Tuesday, December 30, 2008

My Holiday Week

My nephews (and my brother David) got a slot car race track for Christmas - my mom and I take a try at keeping the cars on the track.

My nephew, Chris, brought the game Catch Phrase - we literally played for hours and hours and hours. It made waiting for the turkey to finish cooking, our car trip to Disneyland and waiting in line at Disneyland more enjoyable.
That's my nephew, Nathan, obviously trying to make a point.
That's my sister-in-law, Nicki. We must have been laughing at something my mom said - she was the shocker of the evening.

As I was driving out of town last Tuesday I shipped off a huge box for the book I'm working on. The final box went out just yesterday. Now, to write instructions.
My bro, David, and his new dog, Jack.

David made a brine for the turkey, let it soak in overnight and bbq'd it on Christmas morning.
The celebration for our high school friend Betty. Some of these ladies I hadn't seen in years and years.

The yummy Pink Champagne Cake from Madonna Inn in San Luis Obispo. I'm going to stop by there on my way to the Pismo Dunes - I'm in charge of providing dessert for a bonfire on the beach tomorrow night to usher in the new year - I hope there are still some cakes left - I think I'll do a chocolate one this time. I already have my eye on a Toffee Cake there for my dad's birthday next month.
My family went down to Anaheim last Friday for a pre-wedding reception at the Disneyland Hotel. My cousin's are getting married in Hawaii and knew we all couldn't make it over there. We spent the morning at Disneyland having gotten there when the park opened (brrrrr...) and within 35 minutes we'd ridden the Matterhorn twice and Space Mountain. As we got off the Matterhorn the second time, we were greeted by Disney Cast Members saying we'd won Mickey Mouse ear hats - we all wore our hats proudly for the day. We spent a couple of hours at the reception and then back to Disneyland with a quick dinner and then back until about 11 p.m. Made for a long day, but it was tremendous fun. It was fun to see it through a child's eyes - mine.
Make it a great day!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

The Countdown...

I woke up this morning wondering how I got to where I am at this moment - HUGE deadlines before I can head out to be with family and friends for the holidays. On the positive side, I have been waking up before dawn lately and the sunrises are magnificent!!! A time to pause and watch the beautiful pink sky unfold.

I wish I could share with you the many projects I'm working on at the moment - some will appear on the Duncan website - here it is Christmas week and I'm working on some Valentine's project instructions. The book I'm working on has taken over my itty bitty home and as much fun as I've had, I will be so thankful to ship it off tomorrow.

It's a cold, blustery day here - it was supposed to rain this weekend, so I'm a bit disappointed in that since I have to be indoors.

I'm finishing up favors and decorations for Betty's party on Tuesday night. She doesn't know so many are coming, she just thinks it's a couple of us. I'm trying to find a balance - press on hard to get a lot on work projects done and then treat myself every couple of hours to some fun time getting ready for the party and for the holidays.

I'm heading to the grocery store in a bit to pick up items to make chili for Christmas - we're having tri-tip, smoked turkey, beans, bread and salads. Yummy...many, many years ago my family got on a kick of making H. Allen Smith Chili - there's a story behind it, but I can't put my finger on the recipe at this very moment. My family hasn't had the chili and years and years, so it's my treat this Christmas.

Oh, and the treasure hunt for my nephews, Justin and Brandon. I think I'll just wait on that until I get to their house and come up with some fun places to work with - when you have a 40 acre farm there can be some interesting hiding places - we might not see them for days...

Have an awesome day - take time to smell the roses, have a cup of tea, watch the sunset - enjoy your precious day.


Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Beth is wearing the 'bow' I made from pom poms and chenille stems.

Old Aleene's Friends Christmas Celebration

Tonight was a night for catching up with friends from the old Aleene's days!!! Lauren Johnston and I used to appear on the Creative Living television show, Beth was the Producer and Linda Lou was the set stylist. We go way, way back. Seems like we haven't changed, but kids and grandkids have gotten older.

