Tuesday, January 31, 2012

My Amaryllis

My Amaryllis bloomed today.  My friend gave it to me as one of my Christmas presents.  I have waited and waited.  Today was the day.  It has two breathtakingly huge blooms on it.  The other bloom is directly behind this one.  I love the dramatic variation of the red and white.  It really brightens up my kitchen.

I met all of my January deadlines.  I had a facial tick this morning, but my 1099s are out, taxes are paid and I have closed out everything I needed to close.  Thank goodness.  Now I just have to get my area of responsibility ready for the next few weeks for me to go on vacation.

Today was awesome.  An expert animal behaviorist came in to work with us and our dogs today. With our move recently a few bad habits have developed, so a professional was brought in to work with us on any areas that we felt the need to work on.  It is really easy to get frustrated with a dog who is not doing what we need them to do.  In turn, the dog gets frustrated too.  The behaviorist reinforced that you have to be consistent, particularly with the commands we use.  Liesl and I have a couple of areas where we can improve.  One is if she hears knocking or a doorbell, even if it is on TV.  She immediately will go into a state where she can not even hear me telling her to stop barking.  The behaviorist said that I need to start with high value treats, something she really wants.  Then I should just start randomly knocking around the house.  Before Liesl can get into a state of arousal, I should give her the treat while I knock.  Ultimately, she will learn to associate knocking with something good happening.  Liesl learned it pretty quickly.  Now I just have to practice with her a bit.  She looks so proud of herself.  Here I had been getting louder trying to get her to hear me, and thinking of ways to distract her.  I am glad to know that the answer is so easy.  (Most animal shelters and large pet supply stores have animal behaviorist on staff and can be really helpful!)

I am off to tuck my little fuzzy headed girl in.  

Monday, January 30, 2012

Eighteen More Days...

Well, this was the next to last day of my busiest month of the year.  It looks like I will go all the way to the wire on my deadlines.  I went to work extra early today when it was still dark to get a jump start on everything I need to get done.  I have the hardest parts done which makes me feel much better.  But I will admit that I am  really tired.  I was thinking all afternoon that I really wanted to do something artistic after work.  After I got dinner made and played with Liesl for a while, I picked up my stitching.  It just made me feel so happy.  I am so enjoying blackwork.  It is so pretty and easy to do.  

After I finish the panel of the piece I am working on, I still have another panel to complete.  Yet, I am already starting to think about what I want to stitch next.  I am toying with the idea of stitching the Hummingbird Afghan.  I bought the afghan several years ago, so I am ready to go.  I have so many other wonderful patterns though and they all seem to be calling to me right now.  

I am totally counting the days to my vacation.  I am so excited.  I was talking with my friend today who is in the construction business.  I usually seek his advice on things that I want to do on my house to get a sense of how difficult and expensive it might be to implement some of my plans.  He told me that if I need any help at all while I am on vacation with any projects to please give him a call and he would be happy to help me on his days off.  I am glad to know that I can have help or advice if I need it.  I watch too much HGTV and they put crazy ideas in my head that I need cork floors and towel warmers.  (which, of course I totally want!)  It would be so nice to have a toasty towel after a bath.

I am trying to figure out how to fit all of the fun I want to have into one week.  Just being able to sleep until 7:30 am will be a blessing.  Even if it rains everyday, I will be happy.  It will be a total of nine days of being able to play and rest, spend time with my favorite people, take long walks with Liesl and just not rush.  I will admit that it is fun to dream about it all.  It will be here way soon and planning it is really fun.  

Sunday, January 29, 2012

A Dozy Day At The Cozy Cottage

Working six day this week, most of which was already overtime caught up with me today.  I woke up tired and never got out of my pajamas.  I just could not get started.  I felt really badly because the weather was beautiful this weekend and I had the best of intentions of taking Liesl to the beach today because we could not go yesterday.  I was just too tired to get dressed.  Luckily, Liesl seemed to sense that something was a little off and just napped happily next to me.  I dropped off into naps a couple of times today and she just was so accommodating.  A friend of mine often tells me that someday when we all meet up in Heaven, we will find out just how much more our pets know and understand than we realize.  I believe that they do know so much more and are so in tune with us.  Normally Liesl would be really busy and would be wanting to go to the beach or play.  She was just so calm and let me rest today.  

I am also feeling guilty because I did not get anything done around the house today.  I watched really bad television, did a little online surfing and stitched.  It was really nice.  I am so grateful to Ruth for sending me the dye lot that I needed on my DMC 815.  The match is perfect and the transition has been seamless.  It was nice to be able to stitch.

So now the countdown begins for my vacation.  I am so excited.  My last day of work is the 17th.  I am looking forward to only having fun, having lunch and dinner with my friends, working on my house, going to the beach with Liesl, reading, stitching, staying up as late as I want, and just resting.  It will be so much fun to only play and not have any stress that week.  Liesl loves vacation too whether we travel or stay home.  I told her that we are going to Yosemite later this year.  I am looking at the off season so I can get a dog friendly place to stay at a reasonable price.  Dogs are only allowed on certain trails but I think it is going to be awesome.

