Friday, December 18, 2015


taken at the Golden Lamb, Lebanon, OH
The countdown begins... are you enjoying the

Thursday, December 17, 2015



PERHAPS... because I was born in December? because I share my birthday with my brother (who was born on my first birthday)? because RED & GREEN are cheery colors? because of the traditions from my childhood? or the traditions I created with my daughters? because it means time with family (games, laughter, seeing the Nutcracker, movies, eating, decorating cookies...)
Actually, it's difficult for me to explain... certainly, one reason I can share is my LOVE of ornaments... well, to be specific, SANTASI've been collecting SANTA ornaments (or decor) since the mid-nineties! (makes me sound OLD, huh)... as word of this LOVE "spread like wildfire" among my family, friends & the kids I mentored, the number of my SANTAS exploded... into a delightful collection.

Several years ago, my grand-niece, Katie, tried to count the number of SANTAS in my collection.

Actually, my SANTA collection probably numbers in the 100's??
But, let's return to the MAGICAL! a "gifted" SANTA has been marked with the year & initials of the person who "gifted" the jolly, ole chap! 

Many of my SANTAS were "gifted" by my Camp Fire girls... they are also marked with the year & initials or name of the giver. Jackie (now the mother of 3 girls) gave me this red-glass tummy SANTA in 1997 (the year she was a junior in high school).

Unwrapping my SANTAS each holiday season brings back a "flood of MAGICAL memories"...

Oh... the story behind the glittery SANTA at the top of this post? One Sunday, during a drive through Ojai, CA (a delightful place that oozes artistic talents), JPE found this SANTA & gave it to me our first CHRISTMAS together. That CHRISTMAS he also gave me a beautiful "COAT of MANY COLORS"... ummm, that's another story to share... and reveals a flaw in my character that I'd rather not share right now!!!

How are your holiday traditions MAGICAL for you???

Monday, December 14, 2015


Sunday, December 13, 2015 - rain beading up on roof of my car
As I mentioned in my blog post yesterday, the Central Coast of California got a bit of rain! Californians get EXCITED about rain due to our multi-year drought. So, anytime we get ANY rain (we had less than 1/2 of an inch yesterday)... that is the "talk about town". A GOOD reason to celebrate!

Monday, December 7, 2015 - Bunco party treats
Last Monday, I hosted our Bunco Holiday celebration. No, we still don't play BUNCO, in fact, we don't even know who has the box (with dice, scorecards & pencils)??? but, we DO love to EAT & TALK about what's happening with our families... All of us are at different stages of our lives. A few are retired, most have grandchildren, a few have grown children who are getting married or defining their career paths, and almost all of us have creative interests (gardening, sewing, painting, decorating, baking or entertaining)

JPE made dinner for us - lasagna, fresh olive bread and I added a kale salad (prepackaged from Trader Joe's). As everyone arrived, we munched on dried apricots, nuts, crackers & cheese. 

If you haven't tried this cheese, run (yes, run, because it's a seasonal treat) right out to Trader Joe's for a chunk of STICKY TOFFEE Cheddar Cheese. It's not a very pretty cheese (color, bleech!) but it's filled with toffee bits, raisins & dates... a RANDOM tidbit to add to your holiday eating!

Arroyo Grande Village Holiday Party - store window
I'm first to admit I cannot draw... but I do like to try my hand at lettering signs. I created a chalkboard drawing for Allison's and Stephanie's wedding. It was an opportunity to add my personal, FUN touch to their very unique weddings. If you haven't tried chalk lettering, Pinterest is the place to search ideas, or better yet, visit Lily & Val to order a copy of this book... The Complete Book of Chalk Lettering, by Valerie McKeehan

Well, must get to my house cleaning! then run a few errands before meeting JPE in San Luis Obispo for dinner with friends. YEAH! 

posting with Tamar at Random-osity!!

give her blog a peek! & tell her I sent you!!

Sunday, December 13, 2015


 Sunday December 13, 2015

 chimes a' singing

a crossword puzzle word for MOM!

PLUVIOPHILE describes ME! 

