Thursday, February 28, 2008

Out Of Hibernation

Can you actually believe that March is here already? The swallows will soon return as well as the orioles. The days seem to be getting longer and flowers are blooming all around us. It is a great time of the year.

This week has provided us with perfect Southern California weather. The temperatures have been in the 70 and 80 degree range with plenty of sunshine and warm breezes. I must say that I thrive in these conditions. The sun and I have definitely had our disagreements on the color I would like to be so I am not one to sit out and bake. Being born a redhead with the fair complexion I have had my share of sunburns. This was before we found out how damaging the sun can actually be. The sunburns are NOT worth the fleeting color that that big light in the sky provides. I do, however, enjoy working in the yard when the weather is as it has been this week.

One signal around here that lets us know that spring has arrived is the appearance of the tortoises. Since they hibernate all winter, it is a real thrill to see them out and enjoying the fruits of the winter garden. Three of them made their appearance this week. Of course they will spend a lot of their time eating and hydrating in their pool of water after a long winter's sleep.

These are our adults who are both in their fifties. Both weigh around twenty pounds and are approximately 18" in diameter. Their names are Joshua and Saguara and they are well loved by the grandchildren who frequently hand feed them. As soon as the kids arrive the tortoises will come out to meet and follow them until they are fed. These two have been family raised since they were babies so they are extremely people friendly.

One thing that I enjoy is checking out other blogs. It is such a thrill to view what others are doing and sharing with pictures. Barb at A Chelsea Morning
is having a giveaway to celebrate her newly learned craft of knitting. Check out the great scarf that she has already made. It looks like she is well on her way to bigger and better things soon. I'm sure there are many others who are also getting into projects that will stimulate their minds and keep all of us inspired.
I hope everyone is enjoying their weekend.

This is our "baby" who is eight years old. The children named it Franklin, but we have had to change it to "Frances." The sex of a tortoise is not able to be determined by the eye until they reach about the age of five to seven in captivity. At that time the plastron, or bottom of the shell, will go from being flat to being concave if the tortoise is a male. Her shell is quite flat still and thus the name from Franklin to Frances. As you can see, she loves the strawberry patch even though the berries are few and far between at this time of the year. She will spend a lot of her summer days there enjoying her finds. Right now she is after the blossoms.

Birthday Outing

As I mentioned in my previous post, Tuesday (February 26th) was my mother's 85th birthday. It certainly does not seem possible that she could already be celebrating 85 years. I remember when we had a big party for my grandmother's 85th and it seems as though that was only a few years ago. She is a remarkable lady and has been an inspiration to all of us. To celebrate the big day my two sisters and I took her to the Ronald Reagan Library for the special display of the dresses worn by Nancy Reagan, out for lunch and then did a little shopping.

As you can see, the weather was spectacular with temperatures in the 80 degree range and views that seemed to never end.

One thing that I am always impressed with at the library is the piece of the Berlin Wall that stands outside on top of the hill. If you look at the two sides of the wall you will notice the distinct difference between the sides that faced East Berlin vs. West Berlin. The colorful side was painted to show the freedom and hope of the people in West Berlin whereas the plain, drab cement represented the East Berlin residents. These are the original paintings but I am sure that they must keep the paint refreshed for people to view.

A few years back the library added the Air Force One Pavilion. It was quite the fete to bring the plane up to the top of the hill and build the building around it. The plane is set up just as it was when it was in use. You can walk through it and see all the different offices, press areas, sleeping quarters and areas for just relaxing. The building itself is all glass on the front and it appears as though the plane is flying right over the valley. It is quite a sight.

The graveside of Ronald Reagan also sits on the top of the hill with fabulous views. Nancy Reagan will at some point be buried right next to him. The funeral services were shown on television worldwide but it held a special attention to the local folks here as the library is only about a ten minute drive from us. The streets, of course, were lined with people during the processions to and from the library.

I really wished that I could have taken some photos of all the dresses on display but they discourage photography. It was such fun to see the changing styles throughout the years. The beaded gowns were just amazing. I could only imagine how heavy they must have been. And talk about TINY -- she wore a size 2. I doubt that I ever had a waist that small. It was also fun to see all of the different designers who had made clothes for her and to study their different signature styles. We were all amused at the thought of where our "old" dresses were these days. Hmmm. We'd be in dire straights to put on a show with our past gowns.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Monday's Musings

As is the norm these days, our weekend seemed to disappear in a flash. It was a windy, rainy and cool weekend for us on the West coast and I hear that the passing storm will create all sorts of havoc across the rest of the country. I do feel so sorry for all of you who have experienced enough of winter for the year.
I read so many blogs and I tend to hear a general theme of "spring is coming." I enjoy seeing photos of the decorations and ideas that others have for their homes. I thought that I would share a few of the items that are up around our home. I had three grandsons for a few days last week and they helped me do some of the decorating.
This is a photo of my "seasonal" tree. I believe it is originally meant to be for Christmas decorations but I leave it out all year and dress it up according to the season. Right now it has Easter eggs on it. These are a couple of the smocked eggs that I have made over the years. They are simply smocked fabrics stretched over styrofoam eggs. I've given many away as gifts so I only have three left to decorate the tree. Guess I'd best get some more made!

