Monday, June 24, 2013

a little green around the thumb

I'm a summer girl at heart, and love the long warm days it brings. The first few hours after sunrise is my favorite part of these days too. To really let you in on my secret, the best way to enjoy those first few hours is to take my steaming cup of coffee out to my vegetable garden and smell the fresh morning air! The plants are perky from their cool nights rest and seem to be reaching out to catch the dew filtered, first rays of sun!
The quiet calmness is addictive. Occasionally a bird will break out in morning song to greet the new day.

The calmness is usually quickly interrupted by the Peeps discovering my whereabouts! They know where to look for me, and I let them in on my morning wonderments! Maybe a new bloom, maybe a busy bee working hard gathering pollen, maybe a zucchini (or 5) to harvest or a fresh bunch of basil to smell! My hope is that they will come to appreciate the simple joy found in the "fruit of the ground", and the amazement of the One who created it!

This morning was not a typical June morning in California, as we woke up to a cloudy overcast sky and a slight drizzle of rain! I was not complaining though, and my garden seem to burst forth with even more appreciation! The color of green that they displayed was so beautiful that I couldn't resist going back in for my camera! Capturing these details of my little sanctuary was even more rewarding, as looking through the lens of a camera can sometimes bring about a perspective I've never seen before!

The lens of a camera also can be a bit deceiving as these pictures hide a lot imperfections that are in among the brilliant green! I consider myself fairly new at the whole gardening thing, and the term "green-thumb" would really only apply because I'm not a seasoned gardener! You could say I'm still "green" and have a lot of maturing to do! I'm pretty enthusiastic when I plop my fresh new plants into the early spring soil, but I can be found furrowing my brow in frustration when the signs of disease or pest show up! I google, and try to diagnose, but often my enthusiasm starts to wain and I'm left with sad little, half eaten or curled up leaves on my once happy plants! Instead of giving them the patience to pull through, I'm ready to serve them eviction papers and give them a week to get their act together! 

Experience is the best form of learning though, so I remind myself it's not a sign of bad gardening to lose a plant to a herd of snails! They're a part of nature, but learning a few tricks of the trade can help drive them out of my sanctuary and back to the plants I don't intend to make my lunch out of! And in case they don't get hint...I'll be back out tomorrow morning just as early and I won't be feeling nearly as nice!

Happy gardening to those of you who enjoy it, and I'd love to know some of your secrets or little trick to "green-up" my thumb a little more!

Monday, June 17, 2013

One big celebration.

Brace yourselves, my dears, as we're about to cover 3 months in one post! The keyboard feels so cold and unfamiliar beneath my fingers, and my thoughts that once flowed freely, are trying to break through the dust and cobwebs. But...I'm back in blogland and it feels good to sit and stare at the ole' curser blinking back at me again!

So really this is mostly about the month of May which is one big celebration. You don't think about these things when your young and in love and setting a wedding date! Holidays like Mother's day and Memorial day and so forth just don't really seem to apply at the time, so celebrating our magical day was really the only celebration that was of much concern.

Enter child #1...Now Mothers day is kind of a big deal...(and you better not forget it either.) 
Oh, and also, this child happened to be born in May! Exactly 3 years and some few hours after that once Magical day I just mentioned. We labored a better part of our 3rd Anniversary away in anticipation of him, but he was gracious enough to hang in there until early the next morning...declaring his own day of celebration!

It makes for some strategically planned anniversary get a ways, so sonny-boy isn't left to party without us...but we manage! :) I might add, my birthday happens to be in May as well...yep, right after mothers day... before our anniversary and sweet child's birthday...are you confused yet?! See what I'm saying? 
May = one big celebration.

We don't get away every year to celebrate our magical day...but this year, Mcdreamy swooned me to the wine country of CA. He's been there...and I've been there...but we'd never been there together. 
Napa is for lovers, people...go TOGETHER! :) It was bliss. Although give me some rolling hills with vineyards, delicately prepared foods paired with locally grown wines, and I get a little starry-eyed! 