Sunday, December 6, 2015


When my daughters were in preschool, we started a tradition of baking cookies the Sunday before the last day of school. Over the years, it became known as "COOKIE SUNDAY" and involved lots of flour, butter, sugar and sprinkles. Now, if you know me, I love a "tidy" kitchen so having these ingredients in the hands of 3-5 year olds required patience! BUT, this tradition has continued into adulthood for my daughters... 
Of course, the favorite cookie cutters are those that yield LARGE cookies (boot, mitten, bell, tree) that can be decorated with green frosting & colored sugar sprinkles. See those little cutters? the mitten, snowflake & stars... those are usually handed out to the adults (they're small, so you don't feel like you are eating TOO many - in reality, you can't just eat ONE!).

As I mentioned.... we DO cookies.... Lots of them!
For the past 5 years, I've rolled & baked the cookies... Then, Christmas afternoon, we have a "decorating station" so everyone can put together a plate for themselves to take home. It gives everyone something to do when the meal is eaten, the gifts are open & holiday spirits are starting to fade.
I'm a bit of a control-freak (no comments from my
family, please), so there are some RULES... 
1. Decorate only the cookies on the wax-paper or 
paper plate in front of you.
2. NO licking your fingers or the end of the frosting
3. Try NOT to smash your frosted cookie into the plate of sprinkles (don't forget, NO licking your fingers).
4. Place your decorated cookies on a plate &
clean-up your work area. I MUST say... this is the
most difficult to monitor... because EVERYONE wants to start shoving the cookies in their mouth!!

Family members ooohs! & aahhs! over everyone's creativity. There are lots of offers to decorate a cookie for someone else! Ummm... the power of the frosting gun & all that frosting & sprinkles! 

A plate of the finished product!
Creative artistry by Katie (at age 8)

Thursday, December 3, 2015


urrghhh! I was looking at my photo archives for the past few Decembers... and I just remembered something I wanted to "attempt" making.
So, my plan is to make a list of supplies to buy
(since many of them are seasonal) & head to Michael's tomorrow! I have a GIFT card from my colleagues (retirement gift from last May) + several coupons that are expiring!

WHAT do I want to make, you ask??

a glittery village of houses with fir trees, snow & Christmas ornamentation! Of course, this would be my "dream house"...

Oh... don't you love these! check out the adorable church!

some more "dreamy houses"
I certainly have my work cut out for me! Am I attempting something too difficult?

perhaps one this size should be my first attempt!
with a sloped roof to prevent the snow from building up!

Wish me LUCK shopping for my supplies tomorrow!

Working on several other projects right now!
so, this will have to wait until a "rainy day" in 2016!

Monday, November 30, 2015


Sunday, JPE & I walked around Arroyo Grande Village (actually, our historic downtown area)... In addition to having a coffee of coffee at Andreini's, we watched the "locals" stake out their spot along Branch Street for watching the holiday parade that started at 5:00pm. 

Grace Bible Church performed at the gazebo on the So County Historical Society lawn... and led a sing-a-long of holiday songs.

The Santa Manuela Schoolhouse had been decorated so we took a "peek" inside.
We had to laugh at the writing on the chalkboard! It IS a GOOD idea NOT to SPIT on the STOVE... all those germs! 

Thinking of dining or having an appetizer at Rooster Creek Tavern? well, the resident rooster will be joining you!! pretty RANDOM eh? having to share your outdoor dining experience with the "local" roosters that prowl the downtown area.

In addition to the holiday decorations in the old schoolhouse, we had FUN reminiscing about how many of the items we had during our elementary school years... of course the American flag, but I didn't recognize the California map displayed. Both JPE & I recognized the two items that were used on the blackboard... I especially remember five-prong chalk holder (the bottom piece of chalk is missing) that drew parallel lines for demonstrating penmanship or for music class. Although we didn't sit at desks like these, I recognized several of the textbooks on top of the desks... a science book from 1959, a history book and penmanship book. I didn't attend a one-room schoolhouse, but there is actually one in our county that still operates. It's amazing to think this teacher is responsible for teaching lessons to multiple grades. 

Last post of November... the holidays are approaching! will share my decorating once I get over the frenzy that 2015 is almost over!

posting with Tamar @ Random-osity

Friday, November 27, 2015


Skyline Drive, Shenandoah National Park, Virginia ~ 10.24.15

Our Thanksgiving Week has been AMAZING!
It wasn't just the food,
{which is always tasty}
JPE & I spent quality time with Mom!