It was a good weekend to work on a few projects in my sewing room. I am in the process of making a quilt which I have admired for some time. I know it will be a work in progress for some time as it has MANY star blocks. I added a few to the stack this weekend but also did a couple of fabric birthday postcards.
My baby sister's birthday is next Sunday and my mother's is tomorrow so I wanted to get the postcards done and in the mail. This is the one that I finished for my sister. They are just a fun small project to work on as they go up quickly.
Saturday night we attended the school auction for which I had made the doll's matching uniform. I was absolutely amazed that the uniform went for $220. I'm sure that some grandparent must have purchased it "for a good cause." If I thought I could get that kind of money for making them, I would go into business!!!!! They made $59,000 from the auction items so it was quite a success for the school.
We have company coming in from the Seattle area this afternoon. The weather could not be more perfect for visitors. It's a good thing that plans were not made to visit last week. I will be busy entertaining for the next few days but I will try to check out other blogs in my spare time.
I hope that everyone has a good week.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

40 Tips For An Exceptional Life

The last few days have been busy with keeping three grandsons so as I try to find the floors in my house I will simply post an e-mail that I received and found to be very thought provoking. I hope everyone can enjoy it. Have a great weekend.

Tips for an Exceptional, Superb & Powerful Life!
1.) Take a 10-30 minute walk every day. And while you walk, smile. It is the ultimate antidepressant.
2.) Sit in silence for at least 10 minutes each day. Buy a lock if you have to.
3.) Buy a Tivo (DVR), tape your late night shows and get more sleep.
4.) When you wake up in the morning complete the following statement, 'My purpose is to________today.'
5.) Live with the 3 E's -- Energy, Enthusiasm, and Empathy.
6.) Watch more movies, play more games and read more books than you did last year.
7.) Always pray and make time to exercise.
8.) Spend more time with people over the age of seventy and under the age of six.
9.) Dream more while you are awake.
10.) Eat more foods that grow on trees and plants and eat less foods that are manufactured in plants.
11.) Drink green tea and plenty of water. Eat blueberries, wild Alaskan salmon, broccoli, almonds & walnuts.
12.) Try to make at least three people smile each day.
13.) Clear your clutter from your house, your car, your desk and let new and flowing energy into your life.
14.) Don't waste your precious energy on gossip, energy vampires, issues of the past, negative thoughts or things you cannot control. Instead, invest your energy in the positive present moment.
15.) Realize that life is a school and you are here to learn. Problems are simply part of the curriculum that appear and fade away like algebra class .....but the lessons you learn will last a lifetime.
16.) Eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince and dinner like a college kid with a maxed out charge card.
17.) Smile and laugh more. It will keep the energy vampires away.
18.) Life isn't fair, but it's still good.
19.) Life is too short to waste time hating anyone.
20.) Don't take yourself so seriously. No one else does.
21.) You don't have to win every argument. Agree to disagree.
22.) Make peace with your past so it won't screw up the present.
23.) Don't compare your life to others'. You have no idea what their journey is all about.
24.) Ladies - Go on and burn those 'special' scented candles, use the 600 thread count sheets, the good china and wear our fancy lingerie now. Stop waiting for a special occasion. Everyday is special.
25.) No one is in charge of your happiness except yourself.
26.) Frame every so-called disaster with these words: 'In five years, will this matter?'
27.) Forgive everyone for everything.
28.) What other people think of you is none of your business.
29.) Time heals almost everything. Give time, time!
30.) However good or bad a situation is, it will change.
31.) Your job won't take care of you when you are sick. Your friends will. Stay in touch with them.
32.) Get rid of anything that isn't useful, beautiful or joyful.
33.) Envy is a waste of time. You already have all you need. God provides remember?!
34.) The best is yet to come. (in Heaven)
35.) No matter how you feel, get up, dress up and show up.
36.) Do the right thing!
37.) Call your family often.
38.) Each night before you go to bed complete the following statements: 'I am thankful for __________.' Today I accomplished _________.
39.) Remember that you are too blessed to be stressed.
40.) Enjoy the ride. Remember that this is not Disney World and you certainly don't want a fast pass. You only have one ride through life so make the most of it and enjoy the ride.
LIVE, LOVE, LAUGH. LIFE'S A GIFT ... UNWRAP IT! Have a Blessed day. Please share with friends!
Author Unknown

