

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 After about a 90 minute drive we arrived in San Diego.

We met them in Pacific Beach, a popular beach…

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  and vacation destination area of San Diego.

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 Picture perfect weather!

After lunch and some walking around, the next stop was a drive through the business…

 

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 and Gaslamp districts.

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Gaslamp is a historical part of downtown San Diego. This area was revitalized during the 1980’s and 90’s. It has many restaurants,  shops, and cultural activities. At night it comes alive with activity with special emphasis in dining, pubs, and nightclubs. There are a variety of festivals and special events scheduled throughout the year. (We were a few days too late for the St Patrick’s Day festivities).

There are so many interesting areas to visit In San Diego that it was difficult to select where to go in the few hours we had. After a  bit of exploration, we decided to head to Seaport Village where we spent the rest of the afternoon.

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This is another popular coastal area…

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full of unique shops,

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oceanfront views,

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restaurants,

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 casual dining, bakeries, and ice cream!

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(I just had to indulge)

There were beautiful succulents to appreciate…

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unique plants…

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…gorgeous trees…

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…and an overall relaxing atmosphere.

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(and did I say shopping?)

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So little time!

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So…..

if you are ever in the area, plan a few days in San Diego.

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There is much more to see and do.

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All too soon we were headed back.  Southern California traffic is  not much fun. It took us 3 1/2 hours to get home!

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Had a great time!

Reading, books, and other random thoughts.

I love to read! Let me clarify that… I loved to read. In recent years I have found it difficult to get through a book. I no longer invest the time it takes to complete an actual book. Why is that I have wondered. I have spent all of my life reading every book I could get my hands on, every cereal box placed in front of me, just about anything with the printed word!

So why now, when I actually have time to read has it become such a chore?

Let me go back to how my love of reading began.  It started with my father. My father was one of the smartest and most well read people I have ever known.  He grew up in a in a rural area during the Great Depression.  He only completed the eighth grade before he was called home to work full time on the farm. Probably not uncommon for many kids of the era. By the age of 15, he fled his home (with the blessing of his mother), to enlist in the US Navy and his ‘real’ education began. Perhaps it was during this time he developed a thirst for knowledge and a love of reading, I don’t really know. I do know he read everything you could imagine. It makes me wonder if his life had been different what doors might have been opened to him!!

Not only did he share his love of reading, Dad introduced us to poetry. He read to us about the moon being the North wind’s cookie, about the Gingham Dog and the Calico Cat,  The Owl and the Pussycat  (who went to sea in a beautiful pea-green boat) but his very favorite was anything written by Robert W. Service.

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This poet wrote of the gold-seeking days of the Yukon. When I was in the 7th grade there was an all school speech contest. While others entrants were focusing on Emily Dickinson, Robert Frost, Longfellow, and other more conventional poets, he encouraged a very shy me to enter and memorize the entire saga of The Cremation of Sam McGee. Perhaps not a junior high school literary choice by some but I actually won first place with that poem. To this day I can still recite most of it (but cannot remember my bank password)! The following year we moved on to The Ballad of Salvation Bill but no prize. Since it is a story about a crusty old drunken prospector and a preacher, the novelty might have been lost on the judges that year.

I  still have my father’s treasured poetry books.

We were not allowed to read comic books because Dad said if you were going to read, read a real book (he excluded the Sunday funny papers from this rule). Because of him, some my earliest memories are the hours spent in libraries. Having a library card was like having a golden key to a wide world of possibilities. I worked my way through The Bobbsey Twins,

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Ellen Tibbetts,  Henry Huggins (and Ribsy),  Trixie Beldon, The Happy Hollisters, and just about anything else. As a pre-teen, I moved on to Nancy Drew, the famous girl sleuth.

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Next came The Hardy Boys.  I loved mysteries! I was scouring school libraries and exploring all of the library branches I could talk my parents into driving me to. I checked out the maximum number of books allowed and read most of them. I grew up in a time when you did not own many books but the ones I had-I read them over and over!! I was never without a book in my hands.

In high school we were required to read many books.

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The Iliad, The Odessy, Grapes of Wrath (which turned out to be my all time favorite book) The Jungle, The Great Gatsby, Anne Frank, Catcher in the Rye, and many more. The required reading continued in college. Don Quixote, Canterbury Tales. Malcom X-I was just never as fond of reading when it was required. I read many of the classics such as; Hans Brinker, Heidi, Jane Eyre, John Steinbeck, Moby Dick, Treasure Island, To Kill a Mockingbird, Black Beauty, Mark Twain-some as a child, some by choice-others required. My first grown-up type novel was when I “borrowed” an Ian Flemming-James Bond book.

I probably said good bye to the books of my youth after that.