Here we have Hubby attacking a pastry from the fabulous Bouchon Bakery. It was a cream-filled, sugar-topped, goodness of some sort and he wouldn't even share a bite. True story. Not even a little morsel. My health nut bran muffin was good and all, but shoot it, this would've been the one time to give in to peer pressure.

It's all good, how could I stay mad at him...I was still mushy and starry eyed from all the surroundings anyway! He is, after all, my McDreamy! We enjoyed a couple days of quiet relaxation before the crazy of the rest of the month hit. 

 Before long we packed up again and this time it was daddy's turn to stay home! The boys and I went to Ohio to visit my family for a week...and get in some quality cousin time! There's 12 of them, and they all live a convenient few short miles away from Grandpa & Grandma's house. Never a dull moment on the family farm. 

 If you really want to have some fun, get them all involved in planting a garden. Throw in a hose and watering can to top it all off. The look on my sisters face portrays her true feelings about the matter! Needless to say, she remained relatively calm, and the seeds actually came up in a some what uniform fashion...according to Grandma. We'll see if she asks for our help again next year though.

Here they are...all 12 in their best behavior. I should've included the other 30-some shots we took to get this one quasi cooperative one! Hooligans. That's what they all are. But the funnest, cutest hooligans around town. We miss them when we're not there, and I hope they do us! 

Mama had some fun of her own with some dear friends of her childhood! These two loved me through my high-tops and side pony days, and have provided years of gut-busting laughter and immeasurable fun! Their friendships have blessed my life in more ways than I can count, so to spend time with them when opportunity arises is a no-brainer! And a quick word on Napolese...Double Yum! Okay that was two words, but seriously find myself drooling a little just typing the name!

A sweet capture of a favorite past time of the Peeps in OH. Melts my heart, every-time! Turns out she knows a thing or two about what kids love...because her lap is prime real estate among the "12"! I hope it's a long time before they grow out of fighting over it too!

The last event on the month-of-may party agenda was a monumental moment in this sweet Peeps life! For months we talked about the day it would happen and what life changing things it would entail for him! Some of you with better memories may even recollect this very day in your own lives...but I'm not as fortunate. 

We celebrated the wonderful *FIVE* years of life that God has so graciously blessed our first born with! He wanted 3 things for his party...seashells, cupcakes and shrimp! (oh, and his posse of teenage friends! I think in his mind he's actually 15 judging by the average age of his guest list) The beach seemed like a fun place for everyone of all ages! I guess that's a luxury you get to enjoy when you live in California. Other than the 3 carloads of STUFF we had to carry out to the chosen location, it was a perfect party spot. Turns out the posse came in real handy, because a crowd of preschoolers and toddlers wouldn't have been as much help in the set-up & clean-up of a beach party! I'm now kicking myself for not getting a group picture of him with all of them!

Bottom line is, birthdays are best when in the company of those you love! It doesn't matter where you are or what you do to celebrate them! And you'll all probably agree with me that somewhere between the ages of 18-25 there is a birthday that changes everything for what you've ever known of as birthdays. They don't hold quite the anticipation that they used to. Oh, they can be special...but I've learned to not expect quite as much as I used to.

I've come to realize that even on birthdays, the day is not my own! There's people around me that need me to serve them, and not to expect them to serve me! This was confusing for me the first couple of years I was a mother! It didn't turn out well when I tried to declare the day as mine and put out cold cereal for all three meals of the day...or shut myself into my Lab to create the day away! There were still dishes, and diapers, and disagreements.
Then it came to me that it's in the joy of serving that I found the best birthday gifts ever received. I can wake up to another day of life, another day older, another day wiser and be blessed by the privilege of having 3 mouths to feed, and hearts to fill! To spend a birthday without them in my life, and do whatever fancied my feathers...wouldn't be nearly as fun!

Well, maybe fun, yes...but not nearly as rewarding! :) Just look at their faces, who wouldn't agree with me!?!
And who wants to guess which of the three is most excited about the birthday gift above?

