Friday, January 31, 2014

introspection on a new pair of shoes

posted by jennifer:

yesterday morning, while doing a frantic search for a pair of missing shoes.... and realizing we only had one pair of school shoes  for maya.... i decided we needed a second pair. 

i already had in my mind that i would be taking emma out to buy shoes, before her big toe completely broke through....  so the three of us girls went out yesterday.

maya immediately was drawn to a pair of twinkle toe shoes.... light up shoes.  she tried a pair on, and loved them.  now, i usually shy away from these kinds of shoes.  in fact, i am not sure if any of my kids ever have had a pair.   but the pure joy on her face.  i knew that i was going to cave.

once they were on her feet, they didn't come off, until we were home.

now, this isn't to say that once i decided she could have them i stopped thinking about it.  as she was putting the first shoe on i was already thinking "her teacher is going to hate me".... and i made sure i reminded her about lilly's purple plastic purse  and how mr. slinger didn't
like when lilly was disrupting the class with her purple plastic purse, her movie star sunglasses, and her three shiny quarters.

about 3 minutes later, still thinking are these okay for school?, i asked emma, did kids wear light up shoes to school in elementary?  "yes,  mom".

elapsed time as emma looks and and tries on shoes.....

about 15 minutes later, while in the oh, so clean bathroom at the shoe store... maya still in her twinkle toes.... internal thought "what if i decide she can't have these... and now they have been walking on this dirty floor"  like i would really tell her no at this point... what do i take myself for?

about 1 hour later.... at home.   internal thought "what in sam hill was i thinking? these things are going to give me a seizure.  oh, i hope that they don't give her a seizure"  vocalized thought... "maya don't look at the lights too much.  they might hurt your eyes".

about 15 hours later... in the girls darkened room.  going with maya to wake up emma.  (maya wearing only one of said shoes).... internal thought "ha!  i bet wanted criminals would get nervous to be woken up by someone wearing these".... red and blue lights.... dancing across the room.

about 15 hours 5 minutes later.  "mom, i can't find my other shoe"

about 15 hours 5 minutes 2 seconds later.  internal thought "hmm.   is this a good thing or a bad thing?"

well, i guess i should go and help maya find her other shoe.  but i think when we do find it i am going to be sure to go on a rant about how we are not going to be buying light up shoes again.    but no worries, i will find other things to overthink about.


Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Deck of cards Valentine

I made this "card" for my husband, for our 45th Anniversary.  But the idea would work equally well for a Valentine Day gift.

I started with a soul searching session to pinpoint 52 reason why "I Love You".  After knowing each other for 50 years, I looked for fresh ways to express that love.
As I thought of each idea, I wrote it down.
This contemplation is a good exercise, because it really helps you focus on the positive bits of your loved one and your relationship.
52 reasons requires a lot of zooming in on the minutiae.

I punched 2 holes in the side of each card, at the same location on each, so they could be put onto large
(2 3/4") binder rings, when I finished.
Next, I cut 53 pieces of card stock 2" x 3 1/2" for each card in the deck, plus one for one of the jokers, which would be used on the back of the cover card.
I glued one piece of this card stock onto each card face so that the card "name" or value still showed at the top left hand corner.

I stamped a large "b" onto each piece of blank card stock. This would be the first letter in the word "because" for each of the 52 reasons, and would give the deck a common thread.

Then came the fun part.  I wrote one reason "I Love You" on each of the 52 cards and then embellished each one according to the thought.

Here's some samples from the deck I made:

 I used stickers.

 Small shells.

 Decorative papers and metal charms.

 More stickers.



Ribbon and sealing wax.

There are also feathers, game pieces, paper clips, pieces of maps, and brads in the deck.
I used my rubber and clear stamps on many of the cards as well.  Because the cards are on binder rings, it doesn't matter how thick the cards become with the festooning.

I decorated the cover card with the number 52 and the words why, I love you, and reasons.
On the flip side of the cover card, I added that last piece of 2" x 3 1/2" card stock and used that space to "sign" my card.

If 52 cards seems overwhelming because of time constraints, or because your relationship is too new for 
52 reasons why you love the recipient of your card,
how about just using the Hearts suit?
You could change the "title" to something appropriate to the 13 cards in the suit.
(A total of 14 cards with the title card, if you are feeling superstitious.)
You have captured my heart... because.....
King of Hearts you stole my heart... because....

One of the cards I made says "because you make me fajitas", and that is just what my husband is doing as I write this.  I am one lucky girl.

t.t.f.n. ~ Carol

Monday, January 27, 2014

I love you...