I am grateful for the day of rest today.  I feel fortunate that I had a day to doze off and indulge in some stitching.  I got to reflect on some really wonderful things in my life and have a comfy day.  I am grateful for all of it.  

Hope you have a happy Monday!

The Love Of A Dog

I read somewhere a quote that says that until you have loved an animal, part of your soul remains unopened.  I did not know how much you could love a dog until Liesl came trotting into my life.  What amazes me sometimes is how much she loves me back.  Tonight I had to work one of our largest fundraisers for my job.  Liesl is usually with me at work but had to stay home tonight.  When I came home, she acted like my walking through the door was the best thing that had happened all day.  She gave me lots and lots of kisses.  Liesl in general is not much of a kisser. However, when I come home, I get lots of kisses on my nose.  It makes my heart tickley when she does that.  I did not get home until around 11, but she had slept all evening so she wanted to play.  I had picked up a brand new toy squirrel for her earlier today.  It looks pretty real, and squirrels are public enemy numero uno in Liesl's mind.  She loves her new toy.  She had to chase it several times until she indicated that it was time for her tummy to be rubbed.  (I jokingly tell people that I sleep in the servants quarters of the new house, LOL)

There are times that other people tell me that I should get another terrier.  I so love terriers.  I love the mischievous look in their eyes, their little beards, and their big attitudes.  But I believe that Liesl would probably not want to share her stuff, including her momma with another dog.  I have said the only exception to the rule is if she is head over heels for a dog that would be her dog.  But then I would be totally outnumbered and I would have two terriers bossing me around.  LOL

Tomorrow I plan on getting lots of rest.  I have to clean up the house a bit, but other than that I see naps in my future.  I am pretty tired these days.  I am looking so forward to my vacation in a couple of weeks.  Liesl is looking forward to it, too.  I am making lists of the things I need to accomplish on vacation.  I can not wait to make some progress on this house.  I am so excited about it.  I was able to clear a large section of my garage today, which really made me happy.  While I could park my car in there, I am thinking that I would really prefer to use it for work space for large projects.   It is such a usable space that I could get a lot of function out of it.  I have so many plans.

Well, I am hearing soft puppy snores.  It is making me sleepy so I am off to dreamland.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

One Of Those Big Life Questions...

I have been having one of those magical epiphanies this week.  A simple question has led to a lot of deep thinking.  In church on Sunday as part of the sermon, our pastor posed the question, "What would you do if you knew you only had 24 more hours to live?  At the time, I thought that I would probably not do much differently than how I live now.  I have pretty happy days.  I might have a good dinner with all of the people that I love and possibly order all of the desserts on the menu.  Other than that I am pretty grateful for the life that I have.  

However, that afternoon, I came home and while doing other things I was watching the History Channel.  The afternoon's shows were dedicated to doomsday prophecies of Nostradamus, the Mayan calendar, etc., of the world ending on December 21st of this year.  (Why do I do this to myself and watch this stuff?)  But it has had me thinking what if I only had this year to live, what would I do differently?  Wow!  That is a big question.  What would I do to make sure that I savor each and every single day?  I would do a few things that would make life even better.  Then I had the epiphany that I can do all of these things anyway this year and fulfill things I have wanted to do anyway.  So this is my plan for this year:

Number 1, I will visit Yosemite this year.  It is only four hours away.  I have lived in California since 1975 and I have never seen it.  In the past few years, they have opened dog trails in Yosemite.  Liesl and I are going hiking there this year.  Number 2, I will plant jasmine outside my bedroom window.  I love the smell of jasmine and would like to smell it as I go to sleep.  Number 3, I will be less afraid of taking risks and accomplishing those things that I want to accomplish now.  I will wear more lip gloss because I love it and think it is pretty.  I might try false eyelashes, too.  I have to think about that though.  

My relationships are pretty profound, but I think that I would try to make the close friendships that I enjoy even better and I will be less shy about telling people that I love them.  I will use the good china this year.  I have had it for 25 years and can count on one hand the number of times that I have used it.  I will not waste time worrying about things that just do not matter.  I will live with my full heart and mind and do things that I really care about.  My prayer life will be a lot more profound, too.

I think that living like this could be extremely liberating.  It sort of gives me that sparkly magical feeling that I could create my life in the year ahead (what is within my power) to be one that is filled with more joy, love, laughter and fun.  Thinking about the things that I really want instead of I think should be.  I once saw Wayne Dyer speak in person and he gave the analogy of seeing two lamps for sale.  We don't really love them,in fact they are kind of unattractive but the price is low, so we buy them and take them home anyway.  He said then you see a rug that you don't really care for, but it is half price so you take it home.  He went on to say that before you know it, you have filled up your house (or your life really) with things that you do not absolutely love and you wonder why it is not working.  (Instead of only bringing things, people and situations into your life that you absolutely adore.)

This will be the year that I do the things that I have wanted to do, treasure what I already have, to bring things into my life that I really, really want, and to add only what I absolutely love.  I am so excited.  