I'll get back to you with those results after a few trips to the driving range.

Friday, March 8, 2013

Spring overdrive syndrome

Every year, about this same time, I enter into this highly motivated, yet over-achiever kind of mindset that sends me into the same tail-spin every time! It's the same sequence of events, and it starts with that bright sunny February morning when I step outside and the air just feels different. The sky is bluer, the temperatures warmer, and the grass appears just a slight bit more green. 

 The next thing that happens is the glorious burst of blooms on every fruit-bearing tree in all of the orchard filled lands of Northern California. It's spectacular. But it's the cause of mental shift into overdrive.

Suddenly everything needs pruning. Why didn't we do that a month ago, you know before it started to push new growth. There's weeds popping up every where. We should focus on weeding first. And while we're weeding, we might as well clean up all the dead leaves that were left to blanket the plants through winter. The new vegetable & garden seed catalog comes, forget the weeding and pruning, lets get the garden worked up all freshly composted ready for neatly little rows of happy little plants! 

But then the temps always dip down a little, and a little more rain comes...but there's no turning back. Mainly because I'm blessed to have a greenhouse facility in my front yard, so I start working on hanging baskets. All the pretty flats of flowers showing off their beauty, and in my head I'm thinking up a hundred different combination...I can hardly stuff moss fast enough. Except 2 little boys contained in a warm-humid climate with dirt, water and the freshly planted cuttings of their future livelihood...they slow down the stuffing. They prefer to uproot, or quick drench. Then somebody always falls victim to the garden hose. Don't they know there's FLOWERS TO PLANT! 

We take a break, go in the house to have a snack and I notice the sun shining in through the rain splattered windows! I wonder if it's too early to start washing them. Washing windows is always combined with spring cleaning though. I should start spring cleaning. The ants have made it clear there's been neglect in the upkeep while we were out weeding and pruning and mossing and planting.

 I'll let them do the clean-up. And just maybe when it rains again it'll finish washing the windows for me. The garden isn't planted, but really it's just the first of March, whose keeping score. The plants aren't going to harbor bitterness if we prune off a little fresh growth. The weeds will still be there tomorrow, and there's a great way to keep flowers from overgrowing with just a little "pinch-back" love.

What doesn't keep is little boys wanting to play "nurseryman", and cook salads, and speed through mud puddles and help stuff moss. You can't prune the new growth of learned behavior or pinch-back the ugly of short words and actions. It's hard for me to keep perspective when I'm in the tail-spin. I'm learning to shift it back down to controlled forward motion, and just enjoy the warmer days with little to no productivity. Maybe next year I'll be aware of the onset of the symptoms earlier and prevent the overdrive syndrome all together! :) Happy Spring ALL! 

***and just for fun a random photo of a gift left by a sweet, out of state friend who I was honored to host a few weeks back. The beautiful packaging deserved a widely viewed audience!***

Friday, February 15, 2013

celebrating {Love}

The peeps have finally come down off their "chocolate-induced-two-day-sugar-high", and are both napping soundly. It's a little bit my fault, I admit. Okay, it's a lot my fault! First off because I've been known to be stingy with my offerings of sugary treats on an ordinary day, and second off, I agreed to a Valentines party! Talk about sending mixed signals! The sugary-est holiday of the year, except maybe Christmas, I agree to a party! That's what makes holidays special though, when they know they get to look forward to a little something out of the ordinary! 


I've also come to the understanding with preschooler/toddlers, is that if you keep them busy they are less likely to squabble, scribble, scatter or sabotage each other or the objects around them! Preparing for parties are great for creating busy work. Or at least I can disguise the "busy work" as party preparations and the enthusiasm is much higher! 

Another observation is that the definition of "party preparations" is vastly different among the Squabblers. One thinks a table full of card stock, markers, glue, tape, streamers and glitter is a whole morning worth of creating lovely tablescape and sweet worded cards! Actually two of us prefer that method of party planning. The third one just starts grabbing, running wild and pretending like the party has already started! (see previous picture). We put him in charge of morale, because glitter clearly looks like face paint, paper becomes confetti and the streamers his make believe rocket fuel spewing behind his rapid departure!