Before dinner I went shopping for Betty's party - it was great fun to put a girlie party together complete with boas, tulle, glittery netting, flowers and mirrored balls (we went to school in the 70's so when I saw 5" mirrored / disco balls on sale for 1/2 price, I just had to pick up several for the tables). I also had a duh moment - remember me talking about making cupcakes ? I was at the stoplight near The Madonna Inn heading somewhere completely not there when it hit me - order a Pink Champagne cake for Betty's party - it totally went with the pink girlie theme I was thinking of. Perfect!!! I need to take a few minutes tomorrow and make sure everything is covered - it all came together while I was in Michaels tonight.

Squiggly Bow, Laughing Buddha, Gingerbread Card
What a delightful day - It's only 2 o'clock and I've been to a meeting to get the heads-up on the newsletter I'll be taking over at the first of the month for my newcomers club, emailed with my sister who's visiting Virginia, dropped in to see a former co-worker / friend who works for the local police department (I hadn't seen her in two years), shopped for my gift exchange present for tonight and did lots of work!!!
I wrapped my gift for tonight and realized I didn't have a bow (probably SOMEWHERE out in my storage building there's one, but what's a crafter to do in a pinch???) I had some chenille stems and some pom poms and here's what I came up with. I wrapped the chenille stems around a pencil and taped a few in a circle on the gift and glued some pom poms in the center - I used stick glue so it's ready to dash out the door.
When I was looking for the gift for tonight, I saw a bunch of those Life in Miniature kits and one jumped right into my basket - it was the laughing Buddha - the box says the Laughing Buddha is the embodiment of happiness, laughter, prosperity and the wisdom of contentment. Have you ever had a vision in your mind right down to the very tiny details? This is where the Laughing Buddha comes in - I have a vision of my office (certainly not the one I'm in at the moment) but in the corner of the office is a huge Laughing Buddha!!!
I received the gingerbread card in the mail today - how adorable - are you thinking what I'm thinking??? A little felt, some ribbon...

White House Christmas

I just got an email from my sister saying she was on her way to tour the White House in all the holiday glory. How exciting!!!! Can't wait for her pictures.


Burden or Joy...

I laid in bed this morning under four blankets (brrr...it's cold!) and everything I need to do for the next week started buzzing around in my head...just today is a meeting with the old newsletter person showing me and my assistant what we need to do, dinner an hour away with my old Aleene's friends, I need to buy a gift for the exchange tonight (I thought way ahead a couple of weeks ago and bought a lovely candleholder and candle - it got dropped a couple of days ago and broke into a million pieces), I told the book editor I'm working with that I'd have some of the projects mailed, I have a ton of instruction writing to do, plan and get decorations for the Celebration of Life party for my high school classmate, Betty, not to mention all the holiday stuff and just plain ol' life stuff that needs to get done - BRAKES ON!!!

I was reminded by something a friend told me a couple of times last week, that we have a choice in EVERYTHING that we do - to make it a burden or a joy. So, no the decorations for the party won't get taken care of today like I'd planned and no I won't make and decorate darling cupcakes for the party, I hear there's a charming bakery in town and no, all the instructions won't get written today, but I choose to get the things done today that are absolutely necessary, to have fun, relax with my friends, relax about my expectations and celebrate this moment of my life as a true joy!


Saturday, December 13, 2008

Arlington National Cemetery for Wreaths Across America

Today my sister and her daughter-in-law volunteered at Arlington National Cemetery for Wreaths Across America (http://www.wreathsacrossamerica.com/.) Every year, Worchester Wreath Company donates thousands of wreaths so that they can be placed on the graves of fallen men and women from our armed services.

Check out the hummingbird...

My week...a spur of the moment trip up the coast, White Christmas, crafting, delightful food, delightful friends... This was a very interesting week, one with MANY twists and turns, all thoroughly enjoyable.

