Sunday, December 29, 2013

As the holiday season approached, The Princess called to ask what I wanted for Christmas.  I very truthfully responded that I didn't want anything.  All throughout the year, I am blessed to be able to spend time with her and Darling Yerno.  In my opinion, spending time with the ones you love most is the greatest gift of all.
However, they could not resist bringing a little something to the celebration.  As soon as I tore the paper away, I had tears in my eyes.  This, for me, is really a perfect reminder of a love that has been with me for all of my days -

Best Blanket
Age:  Almost 54
 Size:  Approximately 36"
Belongs To:  Linda Poe


Best Blanket has been with me for as long as I can remember.  Once a sweet pink color with a beautiful matching wide satin binding, Best Blanket knows everything about me having been with me through thick and thin from day one.  I carried it with me everywhere I went until the advent of kindergarten, when I was forced to leave it at home during school hours.  For years, Best Blanket was on my pillow every night while I slept.  Best Blanket came along when I went from a teen aged girl to a new bride.  Hubby accepted Best Blanket and it was with us on our honeymoon, at the hospital when The Princess was born, and traveled along on every vacation we took.  Sometime in the  mid-90's, I had to make the very gut-wrenching decision to stop sleeping with Best Blanket in order to preserve the bits that are left.  As you can see, it is quite thread bare and nearly in two pieces.  Best Blanket now resides in the nightstand next to my bed.  Always close by, just I case I REALLY need it.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

When I was a little girl, I spent a lot of time at the home of our nearest neighbor.  One of my most cherished memories of my time there was making pecan rolls at Christmas time.  In the fall, Mrs. Neff would receive a package filled with pecans from the tree in her parents yard at her childhood home in Arkansas.  They had been lovingly shelled by her father (Larkin - whom I adored also and have honored by naming my little red doggy after him)
I wish I could remember each and every little step in the candy making process.  There was a fudge/nougat that was made and formed into logs.  Then sheets of a buttery caramel were made.  When the caramel was cooled, the sheets were cut to the proper size for the logs.  We then buttered our hands and covered the logs in those thick caramel sheets before covering the caramel with the best pecan halves from the shipment.  The rolls were then wrapped in waxed paper and ready for giving as gifts.  It was fun, smelled wonderful and was VERY hard for a little girl to not sneak a taste every now and again during the process.
Those days are now long gone, Mrs. Neff and her parents are reunited in heaven.  I think of them often and miss them every day.  I'm lucky to have those memories.  Luckier still to have Hubby who listens to my stories and for more than 30 years now has made sure that Santa tucks a pecan roll into my stocking when I wake up on Christmas morning.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

From our house to yours

Wishing you and yours the merriest Christmas of them all.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Christmas Baking

Cookies just taste better when I use Mom's utensils (measuring spoons and cookie sheets) Makes it feel like she's in the kitchen with me.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Christmas is busting out all over!

Measure twice and cut once takes on a whole new meaning at this home we passed on our walk tonught.

Tuesday, December 03, 2013

Decking the halls

I am SO thrilled to be putting up Christmas decorations.  Circumstances last year made it that we only pulled out a couple of holiday quilts that happened to be handy. Going through the boxes of decorations is like visiting with old friends.  This tree is in our bedroom. All of the ornaments are animals including special ones that represent each of our pets. Hoping to find the tree topper in the next box. Fa la la la la la la la!

Thursday, October 31, 2013

The time is: NOW!

In the last year, I have been asking myself, "If not now, when?" Our life here is fleeting, so it is a good question to ask. Since I was a girl, I thought it would be fun to be 'the house' that passes out full-sized candy bars to trick-or-treaters. Happy Halloween everyone. Only take treats, no tricks.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Meatless Monday mise en place. Tonight we are having mushroom barley 'risotto' with broccoli. (I like to call it faux-sotto)  A dish best served immediately, I have everything in place. When Hubby sends his 'launch' text, I start cooking. It is a delicious ballet of timing.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Nailed it!  Last week I used a Groupon to treat myself to an appointment at a new Blow Dry Bar in town.  On my own, I can put my hair in a braid, I can even manage a French braid - but the fish tail braid is one I've never tried.
I liked the result and went to YouTube for a tutorial so I could learn to recreate it on my own.

