A Journey Back to Blogging

I’ll write a blog post tomorrow, I thought, and then, and then, and then. Tomorrow becomes next week, then a month, while life serves up challenges big and small.

I miss blogging. My time on WordPress has yielded wonderful friendships, rich connections, and thoughtful and thought-provoking conversations. How could I be away for so long? In short, life is full.

My youngest son went away to college in August. This included helping him get ready, attempts at helping him get ready, a one-fell-swoop shopping trip and a day-long drive to Southern California.  Within a few weeks my oldest son went back to the dorms, and is now into his senior college year.

We celebrated our wedding anniversary (23 years on September 23rd)

after dinner Santana Row

After dinner at Santana Row

and ten days later I turned 59. Dear friends visited from Canada over my birthday week, including a few days in beautiful Carmel.

My volunteer work at Lifted Spirits kicked into full gear. If I wasn’t working with organizing clients, I spent time volunteering in the boutique. I work two shifts a week, and I’m often there on Thursdays organizing the boutique or other areas of the program. It feels like home.  The work is challenging and rewarding. It also allows me to serve women in need in my  community. I’m learning so much as I go. My favorite organizing project so far is the computer lab. We needed extra space for other programs, so I split the room in two using an abandoned old chalkboard and a fancy shower curtain found in a drawer. How’s that for using what you’ve got?

Mike and I are enjoying our evenings and weekends as a couple once again. In many ways, the empty-nest blahs seemed worse leading up to the boys respective departures. It eased once I knew my young men were and getting on with life.

This past weekend we planned to fly down to see our youngest son for parent weekend. I ended up going alone. I took Mike to urgent care the night before, where they referred us to the ER. They diagnosed Mike with a blood clot or Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT). It was a long, scary night, but he’s home and receiving good medical care. He’s not allowed to fly for at least three months so we’re adjusting to the idea of possible train travel.  Mike’s not in pain and he’s able to work, so those are both a plus.

Our felines continue to cozy up the place. As the weather cools into a California autumn, I hope to haul out my crochet once again.

Meanwhile, I’m on the committee for our Front Door Communities, Lifted Spirits fundraiser in early November. I’m putting together the program, a soup recipe book, preparing a raffle item and working with another volunteer assembling silent auction items.  It’s a busy time.

Oh, and the garden I used to blog about? It’s still here. The tomatoes were a complete bust this summer, with four huge plants producing about two dozen tomatoes in all.  I planted late-season cantaloupe, only to see them munched under cover of darkness.  I did manage five small pumpkins so all is not lost in the produce department. Overall though, I feel like I lost my gardening mojo. As that tired cliché goes, there’s always next year.

Here in the States we’re gearing up for mid-term elections in three weeks. Once again our garage will serve as a polling place. Change is in the air. I can feel it.

Thank you for stopping by today. I hope you are doing well.

A Restorative Weekend at Carmel-by-the-Sea

We’ve just returned from a relaxing and restorative weekend in Carmel-by-the-Sea. Getting away like this is rare for us. We’ve focused on raising our boys who are now teens. Once a year we do an overnight stay at a local hotel for our anniversary, but otherwise we’re close to home.  With our oldest son away at college and the younger one away for the weekend with friends, we pounced on the opportunity to get away.

carmel collage

Enjoying the weekend with my sweetie. On the coast, enjoying an iced tea at Basil’s, posing with gardenerd, wrapped up against the wind

The city website describes Carmel as

A city in the forest. A one-mile long pure white sandy beach.
A cultural mecca for the performing and visual arts.  Superb dining and shopping experiences. A storybook setting!

We stayed at La Playa Carmel, a boutique hotel originally built as a mansion by an artist as a gift to his wife. Most of the talented artists I know can only dream of making that kind of money.

When I shared holiday photos on Facebook, I learned that one of my friends honeymooned there 35 years ago. Another couple we know married at La Playa Carmel. I’m tickled to no end by this. Mike made all the arrangements, so I had no idea that we were staying at this charming place.

[Click on individual photos in the gallery to enlarge]

We enjoyed lunch and dinner in the historic city center, visited the cute little shops, and admired the beautiful landscape nestled among the Monterey Pines. Flowers bloomed in front of every home and shop in the area. It’s a gardener’s dream.