On Tuesday, I found out a big deadline I was working on got extended a few days, so with that freedom (plus I was super stressed out and knew I needed to chill), I jumped in my car and went north on Highway 1 along the coast. My plan was to head up the coast for about an hour to Ragged Point and have lunch - but something made me whiz on by there and with the many twist and turns of Highway 1 I found myself at my favorite restaurant in Big Sur. Lunch was fantastic, overlooking the Big Sur coastline. The weather was fabulous and the drive up and back was great - hardly any traffic which let me pull into turnout after turnout to observe the mighty ocean below. I turned up the tunes real loud (thanks Miss Frances for Beyonce!!!) and found myself pulling into places I'd been before like Ventana Inn - they now have nice wood chaise lounges overlooking the ocean and I found myself basking in the warm sun not wanting to leave.
Wednesday was the newcomer's luncheon at a country club about 1/2 an hour away - it was absolutely spectacular - the view out the huge windows was of the surrounding hills with beautiful vineyards. We were all chattering about wearing our holiday finest - sweaters, jackets, etc. and it being 72 degrees outside - ahhh, the life of living at the coast (I had been emailing with friends back in Fresno and they were socked in with fog and freezing). I got introduced as being on the new board - some people were amazed that I was a new member (4 months) and already volunteering for a position - it's who I am, I wouldn't have it any other way. The food was wonderful and we had a presentation by a local high school choir of holiday songs.
Wednesday night and Thursday morning were spent doing freelance work. I literally had pieces and parts of projects everywhere in my tiny place. I got a phone call from a high school classmate saying he'd be in town in ten minutes and inviting me to dinner. I did the 8 minute scurry clean-up. Thing is, I have been to his house for meetings and he is one meticulous person, but, oh well. As we walked out of the restaurant, the sun was absolutely gorgeous right in front of us setting over the ocean!!! We stood there watching the sunset and I couldn't help but say outloud - "This is MY life."
Friday night was so delightful - Cheryl Ball, her sister Krissy and I got dressed up in our holiday attire, went to a steakhouse for dinner - I don't have steak that often, so it was a wonderful treat (was yummy for breakfast this morning too!) and then we were off to watch a production of White Christmas - it was absolutely amazing!!! We even got snowed on in the audience.
I woke up to rain this morning but as the morning progresses, the sun is shining and the ocean is beautiful. I need to play catch-up today after all my fun actives this week, so it's a working weekend for me. I'm not boo-hooing, cuz I had a delightful week.
Take care,

Monday, December 08, 2008

Wire Art for Plants

Add some art to that plant you're giving as a gift or spruce up your own walls!

What You'll Need
10 gauge wire or metal coat hanger
Round items to make curves in wire
Straight nose pliers
Wire cutters
Paper cone

How to Make It
1. For coils, grasp one end of wire with straight nose pliers, making a small loop. Move pliers down wire as you twist wire to desired size of loops.
2. Form curves below coils by wrapping wire around round items of desired sizes.
3. For plant stake, leave 8" straight at end of wire.
4. For wall hanger, lay wire shape on work surface after curves are formed. Bend wire up at a 45 degree angle 2" below last curve. Shape three more coils in wire to hold cone.

Friday, December 05, 2008

Big Purple Guy, Elfin Forest, Visitors, Job's Daughters, Work...

My friend and former cubicle mate sent me this picture of herself with the 5 foot tall stuffed animal she and her husband, Bruce, are giving to Toys for Tots. Too cute, Lucy!!! Miss you big time!

Last night in Cambria was very nice. We were running out of time before sunset, so we took a quick walk that turned out to be quite a workout coming back up a hill. Dinner was delightful - clam chowder in a bread bowl and shrimp salad at a beach side restaurant. There's a delightful new candy store in town and they had 11 different flavors of malted milk balls. One of the workers was kind enough to get us just a couple of each flavor.