Ways to say it….

*I love you more than all the ants in a greedy anteater's snout.
(I just read that an anteater can eat 30,000 ants in a day. Who counted that?)

*I love you more than one lady loves her pupas. 

*I love you more than all the 4 leaf clovers in Edward Martin's collection. He is the World Record Holder. Beating George Kaminski (who was in prison! and found his clovers within prison walls. Can this be real?) I am finding multiple sources saying it's so... cRaZy! Check out this Chicago Tribune Article

*Love you more than the 100 tons of dust fragments that enter earth's atmosphere daily.

*I love you more than the amount of time I could spend searching for mind blowing facts to tell you just how much.... 

hehehe. Happy Tuesday to you all. 



Friday, January 24, 2014

last night's dinner

posted by jennifer:

so,  like i am sure most people do, i go through phases...

-the i can't not have a book i am reading phase.. and i read shamelessly.  even during the day. ..(when some part of my brain is telling me i shouldn't be reading for pleasure until all the "work" is done)  that phase is inevitably replaced by the i don't have the attention span to read a magazine article.

-the i am in an easy going about the state of the house phase... where i rationally realize a mess is what happens in a under 1000 square foot house that 5 people and a cat share.  the dried milk spots on the table legs from one of the numerous spills that happens during any given week.... don't bother me.  the ant meeting at the dirty dishes on the counter and sink... what's up buddies.   that phase is suddenly, and unpredictably replaced by the "why is the house such a damn mess" "how can we live in this constant state of squalor" state of mind. 

-the i can't even think about cooking phase.   grab a box of macaroni from the pantry.  are there any frost covered corn dogs in the recesses of the freezer?  "babe, i am feeding the kids, but you are on your own"..............

i just came out of that phase, and am now in the "i feel like chinese food. let me whip up some:  cream cheese wontons with an apricot sweet and sour sauce; orange chicken; stir fried vegetables; and brown rice." 

last night on the menu:
 -spinach salad with parmesan, dried cherries, and apple wood smoked bacon
 -parmesan dijon baked chicken
 -roasted red potatoes with rosemary
 -boysenberry/peach/apple crisp

so good.  i thought i would share recipes for the salad and the potatoes.

**spinach salad with parmesan, dried cherries and bacon
       and a pomegranate molasses and citrus dressing**

you will need:
  about 6 cups baby spinach
  parmesan ( i like to shave mine with a vegetable peeler) about 1/4 cup or so
 1/3 cup dried cherries
  4 slices of cooked bacon chopped coarsely

for the dressing:
  1/4 cup olive oil
  1/4 cup pomegranate molasses
   juice from tangerine (or orange)
  1 1/2 tablespoons rice vinegar
  1/2 teaspoon salt (or to taste)
  1/4 teaspoon pepper (or to taste)

put all in a mason jar and shake what your mama gave you.... and the dressing too.

**roasted red potatoes with rosemary**

you will need:
  about 6 or 7 scrubbed unpeeled red potatoes
  olive oil (about 3 tablespoons or so)
  salt and pepper to taste
  a couple of rosemary sprigs

dice the potatoes in about 1/2 inch cubes.  put in a baking dish, toss with oil, salt and pepper.    add rosemary sprigs on top.  roast in a 450 degree oven about 45 minutes or until brown.

my crisp (made i have to say from peaches and boysenberries from the yard and taken out of the freezer.... and a couple of straggler apples left from the tree... still edible, but too soft for straight eating... and an orange from the naval tree) was intended to be topped with homemade whipped cream flavored with almond extract.  but come time for dessert, thankfully there was a can of  whipped cream in the refrigerator left over from a previous phase... full circle baby... full circle.


Thursday, January 23, 2014

My mini greenhouse

This is my dream greenhouse.
(No plastic, all glass!)

And this is my greenhouse.

  In reality, this up-cycled aquarium is very efficient and practical for my gardening needs and the space available to me for a greenhouse.  Still, a girl can dream of a beautiful Victorian era glass house to start her organic, heirloom seeds in.  

I  broke the glass out of the bottom and the top of this no longer used aquarium to provide the air circulation needed.  If the weather turns frosty, I can cover the top to keep in more heat.  The garden mirror behind the greenhouse provides a bonus boost of sunshine and, thus, warmth.   I had some stacking cooling racks that I no longer use, and use those for additional shelving, when I have a lot of trays of starting seeds.

This year our winter has been so warm in Southern California, I didn't think I'd have to use my mini greenhouse for my seeds to sprout.  And that has been true.  However, I am having a difficult time with the slugs this year.  They are devouring the tiniest lettuce seed sprout before they have a chance to get big enough to survive a nibble or two.