 

Sunday we awoke to a musical downpour. It cleared after breakfast, allowing us to go for a long walk. As we walked the beach trail we imagined ourselves living in one of the beach-side homes to our left as the waves crashed against the rocks to our right. They build these homes for maximum viewing of the sea. The average list price of a home in Carmel is north of $3 million dollars US. Gulp. It’s fun to dream, though, right?

It started raining again while we lunched at a fabulous Green-certified restaurant called Basil.

carmel the last straw

This gave us the chance to walk arm in arm under our new umbrella for one last stroll before heading home.

Ahhhhhhh….

While I Was Away

It was fun returning home from our blogging extravaganza to a garden bursting with new growth.

2015 spring garden collage-001

My blooming garden

After a week on the chillier east coast, I learned a few things. According to my calendar, spring arrived on March 20th, but the east coast remained in a deep chill. Those east-coast daffodils know a thing or two and chose to remain warm and cozy in the ground.

Here in California our daffodils shot up in February along with the hyacinths and other spring bulbs. Their east-coast cousins waited till warmer temperatures prevailed. I got to experience the joy of smiling daffodils twice in the same year.

flowers blooming in Laurie's garden

Spring in Laurie’s garden: Forsythia, Daffodils, Dogwood and Redbud

What could be better than two springs in one year?

Just this: spending time with an extraordinary group of women, talking, laughing and preparing food, seeing the sites and sharing our stories and marveling at our good fortune. I spent over a week nestled in a cocoon of dear friends, all met through blogging. It’s difficult to convey an experience this profound, without succumbing to the treacle of sentimentality.

I’ll let the pictures do the rest of the talking.

Georgetown collage

Georgetown: with Laurie, Boomdee, Pauline, (Yours Truly) and Julia. Julia of Defeat Despair graciously hosted us at her home and kept us updated on the status of the cherries coming into bloom

lunch at Clyde's in D.C.

More bloggers = more fun. Lunch at Clyde’s in Georgetown

North Garden

A brief stop in North Garden, Virginia, welcomed with open arms by Shelley who blogs at Peak Perspective.

time in radford

Time in Radford, Virginia hosted by Laurie of Life on the Bike and Other Fab Things

draper mercantile collage.C

An afternoon at Draper Mercantile

Washington DC collage.C

Washington D.C. with Lisa, Pauline and Boomdee

Note: Just for fun, I created a travelogue using the site Traveller’s Point. I included the destinations, who joined us and when, links to their blogs and more. WordPress does not support embedding, but you can view it at this link if interested.

The Traveling Bloggers:

Boomdeeadda

The Contented Crafter

Defeat Despair

Gardening Nirvana

Life on the Bike and Other Fab Things

The Blog Connections:

Arlingwords

Displaced Beachbums

Peak Perspective

Visual Venturing

Dressing-up My Selfie for the Holidays

Earlier this year I bought a ‘selfie’, commonly referred to as a dressmaker form. I kept her busy throughout the month of October, patterning and draping my Under-the-Sea Halloween costume. You can read more about that here and here.

When the fun was over, my selfie took a month off. She hung out in a corner of our room wearing a rarely worn velvet wrap.

Now she’s back for the holidays, all dressed up with a new purpose. She’s in charge of displaying our Christmas cards.  I found inspiration for this idea on a Pinterest board of dress forms. If you follow the link, you’ll see an antique dress form wearing a tulle skirt and a peplum sporting the word Noel. I love the simple elegance.

My Christmas Selfie

Braving the long, holiday lines at our local fabric store, I bought a few yards of tulle and a packet of blanket binding. I also bought sheets of silver tissue paper for the bodice. Safely back in my car, I vowed not to return to a fabric store before January. A week or so later, I set up my sewing machine and whipped up a fancy pretend dress.

dress form christmas

Tissue paper bodice, left. Lace shell bodice, right. Seam binding bow at the waist.

Though my dress form is modern and functional, it was fun dressing her up in a vintage vibe.

