Monday, January 31, 2011

Along The Path

Blue Bonnets of Texas

I just love this picture taken by my friend, Deanna. It just reminds me of life's journey.

To me it just symbolizes how the road is long and the end is out of sight. It has its bumps and curves and heights to scale. There are places we would like to pass but it is forbidden.

At any point along the way, the place where we are on the road is the biggest and most visible while the road behind and ahead are less distinguishable. This is a blessing if we don't dwell on the bumps we have endured or worry excessively about the ones coming up. Staying in the present, with God's help, we can handle them.

As we go along if we look around and beyond the confines of the road we can see immeasurable beauty surrounds us even at the curves, bumps, hills and things that cannot be passed around, but must be gone through to stay the course to the horizon and beyond.

I like this picture so much I wouldn't mind having it painted and hanging on our wall. It would remind me that life is a journey~not a destination.

Blog Flashback for May 2010

A Simple Woman's Daybook~January 31, 2011

To join in focusing on the simple things and pleasures of your daily life or to read other people's entries, you can click here.

So, For Today...

Monday, January 31, 2011

Outside my window...Very dark, 39 degrees and I am happy for the new space heater Jim has put under my desk this weekend, it feels warm and toasty! It was predicted over the weekend that it would rain today but I guess it all came yesterday! So the week looks like this!


I am thankful and learning and experience and wisdom that eventually comes from all of it. What an amazing experience earth life is with opportunities to grow daily. Everyday brings challenges and blessings, each serving a purpose and bringing refining moments and gratitude.

From the learning room...there is so much to learn about family history, genealogy, technologies associated with it and helping others find what they are looking for in the library. I don't think a person could possibly learn it all or ever be able to rest on their laurels thinking they have arrived at being knowledgeable enough.

I am reading...One Thousand Gift and The Glass Castle, still. There was not much time for my Kindle last week but I did get a lot of others things accomplished.

From the kitchen...Needing to restock the frig and pantry today. We are mostly in need of fresh fruits and veggies. I may just run in to the store for a couple of things and try to hold out until tomorrow so I can go to the Farmer's Market. Got my Weight Watcher scale and really love it. I am enjoying the new program, it is the best ever and the eTools are great online.

I am wondering...what the military has in store for the next few years for our kids. Honestly the suspense will try your patience and make you stronger if it doesn't drive you to insanity first! We know part of the plan but not all of it at this point. Will share when things are definite.

I am hearing...a new site I learned about this week, Pandora radio. At you can go and set up your own radio station that will play the music you like. You select either a song or an artist and it customizes a playlist for you adding varieties of the same type of music along with your favorites. You can make as many stations as you like. It is awesome. So depending on your mood, you have the perfect music right on your computer. What I do is I open it in an alternate browser and then minimize it so that I can work on my blog or read yours with a great background music. Check it out. Right now I am listening to my James Taylor station. Nice!

Today if I could change one thing...that good people and parents that want children could have them. The fertility issue facing so many potentially fantastic parents is disheartening. I wish they cold discover what is causing this escalating problem and find a solution.

I am quoting...our grandson, Ross: "Gramma, I really love you for sending us Mario Kart for Christmas." Me: "Rossie I am glad you like it, Honey, and I want to tell you I love the necklace you made for me. I wish I could give you a big kiss right now." Ross: "I know it is hard, Gramma. Maybe you could just pick up my picture and kiss that because I am pretty sure you have one right by you!" He was right and I did!

I am quoting again..."
Significance is in direct correlation to smallness and life is leveraged by all that is little." Ann Voskamp. I don't think she says anything that isn't poetic.

I am get my January budget wrapped up today and be ready for a new month by tomorrow so I don't get behind. Also gathering tax stuff to get that over with asap! Ugh!

I am missing...some great ideas for our Valentine's Day Family Home Evening dinner~I better get busy thinking about that. It will be here before we know it.

One of my guilty pleasures...a great foot massage. Ah, nothing like it. My best foot massage givers ~ Jennifer and Laura! They do know what their Mama likes!