And those slugs do not obey signs.

I have brought out my convenient greenhouse and have started my lettuce seeds in it, in order to give them some defense (size) for when I transplant them into the ground.  
When I was cleaning the glass on the aquarium after a year of non-use, I was grateful for its perfect size.  I kept thinking about having to clean all those panes of glass on my dream greenhouse.  Of course, in that dream someone else would be doing that dirty work.

And talking about starting seeds....
a couple years ago I went all natural and started seeds in empty egg shells.  The seeds started well, and the plants did grow.  But my yields were down.  When I pulled my broccoli plants out at the end of their season, the reason for my reduced harvest became clear...

Although I had broken up the egg shells before I set the broccoli seedlings into the ground, the strong shells still held the roots bound.  Now maybe this wouldn't be a problem with store bought eggs, but with the thick shells on eggs from our hens, it was.  I have gone back to recycled pony packs from nursery stock for soil containers for my seed starting investment.

It's off to the greenhouse I go, to check on my wee lettuce plants.

t.t.f.n. ~ Carol

Monday, January 20, 2014

wearing nature's bangles

posted by jennifer:

my daughters have always loved creating adornments from what they find in nature. 

- a wreath for the head made from woven ivy and decorated with flowers

-a simple ring made from a single nasturtium flower

-a daisy chain bracelet

yesterday morning they came in from the backyard wearing these beautiful bracelets. the materials used to create these works of art included: dried ficus berries, apple blossom ice plant, nasturtiums, and small waxy white flowers.  the tree/shrub that these flowers are from is a volunteer in our yard...and i don't know what it is.  i do know that our neighbor offered to have her son come cut it down years ago.  i guess she doesn't like it much.  it doesn't block any view other than into our yard....hmmm.  we declined her offer. 

how happy it makes me to have flowery/shrubby trees pop up in my yard without an invitation.

and how happy it makes me to see these statement pieces on my beautiful girls. 


Monday, January 13, 2014

Really, what are they thinking?

Sometimes when you are going through weighty times, you are thrown a nugget of lightness that helps to keep the stymies of life at bay.  I got such a plum the other day.

My current serious and difficult challenge is getting my 93 year old, fiercely independent father off the road.  And I don't mean off the road as a cane carrying pedestrian.  I mean, off the road from behind the wheel of his Honda, which is more of a bumper car lately.
Just when I think I'm going to scream at the latest road block in taking the keys away from this man, who use to take the keys away from me, a funny story unfolds right in front of me to lighten my mood.

I was in the Whittier Trader Joe's last week, having stopped there on my way to picking up my dad to take him to an ophthalmologist appointment.  I was next in line to pay for my groceries, standing behind a little old lady.  (From here on out to be referred to as LOL.  Pun intended.)

This LOL had told the cashier she wanted each of her 6 bananas rang up separately.  The cashier dutifully scanned each banana separately, along with all her other items.

LOL got agitated at the clerk at one point, for a reason unclear to the patient Trader Joe's employee and to me, as I watched this drama unfold.
When the groceries were all scanned and bagged, LOL finally makes it clear that she had wanted each and every item PURCHASED separately.
Clerk verified with LOL that she really wanted to pay for each item separately.  Yes, she did.

Clerk cancelled the first transaction and started over again. (I was encouraged to go to a different cashier at this point, but hung around to see what happened.)
Each banana, (housed in its own separate plastic bag), each carton of yogurt, each and every item required a separate transaction---
a swipe of her card, the entering of her pin, the cash back ? prompt, the o.k. the amount, the giving of the individual receipt.

.19 banana = receipt
.99 yogurt = receipt
.19 banana = receipt
1.79 sour cream = receipt
2.99 orange juice = receipt
.19 banana = receipt
1.49 tuna = receipt
I would guess she purchased some 25 items.  

The cashier, Dee Dee, remained friendly, albeit confused.  The customer tapped away at the key pad and amassed a stack of receipts.

 As I was driving out of the parking lot, LOL was loading up the trunk of her car with the groceries.  I couldn't help wonder if she purchases every gallon of gasoline separately?  Does she require a separate transaction for each  postage stamp she purchases at the post office?
I don't know what would motivate such a request, but it gave me something else to think about for awhile, and I was grateful for that.
I wonder if she should be driving?

t.t.f.n. ~ Carol

Saturday, January 11, 2014

backyard walkabout...past a money tree and a cat sneeze grand finale

posted by:  jennifer

on a recent walk through the backyard this week, i brought my camera.  these are a few things that i wanted to share:

*our mandarin/tangerine tree.  after rough and not at all scientific calculations.... i figure that this tree has saved us in the neighborhood of $5963.00 over the course of the 15 years we have lived here.  you see, not only do we eat it's fruit, but it is the source of our go to gifts for the holidays.   when you package up a couple dozen tangos all cute like, it looks like a $25.00 gift.  and i must say, even when my husband hands off the fruit in a plastic grocery bag, it is still appreciated.  onward!