The ‘dress’ continues to evolve as projects like this often do. I wasn’t thrilled with the way the tissue bodice turned out, so I covered it instead with one of my summer lace shells. I added bits of my birthday gift wrap bling (from Boomdee) around the neck and bodice. A small hair clip adds additional sparkle.

christmas form bling

Birthday bling makes the dress zing

One big bow at the waist for some added flair and then I called it a day.

christmas dress form ribbon and card-001

Tiny clothespins hold the cards in place

Originally I planned to use safety pins to attach the cards to the skirt, but instead I found these:

Miniature silver clothespins

Miniature silver clothespins

Aren’t they cute? They are the tiniest clothespins I’ve ever seen and perfect for the job. They add a bit of shine without creating too much weight.

My teenage boys aren’t interested in Christmas this year, so I needed to find something new and different for me. Dressing up my Selfie did the trick.

christmas selfie

I received a pile of cards in the mail today. I can’t wait to add them to the skirt. I”ll post an updated photo later this month.

 

Are you trying anything new this holiday season?

Goofing Off

selfie

Selfie with Silicon Valley in the background

It’s a holiday in the US today, more specifically President’s Day.  The boys are out of school, Mike’s home from work and the sun is shining.

We desperately, desperately, desperately need the rain and this is the month we get the most of it.  That said, it’s hard not to enjoy such a clear, bright warm day.

We hiked at Almaden Quicksilver, and enjoyed the bits of green along the trails edge thanks to some recent rain.  The California Poppies are up as well.  We hiked mid-day, a terrible time for decent photos, but I hope to go back soon to snap some shots while the poppies are still in bloom.

In case you think I’m a complete deadbeat, I did a lot of digging, pruning, weeding and planning over the weekend and will share more with you later in the week.

See you then!

orange poppies

California Poppies (October 2013)

Frost Nipped Peas

Two days of a hard freeze were unkind to the garden peas.

frost damaged peas

Frost Damaged Peas

I gathered a handful this afternoon. There’s nothing to be gained at this point by leaving them on the vine. The vines are drooping as well.

The frost damaged the outer skin leaving it mottled.  The inner ‘pearls’ look surprisingly good though.

peas

Peas, unmasked

garden peas

The in and out of garden peas

It’s supposed to ‘warm up’ to a low of 38º F (3ºC) by Friday, but will drop back ten degrees  the following day.  With over two weeks to go before the winter solstice is upon us, I wonder what this means for the season ahead?

Organized at Heart

I’m posting a series of articles featuring organizing around the holidays this week on my blog Organized at Heart. If the subject interests you, please go take a peak.  Today’s blog offers some tips for creating new giving traditions for the holidays.

Luddites and Pumpkins

I’m probably eligible for Luddite status, as my forays into technology continue to fail me.  With help, we got the wireless connection working for a few hours, then the internet went down.  By morning, both the wireless and the net were down.  To seal my fate, I set up my fancy sewing machine, a gift from my husband a few years back.  All went well till I had to switch to the zipper foot.  The electronic symbol for moving the needle to the left or right made no sense at all.  I read the manual, read it again, and then (while the internet was working) did a Google search.  Still no luck.

In the end, I simply made do with the regular presser foot and moved on.  What a frustrating day.

The pieces scattered on my kitchen counter Sunday night are now loosely sewn together.  My sister stops by tomorrow to help me with the final fitting.  Then I’ll sew in the lining, hem the skirt and I can call it a dress.

cutting a pattern

I’ve always dreamed of owning a cutting table. The kitchen counter is the next best thing when you’re tall.

The bling that will take it from dress to costume includes a length of sequins from the fabric store, several hand-made roses made by a local crafter and a few strands of leafy ribbon from Scrapbook Island.  I’m really looking forward to a bit of hand-sewing, a task I’ve always found relaxing.

On the garden front, I decided to harvest our late-season, curbside pumpkin.  It hasn’t grown in size for a few weeks, and shows no signs of turning orange.  That said, I’m wondering if this pumpkin is actually one of the blue-green varieties.  It has a bluish tinge and once inside, I realized that it turned light green but not the rich green the other pumpkins pass through on their way to orangeness.  Could it be a crown pumpkin?  What do you think?

light green pumpkin

Crown Prince

My son’s teddy-bear sweater is just the right size for dressing up our new pumpkin.  No drafty nights for this ‘crown prince.’  Who said “it’s not easy being green?”

By the way, it’s not easy being a Luddite either.

Halloween Countdown:

pumpkin in sweater

Sweater weather