Monday - Cambria, Splash Cafe clam chowder, & the Palm Theater to see "SPOTLIGHT" {a thought-provoking movie}.
Tuesday - Massage w/Patricia {mom}, began House of Cards-Season 3 Marathon, & watched a PBS Special about the Mayflower & first settlers.
Wednesday - Another episode of House of Cards, saw "BROOKLYN" {sweet, love story} at Fair Oaks Theater, early dinner at Old Juan's Cantina, Oceano & a few more episodes of House of Cards.
Thursday - Started our morning with House of Cards & oatmeal, Thanksgiving with Lars & Kathryn's family/friends in Solvang {incredible food, company & wine}, & a nightcap of House of Cards.
Friday - JPE put our turkey in the oven, watched an episode of House of Cards w/am coffee, turkey dinner w/Mom, JPE & Lars {sorry, you missed it}, the thirteenth & final episode of House of Cards, followed by evening news w/Gwen Ifil, & Andre Botcelli {both on PBS, our favorite channel}

We chatted on the phone with our girls, texted other family members... and just R.E.L.A.X.E.D.

Unfortunately, Mom insists it's time to board Amtrak to head home tomorrow. Bummer! But, it's only a month until Christmas, so time will pass quickly.

There's SOOO much to be thankful for!

How was your holiday?

Tuesday, November 24, 2015


Tuesday... A relaxing day?!?

Plumber came to fix the backed-up drain...

Took Mom to get a massage from Patricia...

JPE bought a turkey...
(having our Thanksgiving feast Friday

Talked to Allison & Brian...
(Lola photobombed our FaceTime visit)

Began our House of Cards Marathon...
(watching ALL 13 episodes of Season 3 w/mom)

Listened to the rain...
(considering a rain dance for more rain tomorrow)

Monday, November 23, 2015


Cambria, CA 11.23.15
Mom came up on Amtrak Sunday evening... We spent a GOOD part of Monday walking around Cambria... Isn't this a GOOD way to keep track of socks missing their mates??

hilarious book about breastfeeding

One of our RANDOM "finds"... some laugh-out-loud information about breastfeeding!! This might make you think I don't support breastfeeding... but it should be noted that I breastfed both of my daughters until they were almost 2 years of age. We couldn't help laughing at this silly cartoon, "Bad time to breastfeed"...

I've seen plenty of cardboard reindeer heads, but this is my "first" cardboard sheep. What a novel, FUN way to display skeins of yarn. Allie would love-love-love the yarn in this store...

posting with Tamar @ RANDOM-OSITY!

Friday, November 20, 2015


the daylight hours are getting shorter
flannel sheets are on the bed
sweaters & scarves are being pulled from storage

the birds were getting quiet
the water had stilled its movement
an hour before the sun dipped behind the hills

Skyline Drive, Shenandoah National Park, Virginia
snapping the final pictures
fingers pulling our coats closed
the chilly air swirled deep into our lungs
as we returned to the warm car

seems like yesterday
{instead of three weeks ago}
we stood on top of this stone wall

Tuesday, November 17, 2015


"A Must-Read!! 5 out of 5 stars"

Oh my! I don't know how I learned about this book, but I'm recommending it to all my bibliophiles/book lovers!

Two women... different centuries... their lives forever woven together by a single item... an embroidered silk sleeve.

What do you remember about the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882? I don't know that I ever learned about this, or if I did, the history lesson has escaped my memory. How about the Geary Act of 1892? Did you know about the ethnic cleansing of Chinese immigrants? I'm embarrassed that I don't remember learning any of this.

The title of the book, The Girl Who Wrote in Silk, caught my attention. The story takes place on Orcas Island, near Seattle, Washington and opens with Inara Erickson returning to the island to visit their family's summer home. Although the summer home has a tragedy attached to it, Inara feels a connection to the home she can't shake. A recent MBA graduate, she's getting ready to begin a new career, but her discovery of the embroidered silk sleeve and her love of the island peacefulness takes her life in a new direction.

In chapter 4, Mei Lien enters the story and the year is 1886. Her elderly grandmother, father and Mei Lien were dragged from their small family store in Seattle and taken aboard the Prince of the Pacific, which is bound for China. Although Mei Lien was a legal U.S. citizen, her family members had immigrated and ALL Chinese residents were being driven out of Seattle.

This story follows the lives of Inara (current day) and Mei Lien (1890's) as their lives unfold on Orcas Island. Their relationships with their fathers - connections with nature - struggles with their personal identity are key themes in this book.

The book includes a discussion guide, a conversation with the author, Kelli Estes, and peaked my interest in reading more about Chinese embroidery, the tragic purging of the Chinese people from Seattle. 

