Wednesday, April 27, 2016

The Mountains Are Calling And I Must Go. (John Muir)

We were really fortunate to receive really good rainfall this winter in California.  It occurred to us recently that this fact probably meant that the waterfalls were running at Yosemite.  We are truly fortunate because Yosemite is about 3 1/2 hours from us.  Yosemite is one of the most spectacular places on earth. It was as if the mountains truly were calling to us, and given that the tourist season is about to engage at Yosemite, leading to huge crowds, we decided to beat the rush and had a somewhat short notice quick trip up this past weekend. 
 
The National Park Service is celebrating their centennial, so it was free when we went, although I would have been happy to pay the minimal fee to help support the park.  (I think it is $30 a carload.) There are really no words adequate to describe Yosemite.  The word "majestic" comes to mind, but it seems like to small of a word.  John Muir's poetic description in "The Yosemite" is beautiful and captures the spirit of this special place. It is a beautiful book and if you love Yosemite like I do, it will truly resonate.
 
Our first stop on the valley floor was Bridal Veil Falls.  We hiked up and stood in that cloud at the bottom of the photo.  We were drenched, but it was breathtaking.  The roar of it was so loud.  I think this was my favorite part of the day.
 

Bridal Veil Falls
 One of my favorite sites in the park is always El Capitan.  It is breathtaking to see in person.
It was pretty cool to watch a cloud drift over the top of Half Dome.  As you can see the meadow is all green and lush from all of our rain this year.
Yosemite Falls is the tallest waterfall in North America.  Yosemite Falls have two waterfalls, Upper Falls and Lower Falls.  The rain and snow of this past winter helped to put on a spectacular show.

View of the Valley from the overlook.  There was a storm moving in and the clouds blocked the view of the Half Dome and is covering the top of El Capitan.  You can see Bridal Veil Falls on the right side. 


We hiked a total of about six miles that day.  Liesl kept up with every step.  We said that she made the same hike several times because she had to do it on six inch tall legs.  Liesl LOVES Yosemite.  It takes about an hour to reach the Valley floor in the car.  She remembered Yosemite, so on the drive down she stood on my lap with her head out the window, stamping her little puppy feet in excitement.  (I have bruises to prove it.)  She hiked and sniffed all day.  We assumed she would be exhausted and ready to go home after six miles of hiking. 
 
As a side note, mini schnauzers are extremely super duper smart, highly emotional and can be very melodramatic.  They are also very opinionated and are master communicators.  Liesl lets us know exactly what she thinks.  So when we hobbled back to the car, barely able to walk any more ourselves, we assumed she would want to get in the car and rest.  Instead, she refused to look at us to let us know she was not ready to leave the park.  We asked her again if she wanted to go home, and she looked in the opposite direction of where the car was and would not walk to the side of the car.  Bill said, "Oh, no, she does not want to leave."
 
After trying to cajole her for a couple of minutes, Bill finally just picked her up and put her in the back seat.  She was pretty mad and stamped across her bed and plopped herself down on the car seat in protest.  This is her, fast asleep, five minutes later on the seat, still part of her protest.  She is resting her head on pillow of her Labrador sized, Sealy Comfort-pedic, gel-cooled, memory foam deluxe dog bed. Her protest included not laying on it, opting instead to be sqooshed into the remaining seat, so we would know she was mad.  She made sure we were put on notice about her discontent while she slept for the next hour.

 

If you get the chance, please check out our National Parks, particularly Yosemite.  Yosemite was originally a state park and was actually created with the pen stroke of Abraham Lincoln.  Many people have worked diligently to keep these lands public for the enjoyment of all.   If you are over age 62, you are eligible for an America the Beautiful lifetime pass to all National Parks for only $20.  It allows you and your passengers into the parks for free for your lifetime.  A great bargain.
 
One of my favorite things about being in Yosemite is that you very rarely see someone looking at their phone unless they are taking a photo.  Parents are interacting with their kids, and the kids are being shown the miracles of nature.  And the National Parks are dog friendly!
 

Monday, March 28, 2016

Happy Easter!

Happy Easter!  I woke up yesterday morning to find that my sweet baboo had organized an Easter Egg hunt for me with Cadbury Eggs.  (Note: All chocolate was hidden safely out of reach of Liesl.  Dog Safety first!)  It was a great surprise and made me smile!  Then we were off to church for a wonderful Easter service.  Our festivities culminated in my sweet baboo treating me to a pretty swanky brunch overlooking the Pacific Ocean.  It was very relaxing and the ocean was so beautiful.

We decided to get a little yardwork done after we got home from brunch.  The yard was such a mess.  The rain that we finally got in California this year also made the weeds THRIVE!  Unfortunately, this lushness creates hiding places for critters.  The yard has been like Mutual of Omaha's Wild Kingdom.  Just a couple of weeks ago Bill found a couple of young raccoon brother back there, supposedly hunting grubs.  They are so dangerous to dogs, so we needed to eliminate the hiding spots.  I trimmed the bushes and pulled the large weeds in the flower beds.  Today I am doing the ol' day-after-weeding-Frankenstein-walk. 

I am excited because I got the raised bed cleared.  It still had remnants of tomato and pepper plants, so I was thrilled to clear it.  We are headed into a warming trend so I am ready to start the seeds I purchased last month.  Vegetables we grow ourselves taste amazing.  We had to go to Home Depot on Saturday.  They had beautiful blueberry plants on sale so we picked one up.  Fortunately, the nice lady at the checkout told us that we need a second one for pollination purposes.  We would have wondered what we were doing wrong.  I would greatly welcome any blueberry growing tips.  I love them!

Finally, in the evening, I got to stitch.  I am so close to finishing this block.  It is all confetti stitching so it takes forever.  I do love how it is coming along.  It is interesting how the photo looks slightly different from the stitched piece.  I think I am so close to the stitching that I do not see how it all comes together with so much color and dimension as it does in the photo.  While I do love Teresa Wentzler's work, I am not sure I have what it takes to ever stitch another one of her pieces.

Well, it has been a busy day.  I have to put some kissies on a beautiful little schnauzer's sweet head...

 
 
 

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Stitchy Sunday!