Some things are just best let to the professionals

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

On a tip from The Princess, I made sure Trader Joe's was on my errand list today. I am not only moisturized but, as promised, I 'smell' like fall.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Maple vinegar, ever heard of it? I had not. Even with the great popularity in the last few years, balsamic vinegar is not a flavor I clamor after. But I've given up creamy dressings like blue cheese and ranch to make way for healthier vinaigrettes.
I stumbled on the maple vinegar by accident just a couple of weeks ago. You can see from the photo how much I have enjoyed using it.
My new, go to dressing that adds the flavor of fall to a green salad or a quinoa salad is equal parts good olive oil, maple syrup and maple vinegar. Bon appetite!

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Over the course of the last eleven months, I have added a couple of hobbies to my repertoire - amateur cardiologist and amateur nutritionist.  They sort of came to me hand-in-hand.  While I remain squeamish in regard to all things medical, I NEVER fear food.
Last November, Hubby was released from the hospital on Thanksgiving day.  By the time we got home and got settled there was no time or energy left for getting a turkey dinner with the trimmings on the table.  I punted with a few Thanksgiving-like items that we had on hand.  We enjoyed brown rice, roasted butternut squash, cranberry sauce and we were THANKFUL for so many things.  It has become a favorite meal, making several appearances in the months following.
Now fall is upon us and the time seems right to bring it back.  A year ago I would have never believed the 'Convenience-Food-Eating-Little-Girl' in me would ever be ready to let go of the canned, jelly cranberry sauce that I love SO much.  But I am.
I stopped at the grocery store today and picked up a bag of fresh cranberries and this is what happened next  . . . .
I washed them and added them to a saucepan with a cup of water and a half cup of agave syrup that was already at a boil.  Very quickly those berry skins started *popping* away.
 For fun, I added about a cup of blueberries that I happened to have on hand.
 After a few minutes at a nice simmer, I removed the whole bit from the stove and took the immersion blender to it to sort of smooth it out.
It will thicken more as it cools.  If only I knew how to get those fun ridges like the stuff from the can.

Wednesday, October 09, 2013

Using some 'sign language', he let me know his intention. I let him know I understood and handed my camera phone to Hubby as a back case I had a problem working one totally foreign to me. The fireworks started going off, he got on one knee. She was a little confused, but quickly caught on and said, 'Yes,' through her smiles and tears. Everyone around us *cheered* The fireworks ended, I handed his camera back, offered congratulations, and we all disbursed into the crowd.  This must be what being part of a flash mob feels like.

Tuesday, October 01, 2013

Recipe for a perfect afternoon - fresh breeze coming through the open door, favorite fall scented candle burning on the table, documentary Sound City on tv, applique in my lap. Lather, rinse, repeat.

Monday, September 30, 2013

I am a planner.  Our datebook is quickly filling up.  With our wedding anniversary this week, Hubby and I have that entire day blocked out and filled with fun things to do to celebrate.  Invitations have gone out and some rsvp's are already back for Thanksgiving dinner at our home in November this year.  We have had our New Year's Eve celebration booked for several weeks.  Today's mail brought an envelope from Ticketmaster with show tickets for our Valentine's 2014 date night.  And now you know what I'm going to say  . . . . it is never too early to start thinking about Christmas.
With that out in the open, let me tell you about a unique Etsy shop that you might just want to check out.  One of the Quilt Pals has been making these bird houses that she consigns and now also sells on Etsy with the proceeds going to an organization that rescues, fosters, and finds loving forever homes for animals in need.  From her bio:

I have been an animal lover for more years than I can count. My love is Golden Retrievers and assisting in finding homes for rescued animals. I volunteer for a rescue in Southern California and came up with this idea to donate much needed fund to assist with the loving care for the animals. Added to my love of the animals I believe in recycling and not throwing away things that can be re-used and re-purposed. I am always looking for things to re-make into items that serve a purpose. With these passions’ I am making these fun, recycled and very functional birdhouses. The Wrens in my area come back year after year to nest in the ones in my yard. 