And this enthusiasm is on steady level blood sugar, friends! Now your not judging me for being stingy, huh! Me and the other Crafty One we're happy to let him blast through the house. Our craft time would otherwise be way too peaceful and uninterrupted. Whats a party without laughter and chaos?!

When I said I drag out the disguise of busy-work, I meant two w-h-o-l-e days. Day one was crafty paper and streamer mayhem, day two was baking, cooking and overall kitchen upheaval. This is precisely when the sugar intake began. Who wants to wait until the cupcakes are done to have a taste? There's beater blades to lick, and chocolate crumbs to scarf up! Streamer Boy is a little more apt to stick around for this kind of party prep. And as a quick FYI, go ahead and try the fabulous recipe we made! Simply put: wine + chocolate = yum-deli-icious!

Hubby and I sat at our cheery decorated, chocolate covered dinner table and smiled at the picture of ourselves right then. Our Valentines has vastly changed over the last few years. It's a day to celebrate the ones you love, and oddly it would seem strange to not let the peeps participate. We still love an occasional romantic, quiet dinner out...but a live party for four, with chatty excited participants is what we've been blessed with right now!

They bring a different level of love to our Valentines. They ARE because we ARE. They LOVE only if we LOVE. Sometimes our love isn't enough. God's love IS always enough.
HIS love fills in, where OUR love falls short.
HIS love heals, when OUR love falls apart.
HIS love carries, when OUR love runs out.
Find yourself in HIS LOVE today!

Monday, February 11, 2013

product review + gallery wall

I had a little heart to heart with Ms.Cannon this morning, she still refuses to cooperate with me. After her fateful mishap in Hawaii, I thought we had this worked out last week when she finally came around to me working with her in manual mode. This morning during a little shoot session, I was proven wrong...

Anyway, here is a couple pictures taken pre-wave catastrophe of a fantastic product I want to share with you all! I purchased a beautiful antique picture frame at the Alameda Antique Fair last summer and got it for a great price...but it did need some TLC. 

At the time of purchase, I wasn't exactly sure what kind of TLC treatment it was going to receive, but I knew for the price, I'd figure something out. And then it got stuck in The Lab for a couple of weeks, until I just happened upon this fabulous find at Hobby Lobby. I loved the gold frame, contrasting with the linen matte, so I was able to restore the color and still keep the antique patina! Super fun stuff to work with! 

And then a whole gallery wall was dreamed up using old frames I already had!! That's how my projects usually go. I get so excited about the product, next thing you know I'm using it on everything! Remember the Burlap? or Chalk paint? Okay, who am I kidding, you all know me well enough by now I don't even have to tell you I get a little carried away! 

So here's the start of this mornings little chat session with my camera. We couldn't agree on shutter speed, and when I'd get it set, she'd change on me mid-shot! And then don't get me started on her clarity. I've decided she needs to go see someone professional to work out her issues. Maybe do some soul searching, get a good cleaning, and clear the salt water out of her brain. Needless to say, this is what we come up with to share with you the gallery wall that received the "gold" treatment!

 Some of the frames were already gold, or had a little accent that I just embellished a bit more. Some of them were not gold at all, and received the full treatment! I felt like a fairy with pixie dust, doing my magic with the wand of my new found love..RUB'N'BUFF!!

If only you could see the magic clearly, and not through the haze of salt water! I have to confess I did not put this wall together in the proper manner that is so cleverly demonstrated on Pinterest. You know the one, with the cut pieces of paper that represent each frame going on the wall and where? It's really a brilliant idea if you have all the pieces to your gallery all at one time. I'd get a couple hung, and then find another one laying around that fell victim to the Rub'n Buff, and I'd rearrange again. Hubby would be horrified at the number of nail holes behind all them gold beauties! :)

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