It seems that everyone around me is falling victim to a really nasty flu that has people down for a week to two weeks. It is pretty mean and has been going around my office.  It has been trying to catch me for the past couple of weeks, so I have been going to sleep early in the evenings and trying to not over extend. I woke up this morning feeling achy and with a sore throat so I promptly decided it was a day to stitch in pajamas, and watch Real Housewives of pretty much anywhere.  I believe I made the right choice, although nothing on my list for today got done. 
 
Life was a whirlwind for the past couple of months.  In addition to working long days, I have been traveling a lot.  Last week, I was in Dallas on business. In February, Liesl and my sweet baboo whisked me away for my birthday for a long weekend to one of our favorite spots.  My bag o' fun was the first thing I packed, weeks in advance.  My fun bag contains a couple of stitchy projects, gardening magazines, my Kindle, my coloring books and pens/pencils, a cross word puzzle book, and seed catalog. 
 
I was working on Teresa Wentzler's Fruit Bellpull on the trip and something just kept bothering me about the grape square.  There were large blocks of an aqua blue-green floss.  These large blocks were the first blocks of colors I had stitched (a couple of years ago.)  It just did not look right.  TW is really technical with her colors.  I worked in the wine business for a number of years and have spent a lot of time in the vineyards.  I had never seen that color occur in a vineyard.  So I reached out to the nice people on the 123stitch message board to see if the color was right.  Stitchers are very helpful people and checked their charts. It turned out I had a very early version of the pattern and that blue green was so, so wrong.  Luckily, the pattern is available for download at patternsonline.com for $7 so I could correct the error of my ways. 
 
I was pretty bummed about the color being wrong so I put the piece away again.  I took it out today and frogged while watching the ladies of RH and their lack of effective conflict resolution.  I removed the blue green, and stitched quite a bit today.  I feel like I am finding my stitching mojo again.  It has been gone for several months. 
 
So I am hoping to be a bit better about my posting.  The first quarter of the year for accountants is pretty intense, so I am hoping it will slow down a bit and I can get back to the hobbies I enjoy - walks with Liesl, time with family and friends, stitching, cooking, gardening, reading, etc.  I hope you are finding time for your happy, too!

Sunday, January 31, 2016

Quilting Class!

 
My best friend has been doing a lot of sewing lately and was saying that she wanted to learn some quilt technique.  So I gave her a gift certificate for a class at a really wonderful quilt shop near by.  We have been excited about going together for weeks.  This weekend was the class.  It ran 10am to 3:30 pm both days.  The instructor is a highly respected designer and is a truly great teacher.   We learned some great techniques and tips.  The best tip I got all weekend was to not just "stitch in the ditch" with a straight stitch.  Instead, use those decorative stitches on your sewing machine, playing with the stitch length and width.  My Brother machine has 75 stitches to explore.  While my large table runner isn't by any means perfect,  the decorative stitch gives it some visual interest.   I still have to put the binding on.  I am thinking that is a next weekend project and will share when I have it completed.

The second cool tip I got was for this cool needle threader by Clover.  You put the sharp needle in the top in the number 1 spot, then lay thread cross the unit in that groove in the middle, then press that lever and voila!  The needle is threaded.  It is a must have!
 
I have to say I am exhausted.  I was so tired when I got home yesterday afternoon.  I was ready to go to bed at 7:30 pm.  You are so focused through these classes that you are exhausted.  It is so fun and I am so glad we went.
 
I came home to dinner in the oven and the house cleaned, and was greeted by puppy kisses.  I feel so blessed today!

Sunday, January 24, 2016

A Semi Productive Day

You get to a point when you look in your kitchen cabinets in  an unsuccessful search for a can of chicken noodle soup, finding instead way too many cans of beans and tomatoes.  This happens because I pick up an extra can just in case, and then it goes into the abyss that is my kitchen organization.  I am trying to make a big pot of soup on the weekends, which will turn into meals on a weeknight when neither one of us has an iota of energy to spare after work.  So I turned to one of my favorite blogs, Stephanie O'Dea's " A Year of Slow Cooking."  I found this super yummy Taco Soup Crockpot Recipe .  It used up a ton of cans and turned out super delicious.  It was not so much soupy.  It was more of a chili consistency, and was so delicious.  We have a ton for lunches and dinner.  Yay!
 
I also made a lasagna sauce so that I can quickly put together a lasagna, maybe for Friday night.  The best find in the bottomless pit of a cupboard was a can of pumpkin and a can of evaporate milk.  I thought, "Yay, PIE!"  Then I thought, "Oh, no, I have a serious lack of pie crust."  After my initial panic, I remembered that I used to make pie crust all the time in the 80's and 90's.  So I got out my favorite cookbook ever, "Good Housekeeping's Illustrated Cookbook." (circa 1980) I found my tried and true pie crust recipe and whipped it together.  My edge is not so cute, but it was not for a festive event, so it's all good.  It tasted fantastic and my sweet baboo has been walking around today in thinking I am awesome, saying, "I can't believe you made your own pie crust." 
 
It was fun to have a day of cooking.  It is such a fun, creative outlet when I have time.  I also truly believe that food cooked with love is the healthiest!

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Stormy Weather

We are most thankful here in California that rain has returned!  It has been quite stormy here and we are grateful for every drop of water!
 
With winter storms come what is referred as King Tides here.  We can have waves of 15-20 feet that crash with ferocity.  I attended a luncheon yesterday in Pebble Beach but thought I would snap a photo of the angry sea there.  Those waves in the background were pretty tall and the wind was knocking me all a kilter.  My little seagull friend in the foreground there seemed totally unaffected by the storm activity and my presence, although it does appear that he is giving me the stink eye.
 
Here is a photo of Carmel Beach today that my sweet baboo took.  Actually Carmel Beach was a bit of a misnomer as there was actually no beach and the 20 foot waves were crashing into the wall below the path way we were on. 
 
 Other than walking Miss Liesl in Carmel today, we stayed home.  My honey made me risotto for dinner and we are having a quiet evening.  We are both so busy with our professions so it is really nice when we can have a peaceful evening.  My stitching and my coloring books are calling me now.  I am not sure which will win in this moment.  However, I know I need to play with color and creativity for a while to stay centered.  I hope you are playing with color and creativity, too, and are enjoying peace.