She makes these one-of-a-kind bird houses using bits and bobs of things that most folks would consider trash.  Several of the Quilt Pals regularly bring her rusty crusty castoffs, knowing she will not only receive them with great delight but turn them into something fun and useful.  I keep (and really do need to turn over to her SOON) a box in the of scrap hardware in the garage. 
I know they are great because I am the proud owner of  one!
The best part in all of this is just how much *bang* you get for your buck - reducing what goes to landfills, helping with rescue animals, providing a home for birdies that visit your yard, and the warmth in your heart when you give a gift to a family member or friend that helps in so many ways.  The only way it could get better is if you bought two and kept one for yourself.
So go visit her shop at
buy a little something and tell her Libby sent you!

Thursday, September 26, 2013

When I was about four years old, some friends of my parents invited me to join them at a local big time rodeo.  Just for the occasion, my mom took me shopping and outfitted me in the best red with white fringe cowgirl skirt and vest to be found in the county.  But the true object of my heart's desire was a pair of cowboy boots!  Mom was certain 'those pointy toed boots would somehow cause my young feet to grow deformed.'  This motherly concern left me to make due with some very unfashionable, yet sensible Buster Brown lace-up oxfords.
I don't remember much about my day at the rodeo, but I've never forgotten just how very badly I wanted those cowboy boots.  The good news is that my feet grew and grew.  They didn't stop until they reached a very healthy and non-deformed size 11 (which for most of my teens and 20's was a VERY difficult size to find).
Today my longing ended, at the ripe old age of 53, I am sporting my very first pair of cowboy boots.  Just so Mom wouldn't worry too much (or maybe she was guiding my purchase from heaven) I chose a style with a slightly rounded toe.  They are everything I have dreamed they would be!

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Well, it looks like my hobby has become food!  Why not?  We all have to eat  . . .  every day  . . . . three times a day (plus snacks)  So why fight it, right?  Hubby and I continue to work diligently to follow a heart healthy, low fat, low sodium diet.  My job is to find good foods that fit that mold.  His job is to keep track of what we eat to make sure we stay within our guidelines.
Today I had an epic FAIL in preparing dinner.  My plan had been to make a mushroom barley risotto from the AHA cookbook.  I planned to use broccoli instead of asparagus because that's what I had on hand.  I've made the recipe before, with success.  Today that barley was just NOT absorbing the stock.  That's when I discovered I had used wheatberries instead of barley *ooops*  So I turned the whole thing into a wheatberry/mushroom/broccoli soup.  Please tell me this is how the great chefs come up with their recipes.
Also on hand I had some grapefruit gifted from a friend's tree.  Enter the Eat Clean Cookbook and a citrus salad recipe.
It will be a bright note against the wintry soup, but I think it would make a great addition to any breakfast table, too.  Why do I get in my head that 'salad' can only be a lunch or dinner dish?
Okay, enough of food  . . . I do still sew.  I have started working on Bittersweet Briar, an applique pattern by Kim Diehl.  I have not done any applique for a very long time.  I'm finding it fun and satisfying.  Hopefully there will be enough progress soon to share a photo.  Stay tuned, I just couldn't bear to ignore my blog until then.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