May this year be filled with so much beauty and happiness for you, too!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

A Quiet Evening

Every day I believe that you get little gifts to make you happy.  I get really tickled over the small stuff that is just so cool or strikingly beautiful.  There is so much to be happy about. This evening was exceptional.

This evening, I decided to leave work on time, but packed up my briefcase with work that I could do at home.  It is a rare thing for me to walk out of my office at 5, but my feet were cold and I was thinking how nice it would be to go home and wear a pair of socks that my daughter has knit for me.  (It is like getting a really wonderful hug!)  It was still light as I was driving home and I was awestruck by the most beautiful sunset.  The sky was streaked with beautiful colors of pinks, reds, orange and purple.  It is at sunset when I really get a sense of how quickly the earth is turning on its axis.  One moment the huge orange sun is on the horizon and then it is gone.  The colors still remain in the sky until all at once the sky is dark and the stars start to dance.

I got home and puttered around while I made a really healthy and delicious dinner.  Liesl napped while I warmed up her puppy dinner.  She has been an extra good girl today, so she got a little shredded cheese on top of her dinner.  She acts like it is Christmas when this happens.  After we played really tug a war and fetch she got up on the sofa to go to sleep while I watched 30 Rock (only one of the best shows ever!)  Here is the best part.  It was one of those rare evenings where she decided to come over and snuggle while she went to sleep.  This is a rare gift.  This is generally just not her thing.  I accept it about her (and she accepts me as I am, too) and I am just happy when I get the gift.  There are times I wish she was more of a lap dog, but she thinks of herself as a bigger, working dog, so hanging out on a lap is just generally not her thing.  (She makes a few exceptions.)

I never got to take the work out of my briefcase.  It was just such a nice peaceful evening, I just never got around to it.  I thought after all of the joy of the evening, I should count my blessings instead and just enjoy the peace.  My feet are warm.  I feel good for having eaten healthy food.  I got a long distance call today from my friend who just moved to Texas.  My dog loves me.  I get to feel love and admiration for the people that I am surrounded by.  

May you be blessed many times over, too!

Monday, January 23, 2012

Loving Life

There are times like tonight when I am driving home along Monterey Bay that I still have to pinch myself that I live here.  It is so beautiful to see the lights of Monterey and Pacific Grove lighting up the bay as I drive towards Monterey on my way home from work. I moved here from the San Francisco Bay Area about 20 years ago, kicking and screaming.  Now I can not imagine a place that I could love more.  I have seen this area change so much, mostly for the better.  I love the natural beauty of the place, the goodness of the people, and the historical significance of the area.  Monterey was the first capital of California from 1777 to 1846.  The area has been home to literary greats John Steinbeck, Robert Louis Stevenson, Robinson Jeffers, and Henry Miller.  Ansel Adams also had a home here.  I have always loved John Steinbeck and Robert Louis Stevenson and I love to think that I have walked and stood in some of the places that they have.  I am sure that most people love their regions as much as I do!

I am counting the 25 days until my vacation.  I love to play tourist here.  (I love to travel, but I really love coming home.)  In addition to doing a lot around the house, I am hoping that the weather will be nice enough to take some really nice walks and hikes with Liesl.  The natural beauty here is breathtaking, and the nice thing about having a dog is that they inspire you to get out and walk in nature.  Liesl is always up for a walk, even at 6:30 am this morning when it was storming outside.  It is really important for her to have this walk as part of her morning routine.  Plus, I really like that time with her.  

I am proud to say that I finally got the floor cleared in my craft room yesterday.  The top of my new desk is also cleared.  I had organized piles.  Now I just have to start filling all of my shelves and cubbies in my new desk.  The craft room has been the catch all room while I have been getting settled in the house.  I will take a photo of the desk and chair this week.  I absolutely love them and see myself spending a lot of time in that room for a lot of years.  The sun comes through the large window in that room every morning, so it will be great to take a cup of tea in there in the morning to start the day.   I dream of going in there to watch movies,  read books, and create beautiful things.  It is the first room that I am really working on and I think it will set the tone for the house and inspire me to work on the the others.

Life is such an adventure.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

A Happy Day

I got a wonderful surprise at work yesterday.  Earlier this week, my new friend Ruth responded to my request for where I could find DMC from a 20 year old dye lot.  She is so kind and offered to send me hers from her own collection.  Yesterday I received her envelope with the sweetest note inside, which made my day!  Newer 815 was a pinkish tone to it and does not match what I started my blackwork sampler with.  I was growing a little desperate with each stitch as I was running out of my floss.  Ruth sent me three skeins and they are a perfect match so I will be able to finish.  It was such a nice thing to do and I appreciate it so much!

Well, it is kind of pathetic to admit, but last night I fell asleep in the middle of writing my blog post.  I had gotten up in the wee small hours of the morning yesterday to start work early.  I worked about 10 hours in all yesterday.  It was storming like all get out by the time I got home and I was pretty tired.  The wind and rain was a bit crazy.  I could hear stuff hitting the house all night.  It had to have been raining sideways because it was hitting the windows directly.  It helped me to sleep really hard.  

