Thursday, March 27, 2008

Playing in the Dirt

Yep....I have spent the day out playing in the dirt. It was such a gorgeous day and the outdoor chores were calling my name. The hollyhocks had taken over the flower bed and were choking out everything else. I left two stalks with flowers on them as the grandchildren would be so disappointed if I had removed all of them. They love to make hollyhock dolls when they come to visit. Does anyone remember making them as children? My grandmother always had beautiful hollyhocks along the garage wall and my sister and I played dolls by the hours. I suppose that is why I grow them to this day. The flower bed looks a little bare without the overgrown hollyhocks.

The roses are about ready to burst. The warm weather that we have had for the last two weeks has really accelerated their first bloom of the year. I try to avoid spraying them as a routine in their care, but there are certain times when they really need it. In June we will generally have what we call our "June Gloom." Being only about seven miles from the beach, we get the ocean influence. As the deserts heat up they spill their heat over and it collides with the cool beach temperatures. This all makes for foggy, cool mornings which tend to make the roses develop mildew. Spraying keeps it somewhat at bay.

While puttering around in the flower bed I spotted a very interesting snail. It is the shell of a decollate snail. Our snails are more rounded while these carry a pointed type of shell. They sell them at the nurseries around us. They are purchased because their diet consists of eating the type of snails that are native to us. I was glad to see this little guy as we have so much damage from snails. Hopefully he (or she) has brought his whole family with him because he has a big job to do here. He also has to have a LARGE appetite to consume a medium sized snail.
I was kept company by a male quail sitting on top of the fence and calling out to his mate. I just love their calls. They nest in our jasmine bank. Their young are so cute when they grow big enough to follow their parents. This is a great time of the year to be watching the birds. The male orioles have also returned and will be followed next week by the females. The males are busy making nests in the banana and palm trees. I often wonder what happens if she returns and finds that his nest is not up to her standards. They, too, have a very distinct call.

Our hills around us have been so green this year with all of the rain that we have had. It would be nice to get a few more showers before we enter into our dry season. It would be unlikely for us to get much after March but we can always hope. After that we will not get any rain until October or November. Meanwhile we will enjoy the hills covered with lupine and wild mustard.
The sunsets have also been beautiful. Since the evenings have been so pleasant we have enjoyed sitting outside and catching up on our days events as we watch the sun get lower on the horizon.
I hope that everyone has a wonderful weekend.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Easter Weekend

I am trusting that everyone had a delightful Easter celebration. From reading different blogs and receiving an e-mail from my cousin, it sounds like some people celebrated with weather that was not too "spring-like." The Easter bonnets were replaced with something that provided a bit more warmth. Our weather was quite warm and broke all time records of heat for the entire weekend. Easter Sunday it was actually 91* here.

Friday morning I actually picked my first rose of the season. It was a red rose, Mon Cheri, and I thought that my first rose, a red rose, was very appropriate for Good Friday. Of course the first roses of the season will have shorter stems but it is so thrilling to actually be able to pick roses for the house again.

The weekend was busy with family and friends. Our youngest son, his wife and baby were house guests for the weekend. As always, it was fun to have them home for a visit. The baby seems to grow each week and is getting more fun by the day.

After Easter services, we went to another son's home for brunch and an egg hunt. Everyone brings food and everything was delicious. Although it was warm, we all managed to find a shady spot to watch the kids have a great time with each other. The cousins all live close by and it is so interesting to watch the interaction between the children as they grow up. The girls will all be doing their thing while the boys are more into the physical sports. One thing for sure was that all of the children had fun taking rides on Rudy. Our eldest granddaughters took turns walking him around the ring until everyone had enough turns to satisfy themselves. I'm sure that Rudy was positively thrilled to be the center of attention for so long.

Another big hit was the baby chicks. Talk about growing fast!!!! They have grown lots of feathers and are no longer fluffy looking. They are now outside all day and move in under the heat lamp at night. That should be the routine for about one more week when they will then be outside all of the time. With the cost of eggs these days, we need these chicks to grow up in a big hurry.

Today is Monday and a day for cleaning up after the weekend. It is another beautiful day and a perfect for drying the sheets out on the clothesline. I use my dryer for almost everything else but I love the way the sheets smell when they are dried on the line. I am so glad to live somewhere where I can use my line all year around. I remember growing up in the Midwest and having sheets freeze into boards only to have to be draped over the radiators when we brought them inside.

I hope that everyone has a wonderful week ahead of them.

Friday, March 21, 2008

A Nursery Adventure

Earlier this week my husband had taken the day off of work. Since we both love to garden and enjoy looking at beautiful nursery displays, we decided to drive to one of our favorite spots. This is a place where you could spend days and never see everything that they have. One of the best signs tucked away within the plants states, "We buy junk and sell antiques." Of course springtime is an exceptional time to visit any nursery as all of the flowers look so refreshing after the winter blues. The greens tend to be so vibrant as the new leaves start to bud out on the trees and the flowers just seem to scream "look at me."