Sunday, January 3, 2016

Four Day Weekend Over

Four days just absolutely flew by.  It as been a very cold few days so it was nice to be inside with Miss Liesl.  My sweet baboo was away for the past week, visiting his granddaughter and was delayed for a couple of days trying to return home.  So it was just Liesie and me, taking naps, reading books and having stitchy evenings until late Friday evening.  She was pretty excited to have her daddy home.
 
All of the Christmas trimmings and hall deckings have been put away for another year.   I was better organized while I packed them, so hopefully next year will go a bit smoother.  I will be vacuuming pine needles for months, little reminders of a happy family time. 
 
I pulled my multi year WIP, Teresa Wentzer's Fruit Bell Pull out this weekend.  I made good progress over the past few days.  I did not know that so many shades of green existed in DMC.  This piece uses all of them.  Oy vey!  There is also a lot of tweeding.  Not my favorite.  Particularly with all of that green.  The grape leaves are becoming more defined though. Yay!  Just four more panels of fruit after this.
 
I have decided to try something new since there is so much tweeding in this piece.  I have ordered one of those Pako Needle Organizers so that I can keep needles loaded and at the ready.  It should arrive this week.  I am hopeful this will offset some of the slow nature of the threading and rethreading of needles.  There is so much confetti stitching in this piece, that the rethreading is stealing some of the joy of the stitching.
 
I am very excited about the year ahead!  I think 2016 is going to be a fabulous year!  I wish you a very happy, healthy and prosperous New Year, too!
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Sunday, December 27, 2015

I hope each of you has had a beautiful holiday season.  As usual, it has been a whirlwind here.  Back over the Thanksgiving holiday we took Liesl to her favorite hotel in Santa Barbara.  We had been there back in July and loved it so much we decided to go back over Thanksgiving.  Liesl loves that it is across the street from the beach.  It was so funny because when we went back in November and we made the turn onto the street where the hotel is, I looked back to check on Liesl.  She had a big smile and was shaking really hard with excitement.  I wondered how she remembered when so many months had passed.  We had a wonderful time and it was nice to have some time before the Christmas holiday.

Christmas was beautiful.  We had about three days of holiday activity.  It started on Wednesday evening.  We went to see Chanticleer at the Carmel Mission.  Chanticleer is an amazing men's chorale group.  They are so incredibly precise.  The concert was amazing and the setting of the mission made for a magical evening.  It was such a beautiful concert.  I had to work the next day, Christmas Eve, but got off in time to go to services.  After worship, it was off to my best friend's family's house for the annual Norwegian Christmas Even dinner.  It was such a blessing.

Christmas was lovely and spent with the entire family.  Liesl gets very excited about the family being here and goes into her herding dog behaviors.  She has to keep everyone together in one room and has to follow anyone who strays off from the pack.  She was pretty tired from having to keep the herd together.  LOL  In fact, we were all pretty tired and went straight to bed after everyone left.  I feel so fortunate that my adult children live close by.  I love being around them and feel so fortunate to be their mom.

It has been lovely to have a couple of days to slow down a bit.  I have been wanting to get back to my stitching.  I have tidied up all of the aftermath of Christmas, packed away the holiday china and cleaned have the house closely resembling what it looked like pre-Christmas.  I am hopeful that I will get to stitch over the New Year's holiday weekend.  I am counting the days until I get to count stitches!

Monday, October 19, 2015

Happy Anniversary, Cozy Cottage!

Four years ago, I bought a little house that I was madly in love with.  It was my first house that I ever bought and I knew this was the one as soon as I saw it.  I jokingly said that I bought Liesl a house because I wanted to make sure that she had a place with a nice yard that was just for her.  We have been so happy here and love this place.  We are very happy that a couple of years ago, Liesl's daddy, my sweet baboo joined us here.  This house has a lovely view of Monterey Bay and I love standing at my kitchen sink with a cup of coffee looking at the Bay.  Today is my four year anniversary of moving in. 

We had a bit of excitement here on the Monterey Peninsula yesterday.  We woke up to no power.  Something had happened to cause a power line to come down north of us, and several transformers to explode. This resulted in the loss of power for the day for 55,000 people.  We had planned on going to church, then I had several hours of work to do since this is my busy season at work.  We lost power at 7 am.  My house has a gas water heater and gas stove so we had the basics covered.  I was able to shower, thank goodness.   Things look worse when you can't take a shower.  A hot shower changes your perspective.  Afterward, I looked at my sweet baboo and said, "You must go hunting while I feed Liesl, and by hunting I mean you must go find coffee somewhere. LOL"  Bill was out with many other desperate souls in search of an open Starbucks.  Most stores were closed because they could not operate without power.  He ended up in a neighboring town in a long line of people with wild looks in their eyes awaiting their opportunity to order a grande latte.  He called me to tell me that it was going to be a while. 

One thing that we have really been stressing about is getting the house winterized before the rain comes.  We both work long hours so getting everything ready has been something we were worried about completing.  While Bill was hunting for coffee, I got the clippers to trim the front bushes to keep them from scratching up against the window in a storm.  I was close to finishing when Bill drove up with a Pumpkin Spice Latte for me.  He said that we should drink our coffee then we could trim the tree.  We got that tree trimmed and cleaned up.  We still had energy, so he borrowed a ladder from our neighbor and made sure the gutters were clear and checked the drain pipes.  I am proud to say we are storm ready!

The power outage ended up being a blessing.  We had fun working together and feel good that we don't have to worry.  I got to take a nap, tidy the house, do some cooking, and read a book.  I had made a large container of homemade minestrone earlier in the week, so we got to sit and have a leisurely bowl of soup together.  It was quite peaceful without TV, or the intrusion of electronic media.  We still did not have power when it got dark.  Luckily, we have our camping lanterns, so we read and I went to sleep around 8:30.  Power was restored around 11:30 pm.

A lot of people were really upset about the outage.  We saw it as an incredible blessing.  We had the blessing of extra time and that time moving a bit more slowly.  Sometimes blessings come disguised in wrappings of something difficult.