When I woke up this morning, it was still storming.  There were a couple of things I had wanted to do today, but I quickly decided that they were not necessary.  Instead I decided that it should be a pajama day.  I took a nice hot bath, but got back into my jammies for the rest of the day.  I puttered a bit, but mostly stitched and caught up on my episodes of Real Housewives of Beverly Hills.  It was divine.  I had a nice warm blanket to get under on the sofa but somehow Liesl claimed it as hers and I was out in the cold.  You would think that I would learn by now.

I am totally counting the days until my vacation.  January has been such a busy month so I am totally looking forward to my February vacation,  I am supposed to work on my house, but perhaps I will just have nine days of jammies.  I am so looking forward to finish unpacking and getting some important things done here.  I do not have pictures up on the walls or anything.  I am looking forward to taking care of all the things on my list. 

Well, my eyes are getting heavy.  Guess I better sign off before I fall asleep again.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Such A Lovely Evening

The rain has finally arrived here on the Monterey Peninsula.  It is supposed to rain now for the next five days.  It was a good night for comfort food.  My friend came over for dinner.  I made Pasta Puttanesca (Martha Stewart's Recipe) Pear Gorgonzola Salad, and German Chocolate cake for dessert.  It was such a nice evening with great conversation.  I feel pretty comfortable, content and happy.  

I am glad it will rain this weekend.  It is a good weekend to stay in and work on the house.  My goal is to finish setting up my office/craft room.  I would also like to finish a book I am reading and just snooze with my puppygirl.  Most of all, I really want to stitch.  It is funny how it just calls to you in a way that makes you feel like you have to stitch.  I think I will watch a movie on Netflix and stitch away.  

My vacation is now less than a month away and I am so excited.  I really have to make a list of all of the things that I want to do on my house.  My friend who is an engineer jokingly says that when I am done with my house, I'll have a contractor's license.  I am really considering putting in cork floors in my kitchen and bath at this point.  I like the fact that they are soft and warmer than other flooring.  The additional thing that I like is that they are not slippery for little puppy feet.  

It have finally found the paint color for my kitchen.  It is a warm, buttery gold by Behr called Spiced Butternut.  (My friend at work and I say that we would love to have the job of naming paint colors.)  It is absolutely perfect.  My best friend has been joking with me and told me to just pick a color already.  LOL  Picking paint colors has been a much more overwhelming proposition than I could have ever thought possible.  I think it is the fact that all of my adult life I have been relegated to white walls and working with them.  Now that I have a choice, all of the color options are overwhelming.  Now I have found the color and I am ready to get started in the kitchen.  I am pretty excited.  

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Winter Has Finally Arrived

We have had a crazy winter so far on California's Central Coast.  It has been that dreamy California weather that everyone thinks is the California lifestyle.  It has been warm and in the 70's.  This is totally not the norm.  We have been a little panicky because there has been no rain and no snow in the Sierras.  This could spell trouble in one of two ways for us.  Either we would have drought conditions, which could also mean big fires like back in 2008 (It seemed like the whole state was on fire.  It was crazy.)  Or it would mean that we would have drenching rain all through Spring.  The good news is that the cold has arrived.  It was 30 degrees on my way to work this morning.  The rain starts on Thursday and will continue for a while.  

I happen to love the rainy season.  I love the opportunity to putter around the inside of the house, read books for hours on end, take naps with my furgirl, stitch, cook, and just be cozy.  When it warms up I spend a lot of time in my garden, but I really like the time during the winter when I can just relax indoors.  

It is supposed to be at its coldest for the week tonight.  I am grateful that my house is insulated in the walls and ceiling.  I have warmed up the house sufficiently and have all of my blankets on the bed.  The nice thing about the cold is that I sleep really well.  Liesl is already sound asleep and she is obviously having a really good dream because her tail is wagging really fast.  I love a happy dog.

As I lay under this pile of blankets, I pray for those who do not have a warm place to sleep tonight.  I pray that the most basic needs of people, particularly children, would be met throughout the world.  I also ask that all who stop here to read about my little bitty corner of the world would be blessed with much joy and peace.  

Stay warm.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Awesome Weekend

First of all, I must say a huge thank you to Ruth and Cindy who both responded with offers of help in finding the older dye lot DMC 815.  Ruth has so kindly offered to send me three skeins and I am so grateful to her for it.  I am enjoying the journey stitching this sampler and was getting a bit desperate as I cut each length to stitch.  I was comparing Sullivans, Anchor and DMC trying to find a suitable match.  I really should have planned much better on the floss at the beginning. 

I have had a really fantastic three day weekend.  I got all of the gardening done on Saturday and I am happy as I look out the window or play with Liesl in the yard.  It looks like our rainstorms are going to start arriving this week, so I am glad that I got it done.  

Yesterday afternoon and part of today, this was my project:
This is the sewing cabinet that I purchased several weeks ago.  It has been sitting unassembled in big boxes in my garage since December 23rd and this was the first chance that I have really had to put it together.  Beneath this pretty and serene exterior is a plethora of storage options.