Don't you just love the display of succulents?

We grabbed a bite to eat at a darling cafe and then headed home along the coast. The wildflowers covered the hillsides. It would be such fun to view it from a plane as it must look like painter's palette. The blue lupine was dotted in with yellow mustard, orange gazania and golden poppies - our state flower. All of this was against a backdrop of lush green hills and crystal blue waters of the Pacific.

I have been busy this week working on a couple of quilting projects. I have completed my spring quilt for the Four Seasons Quilt Swap and will share a photo of it once I know it has arrived at the recipient's home.

With the Easter weekend upon us, I wish all of you a blessed time celebrated with family and friends.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Happy St. Patrick's Day

A very happy St. Patrick's day to all. I hope that everyone will be sporting the green so that you don't get pinched. Does anyone have any idea where that tradition came from?

Again, our weekend was filled with family and fun times. We are tremendously blessed to have so much family living so close to us.

Our youngest son, his wife and the newest grandbaby came down for the weekend. The baby is just about three months old now and has grown so much. This, of course, is a period of such rapid growth. I would just like to slow the process down a little so we have a baby for a little longer. I must say, however, that he is at a really fun age now. He is trying so hard to talk and every moving part of his little body is going until he manages to emit a sound. We had some great discussions early each morning.

As a spur of the moment get together, we called our eldest son and DIL to see if they wanted to come for a BBQ last evening. They were thrilled to receive the invite and joined us with their four children. As I last wrote it was Rick's birthday and we had to have a "cake." Rick was never one to enjoy a cake. Even as a child he would want a pie or, his favorite, a chocolate cookie dessert. I surprised him with his favorite decorated with candles. He was even more thrilled when he found out that I had made two of the logs so he could have seconds. It is a very easy dessert to make as it is simply chocolate wafer cookies stacked with whipped cream in between, frosted with more whipped cream and chilled (or frozen) for about six hours. If you have never tried should give it a go.

After church this morning we all went to visit my mother so she could see the baby. She loves them at this age because she can still hold them on her lap. As they grow it is much harder to try to manage them from the wheelchair.
The kids left late this afternoon and I quickly changed bedding and linens to prepare for the arrival tomorrow of friends from Texas for several days. This was my husband's college roommate and groomsman in our wedding. They, however, had to cancel just a few minutes ago. It would have been very nice to see them again as it has been several years, but perhaps the timing will be better at a later date.
I am still awaiting parts for both the oven and refrigerator as well as the whirlpool tub. This "making do" is getting a little old. Hopefully, everything will be in and repaired this week -- maybe tomorrow!!!! Trying to entertain is "iffy" at best.
I do hope that everyone has a wonderful and safe week.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Thursday's Happenings

Can you believe that the weekend is almost here? I really have not figured out where the weeks tend to go, but they are certainly going quickly these days. I must add that this week has been a much kinder week in regard to appliances than last week. Of course all of the "parts" had to be ordered so I am still awaiting the arrival of them to complete the repair work. In this day and age we expect things to be so quickly and I find myself getting a little impatient with the waiting periods. Guess that the parcels have not come up to the internet speed yet.

Since I have started with blogging, I have found that I am seldom without my camera just in case a good photo op happens. This was the case this week when I stopped over at my DIL's home to drop something off for her. They had recently ordered some new chicks and they had arrived in the mail. The parents had not told the children about the pending arrival and the wee ones were excited beyond belief. As you can see, there is quite a colorful batch of chicks. They also had the choice to have them sent in Easter colors. Can you imagine that? It will be awhile before there are any eggs to be enjoyed, but the anticipation of waiting for the first egg will keep everyone on the lookout.

Of course I also had to share this photo of the youngest one being swung in the tire swing by his siblings. Life is tough on the farm if you were to believe the facial expression. Are you getting tired of seeing the camera happy chicken yet???

And then there is this great game of hide and seek -- you can't see her, can you????

This weekend we will be celebrating our #1 son's birthday. I am sure that their day will be spent at the baseball diamonds with three boys playing ball this spring. Fortunately two are on the same team. So happy birthday to the guy sitting in the middle of this shot.

Where have the years gone? He has been a terrific firstborn and has been a wonderful role model for those who followed. Thanks, Rick, for being such a blessing to our family.

This afternoon I went to donate blood. My regular center was closed so they referred me to another one close to us. Well...... right next door to the center was a F-A-B-U-L-O-U-S needlework shop. I can't believe that I had never found that one before. I do think that I will have to make that a regular stop since I will be making sure that I donate my blood at that center from now on. Not only did I find that gem, but they also passed out a coupon for a free pie from a well known restaurant just for donating this month. How much better does it get? Ahhh, the happy accidents that we find in our lives.

Also this weekend our #4 son, his wife and their baby will be down to spend the weekend with us. We are all excited about seeing the newest little one again. They grow so quickly at this age so even a few weeks makes such a difference in their appearance. From the photos they send, he is a happy and smiling little boy now.