Monday, October 12, 2015

A Little Pumpkin Product Hoarding

My sweet baboo and I love anything pumpkin.  Last year we were very disappointed because we started looking for pumpkin yummies in late October, only to find most places were out of stock.  We were bummed.  Yesterday, I was thinking of baking a pumpkin pie, so started down the baking aisle at the local Target for evaporated milk, only to find these.  The stock was really low so we stocked up for the fall and winter.  I think between this shopping trip and some delicacies from Trader Joe's I think we can make them stretch.  :)
 
 The pumpkin spice coffee creamer is my favorite pumpkin item. 
 Liesl also loves pumpkin treats and these are her favorites.  She loves Fruitables in general, but she gets very excited about these.  We found them at Petsmart. 
 Finally, my sweet baboo is one of the biggest Peanuts fans ever.   For some reason his vast collection of Peanuts did not include "It's The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown" which seemed tragic.  He was pretty stoked when he saw this at Target, too.  So we will be cuing up the DVD player in the next few weeks.  I also expect that date night will include the Peanuts movie opening on November 6. 

Saturday, October 3, 2015

A Few Places To Tell You About

It is a cold, gray day here on the Monterey Peninsula.  It works out because I am having a new fence built today.  I think the old fence was original to the house.  It was bowing badly and with all of the rain that is forecasted for California I have been really concerned about safety.  So before the rains come, a new fence is going in, the gutters are being cleaned, and the trees are having to be trimmed so that nothing falls on the house.  I hope we get the rains that are forecasted.  We really need it in California. 
 
So I have a few last things to share about my recent trip.  Our route took us through the town of Petaluma.  You may be familiar with Petaluma because much of it was the setting for the film "American Graffiti."  It is a very cool and funky town.  I would have liked to spend more time there.  Unfortunately, the day we drove through there was a huge street fair/farmers market even going on so there was no parking.  So I got ten minutes to run into this cool establishment while my sweet baboo and Liesl circled the block in the car. 


 This is the Seed Bank in Petaluma.  It is actually in an old bank building, complete with all of the old marble inlay.  It is magnificent.  The Seed Bank specializes in heirloom seeds.  We love anything heirloom in our garden.  So I had to check it out.


 
I was actually too overwhelmed to buy anything.  Plus I wanted to honor the ten minutes I told Bill I would take.  The place is huge and carries row after row of amazing seeds.  Here is a link that tells you more about them:  http://www.rareseeds.com/get-to-know-baker-creek/petaluma-seed-bank/
The last couple of places I want to tell you about are in the Sea Ranch Gualala area.  If you ever happen to be in the area, one place that you have to try is Two Fish Bakery.  This place is amazing.  Be warned that you must get there early in the morning, and you will have to wait in line.  Once they run out, that's it for the day.  We actually set our alarm to be there early.  It was so worth it.  I had the most amazing sticky bun.  I don't even like sticky buns, but this was incredible.  We also bought some chocolate dipped macaroons.  They were the best I have ever had. 
 
As I shared in a previous post, in this remote, out the way place is a little craft store called "The Loft."  I did not know what to expect, but I was really pleasantly surprised.  It is a small craft store, but well stocked with some of the loveliest items.  It is a great little store and had the nicest people working there.  It was definitely worth poking around in.  I only bought a couple little fat quarters of quilt fabric, but then again, I had brought so much stuff with me.
 
So there were lots of cool little places in our travels...

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Liesl and Pepe Le Pew

Well, we had a near mini-disaster last night.  Liesl needed to go out at 2:40 am.  She is like a little kid when she needs to go out in the middle of the night.  She wakes Bill by going over to him and tapping on him and making low noises so she only wakes him up.  They went outside and the next thing I hear him telling her to get inside quick.  She got skunked! 
 
Luckily, it barely got her or her face.  I plunged her immediately into the bathtub and scrubbed (at 3:00 am!)  I had to wash her face a couple of times, but it could have been so much worse.  She was not happy about the bath part.  The shampoo actually got it all, thank goodness.  We finally got back to bed at 3:30.  Unfortunately, she had not had the chance to go potty after all, so she started making it clear she needed out.  We both got up, got the leash and led her out to the yard.  Finally, at 3:40 we were able to get back to sleep.  :(
 
The worst part is that I have had the skunk smell in my nose and the back of my throat all day.  Ick. But  I am so grateful she did not have  to endure anything worse.  Bill says he will put her on a leash from now on when he takes her out in the middle of the night. 
 
 

Monday, September 28, 2015

Natural Beauty Of Sea Ranch

 
One morning at breakfast, we had the pleasure of chatting with a couple of local residents of Sea Ranch.  They were the loveliest couple and told us about a local spot on the Gualala River where we should take Liesl.  It is redwood forest with first, second and third growth redwoods.  I have never stood in a forest of these amazing trees so close together.  It was an amazing sight.  When you have the honor of standing amongst these majestic trees, the feeling is truly humbling. 
 
Near the trail to the river, was a log that had been marked to show the age of a felled tree by labels of the rings.  The tree dated back to at least 1157 A.D.  It is amazing to think of all to which that tree had stood as a silent sentry.  I truly felt privileged to stand in that forest.   


 
We got to see some truly incredible sunsets while on vacation.  One sunset I finally got to see a phenomenon that I have heard about for several years.  It has always eluded me until this trip.  I finally got to see the infamous green flash at sunset.  Bill is used to seeing them, but since the conditions have to be exact and it only lasts a second, I always miss it. 
 
On the evening I got to see the sunset, my sweet baboo had taken me to dinner at the Sea Ranch Lodge, which is on the edge of the Pacific Ocean.  It was sunset and he told me we needed to watch for the green flash.  Suddenly, several people in the restaurant were also watching for the flash.  We all got excited because we all got to see it.  It was pretty special.  If you are curious, definitely Google green flash at sunset.  Some people have actually captured it on film.  It is pretty cool.
The Sea Ranch is famous for its unique architecture.  The houses are natural looking and blend into the landscape.  The structure below is the chapel.  To me, it looks like an upside down hollyhock.  It is beautiful on the inside, as well, with light pouring in through the stain glass windows.  The light breaks up on the floor of the chapel.  The chapel is small, with a maximum capacity of around 15 people.  It is a very peaceful, meditative space. 

 
The Sonoma/Mendocino Coast is really spectacular.  I am happy we got to see a lot of natural beauty and take our time in a natural setting.  I feel the redwood trees calling me back already...



Sunday, September 27, 2015

Back From Vacay!