First you have the shelf for your sewing machine, complete with built in surge protector:
There are nice shelves, too!  But wait, there's more!
The shelf pulls out, the additional shelf comes up and you have a cutting table/sewing table.  But that is not all
Underneath that is another pull out shelf for my printer and a stationary shelf, which I think I will use for fabric.  After that, it all folds back up to the unassuming cute cabinet at the beginning.  
This is its temporary spot until I can move some of the furniture around in my office.  I am also going to paint the walls a warm taupe so that the furniture will pop.  

If you are thinking that you would like one for yourself,  I bought it at Target.com.  It is a Sauder piece and I believe the original price was about $329, which was not bad at all.  However, the piece weighs 234 lbs and has to be delivered by a semi so the cost to ship was about $118, which you do not find out until you are checking out.  I nearly fainted and cancelled my original purchase.  However, during the holidays the price was drastically reduced to about $270 and the shipping price dropped about $20 less to where I could rationalize the purchase.  I will tell you that I can normally put together most furniture in about 1-4 hours.  This took me about 7 hours total over a couple of days because it has moving parts and I think there may be more engineering in this cabinet than in the Golden Gate Bridge.  Oy vey!  

I love, love, love this piece.  It is so beautiful and functional.  I will also have to show my craft desk that I bought from Overstock.  I am still unpacking this room (there is always that one room left...) and there is some stuff on top of it, so I will share later this week.  I love the way this room is coming together.  

The rest of the weekend has been fantastic, too!  Today I had lunch with my best friend, played ball with Liesl in the yard and went to Home Depot where I found the paint color for my kitchen.  I am so excited. I am so inspired and really stoked about my upcoming vacation where I can tackle some big projects on the house.  So much fun!

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Oy! My Aching Back!

Those who have followed this blog probably know that I love me some vintage.  The other day I was in a local craft store looking for DMC 815 (another story) when I came across these vintage style patterns.  They are only $1.19 a piece and I just love them.  I love the totally kitschy dishes one.  I got the Dutch Girl pattern because I am of Dutch heritage.  I found out a few years ago that my Dutch ancestors were professional embroiderers in the silk mills in Paterson, N.J.  I think the Dutch Girl patterns would look great in a delft blue.  (You can also find Aunt Martha's patterns on Amazon.)

Okay, so here is my DMC sad story.  I am afraid that sometimes I do not plan floss in advance very well.  (Sometime I will share my story of a monochromatic sampler that I did that ended up costing me $150 total in silk floss...)  I went to work on my blackwork sampler with DMC 815,  Obviously, this is an old 815, about 20 years old, I would guesstimate.  Unfortunately, back then 815 was more of a brownish red. Now 815 is more of a pinkish red.  I am now almost out of my old 815.  If anyone knows where I can find a twenty year old 815, please share with me in the comment section.  I would really appreciate it.  I know, I should have planned better.

Today was awesome.  We are having a heat spell here that has lasted several weeks.  This is normally our wet and cold season.  Generally, it rains a lot in January!  My drought resistant plants are even looking a little dry.  I can only water them on weekends because by the time I usually get home from work it is very dark and cold.  I do not want to water and have ice form.  Anyway, I was planning on sleeping in until 9 today because it had been a long week.  Liesl had heard birds chirping though at 7:30 and decided that we must go see them.  I walked outside with her and it was already very warm.  While she was taking care of business I started to pull some weeds that were starting to overrun the flower beds.  Sadly, I was tempting fate because I was wearing my leopard print pajamas.  When you are wearing your Mutual of Omaha's Wild Kingdom, Ooh La La, leopard print jammies (they are polar fleece) and you have serious bedhead and yesterday's makeup giving you the Tammy Faye look, the likelihood is that your elderly neighbor will also come out in her yard and want to stick her head over the fence to say hello, which indeed occurred.  

After letting enough time pass, I pulled myself together and put on some decent clothes and spent the remainder of the morning working in my yard.  I waged my ongoing personal battle with oaxalis.  Liesl decided to befriend the enemy and found a nice patch to lay in, directly in the sun to snooze.  I got so much done and gave my plants a good drink of water.  I am already feeling the burn in my back and legs...

I spent the rest of my day cleaning house and re-arranging my furniture. The cozy cottage is looking pretty cute. My friend is coming over to dinner tomorrow night.  (I am thinking of making ratatouille.  I love ratatouille.  It is really good comfort food.)  The house is really shaping up to be what I picture in my mind's eye.   I just love it here and I love how comfortable Liesl is both in the house and her yard.  She has been such a sweetheart today.  She can be such a sweet and gentle soul.  At one point she even found one of my sweatshirts and was totally cuddled up to it.  So darn cute!

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Knitting Club

We have been on hiatus for a little while from knitting night.  It seems like everyone got busy at once.  Tonight we got together after about three months.  Several of us have been looking so forward to it because we have missed each other so much.  Girl time is so important to our mental health and well being.