I hope that everyone has a wonderful, safe weekend.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Monday's Catch-up

Oh my is Monday and I realized that I have not written a post since last Wednesday. Of course my intentions were the best, but the week got away from me and before I knew, it was gone. It has been one of THOSE weeks!

The week has blessed me with a more updated knowledge of my favorite repairmen's lives. During a recent remodel we had installed a whirlpool tub for use after a long day in the garden. It has been a temperamental thing from the start, constantly tripping the circuit. They have been here to check it out more times than one would like to count. "Richard" finally found a pinpoint leak in the heater element and replaced that. The problem persisted so last Wednesday they were back for several hours and have detected more "issues." They have decided to pull the whole tub out and replace it.

Then Thursday morning I noticed that my refrigerator did not seem to be keeping things cool enough. "Paul" was called and found that the defrost element has gone out for the second time in six years. My job on Thursday was to completely empty the fridge and freezer, turn it off and leave the doors open for twenty four hours while the built up ice melted all over the kitchen floor!!! The beach towels came in very handy.

All of this was going on while I was preparing for dinner guests on Saturday night. Doesn't it always happen at those times?

Friday evening my husband and I went to visit and have dinner with a very dear friend of my MIL's. At 86 years of age, she has just moved to a 62+ years community that is fabulous. Walking into the building was like walking into a very fine hotel. Everyone has their own apartment. Arlene's was a two bedroom, two bath with a great patio and views of the hills. The restaurant is built around a pond with a wonderful menu to select from. We had the best salmon that I have had in a long time. The complex has a health center as well as assisted living, nursing home and Altzeimer unit all within the grounds. It is truly an ideal concept for folks who do not want to maintain their homes anymore. We were both so impressed.

Saturday evening we had some neighbors from our old neighborhood come out for dinner. It was a perfect day with temperatures in the 80s so the evening was perfect for eating outside. Guests arrived, I had my appetizer in the oven and ready to serve shortly after arrival. NOPE -- the oven went out!!!! I opened the door to a completely cool oven. How could this be? Thank heavens for microwaves and understanding friends. Now....this is the forth time the computer has gone out in six years with the most recent being just December. "Alex" will be called today and I will be able to catch up on his life happenings as well.
But, yesterday was perfect! We were invited to our son and DIL's to celebrate Jake's forth birthday. He is a die hard John Deer*e boy so the entire party was green. I would imagine that he also slept with his green helmet on last night.
Note that "the chicken" also wants to join the birthday party.

All in green from head to toe.

Granddaughter Hannah wanted to try out the camera. Jake, myself, Benny and my sister sitting beside us.

But this is a new week and I have laundry and cleaning to do today. I am a little apprehensive about using any of my other appliances at this rate. Wish me luck!

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Wednesday's Thoughts

The weather has been too nice to stay inside and play on my computer so I've been busy working on the outside with projects that constantly call my name. My husband had tilled up one of my flower beds for replanting and I simply HAD to go to the nursery for seeds and some bedding plants. The colors in the nurseries are so stunning at this time of the year. You want to buy a little of everything and it is difficult to decide what to do.

I always remember my grandmother wanting me to take her to the "greenhouse" when I would visit with her. She loved her flowers like no one else that I have ever known. My grandparents farm was right along side of the highway and she would plant a massive field of gladiolas right by the roadside. One day a trucker stopped by to tell her how he always enjoyed driving past their farm to see the flowers in bloom. Of course my grandmother rewarded him with a large milkbucket full of flowers. She would provide all the churches in her small town with flowers for Sunday services -- a very ecumenical move. After a very long and happy life her casket was covered with 103 pink roses -- one for each year of her life.

The weekend was busy as it usually is here. Saturday evening my brother, two sisters and all of their spouses as well as my husband and I took my mother out for dinner for her birthday last week. It was a fun time for all and the food was delicious.

On Sunday we had the kids and grandkids over for a BBQ. It was just a spur of the moment decision as the weather was begging us to appreciate it. Since this past weekend was opening day for baseball season the boys and dads were excited about a game of catch.

A couple of crazy cousins finding amusement in each others antics.

While we were up in the Sierras for our snow trip last month we were introduced to a game that our daughter and SIL had brought along. It is called Brain Age and it is a great game. It is a video game for adults in which you try to improve your brain's age by doing simple problems, reading aloud, drawing pictures and counting. It never fails to bring the gang to complete hysteria. The whole idea is to practice with it each day to improve your mind with the ideal mind age being 20. I currently have been able to get mine to age 45 which is down from the 80 that I started with. I must be getting smarter!!!!!

This is the gang playing (testing) their brain age.

This morning I received my name for my Four Season's Quilt Swap . I was thrilled to be accepted for a position in the swap and now I get to start planning what I will do to represent spring. I have done this before with our quilt guild but this is from a much wider area of participants so I look forward to seeing what this will bring. I will share it along the way.

I hope that everyone is having a great week.