*one of our blooming aloe plants.   we now have approximately 29 aloe plants in our yard.  and they all started from one pup.  is that the right term mom? 
my family would sometimes take weekend getaway trips to laguna beach... well we still sometimes do.  but back on a fateful day in august of 1990, my now husbands family was also on a weekend getaway trip there.  our paths crossed, and even though he went back to san diego, and i went back to fullerton, the story was set into motion. 
umm... where was i... oh yeah.  aloe.  so anyway, about 11 years ago, my mom and dad gifted us with a family trip to laguna.  and on this trip, my husband snapped a piece of aloe from the property at the laguna riviera hotel.  this one piece of aloe, has morphed into many.  incredible.  and isn't it beautiful?

*a lovely surprise.... i am guessing placed there by my 5 year old.  it is always nice to find something beautiful in an unexpected place.  such as a nasturtium flower in the crook of the nectarine tree.

*my dryer is broken.... and i have decided i should force myself to line dry again.  i was all gung ho about it a year or so ago... and then i stopped.  i figure i should wait the repair out, so i don't have it as a crutch. 

*our chickens

*our lemon tree.  funny little story.  last spring (memorial day).. we returned from a trip to the colorado river.   on the answering machine was a message from our neighbor.  he wanted to know if he could borrow a few lemons from the tree. when i next saw him, i asked if he had gotten the lemons.  he said yes. but that they tasted awful.  he proceeded to let me know what the tree needed. and i pointed out that the lemons that were left on the tree come late may were old.... lets just say that we are in early january, and they are just coming in ripe.
isn't there a saying about this... but you know i just started to type "beggers can't be choosers" and i don't like it. 
hmmm.. i am going to work on a new saying.  any suggestions?

*our cat.  cali jane.  as i was taking this picture, she sneezed.  and as you can tell by the perspective, i am below her.   the cat sneeze spray rained down.  lovely! 
sorry to end on such nasty note.  but life is like that sometimes.
sometimes as you are walking through your yard feeling so good about your awesome tangerines... that everyone loves.... you get sneezed on...
the important thing is to just keep walking on... after that is you clean yourself off.


Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Lighthouses and January

It is January and I am thinking about lighthouses. Not so much the structure or the mechanics of a lighthouse -although that is interesting… More so I am thinking as I drive home from the grocery store about what they can symbolize, as I’m on a walk…about the people who kept them long ago, and very often about the mysteries of the ocean. You know…The really big things.

Why am I thinking about lighthouses? The book I am reading right now, 
The Light Between Oceans takes place on an island where the main character is a lighthouse keeper. And, the book I am reading aloud to my 7 year old is Moominpappa at Sea. Have you read a Moomin book? They are my favorite chapter books for children…magical and beautifully written and thought provoking. The Moomin family moves to a lighthouse on a tiny island and have many adventures.

I recommend both books.

Following is a passage from The Light Between Oceans. The characters live on Janus- an island a half day’s journey from the coast of Australia......

        “You know Janus is where the word January comes from? It’s named after the same god as this island. He’s got two faces, back to back. Pretty ugly fellow.”
“What’s he the god of?
“Doorways. Always looking both ways, torn between two ways of seeing things. 
January looks forward to the new year and back to the old year. He sees past and future. And the island looks in the direction of two different oceans, down to the South Pole and up to the Equator.”            

Here’s to thinking forward to a new year and remembering the past and to not forgetting to contemplate the important things.

*Learn more with this article about a light house keeper…. 

* And if you want to visit a lighthouse.... 



Sunday, January 5, 2014

seen and heard on my street: a gorilla and the devil??

posted by jennifer:

seen:  a gorilla.   do you see it in the face of the mountain?  above and to the left of the blue water tank.  it takes over about a quarter of the mountain face in this picture.  i hadn't ever known about it until a neighbor told me about it a year ago.  and now i point it out to whoever will listen. 

heard: crazy talk.  a man walking about 10 yards behind his wife (i think) pushing a stroller:
 "i can't wait to get the evil eye on my arm, then i will look like the devil for real."
a pause....... and then:
 "how can you walk so fast"

hmmm.  i wonder how his evil eye tattoo came out.  lucky woman, no?