And then I became a mom. Although I liked  the popular fiction of the day-Love Story, The Exorcist,  Jonathan Livingston Seagull,  James Michener books,  Looking For Mr Goodbar, and  The Thornbirds  …

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Dr. Seuss, The Berenstain Bears, Goodnight Moon, and Where The Wild Things Are now became a huge part of my reading.  When my kids had required reading (and long  faces) we would read together.  I was now reading Newbery and Caldecott Medal books while trying to inspire them to enjoy reading as much as I did. I  too was reading them poetry with their favorite being The Spider and the Fly. When the romance novels came on the scene I was hooked. Sea Captains, castles, Southern  mansions-the longer the saga the better. Later it was popular fiction authors such as; Stephen King, Robert Ludlum, Dean Knootz,  Jean Auel, John Grishman, David Baldacci, Jeffery Archer, and Nelson DeMille. I spent many nights turning just one more page.

So subtly did my love of reading slow down I didn’t notice for awhile. My coworkers shared books around the office. It seemed to take me forever to complete so I stopped accepting them. No longer did I ask for a particular book or bookstore gift card for my birthday. My friends, who are avid readers, made some fabulous suggestions and I would dutifully jot down the titles with the best of intentions of reading them. I would reserve books at the library, scour the bookshelves of friends and family, frequent the second hand book shops and read book reviews.  I read a few of them. Some I started but never finished. If I did finish a book it might take me months to turn that last page. I still love books and have a pile just waiting for me. I have a collection of antique books. I still check out books from the library.

I want to read, I really do. It isn’t for poor eyesight, overdue library fines, time, or lack of good titles to select from…

So what is it?

I have no idea.

A Woman of Faith

If the topic of faith in God offends you, perhaps you might want to sit this post out. I hope you will endure. It is not that I have anything profound to say, it is just something I want to say.

On my “About” page, I describe myself in many ways-wife, mother, crafter, etc…and a woman of faith. I started thinking-what does this actually mean to me? Like most people I have faith that the sun will come up tomorrow, that I will get in my car and most likely make it from point A to point B, and in general that things I know to be true will likely remain that way.

This might be where we part company (although I hope not).  I believe in God, in Jesus, the Bible-yep the whole nine yards.

So what does a woman of faith mean to me? It means that I try to live my life based on loving one another, to be honest, follow the rules, be a good person, do the right thing…just like most folks-ya think? Absolutely!!  But…I also believe that Jesus was sent by God, born as man, died on a cross, and rose again on the third day. I believe in The Father, The Son, and The Holy Spirit. I believe that He died to save mankind by showing such grace to us all if only we would ask-and believe.  I know that He guides my life, hears my prayers, and forgives me (because I am most certainly not perfect).

Whew!! How do I know this to be true? Faith. For me it is that simple. Yes, I go to church (not necessary), belong to a Bible study (not required), read my Bible (encouraged), and a daily devotional (optional). I do it because I want to, I want to learn, keep my faith strong,  live the life that I was called to live….and maybe…just maybe… be an inspiration to others.

OK…..I am not turning my blog into a platform,  but since I am so willing to share my favorite recipes, goals, projects, and any other thing that pops into my mind, I felt I wanted to share a deeper part of me.

A woman of faith-

just the biggest part of who I am.

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Waiting

Waiting for something or someone…although I do have more patience than I did when I was younger, waiting has been challenging for me at times. I guess that might be said for most of us. As kids we waited excitedly for Christmas or birthdays or summer break. Perhaps the wait was fun because these were such big events in our little lives. It must have been difficult but looking back it seems like half of the fun was the anticipation.

As we grew older we continued to wait. Summer vacation still loomed before us but perhaps in a different way. I loved school so summer vacation meant I waited for summer school to start. We would take classes during the summer so we could take more electives during the regular school year. Usually it would be a history class-which I did eagerly wait for so that I could take two choir classes in the fall. I definitely looked forward to that! I waited to be with my friends during school. Summers were long and hot in Southern California and in those days most people did not have air conditioning and we did not take many vacations. We waited to turn sixteen, getting our drivers license, dating, weekends, school football games, and dances. We waited for graduation. (Turning eighteen was not such a big deal because if you lived at home you were still under your parents rule). Getting your first apartment,  your first job, your first car-now that was something to wait for!

After high school we waited to begin college, begin a career and find a life partner (not necessarily in that order). We then waited to become a wife and mother. Some of us pursued our careers-some of use chose to stay home as full-time or working mothers. Waiting for each child…waiting for that first day of school…the cycle continued but now we were waiting for our children to reach their own milestones and we were  seeing the world (a very different world) through their eyes.