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

A Busy Weekend

Like most everyone else out in Blogville, it has been a busy weekend around our house. The weather was so nice outside that the duties of the yard kept calling my name. Since it is forecast to be a wet week around here it was a good time to get a few of the chores done and get ready for some damp days. It is always nice to get some fertilizer on things before we get a free sprinkling from the skies. I know that they say that you are not supposed to fertilize your roses until the new red leaves change to green, but I wasn't sure that we would get the rain when the leaves were green so I did it this weekend. I'll probably end up regretting my decision when summer time brings all sorts of problems.

I hope that everyone noticed that I was finally able to put my award where it belongs. After reading and reading and reading some more about just how this was done, I finally consulted with my dear (and very patient) friend Midlife Mom regarding my problems. She was so helpful and even threw in two more awards for me. Now I have lots of experience -- at least until the next time I have to do it. Ha! She has a wonderful blog and if you haven't seen it yet, please check it out.

Saturday evening we went over to our #3 son's home and were able to watch the kids riding Rudy. They are getting so good with him and he just follows them everywhere. While we were at the stable we were able to greet this beautiful horse. He is a Dutch Warmblood (I believe) with a gorgeous curly mane and a coat that was incredibly soft.

When we first arrived at their home we entered the house and immediately our eyes came upon a chicken walking in the family room. Apparently this chicken belongs to a neighbor but insists that she lives at my son's home. The children keep returning her to her proper home and she keeps coming back, walking right into the house if a door is left ajar. Now, if she would lay eggs for them they might offer her a home!

After church on Sunday my husband and I decided to take a drive. Within about an hour we found ourselves in a snowy landscape. This is what remains from the storms of last month so you can imagine how deep it must have been when it first fell. This was also an area that was hit hard by the fires of last fall. I expected to see a lot of new spring grasses covering the barren land but I guess that it has not been warm enough yet for it to grow. Perhaps we will see some the next time we make the trip up there.

This weekend was also the time to get all the tax information together for the accountant. Why is it that no matter how organized we are in that area it always seems to take so much time? It is just such a nice feeling when it is all done. I'm sure that everyone can relate.

Saturday, February 16, 2008


I do believe that spring is just around the corner. Although we do have a forecast for some showers toward the end of the week, this weekend is forecast to be gorgeous. We were out in the orchard this morning and noticed that several of the trees are starting to get their blossoms. The peach tree is usually the first to bloom and that is quickly followed by the pear. My husband has replaced several of the trees over the last few years due to the fact that they were getting too old to produce much in the line of fruit. This is the second year for this little peach tree. Half of the orchard is in stone fruits including peaches, pears, cherries, nectarines and plums. The other half is citrus which include navel, blood and Valencia oranges as well as grapefruit, limes, lemons and tangerines. Then there are a few avocados thrown into the mix.

It is such fun to have the fruit for all the little kids. They love to come over to pick bags to take home with them. Thank goodness that we have folks to share the abundance as I hate to see fruit fall to the ground and rot.

Son #3 and two of his little guys came over this morning to borrow Grandpa's tractor to work in their yard. There is something about little boys and tractors that is so darn cute. They were going to till up their garden today to get it ready for planting. All of the little ones have their own section in the garden and it is so much fun to watch what they plant in it. They are each responsible for weeding and maintaining their own area.

Next weekend is the big school fundraiser for my #2 DIL. She is in charge of making baskets for all of the donated silent auction items. Today her house was filled from one end to the other with baskets in stages of being arranged. You could not even make your way to the dining room table. I am sure that she will be so thrilled when next Saturday is over as she will be able to have her house back again. This is her third year of doing this project and it always goes over so well for the school. I dropped off the doll's school uniform that she had asked me to make for the auction. I love making doll clothes. They always go up so fast.

I hope everyone is enjoying their weekend.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

My First Award

I am so excited! I have received my very first blogging award from a dear friend, Midlife Mom at . It is The Blessings Award and I feel so blessed. I sometimes find it hard to believe that I have been so blessed with such a wonderful family and such incredible friends. Each and everyone one of them is truly a blessing to me.

I now have to pass this on to someone that I feel deserves the award. I would like to extend this blessing to Dawn at She is certainly a blessing in so many lives -- her children, grandchildren and many other bloggers out there. Thank you Midlife Mom for all your encouragement and help in trying to figure this blogging technology out.