We just got back this evening from a beautiful, relaxing nine days of vacation up on the Sonoma/Mendocino Coast.  A few years ago, someone I worked with shared that there is a great community up there called Sea Ranch where you can rent a vacation home and relax.  They are super dog friendly up there and Liesl is a big part of our vacations, so we have been planning this for months.  Liesl LOVES vacations and is a great, seasoned traveler.  We actually have to pack on the down low, because she gets super excited and then gets herself worried that we will leave without her.
 
Our trip north took us through San Francisco, about 2 1/2 hours north of us.  I have been blessed to travel across the Golden Gate Bridge a number of times in the past 40 years, but I am still in awe every time.  The bridge is a art deco, engineering marvel. 
 
Sea Ranch is a truly beautiful and special place on the rugged California Coast.  We have been unplugged this week from computers and television, with the exception of the Big Bang Theory season premiere.   We have taken lots of beach walks, had fabulous meals both in restaurants and cooked at home, read books, did jigsaw puzzles, gave Liesl lots of attention,  and overall just rested.  I read four books during the week. 
 
In the next few days I would love to share some of the cool things I have come across on our travels.   (Sea Ranch even has a craft store!  I was so surprised that in such a remote location, that there was a nice little craft store.) 
 
I am off to dreamland to prepare to ease into the world of work.   

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Blue Ribbon


The Autumn Quaker is complete!  My sweet baboo made the frame and survived the first fair season!  I entered two pieces in the Monterey County fair this year.  I will take a picture of the second piece when I get it back this week.  Date night was at the fair last night.  Autumn Quaker won a blue ribbon and the second piece garnered an Honorable Mention.  Looking at the results was our first stop at the fair. 
 
The next stop was fair food!  We both have been one a pretty strict diet.  Bill started a few months before me and has lost about 35 pounds.  I am losing more inches than pounds but I am feeling great.  We saved up our cheat meal for the fair and enjoyed some yummy treats!  Next was the Tower of Power concert, which was awesome!  My ears are still ringing today but they really put on a great show.  
 
We did not get to walk much around the fair like I usually do.  I was pretty tired from a long week at work, so we hung around the Home Arts area the most.  Sadly, the cross stitch and quilt entries continue to dwindle.  There really needs to be a concerted community call to action to encourage people to enter in all categories.  The three pieces which won Best of Show in their respective categories were amazing and truly deserving of their accolades. 
 
I am hopeful that you got to see the PBS showing of BBC's Big Blue Live from Monterey this week.  It has been a big deal here.  I was so impressed to see how BBC really captured this beautiful place that I am so blessed to call home.  I get to see the beautiful Monterey Bay out of my window every day and I am so grateful.  The walks that we get to take include seeing otters, sea lions, whales, dolphins and lots of sea life and sea birds.  I love this place and I am so happy that the BBC shared it with the world.  So if you get the chance to see it again on PBS, I think you will really enjoy it.
 
Well, my glamorous life continues as  we begin a three day journey of cleaning out the out of control garage!  Hope you have a great holiday weekend!
 
 

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Happy Birthday, Liesl!

We celebrated Liesl's 8th birthday today.  Her actual birthday is Tuesday, so today was the birthday extravaganza.  We started out at Carmel beach, which is a dog beach. (Leash free.)  It is Liesl's favorite place on earth.  It is her Disneyland.  She met new friends, ran all over the beach, chased her ball, and went swimming.  She was pretty tired but still had to act like a toddler when it is time to leave the park.  She will dilly-dally and act like she has to smell every grain of sand, blade of grass, leaf, etc.  When we got her to the car, she was happy to be wrapped up in her towel and cuddled.  She was too tired to go into the dog boutique for her special birthday cookie, so I had to run in alone.
 
Her dad barbecued her a chicken breast with some noodles for her birthday dinner, which she promptly wolfed down before looking like she was starving while we ate our dinner.  She is a little bit of a drama queen, which is one of the things we love so much about her.  I have treasured every single day of the past 8 years with her and look forward to many more.  We both love her so much and are so grateful for all of the joy, love and laughter she brings into our lives.
 
We have not really been home around the cozy cottage much lately.  Back in mid-July, my sweet baboo had his high school reunion in Santa Barbara.  He treated Liesl and I to a special mini-vacation at a hotel, right across the street from the water.  This was Liesl and my favorite place to sit that weekend.  It was so funny because the first day that we were there, we took Liesl for a walk on the beach.  She went running into the water, full throttle, with a look of pure joy and bliss on her face.  We took her "swimming" each day that we were there.  We had fun just watching her.
 

 


While in Santa Barbara, we got to tour Mission Santa Barbara and the beautiful rose garden.  The roses were so beautiful, and I was really grateful they had the names of many of them on plaques.  I am hoping to find them on my unending rose bush searches.
 
We are so fortunate because for three weeks every July, musicians from all over the world come to our little corner of the world for the Carmel Bach Festival.  I love classical music and my favorite composer is Johann Sebastian Bach.  So this is a big deal for me.  This year, we were fortunate enough to make three concerts.  All three were so amazing.  Last Sunday, we saw St. John's passion.  I wept through it.  On Thursday, we saw the Brandenburg Concerti performed on period instruments.  The concert was sold out and everyone loved it.  It was hard to be out on a weeknight, but we were so happy that we saw it.  It was an incredible concert.  Yesterday, we saw the Coffee Cantata, which was very whimsical.  We love the Bach Festival and feel so appreciative that it is right here on the Monterey Peninsula.
 
So, it has been busy here, but with all good things.  We are so grateful for all of the blessings we have been able to experience lately.  I hope that your days are filled with many blessings, as well!
 
In closing, I would like to share more photos from Mission Santa Barbara. 
 
Betty Boop Rose


A massive Morton Fig Tree

 
A very happy Zwergschnauzer

 
 

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Almost Done!

I am coming into the home stretch on my Autumn Sampler.  This has been a super fun project.  I still have to go back through for touch ups that require confetti stitches.  I really love the colors and know that it will look fabulous in my living room.  We will see how long it takes me to frame it...
 
We had a good, albeit busy weekend.  We have been working hard lately on the yard and garden.  We live in drought ridden California.  (We have been through this a few times.)  Our area of the Central Coast is known for being pretty water conscious, but we got our letter last week talking about what we have to do to conserve more.  Bill looked at me and said, "Well, we either have to get rid of the garden or we have to recycle water."  He went down to Home Depot and came home with several large buckets.  So we are now capturing shower water and dishwashing water.  I thought we would save a couple of gallons a day, but it is more like 8-10 gallons a day.  We use the water on all of the flowering plants in the yard.
 