Now waiting became an entire new concept. Waiting to feed our families, waiting in line at the grocery store, waiting for bedtime (because we were so exhausted), waiting for school to be out, to pick up kids from soccer practice or other activities (because kids can’t walk anywhere now). Now I waited for them, report cards, drivers licenses, graduations, college and the world goes on.

All too soon I was waiting for them to move out, get a job,  get married,

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start a career-or both-or something! I waited to become a grandmother and to then figure out what I am doing with the rest of my life! Have I waited long enough to pursue a career-or continue an old one, will I celebrate a milestone anniversary or will marriage survive the changes?

I have waited a long time to begin my life anew. For some it might look different. For me it is retirement and spending time with those I care about (and especially Thommmee).  I don’t seem to be waiting so much these days.

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I am  actually living  and appreciating life in ways I never dreamed of. Waiting now is a time of peace. I could be a bit saddened to think of how much time was wasted waiting when I was younger but you know what? I am not. I loved the waiting. I loved the anticipation of life around the corner and while I may have not known it at the time-that was life! Now this is life. Waiting for a flower to unfold,

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the spring blossoms,

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waiting for one of the kids to call and interrupt my sewing, waiting to grab my camera to catch that magnificent sunset,

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waiting to put on my comfy slippers,

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or to sip my morning coffee,

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or to take my cake out of the oven.

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I love waiting to spend time with the grandkids.

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Do you know what…

it was worth the wait!

I forgot to mention…

I am waiting for the birth of our newest grandson who is due at any minute!

Kitchen remodel; part 2

The remodel is coming along very slowly. After clearing off the popcorn ceiling, we had to wait on the electrician to replace the lighting. This task was a bit out of Thommmee’s comfort zone.

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We went with the first guy. He and his father had their own company. I liked that. Not only could he afford to bid competitively, he was a bit of a perfectionist.

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It took him four visits to get things to his liking and he took his time to get it just right.

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Next we painted the kitchen the very pale gray we had decided upon.

(We had a little helper)

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We are pretty happy so far.

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(The antique washstand will find a new place in our home)

We then began the laborious task of scrubbing down the cabinets and switching out the hardware.

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Little did I know I would have to hold each cabinet door while Thommmee drilled holes .

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This was probably the most boring part!  The new on the left and the old above the fridge.

(very subtle but effective)

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Of course I then felt compelled to clean out each cabinet as we went along and this took some time.

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Home Depot has become our home away from home. That and many other stores as we search for just the right items!

(still searching)

Next was to replace the lighting over the kitchen sink.

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Thommmee decided to start this project while I was cleaning up breakfast dishes!

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Before you knew it the light was replaced!

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While he was busy, I worked on painting a mirror we have hanging.

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Before…

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after…

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(Now what to put in that huge space!)

There were also minor changes that needed to be made.

From this…

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We still have to decide on window coverings, what to do with the eat-in area of the kitchen, build some shelving, floor, dishwasher…

Until next time, from

2014-01-29 19.12.40 (2)

The wind…the rain…and the elements

In Southern California we get wind. I am talking some serious wind. These winds are dry. They increase the fire danger and wreak havoc on highways. They topple big rigs and RVs take cover. They knock down power lines and trees. They kick up dust and dirt.  They come roaring through canyons  This phenomenon is known as the Santa Ana  winds. They are sometimes called ‘Devil Winds.’ Santa Anas usually blow in the fall or spring but are known to pop up any time. Next to rain, the are probably the most talked about weather condition in these parts.

We recently experienced several days of Santa Ana winds with speeds of about 50 mph and wind gusts of 89 mph. Sometimes more they are worse.  Most of us don’t like the wind much. They can keep you up at night as you listen to the howling outside. Waking up the next morning you can expect a mess outside but hesitate to even attempt a clean up for most certainly they will start up again.

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We have lost awnings, a glass patio table, plants, and shingles due to the winds. Nothing quite like waking up to the sound of shattered glass as your patio table is tossed about and destroyed. You never know what to expect.

 It is a bit difficult to photograph the wind!

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Well…you get the idea

Our wind chimes were going crazy.

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The plants were getting beat up.

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But surviving.

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The nice thing about the wind is the beautiful blue skies that are left behind.

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(see the mountains in the background?)

As quickly as they started they are gone!

The winds died down and have been replaced by partly cloudy skies.

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It seems we are in for rain. WOW! The weather forecasters must been excited to have so much to talk about. (Things can get pretty dull around here when it comes to weather with all that sunshine). Nothing like a little rain on the horizon get them hopping with news about what ifs, traffic, percentages, and the morning commute.

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At least we were able to enjoy a beautiful sunset.

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That is life in Southern California!

The wind…the rain…and the elements…

aren’t those the words to a song?