My #2 DIL stopped by yesterday to ask me if I would make an item for the upcoming auction for the children's school. This auction is the big money making event and each year she brings me a used uniform that the children wear. I cut it up and construct an identical uniform for one of the 18" Amer*ican Gi*rl dolls. Each year it is a very "hot" item in the live auction and I really enjoy making it. So that is what my plans are for tomorrow.

I absolutely love to spend the day in my sewing room. We did a remodel of our home this past year to make it more handicap accessible in case my mother or my husband's father should need to come spend any length of time with us. Since we are not currently "needing" the room for that purpose, I have taken it over for my sewing "studio." It is so nice to be able to "play" in there and then just close the door when I am finished for the day. This is what it looks like on a neat day which isn't very often. The walls are really not THAT green, but rather a very soft sage green. It is very peaceful.
I love it because it opens up onto the patio and back yard. It is so pleasant to sew while listening to birds chirping and watching the hummingbirds fly in and out for a sip of the nectar. I have three sewing machines set up at one time because I also teach my granddaughters how to sew. Several of them are home schooled and this is part of their curriculum. It is such a thrill to be able to sit down with them and observe what they come up with in regards to creativity. I will fuss over an idea forever and they just come up with ideas in a flash. We should all let our imagination loose like they do.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Hot To Cold

It's Monday and life is back to the routine once more. The normal days are appreciated after two weeks of getting ready to travel, traveling, unpacking, shopping, prepping, repacking and traveling once more. The dust on the table tops is a testament to my lack of time for cleaning.

Yesterday morning when we awoke our temperature was a brisk 6*. When we returned home it was a delightful 80*. One thing that I really like about living here is that we can enjoy the snow in the morning and the sunset on the beach by the evening.

Our annual snow trip was wonderful and very uneventful -- thank goodness. Several of our trips have not been too enjoyable with skiing injuries within the group of skiiers in the family. One year our #2 son broke his back and was medically evacuated home by air for surgery and another year #4 son broke both ankles which made for an interesting trip home as well. Both injuries happened the year that they were to be married. Do you think they were trying to test their future wives during a crisis?

At any rate, this was a fabulous trip. The kids all enjoying being together with their cousins 24 hours of the day and the parents get along so well. It is truly a blessing to have a family like that. So....before I head off for laundy and unpacking once more I will post a few photos of the trip.
View from the condos where we stay. The sunset was gorgeous.

Peyton's second birthday -- after the cake! It's always a fun party when you celebrate with eighteen cousins. Can you tell that by his expression?

Snow fun.
First snow trip. I'm not sure how impressed he was but his parents certainly enjoyed all the babysitting help from his cousins and aunts.

Relaxing after a hard day of playing.
SIL entertaining the youngsters on the last night with a very funny song that included each of the children's names and something about their trip.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

A Fabulous Trip

We returned last evening from a fabulous trip to the Florida Keys. This is a business trip for my husband that we are lucky enough to attend each year on Super Bowl weekend. We have met some wonderful friends over the years and we eagerly look forward to seeing them at the event. One in particular is a fellow blogger who first got me into this blogging life. I had to pick her brain a little (no, a lot) to try to figure a some things out. I am hoping that I have learned a few things while I enjoyed soaking up the sunshine that we were blessed with there. She has a wonderful blog and I wish I had half of her talents.

The view out of our room was really spectacular. Although we were on West coast time I managed to get up each morning for the sunrise. How could one sleep knowing what beauty was awaiting just a few steps away? Plus, I could sip my coffee while the sun lifted higher and higher.

There was one day where the resort had a contest that was going on in the lagoon right outside of our room. The three teams were each given sheets of cardboard and plastic, a roll of duct tape, oars, pencil and paper. They had to design and build a craft, come up with a team cheer and a team name and then race this craft in the lagoon with two people inside of it. It was hysterical to watch. Two of the craft sank but the third one actually made it back to shore still functioning. There was much laughter all around.

The resort itself is beautiful beyond words. There are many private residences there and the gardens and yards are something to behold. One yard has beautiful orchids growing on the trees in the front. I just had to take a few photos of some of the plants that were so impressive.

The weather was just perfect the entire time we were there. We will usually have a day or two with rain and some years it has been quite chilly. This time it was spectacular. We so enjoyed it but I couldn't help but think about the folks who were coming from the really cold parts of the country and enjoying it even more than we were.

But....all great trips must come to an end. So today was a day of unpacking, laundry and running around trying to get ready for our next trip in two days. This trip will be very different. We are heading up to the Sierras for some snow fun with all of our children and grandchildren. We do it each year and everyone looks forward to it. We rent some condos and everyone shares the meals. It's a great trip with lots of laughs, games and family love.