Pet Peeves...PCs

One of my favorite things...jeans that fit right.

An enjoyable movie I have watched lately...Enchanted April. If you love English movies, a must! Perfectly named, it is enchanting.

I am curious I am going to switch back and forth between PCs (at the library) and my beloved Mac. Seriously, PCs are so labor intensive and cumbersome by comparison I just don't get it! I tried to do some stuff on Jim's computer last night and I felt like I was scraping my nails on a chalk board and grinding my teeth for two hours.

A few plans for the rest of the week... budget today and maybe a matinee, WW @ 5:30 pm, a little clean up in the walk in closet here in the family room, Walmart trip sometime this week, Family History day tomorrow, adding a day for inside projects around the house on Wednesdays, day trip on Thursday and dinner with friends that night, and I am sure a dozen other things will come up but for now that is all I can think of on the calendar.

Here are some photos and some thoughts I am sharing with you...

One of Jen's good friends just had baby twin girls and while we were there at Christmas, Cara brought the babies over to meet the girls. Their house is just a little girl power magnet.

Chloe having fun with one of the babies.
Charlotte or June?

Jen, Hazie and one of the babies.
Charlotte or June?

I love the glee on Hazie's face!
Charlotte or June?

The big girls not having to wait for a turn!
Both Piper and Julia loved
playing with the babies.

Charlotte and June!!

Aren't twins fun?
My mom is a twin and
I always hoped for them!
I would love two of any one of our kids!

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Sunshine In My Soul Today

It is raining outside today and the pot of rain drenched cyclamens you see above is what I am seeing as I look out my office window. They are so beautiful and I love having red and white ones on our porch right now.

Lately I have been feeling sun-starved after a very long, rainy winter last year. We have seen lots of sun this month and we have tried to soak up as much as we possibly could. But today I am loving this refreshing rain.

As we sat in church I noticed our friend, Faye, sitting a few rows in front of us wearing a lovely lime green tailored jacket. It was the exact color of the new grasses popping all over the hills that surround our little town. She stood out as a beacon of hope that spring is on its way, in a sea of darker colors, the blacks, browns and grays of winter. When we went outside, everywhere I looked was clothed in that same happy color. I even saw the first tulip tree in bloom for the season today. These things seems to come to forefront for me more and more the older I get. I am so grateful for the beauties that surround us at every turn. I am thankful for the time to truly appreciate them like I have never had, or perhaps taken, like this before.

What fills my heart with sunshine to the bursting point today is this beautiful youngest daughter we have been blessed with for the past 33 years today. Happy Birthday, Laura! I think we should have named you Laura Jo, and then added a Y after the JO.

My blood runs cold every year on this day when I think how hard the doctors leaned on us to terminate my pregnancy due to complications from me getting the chicken pox in my first trimester. I have never been so thankful for saying NO to that, never been so thankful for making the right choice. Never been so thankful for being able to hear the spirit whisper to us to trust in God and go forward in faith, no matter the outcome. That sweet confirmation that we made the right choice came instantly and I will never forget it, or deny it. The trial of our faith has been rewarded everyday since by a daughter that has been nothing but a blessing and pure joy every day of her life. It is so nice to know beyond a shadow of a doubt, that kind of life and death choice is not our stewardship, it is God's. You can read more about Laura's story here.

And look how that one great decision has multiplied our joy immeasurably since then! Realizing that all these blessing come from a Father In Heaven that is aware of us, what we need, what we desire is a blessing I can never take for granted, a gift I can never forget.

So I kind of feel that Laura's birthday, is more than a traditional birthday for me. It is a time for me to remember, and reflect and praise God for His help during that time I was carrying her. It is my time to remember the wonderful new people I had met that were Latter-day Saints and so compassionate and loving. They were the epitome of Christ's love in our life serving and teaching through their examples. When I think of Laura, the circumstances of her birth, the life she lives, the love she has given ~ I am overwhelmed and happy and grateful and there is sunshine in my soul today.