Friday, January 3, 2014

Creating a keepsake gift... DIY

Happy New Year to you!  Thank you for visiting our blog.  Without you, our readers, this creative expression would not be as rewarding and enjoyable as it is.  We get very excited if someone leaves us a little comment, so make our day with your two cents' worth or just a howdy-do. 

Need a gift idea for a RED letter day celebration coming up in 2014?
A special person's "big deal" birthday (you know the ones, 21st or those that end in "0"), or for a retirement, or a wedding anniversary marking many years.

Here's a project that's fun, and will spark the joy of creativity in both you and in others.
It uses scrapbooking materials. And whether you are a beginner or are well-seasoned at the art of 
the scrapbook, the result will be something precious.  This project brings the work of scrapbookers and non-scrapbookers together to make a very personal gift. 
This completed gift will be treasured immediately and will go on to become a family heirloom.

I created such a scrapbook for my husband's 60th birthday using contributions from his family, friends, and co-workers.  I sent the following letter a few months ahead of his birthday, requesting their help for this secret project.

Mike will turn 60 on August 31st this year. He is a sentimental guy who, as you know, saves remembrances of all types.                                                                                                                                                  
For his birthday I would like to give him a "This is Your Life" scrapbook filled with individual remembrances from his family and friends...all of you.                                                                                                          
Would you please take the time to send a story, card, photo or ??? that will be meaningful in noting something special in your relationship with Mike?                                                                                         
I will compile all the pages/entries I receive into a book, which will be given to him in lieu of gifts at his birthday party.                                                                                                                                             
Some of you have known Mike for many years.  Think back to a passage from your relationship with Mike; a funny experience you shared with him; highlight a story you think of when you think of him or a bit of history you share with him.  Tell him what you think him!                                                                               
Make your page for his birthday scrapbook as personal as you can, but simple or elaborate, it's your contribution that is important and necessary to make the book complete, whole and perfect.  Whether you draw a picture or cartoon, make a collage, write an anecdote, or haiku, send a photo or a card, your addition to the book is what matters.  Be as creative as you feel comfortable being and make it fun. Don't stress!                                                                                                                                                         
This project is a surprise.  Please have your contribution to me by July 1st so I will have time to put it all together.  Shape is not important, but limit your tribute to no larger than 12" x 12" and remember it will be going into a book/album.  (Cans of beer will not fit!)                                                                                     
Contributions can be hand delivered (secretly) or mailed to me at my work:  Carol Taylor address.....Questions and concerns can be sent to me at my email address .........or to my work address.     

I received 48 wonderful donations for the book.  I received many pages that were complete and ready to slide into a top loading sleeve.  Items not scrapbook-ready (greeting cards, photos, letters), I scrapbooked myself.
Scrapbooking the loose items was easy, as the received item was always the focus, and the "journaling" was already done by the contributor.  My efforts were merely to get the items onto card stock and add some simple embellishments, if appropriate.
Here is a sample of some of the pages as they are in the completed album.

Cards I received were put onto pages so that they could either be opened without digging into the plastic sleeve, or easily slipped out of a pocket to be read.  To make an open top pocket, cut a piece of card stock twice the desired finished depth and slightly wider than the greeting card it will hold.  Anchor the pocket to background card stock using mini brads, eyelets, or stitching at the corners. Put the page into a page protector sleeve. Then slip a self-healing cutting mat into the page protector and using an exacto knife and a ruler as a straight edged guide, cut a slit a little longer than the card, through and across the plastic at the location where the card will be placed.  Place the card into the pocket through the opening in the page protector.  Voila!

Some people wrote letters, and these I added using brads on top and through the page protector.

At the beginning of the book I had a 3 page collage of the birthday boy, made with photos taken throughout his life.

Looking back 8 years, the book is even more meaningful now than it was on the 60th birthday.
The effort everyone put into their part of the book was incredible.  The stories are priceless.

"The person I am today, the things
I like to do, the choices I make, all
have roots in relationships of the past."
Fred Rogers

If you embark on this project, be prepared to send reminders and to extend your "due date", as some people have good intentions, but are slow at completing their addition.
I received some of the contributions 4 - 6 weeks ahead of the birthday, some a couple weeks ahead, and I received one the day before the book was to be given. 
It was fun to get each new addition for the book, and to keep it a secret!
You will not regret the time and effort, if you decide to make this keepsake book for someone you love.

t.t.f.n. ~ Carol