So here is the irony in this situation.  Because the water is recycled, we are actually watering the plants more, because we have to empty our buckets daily.  The flowers are thriving.  The other byproduct of this, is that we come home after work and play in the yard after we water the flowers.  We have been eating almost all of our dinners out there.  Afterwards, we play with Liesl and throw her ball.  We are spending a lot more time in the yard than we used to and enjoying all of the work we have done.
 
I just knew that we could not let the garden die.  While it is just a small cottage garden, we both love gardening. But I know it is really important to Bill.  When we first met, he was living in his condo, and said that he so missed a garden.  I can always see how happy he is when he is outside working in the yard, wearing his big floppy hat.  What makes it an even more beautiful scene is that he always has Liesl right there with him while he works.  Liesl and her daddy have such a special connection, and the sight of the two of them walking around the yard, makes my heart happy.
 
I have been feeling very blessed lately.  After Bills bout with Melanoma earlier this year, I went to the dermatologist for the first time ever.  I found an amazing doctor.  He found a few spots that he felt we pre-cancerous.  So a few weeks ago, I had a little surgery to have a large mole removed and a couple more spots frozen off.  I was not prepared for how much freezing would hurt.  Holy Smokes!  However, it could have been so much worse, so I consider myself so lucky.  My doctor shared his journey and said he would not be alive himself if he had not had a colonoscopy earlier than necessary.  He said no matter how scared you are, go do it.  It might save your life!
 
So I am counting my blessings and walking in gratitude.  May you be blessed! 
 

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Liesl's Night of Terror

Poor Liesl.  She has been terrorized the past few nights by fireworks in our town.  Fireworks are legal here, much to my chagrin.  However, this only applies to "Safe and Sane" fireworks.  Unfortunately, despite posted warnings by our city, quite a number of people have had, what we suspect, were illegal, professional fireworks, like the kind you fire into the sky.  This happened all over our town and included a couple of people on our street.  We were sort of used to the huge bangs that rattled the windows and lit up the sky going intermittently until midnight since Thursday.  Liesl has been a nervous wreck and has not eaten for the past couple of days from the stress, despite our trying to provide comfort.  Last night was terrible though.  The fireworks were relentless, and poor Liesl was terrified.  It sounded like we were under siege.
 
I have shared in the past, that Liesl is not a cuddly, sit in your lap kind of dog.  She loves to be kissed, hugged and petted, but she is not a cuddler.  Last night she was snuggled between us on the sofa, panting in terror.  Exhausted, we decided to turn in for the night, but she made sure she was touching both of us burrowed in between us.  I stayed awake petting her and trying to comfort her.  But she just shook really hard and panted.  I think the fireworks continued until after midnight. 
 
Bill and I  both got up early to coax her outside to got potty this morning.  She was so scared to be outside and kept trying to run back into the house.  This is totally not her nature.  Usually, she takes her job guarding us and her house seriously and is pretty fearless.  It has been so sad to see her with her little head hung with fear in her eyes.  It took her so long to go potty this morning.  We decided to just work on the yard today to make her comfortable in her queendom again.  She finally trotted around, let me give her a bath and a beard trim and is now napping off her busy day.  She is still a little jumpy but is overall back to herself, thank goodness. I was happy to see her finally eat her breakfast with her usual gusto.
 
Despite the noise and trauma, it has been a lovely weekend.  We went to a lovely barbecue yesterday and we even got to Skype with Bill's beautiful little bitty granddaughter last night.  We got some much needed work done on the yard today.  We got so much done.  I even got my Adirondack chairs repainted.  The weather has been lovely.  Not too hot, not too cold.  We have had a nice time, just hanging out together. 
 
So we are extra grateful for peace and quiet today.  We are grateful that we got to do some much needed work on the yard today and it looks beautiful.  Most of all, we are grateful for our little family and that our little furgirl is feeling brave again!

Friday, July 3, 2015

A Wonderful Day!

Today was such a beautiful day.  The weather was just gorgeous.  We both had the day off today, since the holiday falls on a Saturday.  It was great having a Friday off.  It was like having a little bonus day.  The original plan was to do some yard work, but we ended up having one of those days of just living in the moment.  It was beautiful.
 
We decided to drive out to Carmel Valley, about a half hour drive from us.  There is an absolutely beautiful regional park there that covers about 4,500 acres.  We all needed a nice walk, and Liesl was thrilled once we got there.  This park is on the same route as Liesl's v-e-t, so she was a bit anxious until we got out of the car and she got to trot through the park.  She had her happy walk going which made us happy to see. 
 
Afterward, we stopped at our very favorite nursery.  They have amazing plants and are always an inspiration.  While I like to putter in the garden, my sweet Bill loves to garden.  He has a special talent with begonias.  He has a couple that are in our yard that are huge.  Here is one that he has been growing for the past few years:
The nursery had the most breathtaking begonias today.  I wanted to make sure that Bill got some new ones for his collection.  He picked out a couple which are lovely:

As you can see the blooms are as big as my hand.  The one below is a little smaller but so pretty:
We had a fun time buying new seeds, and Bill was happy with his new pretties.
 
We also had a little stop at our favorite wine shop and then the grocery store for barbecue yummies for the weekend.  By the time we got home, it was naps for all.  (I absolutely swear by naps and always have!)
 
So we are ready for the celebration this weekend.  Have a wonderful and safe Independence Day!  And remember being safe means wearing lots of sunscreen!
 

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Life Is Good!

It has been a busy week.  I had a really good business trip to Portland this week.  As always, the best part of any trip is always coming home.  I was so happy to see my sweet little Liesl and my sweet baboo.  Liesl's daddy takes such good care of her while I am gone.  It makes me feel better to know she is in such good hands.
 
Portland is a beautiful city.  The view of Mt. Hood is particularly breathtaking. While I was there I tried the strawberries.  My Oregon colleagues told me that they are very proud of Oregon strawberries.  They are red all of the way through and quite delicious. 
 