The saints could have come into our lives at any time but that was the perfect time, the best time, the Lord's time. And through all of life's ups and downs since then they have been by our sides. Lifting us high and proving that "by their fruits ye shall know them!" So that is what my thoughts are today as I think of our beautiful daughter, who has become one of the most amazing Christian women I have ever known.

So Happy Birthday, Laura Lou! Your family all wishes we could be with you celebrating in person today. We'd all gather round and sing and eat cake. Red Velvet cake because it is your color and you look amazing in it. It is indicative of your strength, your passion, your valiant way of life. Dad and I and Jen and Christopher all love this day because we received the best gift we could have imagined. The gift that keeps on giving. And, we get to keep that gift forever! Who could ask for anything more?

We love you Laura Lou!

Friday, January 28, 2011

On The Road Again~Sonoma County

We headed out this morning for Sonoma county which is north of San Francisco about an hour. Jim went to school up there while getting his BA at Sonoma State University. We haven't been up to Petaluma and Sebastapol for a long time so decided that might be a fun destination. We forgot to plan head, weather wise, and it was very foggy this morning. We didn't care it was nice and toasty in the car. Petaluma is a little rural town, kind of a sleepy place really. We never paid much attention to it the olden days so thought it would be fun to get a grown up perspective.

Our first stop was a bakery, the tradition is well established now. We picked this one from the Internet list; we like the name...Della Fattoria. We lucked out it was really a good one. In fact, remember all those tiny things we have been sharing on our Day Trips? Well, we each got something today and split it. It was smaller than it actually looks in this photo.

A scrumptious Danish and a lemon tort.
All the offering are made on the premises.

It was a charming place if you are ever
in Petaluma and want something fun.

We had chocolate soup too!

Jim had ordered hot chocolate for us to share as we were freezing. This is what they brought us. Hello! A soup bowl with at least 3 cups worth of hot chocolate. Here he is is trying to cajole me as I had just spilled hot chocolate on my white shirt trying to eat it with a spoon since there is no handle on this bowl to pick it up. I am such a klutz so I had to zip up my vest to cover up the evidence. I hate it when I do that, especially five minutes into the day!

Seriously people, this is a ridiculous
presentation of Hot Chocolate~
But that aside it was very good.

So it is now 11:00 am and I have managed to consume every WW point for the day I am pretty sure without counting. So this is exactly the day the 49 points they give you per week is made for. It helps you to enjoy life and deviate from the program when you are not living a normal daily routine. It's called making a treat a treat, not a routine. I am totally fine with it.

It was so gray today it did cast a dreary pall over the river walk area. No color in sight really. Like strolling along in a old black and white photo.

Walking the downtown area and the river walk one could not help noticing that Petaluma is a tired little place in need of a face lift. Some repairs to the sidewalks and railroad tracks, and some fresh paint would do it wonders.

Then on a park bench I found this beautiful orchid just sitting there waiting for me! It was pretty and had been left behind by someone.

Some neglected old building on the main drag.

They are still even having Christmas in Petaluma
if you are not over it yet!

I am totally over it, but took some photos
of their window displays.

Here is a little mermaid, as close to a
fairy as I could find for you, Marie!

And here is their Precepe, Laura,
a little piece of Italy wherever you go.

The main errand we are here for is try to buy Jim some slacks to wear when we are serving at the Genealogy Library on Tuesdays. When at home I cannot drag this guy shopping, he is "in hate" with it. He is so bad he wanted me to take his old suit to the store a few months ago and have them give him a new one just like it.

Are you kidding me, he doesn't want a new color, a new cut, a new fabric, exactly like the old one and the one before that will do just fine. I said, "Ahh, NO WAY, they need to tailor it!" It took another couple of months to get him down there for that new suit. He is too funny. So I figured if we went out of town and and made an adventure out of buying some Dockers or whatever, it would maybe work. So we headed to the outlets in Petaluma.

So we stumbled into Tommy Hilfiger, the very first store we saw when we entered into the Outlet mall. He was griping all the while that he did not want to go in because it was a girl store. When he saw the boy manikins he reluctantly entered. The sales clerk helped him find two pair of pants right away. While he was trying them on I went outside for a couple of minutes to check the outlet directory. Five minutes later he is out and at the cashier. What? They fit fine and he wanted me to run and get a belt and some brown socks and we were done. The whole thing took about 11 minutes and a good part of that time was him asking where a good place for lunch could be found.