We have so much fun in our group, which is made up of an amazing group of women.  We usually start at 6, have pot luck dinner together, then chat and/or knit.  Our dinners are amazing.  So delicious and comforting.  I think most crafters tend to be really good cooks as well.  We usually go until 8 or 8:30.  Tonight we were talking, laughing and catching up until about 10pm.  I have not laughed like that in so long.  

I love when we get to show off what we are working on.  My knitting is not really great because I tend to stitch more.  The women is this group are really talented knitters.  I got really inspired tonight.  One of our members even has published a pattern for a beautiful sweater.  She brought the sweater tonight and it was absolutely gorgeous.  I totally want to knit one.  I feel really inspired as we go into the weekend.

I really appreciate this time spent with other really creative fun women.  My friend Heidi has done such a super job getting us started and bringing us all together.  She told me that she chose women that are really down to earth.  I think this is why we get along so well.  Our group just really works well and we have so much fun.  I really enjoy that we always start with a meal together.  I also love that it is on Thursday and kind of starts the weekend a bit.  

If you are thinking about starting a craft group, I would totally encourage you to do so.  This is one of the highlights of my week.  You can start small and it does not need to be official.  In fact, the less formal is a lot more fun. And try inviting people from varied age groups and backgrounds.  

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Life Is Beautiful

You know those days where you wake up and you just feel so much joy?!  Today has been one of those days for me.  It was a little bit hard to get up though.  It was cold and I was all warm under the covers with Liesl all snuggled up.  I woke up to dog toes in my armpit.  This may be her best idea for keeping them warm.  Anyway, it is pretty hard to wake up anything but joyful when you wake up to dog cuddles.  I kept thinking how fortunate I am to have such love in my life.

It has been a pretty busy day today.  I had meetings all afternoon and ended up bringing work home this evening.  I do not have to do that very often, but this is my busiest month of the year, so I do not mind so much.  I get to work in my jammies and can spread my papers out on the sofa and ottoman or the bed.  In general, I do not think it is a bad thing.  I am grateful to have a job that pays my mortgage and keeps us in puppy cookies.  I am also grateful to have medical insurance and work that I love doing.  

I am pretty excited because I ordered some used decorating books on Amazon.  They should be here by Friday, so I can have fun this weekend.  I am hoping to get some great tips.  It is a three day weekend, and I hope to get a few things done around here.  One of them is to change out my bathroom fan.  It currently sounds like a jet engine.  They made them with varying levels of noise (referred to as Sones.)  I watched the Lowes do it yourself video and it does not seem that hard.  You just have to do a few calculations (yay!  I am an accountant!) and then be very careful.  I have decided that I need a reciprocating saw though.  I was telling my contractor friend about all the things I want to do and how many trips I have to make to Home Depot.  He laughed and said that he has a feeling that I will have my ashes spread over a Home Depot when I go to the big tool department in the sky.

I have just felt so happy today and in love with my life.  I feel pretty lucky about that.  I just love my dog, my work, my house, my neighborhood, my books, my family and friends.  Thinking about all of the blessing really makes my heart sparkle some days.  I feel so very grateful.  I am not financially rich by any stretch of the imagination.  But my life has been so richly blessed with things that I find truly important.  Love, faith, and being humble in it all.  So many incredible gifts.  I hope I wake up this full of joy tomorrow, too.  

Sunday, January 8, 2012

What A Great Day!

Today was awesome.  It started out at church.  I was the assistant minister and cantor today, which made me happy.  I love being able to serve in that capacity.  Before church I was working with the organist, who is also a very close and dear friend.  She told me that she had my Christmas present and wanted to give it to me.  It is so cool!
I love this bracelet for a couple of reasons.  The first is that it is gorgeous and I can wear it with anything.  The second reason is that sales of this jewelry,( the company is called Ember), helps women in Uganda, East Africa to own their businesses, which ultimately helps them to rebuild their homes, educate their children, and have better lives.  Uganda has been ravaged for 20 years by poverty and civil war.  I love the fact that my present helps to make someone's life a little better.  It makes me feel good to wear it.  If you are interested in looking at the jewelry line, you can find out more at http://emberarts.com

After church I had to run to Target to pick up a few things.  I ended up forgetting half of what I needed to get because I was happy dancing as I found these:

Big bags of Coconut M&Ms!  I am a happy happy girl!  Target had lots of them in their big bagged candy section.  I do not need to panic anymore.

As always, the best part of my day was coming home to a little furry mustachioed face that was so happy to see me.  My face was covered in kisses, which made me so happy.  We spent a quiet afternoon together and I got a little puttering done.  It was the perfect end of the weekend.  Next week is a three day weekend.  I am chargin' up the power tools as we speak!  I am already making the lists of what I want to get done.  It's gonna be great!