A quilt!  I made a quilt!  I finished a quilt!  That's right - I feel the need to just *SHOUT* it to the mountain tops!  I FINISHED A QUILT!!!!!
I have been suffering from 'maybe-I-just-don't-feel-like-quilting-itis' for a very long time.  Earlier in the summer, I was cruising the Internet looking at quilt blocks trying to find something that might spark my interest.  While looking through Google Images at Carpenter's Star blocks, I stumbled up a bunch that made me think of fireworks.  I pulled out some fabrics and started cutting and sewing.  No pattern in hand, just referring back to photos online. I have since learned there is a pattern called 'Swoon' that is the source of many of the inspiration photos.  I have chosen to name my quilt 'Summer Nights'.  The finished size is 75" square and the blocks are 16".   It's going to look great on the dining room table.  But best of all, I feel like a quilter again.
More than anything, it has just been about finding a balance.  And in so doing, quilting got pushed way off to the side.  So what else have I been doing?  Well, last weekend we traveled back to Hubby's hometown for a high school reunion.  It was a reunion that included 20 years of graduating classes.  It was fun for us both and a great getaway.  We enjoyed some time in Morro Bay -
Here is our view of Morro Rock at dinner.  Didn't matter that it was foggy, we knew it was there.
We have also been enjoying 'Breakfast on the Bluff' on the weekends.  We pack up chairs, breakfast, thermos of coffee and head to the beach.  Then we set ourselves up at the edge of the bluff.
This morning we enjoyed watching surfers, kayakers, stand-up-paddle boarders, dolphins and the occasional bird.  It was a great way to start the day.  And then we were right there to go on a nice walk when breakfast was over.
And now in the keeping with that life balance thing, it's time to step away from the computer.  But just know that I am already pulling fabrics for the next quilt.  I'm so excited to get started. 

Friday, September 13, 2013

Stitching down binding is my favorite part of quilting. If you need me after the last stitch is in place, you will find me waiting In the laundry....that moment a new quilt comes fresh from the dryer is just the best!

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Don't you love when you have 'just enough'?

Monday, September 09, 2013

 On September 9, 1850, California became the 31st state in the union.  Happy Birthday, California!

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Time sure flies - 22 years have come and gone.  I miss you all the time, Mom.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Larkin is spending lots of time acquainting herself with her new backyard friend. Legend says that touching Buddha's face is good luck. Larkin is a very lucky girl.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Summertime and the livin' is busy.  So much so that not only have I not tended to my blog very well, but I haven't taken a single stitch since sometime in June.  While that doesn't make me all that sad, I can tell that summer may well be winding down.  This morning, Larkin and I headed out on our usual walk at the local lagoon and beach.  It was like a ghost town down there.  Back in June, the crowds of families, day camps, surf camps, life guard camps, etc. made it feel almost like there were more bodies than grains of sand. Okay, maybe that's an exaggeration  . . . . but you know what I mean.  We will will have at least one more go of crowds over Labor Day weekend, but for now schools are in session and the the tourists are gone.
If you have been a reader of my blog for any amount of time, you well know that I LOVE Disneyland.  Hubby and I have had annual passes for nearly 15 years. We use them regularly and we use them often.  Beyond rides, there is an abundance of live entertainment to be enjoyed not to mention good, old-fashioned people watching.  Earlier this month, did something we have never tried before and took a guided tour.
Called "A Walk In Walt's Footsteps" this tour shares Walt's vision for a place where parents and children alike could enjoy amusements together, how that became Disneyland Park, and how the development of audio-animatronics  took everything to a whole new place.  All very interesting, but for me the real draw was the opportunity to set foot inside the lobby of Club 33 and Walt's personal apartment (a stop added to the tour about a year ago).
We had a wonderful tour guide.  She was knowledgeable, affable and clearly loves all things Disney.  She kept our group of 14 on the move for the entire 3 hours.  We talked about the construction, opening day in 1955, attractions then and now.  Soon enough we were in New Orleans Square - looking at that door  . . . the one I never imagined I would ever pass through.
And then it opened just a little bit.
Suddenly we were welcomed inside.

I would say that is was everything I had imagined but that would not be true since I couldn't even think of what I should imagine.   It was a timely visit because Club 33 is about to undergo a major renovation that will change it significantly.  This was the impetus to take the tour NOW as I wanted to see it while it still appeared as Walt would have.
We finished the tour with that promised visit to Walt's personal apartment.  He had the apartment installed as the park was being built to make it easier to be on site during construction.  It is only 500 square feet in size and is above the Fire House on Main Street USA. 
When Walt was in the park, a lamp was lit in the window so Cast Members would be aware of his presence.  That lamp now burns continuously as a reminder of that Walt's spirit lives to this day inside Disneyland.  I always pause to look at that light whenever we visit -  never once dreaming that I might actually see it from any other vantage point.
We were asked to leave our personal belongings (including cameras) on a table when we entered the apartment as no photography is allowed.  At the end of our tour, our guide took photos of us *I cropped us out ;-) *  Two photos per camera - one oriented in landscape and one in portrait.  There was a bit of  'huh?' when I asked for my second photo to be this:
But I had my reason.  Hubby and I finished out the day by enjoying the audio-animatronic attractions - The Enchanted Tiki Room, It's a Small World, and Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln.  It was a great day.
Today is another great day.
We are celebrating 1 year with Larkin as a member of our family.  What a year it has been.  There's been a lot of growing, a lot of training, some REALLY frustrating days, but mostly just sweet doggy love.  Here's to celebrating a whole bunch more of these anniversaries!