No more shopping for him for another five years.

Heading to Sebastapol for a late lunch.

We found another cool restaurant here.
It really was a fine dining experience, not just lunch!

We started home @ 3:30pm and took the back roads
that we use to travel a lot when we were kids.

This is the Old Lakeville Road and the exact place
I fell in love with Eucalyptus Trees back in the late 60s.

The closer we got to home the more foggy it got.
We are just zooming by here in the car but the white
thing in the foreground is a beautiful, tall crane.
We don't live that far from here I just
have never seen these in our area.

It was a lovely get away day with mission accomplished
~pants for the Hubster!~
Hope you enjoyed coming along!

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Feeling The Love of The Sweet Life!

A little peek at the mantel~
It is almost Valentine's Day, can you believe it?

The last couple of days have been so neat. After we did our 8 hours at the Regional Family History Center the other night, we were thinking staying home on Wednesday and Thursday would be great. It has been. It was one of those times when things just clicked along perfectly. We were accomplishing a lot but not rushing. When we felt like stopping we could, etc. It was such a little domestic moment, I loved it.

Jim received a lot of tools from a friend that is moving and so he spent the better part of both days reorganizing his things out in the Man Shed. He wants to build a work shop up there and so he has been collecting stuff to put in it.

As for me I puttered around the house, rearranging stuff, cleaning out the refrigerator and pantry, chasing cobwebs and just hanging out with my Kindle and stuff like that. It was so relaxing. Today Jim had a dental appointment and we had our car serviced so two more things to check off the list of "have-to-dos."

So tomorrow we are taking our day trip. Boy, the weeks just fly by, don't they? Tomorrow after my friends come over in the morning we are heading out to Santa Rosa and Petaluma for some fun and exploration.

As if the day was not wonderful enough yesterday, we received a package in the mail from our Laura! Isn't it just so neat when someone sends you a little love in the mail for no apparent reason except that they are sweet and want to brighten your day?

She not only sent gifts but designed and made them. She sent us two signs (done in Italian) for our cottage that speak of La Dolce Vita or the sweet life. I love both of them! They conjure up such memories of Italy for us!

This was the first one she made. A long time ago I had asked her to make one for over the towel bar by the soaking tub. She didn't like how it turned out so she never sent it. I do like it a lot and am going to keep it in the kitchen.

This is the new sign she just made with the bathroom in mind. I wish you could see the colors and texture on the background better. Maybe a closer shot would help?

She was going to bedazzle them with just thin dusting of the finest glitter but it was too cold to do it in their garage in Rhode Island so Jim will finish them. This one is going in the bathroom for sure. I think I will hang this one with a ribbon. When it is up I'll take a photo! I Google Translated this and it means we love/enjoy the sweet life.

As if these lovely creations were not enough she also included a beautiful coffee table book on Italy with the most gorgeous photos ever! Here is a random glimpse!

And then tucked in the corner of the box a little handmade necklace from Rossie that says, "I love you and Grampa too, it is true!" with alphabet beads and some glass beads too. What a precious grandson! And I know how much work this is, I have done beading before.

I could just see him sitting there concentrating and putting these beads on the wire one at a time. I wouldn't trade this for the Crown Jewels, with all its upside down and backwards letters! This kind of joy is God's precious gift to grandparents. Honestly, I told him I will keep it all my life and I will.

Ross, 8

I am in love with this time in our lives,
it truly is the sweet life
(La Dolce Vita)
in every possible way.
Not perfect, but oh,
soooo sweet!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Let There Be Light!


This is a post I did for my design blog a few years back. The information is still current so thought I would re-post for those who like an occasional design tutorial.

I think we would all agree that lighting is very important to creating atmosphere or ambiance in a room. I would carry it one step further and say it is the most important aspect of any room. Don't we all look more lovely basking in the glow of candle light as opposed to the harsh glare of florescent lighting? So it is with our homes. In terms of decorating we have basically two types of light. Natural light that enters the windows from the sun and artificial lighting that we get from lamps, etc.