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Nurse Liesl

I never fail to be surprised by the amount of empathy and compassion that animals can show when you are sick or in pain.  Sometimes it is more than you can even find in humans.  Yesterday morning I woke up with a rotten headache that lasted all day.   Headaches are rare occurrences for me so I figured it was stress related from all the stuff I had to get done yesterday.  I came home and went to bed early with my book.  I was asleep by 8:30.  I woke up at 10:15 sick as can be with stomach flu.  Liesl followed me down the hall and stayed with me for the worst of it, looking a bit worried.  She stayed glued to me the rest of the night and laid absolutely still on the bed next to me.  I was still feeling a bit yucky this morning and she stayed close and quiet.  We both were feeling better after a nap this afternoon.  I am impressed how dogs and cats take their job as nurse so seriously.  It is funny how they always know when we are feeling better, too, and go on about their business.

I am happy to say that it was just a 24 hour bug and I feel so much better.  I was able to do a little light puttering around the house this afternoon after my nap.  I got my shoe organizers put together and cleared a lot of real estate on my closet floor as a result.  It looks so organized. I organized my bedroom a bit more, too. I also changed the shower head in my bathroom so that bath time will be a little easier for Liesl with the new handheld shower spray.  The weather was gorgeous today so I even pulled weeds for about ten minutes just to get some fresh air.  

It is funny how much time I spend thinking about all of the stuff I want to do on my house.  I will be walking by something and I will think to myself, "You know what would look good there..."  I am thinking about the yard these days.  Right now it has low maintenance plants, but I am thinking that I would like to create a cottage garden feel.  I want to put in sod so that Liesl will have a grassy play space that is all hers to roll around in.  It is so nice to have the freedom to make my house and yard exactly what I want them to be.  It is a slow process, but is a lot of fun.

I love this part of the day when the house is totally quiet.  The neighborhood is totally silent and everyone is in for the night.  I feel so peaceful and relaxed.  I made myself comfort food for dinner, have on my warmest jammies and a great library book at the ready.  Liesl is tucked in, relieved of her nursing duties and is dreaming about chasing squirrels.  It feels like paradise.  As Dorothy said, "There's no place like home."

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

An Ode To M&M's

Okay, why has no one told me of this?  Apparently, I have been nary aware that there is such a thing as Coconut M&M's.  This combines two of my very favorite food groups. All of this time I have been unawares.  How could this be?  Tonight, I had to cruise by Target to pick up Liesl's compressed rawhide bones (she got a granola Busy Bone, too, much to her delight.)  As I was standing in line, minding my own business, my eyes came to rest on the red clearance sign.  You now know that this is how I roll.  Beyond that sign I saw Coconut M&M's.  This is one of the greatest pairings since Harry Met Sally, or there was Laurel & Hardy, or hot cocoa & marshmallows.  I bought a handful of them, but am now a little panicky that I do not have enough now that I have discovered that they are a limited edition.  I may have to tap out an email to the Mars company for taunting me like this...

I have put in for my vacation next month and all looks well.  I usually take my birthday week off in February, so that I have time to do all of the things that I love.  A friend of mine told me a couple of years ago that birthdays are sacred and we really should take the time to enjoy them.  I took those words to heart, so I take that time to allow for the sacredness of it and spend time that week having lunch and dinner with friends, taking leisurely naps,  and just playing.  I truly make that week a celebration.  We all really need to celebrate our own lives.  We are here for a reason and need to express joy and be blissful that we simply are.

This birthday week seems especially celebratory because I get to play in my house that week.  Generally, it is raining here on the Central Coast around then, so it is a good week to stay home and get some things done.  I plan on doing some work on the house and basically playing HGTV.  I am excited that I will not be inhibited by bedtime schedule or appointments.  I can just have as much fun as I want.  I have plans to go away on vacation later this year, as well, but I am really looking forward to playing at home in February.  

Well, I am off to tuck a spoiled little furgirl in.  She has just laid down on her bed (which is actually a large dog bed better suited to a golden retriever.)  She has let out her last sigh before she falls asleep.  I need to go tuck her blankie around her so she is cozied in.  

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

My Clearance Adventure

Today at lunchtime I had to run in to a local craft store to pick up more DMC 815 for my project.  I figured one item, I will be in and out of there in no time flat.  Well, that was until I heard the siren song of clearance tags bidding me to look at the merchandise.  It was a song that said on red flyers all over the store "Christmas Items 90% off."  Seriously.  I tried to stay focused but it had the same effect as flashing shiny objects in front of me.  Plus, if you have been in a craft store lately, you know the cross stitch floss is pretty darn hard to find, as it is usually stuck in a dark corner somewhere.  So I had to walk past all of the sparklies.  I was doing okay, until I spotted this button garland at 90% off.  I looked at the tag and it originally sold for $19.99, which meant that it was on sale for $1.99.  It was almost like they were paying me to take it home.  Plus I just so happen to be decorating a red and white craft room.  I bought three of them and I am thinking of working them into the window treatment.  I also bought two gumdrop style garlands for $1.79 for my kitchen tree.  I totally scored.  And best of all, I even remembered to purchase my DMC floss.  It was a good day.

It was good to be back at work.  I am pretty busy, as usual. Everyone is back from their time off and we have everyone back in the office.  We have such a good balance of people in my office, so it is nice when everyone is in.  