I am like a little kid on airplanes and always choose a window seat whenever possible.  I had not ever flown north, and I was stunned at the beauty of the Sierra Nevada mountains from the plane.  All of the sudden in the midst of all of the gorgeous mountains a huge mountain would stand way above the rest like Mount Shasta, or a magnificent body of water like Crater Lake would appear.  I felt so grateful to be able to see such a beautiful site. 
 
The most beautiful sight of all was a little bearded face (Liesl) and a larger bearded face (Bill) greeting me at the front door.  Today we all got a little extra sleep, then went for a walk in the park.  Liesl loves the park and was acting like a toddler when it was time to go.  She was trying to think of anything to prolong the walk back to the car.  She was walking as slowly as she could manage.  It was silly.  But she went down for a nap as soon as we got back home. 
 
Had a great evening.  Had date night with my honey.  We had a super delicious dinner and got to talk about deep things.  Bill is the smartest person I have ever met, so he is fascinating to talk with.  We got to talk about a number of interesting topics, including books, which we both love.  It is amazing how such a wonderful day helps to make one's soul feel centered.
 
I am hopeful that I will get to stitch in the next day.  I took today to live in the moment and enjoy time with my little family.  So tomorrow I have so work to catch up on.  And of course, we must celebrate Puppy Daddy Day!  Liesl has her present ready to present to her daddy.  I am sure she will share a few kissies with her daddy, too.
 
Hope you enjoy the rest of your weekend!

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Stitchy Update


Well, I am nearly coming to the end of my Autumn Quaker (by Rosewood Manor).  I stitched a lot this weekend.  Last week I had that icky flu that is going around.  On Friday I could barely talk on the phone, so I ran over to Doctors on Duty.  My diagnosis was bronchitis and a sinus infection.  Hence, I logged much sofa time this weekend and stitched away.  I had big plans for cleaning my office/craft room this weekend, but I guess it will have to wait.
 
Today I was somewhat able to move freely about the cabin.  Liesl was looking like a total ragamuffin, so I gave her a quick trim and a much needed bath.  I trim Liesl according to her patience level.  She does not get a full styling all at once.  So today, I just got to use the clippers to get some of the hair off her back, head and chest.  I also trimmed her bangs.  Then it was bath time.  We have had a plethora of gophers in the yard, so she has been sticking her head down gopher holes.  That beard was filthy.  She seemed a little grateful for the bath afterwards, but she will never admit it. 
 
It is hard to believe it is June already.  While every other part of the country is warm or hot during the summer, here on the Monterey Peninsula it is cold and foggy.  It is what the locals refer to as "June Gloom."  While the rest of the country is barbecuing, we are thinking about what soup to make so we may keep warm.  So spending the weekend at home was not a bad thing.  It was nice to be cozy indoors.
 
I am trying to decide what I will stitch next after I finish this project.  I bought some really awesome Christmas ornament patterns earlier this year.  So I think I will start on some nice small projects.  I also bought some lovely hardanger patterns which I would like to stitch as well.  I have always been a fan of big projects but it will be nice to have some quicker finishes.
 
Have a happy week!

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Peaceful Weekend

This is the first weekend in weeks that we did not have one single thing on the schedule for the weekend.  We have had a couple of wonderful weekends filled with family.  Last weekend was especially busy, as Bill's son was graduating with his MBA from CSUMB.  The local university is highly recognized for their distance learning program for MBAs.  So it was an amazing weekend, filled with a large family, and lots of celebration.  Best of all, we got to spend time with Bill's little bitty, one year old granddaughter, who is just the sweetest little girl.  We had lots of fun shopping for toys before her arrival. 
 
So this weekend, we did not have anything on the schedule.  The only goal I had for the weekend was getting my hair cut, as I was way overdue.  My sweet baboo said that he would be happy to drive me to the mall, and he would go have a coffee at Starbuck while he waited with his book.  It was nice to have his company, and I took him to lunch afterwards.  We just got to have a really leisurely lunch and chat, which seemed luxurious.  We walked around Pottery Barn and Williams Sonoma, and our other favorite stores.  I decided that we probably needed to refuel so I got these little mini cupcakes to share:
We both LOVE coconut so we opted for that one first.  Bill adores buttercream frosting, and this buttercream was amazing.  It was so rich, we had to take the other two home  The yellow one is a Meyer Lemon cupcake and the other is a devil's food. They were awesome. 
 
Late in the afternoon I was able to go for a facial.  It had been six months since my last one, and I was in desperate need.  The aesthetician suggested a peel, my first one ever, and I can not believe the difference in how my skin looks and feels.  I felt like I was on a vacation for an hour.  I came home pretty mellow and stitched on the sofa while Bill watched a John Wayne movie.  It was a perfect evening.
 
Today has been awesome.  We had brunch with our best friends after church and got to hear about their adventure in Japan.  When we got home, I decided to finally clean out the bedroom closet.  It was way overdue.  I took everything out of it, and only put back in things I am really wearing.  I have three large bags of cloths and shoes to go to charity tomorrow.  It looks so organized now.  I needed to feel successful at one area before I try to spring clean the next thing  We also took Liesl for a beautiful walk by the water.  She has a certain really perky walk she does when she is really happy.  It makes both of us happy to see her like that. 
 
So far it has been a joyful weekend.  I am going to stitch a bit more tonight.  I feel so grateful for all of the simple joy of the weekend.  It is nice to have a bonus day off this week, and tomorrow we will share a prayer for all those who have passed in service to our country. 

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Catching up!

 
It has been a busy few weeks around the cozy cottage.  Last weekend we decided to celebrate Liesl's Daddy's birthday by heading out the Big Sur for the day.  Liesl loves to go with us, so we strapped on her Doggles and off we went.  As a side note, Doggles are dog goggles specifically designed as protection against sun, wind and dust for dogs like Liesl that ride with their heads out of the window.  My hair is absolutely a mess, but her eyes are protected.  Most of all, Liesl thinks she looks good and we get lots of smiles from other drivers.
 
PS:  Liesl only gets to ride on my lap with her head out of the window when momma is a passenger in the car.  For the safety of others, Liesl and myself, Liesl is never allowed on my lap when I am driving.  In addition, for her safety she only gets her window rolled down partially if I am driving.

 
Here is a Point Sur and the Point Sur Lighthouse.  It was our typical cold gray May day.