Natural light is so important to the way a home looks and feels and the most important thing regarding that is to keep your blinds and curtains open during the day. I cannot tell you how many homes I have done design or staging consultations in that look so uninviting and boring for this reason alone. If privacy is an issue there are several solutions~you just have to have natural light.

As for artificial lighting, it has come a long way in the last several years. If I needed to select one place where people try skimp and save, it's the under utilization of lamps. I have worked in very expensive homes that have the worst lamps imaginable. You do not need to spend a fortune on lamps but you do need to get enough lighting in each room. One of the best places I have found for great and affordable lamps is HomeGoods. They have some very fun and funky lamps with interesting shapes and shades. I love this one. I have gotten some gorgeous lamps for under $70 and most of theirs are under $40.00

They can be functional and fabulous
you don't have to sacrifice one for the other.

The details of your home...all of them, are
what make it interesting.

Think Disneyland~it's all in the details.

I am lovin' the fun shape of this whole lamp and
having two for the price of one by having it in front of
the buffet mirror.

This is our only expense lamp. I have found
that the cheaper
pharmacy lamps usually
do not hold the position you

want them in very well over time.
If you want one, get a good one.
This one was $200.00 at Pottery Barn.
The high quality was worth it. It has
been great for several years already.
It is a keeper.

Ambient (which literally means something that surrounds) light or task lighting is important in every home. We need lights to see what we are doing! Examples of this are most overhead lighting, desk lamps, reading lamps, etc. In this definition I would exclude lights that are recessed in the ceiling to give a dramatic look, spot light art, etc. These are more decorative although they can be ambient if placed over a counter or desk, etc.

Lamps are essential to create ambiance or a nice warm cozy feeling in a room. Often people are annoyed that their homes do not have overhead lighting in their bedrooms, this is a good thing. Bedrooms should have lamps to create a nice warm glow, not just stark overhead lighting. Various types of lamps that create ambiance are table lamps, floor lamps, up lights and torchieres and chandeliers. The nice thing about lamps is that you can vary the lighting in various parts of the room by simply switching them on and off or by using dimmers, 3-way bulbs, etc.

This is one of those touch lamps
that has 3 settings
...Love it!

I love the buffet lamps because they are actually taller than regular table lamps which helps with the scale with our bigger, taller furniture and beds. They are great on lower end tables so your light sounce is actually high enough to illuminate the pages of your book.

This is one of the homes we redesigned:
The lamps are too low and too small for this bed.

These are Perfect!
We found them in another area of the home,
not being used.

When you have placed your furniture correctly your lamps should always form either a diagonal line or triangle. What we see so often is a sofa with two end tables and a lamp on each one. This is not correct unless you have another lamp to form a triangle on the opposite side of the room. If you have a lamp on both side of your bed make sure you have another one on your dresser to form a triangle. It does not have to be an equilateral triangle. Two can also work if they are placed on the diagonal (one on the dresser diagonally across from the one near the bed.

It is also fun to have some smaller accent lamps throughout your home to cast some interesting shadows or highlight something special.

This has a sweet little glow at night and illuminates
the naughty and contented cat that ate
the canary in the bird cage.

This tin punched lamp casts a
wonderful fun light on to the wall.
Double click to see the pattern illuminated.

This little fringe lamp adds
a touch of light on top of the armoire.

You all know you can use books to bring
things up to the height you want.

And of course don't forget candles
and oil lamps for a cozy touch.

I will not be using this candle but have
blackened the wick to make it appear that I do.

Just a note on candles. Even if they are just decorative in your home, light the wick briefly to give the appearance that they are used. White wicks just look weird and are most often accompanied by a dusty candle top. Not good.

So invest in some nice pretty lamps and if your lamps are old...get some new ones. Nothing says outdated like a trendy lamp from the distant past. You can always change the shade, add some embellishments, paint it or do something to lighten and liven things up. Let there be light...lots of it.