Thursday, August 08, 2013

Plums make 'eating all the colors of the rainbow' every day a whole lot tastier.

Sunday, August 04, 2013

It's Best Friend Day. Lucky me-I celebrate every day!

Saturday, August 03, 2013

It's National Watermelon Day. Hope you have a slice in your future!

Thursday, August 01, 2013

Bye Bye, July!  We hardly got the chance to know you and already you are gone.  We sure had fun while you were here.  You got started with a *bang*  Fourth of July fireworks have a way of making that happen.  You closed out with a little getaway - one that didn't work out exactly as planned, but was fun just the same.
Hubby and I took the Amtrak train north to Paso Robles, CA in hopes of a little R&R and to fulfill a long held 'bucket list' item for me to ride the train over Cuesta Grade.  There are series of tunnels that the train travels through.  As a little girl, I was awed by the long long freight trains that worked their way over the grade stretched out so far that the cars were going through multiple tunnels all at the same time.   I would think, 'Someday, I'm going to ride a train up there to see what that is like.'  Sadly, that 'someday' may never come.
Our original train was on time leaving the station.  We changed trains in Los Angeles and that train was just over an hour late leaving the depot.  About an hour into the trip, the unthinkable happened -  our train hit a pedestrian!  A teenager who was walking too close to the track and did not respond to the warning horns.  Luck was on his/her side though and the accident was not a fatality. (We found a newspaper article that stated the victim was still hospitalized in serious condition)  But the accident further delayed our journey by more than an hour an a half making it impossible for us to stay on the train to Paso Robles.
You see we had planned on renting a car to then drive to a neighboring city for our accommodations,  but the late arrival meant that we could not get their before (or anywhere near) closing of the rental office.  Instead we just hopped off in the city we were staying in and made arrangements to pick up a car in that city the next day.
No worries - the chance to ride over that grade would still be possible on the return trip.  I did get a couple of nice photos of coastline that are only seen via the train.
I do love that 'wall of fog'.
While we were on the central coast we got to go to the Mid State Fair - The Biggest Little Fair Anywhere. What a nostalgic tour for us - I had not attended for 25 years and the last time for Hubby, well, we were on a date!  We also went to Farmers Market in San Luis Obispo.
Then came the time for the train ride home on Friday.  We dropped off our rental car and walked the few blocks to the train depot with about an hour to wait for departure.  That's when I got the email from Amtrak that the train was running late  . . . about 2 hours late.  That would have left us sitting in depot for a minimum of three hours.  By car we could be halfway home by then.  So back to the car rental agency we went.  We re-rented our same car and headed home.  No Cuesta Grade tunnels.
We did have a nice bag of carrots, sugar snap peas, green beans, plums and apricots from Farmers Market.  So we stopped in Santa Barbara for a little picnic and a walk on the pier. 
I pulled out the camera again -
This van was drawing a LOT of attention in a nearby parking lot.
This just seemed like a funny collection of sights.
I am always mesmerized by kelp.
Back on land, this fella was offering lessons in walking a rope. 
And this fella was a willing student.
Willing but reluctant....

A crowd gathered.  Just as he was about to make his first step, some little kid shouted, "He's going to fall."  He didn't fall, but he did jump down.  Still I give bonus points for trying.  We headed back to the rental car.  We got home about the time our train would have arrived in Los Angeles  . . . if it had been on time.
Whatever adventures may come in August, they will come without the aid of public transport.