The best part of the day was Liesl and I coming home.  She loves her home and pops her head up to look out the window when I make the first of two turns to our house.  Then she motions with her nose to the top of the window that she wants to ride with her head out the window.  She is so excited and has her ears back with excitement.  I love walking into the house and the way that I feel when I am here.  I love the new bookcase that I bought yesterday.  It just looks perfect where it sits.  I am really getting settled here although there is still much to do.  I think it will always be a work in progress.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Oh My Goodness! What A Great Day!

I woke up today to a typical Monterey Bay foggy day.  It was just gray.  I had been thinking about taking Liesl to the beach again this morning, but she was looking at me like she was not down with that plan. I was not feeling it either. We were both feeling like a cozy morning at home.  She went to go lay on her blanket on the sofa and I headed to the kitchen.

I had planned on making yogurt this morning.  You have to start pretty early in the day because it takes about 10 hours.  I have not had any success in finding yogurt that isn't sweetened with fructose, so I decided to make my own.  It takes about a quart of milk.  I do use a yogurt maker, but I understand that you can just make it just as well in a bowl.  While I was waiting for the milk to do its thing, I decided to clean out the fridge (I LOVE my fridge, with the freezer on the bottom.) I had an overabundance of veggies, so I decided to make tomato vegetable soup.   I threw a few leftovers in there to and ended up making the best soup I have ever made.  My daughter had given me some Penzey's spices for Christmas.  They are quite possibly the best spices ever made.  Much tastier than grocery store spices.  I am hooked.  They made my soup wonderful.

While I was getting the veggies out I found a spaghetti squash that I had totally forgotten.  I threw that into the oven so that I could have it ready during the week.  When I pulled it out of the oven to shred it into Tupperware, Liesl got herself off of her napping spot and made it clear that she wanted some.  That little dog would not stop eating spaghetti squash.  She loves sweet potatoes, too.  As a side note, dogs are omnivores and can eat certain fruits and veggies.  They should never be given grapes, onions or garlic as they can cause serious illness and even death.  However, most fruits and veggies are good for them and healthy snacks.  Liesl loves her sweet potatoes and they are pretty good for her.  I think the spaghetti squashy probably smelled the same to her, which is why she became so excited about it.  She also loves white potatoes and would eat a whole bowl of brown rice if I let her.  Spoiled, yes, she is.

After my cooking-palooza, I went to have lunch with my best friend.  She has such a great sense of humor and is a lot of fun to be around.  It was nice to have some friendship time today.  I left her and ran to Target to get my memory card for my camera.  Only I ended up finding several other things I needed too, like shoe organizers for my closet on sale, a shelf unit for my laundry area, and a gorgeous hard wood bookshelf that is PERFECT for my living room and is exactly what I wanted.  I got to play construction all afternoon!  Of course, I still have not put my sewing cabinet together, but I sure had fun today.  

Now I get to stitch and catch up on my episodes of Real Housewives of Beverly Hills.  I am looking at my bookshelf that is just amazing.  I am super happy about it.  Now I am thinking that I may have to paint a red accent wall in my living room...

Today was the perfect end of a great weekend.  It was just so simple and so lovely today.  Perfect!

Sunday, January 1, 2012

2012 Is Gonna Rock!!!

I woke up with that magical, excited feeling that this is going to be a great year.  I have a lot of plans and goals for the next year and I have so much to look forward to.  I just think it is going to be an exceptional year.  

We are having a bit of a weird winter here and today it was gorgeous and in the 70's.  A great day to be at the beach.  Liesl knows the word "beach" and once I tell her that we are going she is so excited and harasses me until we leave. It was such a beautiful day, a good start to the new year.  It took longer than usual to walk because there were a number of schnauzers at the beach today.  Some we know and others were newcomers. There is such a breed loyalty that other schnauzer parents will always acknowledge each other from far away and make an effort to say hello and meet other schnauzers.  So we got to visit a lot today.  There was also a nice lady on the beach that saw Liesl and had to meet her.  She said that she had had schnauzers growing up and misses them.  Liesl was extra nice to her.  We also got to meet a beautiful giant schnauzer, the second one that I have ever seen in person.  What an amazing dog.  Her parents said that they always have to warn their overnight guests that she loves to sing in the morning and not to worry that something is wrong.  Schnauzers.

I got to stitch for a little while tonight.  It is coming along so beautifully and will look perfect in my craft room.  I went to take a photo of it to share but I am getting a message that my five year old memory card is now write protected.  I think the little locking thingy broke off.  So I will have to head to Target this week before I can share.

I am thrilled to be off work tomorrow.  I am having such a great weekend!  I am supposed to have lunch with a friend and the rest of the day is set aside for puttering.  I really need to set up a white board over my laundry sink in my garage to keep track of all of the projects I want/need to do.  I have my drill charging and I am stoked to use my power tools.  This is way too much fun.  I have to stay off Pinterest.com because I keep finding more and more cool house projects.  I guess I know what I am doing with my next vacation.  LOL

Life is good.  2012 is going to be awesome!