It was amazing to learn this was Kelli Estes' first published book, and that she had graduated from Arizona State with a degree in business management. 

Let me know what you think about this book by leaving a comment on this post. I'll keep checking back!

Monday, November 16, 2015


JPE & I celebrated our 11th Anniversary last Thursday. We took a drive to Cambria, CA (a 40 minute drive up Hwy 1). The weather was beautiful... we had a tasty breakfast at Linn's Restaurant... peeked into our favorite stores... and enjoyed a GOOD ole' relaxing day... topped off with massages & Linn's Chicken Pot Pies followed by a sliver of Linn's famous Olallieberry pie with a dollop of ice cream. Ahhhh! we certainly know how to celebrate!!

After Sunday's downpour, I was checking out the tree in our front yard. I've been watching our tree with "eagle-eyes"... A couple of days ago I noticed a leaf that appeared to be falling. When I put on my glasses, I could see the leaf was tangled in a spider's web. RANDOM sighting! even with a half inch of rain & some wind, the web is still hanging onto its leaf. Yeah for Mother Nature!!

Today is National Button Day. I'll bet you a "card of buttons" that you didn't know there was a website dedicated to button collecting. I looked around on the website and found a resource link for new button collectors. As I mentioned in my post yesterday, I collect buttons for the "cute-ness"... my Instagram post gives some tips for using buttons in your elementary classroom!

time to "button my lips"
{sorry for the pun, couldn't help myself}
& link this post to Tamar's blog at Random-osity.

Come back tomorrow for a review of the book I finished this morning!

Sunday, November 15, 2015


TOMORROW is National Button Day!

I love the sound of running your hands through a bucket or dish of loose buttons!! if you don't know what I mean, find a fabric or hobby store that sells loose buttons by the scoop. Weave your hands through the bucket of buttons & you'll probably notice it sounds a bit like ocean waves moving shells along the sand.  I saw these buttons in a yarn shop in Cambria... they were organized in containers... and sold individually.
Have you ever washed (or hand-washed) a sweater, only to have it shrink to Barbie size proportions? Of course you have! Have to admit, I have too... but before I recycle the sweater, I cut off the buttons. The round-wheel looking buttons were removed from a green sweater that was much too itchy! (so I don't miss wearing it). And swirly buttons (there are four of them) were cut off a off-white fisherman knit sweater that belonged to my mother-in-law, Lana. I don't know how I ended up with the flat silver buttons, but I love the design on the face of them.
A flood of memories come to mind when I see these buttons. I sewed most of my daughter's clothes during their early years (6 mos-9 years). Allison loved purple! Stephanie liked unusual shapes --- so I sewed the telephones on the pockets of a corduroy jacket. Remember Hello Kitty? both girls had the pink kitty buttons on their blouses. 
Christmas is my favorite holiday! Even though I don't have plans to use these buttons, I bear to get rid of them. One year I sewed an army of gingerbread cookies on the girls bathrobes... Notice the bells! the two red metal ones actually make a noise. Oh... and the little reindeer. They're sweet, but I don't remember why I bought them?? Do you have to have a reason to buy cute-ness?

Of course I could go on & on about the VALUE of a button jar, but I'll leave you with this link to my Instagram post about National Button Day

If you have any buttons that you're ready to get rid of ~ I'm here! ready to take them off your hands.
Don't forget to post your button pictures tomorrow on your blog.

Monday, November 9, 2015


Colonial Williamsburg, Virginia

clever signage for the ladies bathroom!!
not a question who should walk down this hall!
San Luis Obispo, CA
signs mark the Historic District in San Luis Obispo...
RANDOM utility boxes have been painted by local artists.
Sorry for the blurry pic - taken through my front car window.

Hands Gallery, San Luis Obispo, CA
holiday FUN is coming! getting excited to decorate!

give Tamar's blog a peek for her amazing "treat"

joining Tamar's GRF

Sunday, November 8, 2015


Winchester, VA ~ pumpkin patch
"curly vine & visiting spider"
Fredericksburg, VA
"colonial skeletons, webs & spiders"
Fredericksburg, VA ~ decorating contest
"If she'd ONLY had a BRAIN"
Fredericksburg, VA
"a splash of fall colors + Halloween decor"
Fredericksburg, VA
Mary Washington's House
{mother of George} 
simple pumpkin & PicMonkey enhancements

remembering... reflecting
Fall Colors Trip


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