 
Here is one of the beautiful plants in the gardens at the Big Sur Bakery.  They had some lovely gardens on the property.  We sat under the big trees and ate our lunch.  Bill had the chicken salad and I had the avocado and radish sandwich on their delicious bread.  While lunch was tasty, I did not think it was awesome.  It was okay.  Being in Big Sur though was wonderful and we were just happy to be together.  After the melanoma scare, we are especially grateful for every blessing in our lives.

So we had a nice weekend.  Tomorrow I will update this weekend's activities.  Tonight, I am just happy to sit and stitch.

Friday, May 1, 2015

Public Service Announcement

We have had a rather interesting and stressful time around the cozy cottage recently.  About a month ago, Bill went to the dermatologist to get some skin tags removed.  While he was there, the doctor noticed a mole on his shoulder and sent it out for biopsy.  The scary diagnosis came back as melanoma.  He went in to have the mole removed, which ended up leaving a two inch square hole in his shoulder which had to be left open until results came back from the lab. 
 
Bill is a two time cancer survivor .  The results did not come back for two weeks.  During that time he said that he would only think positive thoughts. We prayed for a good outcome, as did our friends.  On Tuesday, the doctor called and said that they had gotten all of the cancer cells, and that it had been caught just in time before the cells got out of the tumor.  We are extremely grateful to God for his mercy and sending Bill to the right doctor just in time.  Today he was finally sewn back up.  It took 100 hundred stitches and we are grateful for every one. 
 
After seeing all of this, I quickly got myself to the dermatologist.  I have never been to a dermatologist.  Now that I am over 50, my skin is starting to change a bit, so I am not sure what is dangerous and what is normal aging.  I saw an awesome doctor who understood my concern and thankfully pronounced me healthy. 
 
Bill's doctor told him that melanoma is not something hereditary or internal.  It is from the sun.  After this, I will forever wear a hat, cover up and wear sunscreen. 
 
I have had so many people close to me go through a cancer journey within the past year.  I also lost a close friend last October to cancer.  Please, please, please go through any age appropriate cancer screening.  If you have any spots on your skin that do not look right, please have them checked. 
 
Also, if your pets have any moles, have them checked.  Liesl had one checked on her chest earlier this year.  Schnauzers have gray skin, so her mole is black.  Her veterinarian took a biopsy and fortunately, it was not a bad mole.  However, her vet recommended it be removed as a precaution in case it changes.  We will be doing that in the next couple of months. 
 
We are more grateful than ever today for our blessings.  Life is a great gift, yet it is all so fragile. Hug those you love and let them know how much you love them. 

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Progress!

I have not had much time to stitch lately but wanted to share my progress.  I am coming close to the end.  This is a fun piece to stitch.  I have some ornaments to stitch that are calling my name from my stitchy stash. 
 
Today was a really good day.  My sweetheart took me out for breakfast at our favorite breakfast place.   It was nice to sit, chat and relax.  Recently he bought me a really cool vertical planter for herbs, so afterwards we went to Costco to get huge bags of soil.  This planter has several levels.  I love cooking with fresh herbs, and I was able to plant whole seed packets in the planter.  It is really cool to garden this way.
 
Last year Bill built a huge raised bed for growing veggies.  We have a gorgeous selection of lettuces and spinach right now.  Lettuce you have grown from seed is especially delicious.  It really is fun to grow your own food, and I think it tastes even better than store bought.  I may have to research some delicious salad dressings to serve on top. 
 
So now it is a quiet evening.  Liesl is cuddled up to her daddy, sleeping.  I am thinking about the week ahead.  I am also thinking about what a beautiful weekend this has been.  Sometimes you get to have a weekend that almost feels like a mini vacation.  I am so grateful that this was the case this weekend.  What a blessing.
 
 
 
 

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Catching Up!

Well, this has been quite a week!  This has been a busy few weeks at work.  I really love my job, so it has been good to get things accomplished during this season.  Bill had to travel to a medical conference last weekend, and I had to travel for my job on Monday.  So we have been on the move.  Fortunately, we had a big date night planned for Wednesday.  Garrison Keillor was appearing in Santa Cruz.  We bought our tickets months ago so we got really close seats.  I love Garrison Keillor!  Bill had not seen him live before.  As a side note, Bill has a good sense of humor, but does not really laugh, per se.  He sort of chuckles when something is funny.  For the first time ever, I got to see him repeatedly crack up.  I have never seen him laugh that hard.  It was truly a gift.  Garrison was brilliant.  He is such an artist and for two hours we got to put aside everything except being in the moment.  If you ever get the chance to see him live, seize the opportunity!
 
So after a crazy week, we decided to put Liesl in the car, packed her an extra meal and the three of us headed out for adventure.  We drove up to Santa Cruz again.  There is an amazing place in Santa Cruz/Scotts Valley called Love Apple Farms.  April through June,  Love Apple Farms sells over 100 varieties of heirloom tomato plants.  I love home grown tomatoes and usually plant a number of plants.  This place is absolutely awesome.  Here is a link so you can check 'em out: http://www.growbetterveggies.com/growbetterveggies/
 
We bought several plants and tomato growing accoutrements.  On the same site is a lovely store which sells a variety of really lovely and interesting things.  They are called "Ivy's Porch".  They had some beautiful and well priced antiques.  Bill loves table settings and beautiful serving pieces and bought a Chippendale cake server, pie server and a Chippendale dish.  They are so beautiful.  Ivy's Porch sits on land with the most beautiful gardens.  Here are a few photos:

 

 
After this stop we were off to Corralitos Market, which is well known in this area for their amazing meats and sausages.  We did a little shopping and then treated ourselves to a couple of their Cheesy Bavarian sausage sandwiches for lunch.  We had a nice little picnic, then decided it was time to head toward home.  The area that we live in is well known for its agriculture and is referred to as The Salad Bowl of the World.  So there is a lot of great produce readily available.  We stopped at one of the roadside stands and bought really fresh produce for the week.  
 
We had such a fun adventure today and enjoyed just being together, the three of us.  Liesl is always up for adventure and really goes on car trips very well.  We got home this afternoon, whereupon all three of us decided that it was time for a well earned nap.  It has been a great day and we are now looking forward to watching a quiet evening watching a movie.   I feel so blessed for the gift of this day!