I received an email from a high school classmate of mine yesterday asking for some help. Lisa and I had been Senior Class Officers together and we were also in Job's Daughters for many years together. Lisa emailed me in a panic because one of her former students (she's a teacher) asked her to do a 15 minute speech for her installation on Sunday. I told Lisa I'd brainstorm with my sister and see what we could come up with. The things we came up with are certainly not things she'd want to tell at an installation celebration. My sister and I remembered some initiation 'ceremonies' - everything from blindfolding a person and having them point out different areas of a cow and the last one you ask them to point at is the tail where someone dutifully puts a jar of Dippity Do so that their finger goes right in it. FYI - Dippity Do is an old version of hair gel. We talked about a song we sang when someone was caught with their elbows on the table at social functions. The song went - get your elbows off the table (insert name), get your elbows off the table, we have seen you do it twice and it isn't very nice, get your elbows off the table (insert name). There was a second verse - believe me - you only put your elbows on the table once in this crowd because the poor person had to run around the tables while we sang the song. Then there was the story about going on a snipe hunt - the initiation was in town where there was a curfew. Well, I and a few other girls saw a police car coming down the street, so we dove into the bushes. Yup, they found us, put the car lights on us and told us to go home. Strangely, the initiation was taking place at the high school principal's home...ahhh, to be young and innocent...being older and doing fun things is pretty darn good too.

The Elfin Forest - I joined the walking group in the newcomer's group and we walked at the Elfin Forest today - I will have to google that and see where the name came from because I didn't see any elves or any forest. It was a delightful walk with fresh air and good conversations.

My freelance work is in high gear - I'm creating twelve projects for a book and doing some instruction editing.

The holiday festivities are shaping up to be a fun time - next week is my newcomer's luncheon at a local country club (it's a chance to play dress-up), Cheryl Ball, her sister and I are going to see the play White Christmas along with a nice dinner out, there's a lighted boat parade, my old Aleene's friends are getting together, a friend told me this week she's getting married on New Year's just after midnight (I have my fingers crossed it's not foggy so I can be there!!!), our We Love You Betty party for my friend whose boyfriend passed away, I'm going to a wedding reception at the Disneyland Hotel with a day at Disneyland and next week a friend will be in town so I'm gussying up the house for that - I was all gung ho to decorate the outside of my house, but with all the work I have going on, I think I'll concentrate on the inside and be happy with that. My next door neighbor has enough lights up for the entire neighborhood. Life is good!!!

Have a fabulous weekend,

Thursday, December 04, 2008

I just gave myself a timeout...

and I wasn't even bad, just stressed for the first time since I moved here - four months, already!!! It was wonderful to sit out at my bistro set, look out at the ocean and have the sun on my face. I decided I could never get a chaise lounge because I'd never get any work done.

A high school classmate of mine has come up with a wonderful idea. Our friend, Betty, whose boyfriend (also a classmate of ours) passed away after a very brief bout with cancer last week has had many trials in her life, breast cancer herself and her husband passed away many years ago leaving her with young children to raise. I have talked with her a couple of times this week and she is an incredibly strong person. My friend, Diane, came up with a great idea - we're going to have a We Love You Betty party just before Christmas. We're going to get a bunch of us from high school and just have fun - I've suggested pink boas, pink cupcakes, pink champagne...we're still out on what we're doing. I also suggested a carriage ride in a nearby town - we did that for my mom a few years ago for Mother's Day and we all loved it. Diane is to contact Betty to let her know what's happening and my email to Diane was to not let her turn us down - it's a celebration of life not only for Betty but for all of us.

I am headed to Cambria, a lovely town about 1/2 hour away. The first Thursday of December they have what used to be called Hospitality Night - all the stores stay open, the streets are decorated, there are carolers and the shops give out goodies. We're heading up early for a hike, to dinner at an ocean side restaurant and then in to town for the festivities.

Celebrate life today because we don't know if we'll have a tomorrow.

Monday, December 01, 2008

Weekend and Lots of Reflection

I had a most delightful weekend. I had dinner with Cheryl Ball and her sister and then we came back to my place to chat. They had been here right after I moved in, so they were able to see all my hard work. The next day was supposed to be a 'do whatever day' and I was heading down that way when my sister called asking if I had lunch plans - one of my nephews was in the area and he hadn't been to my new place. We went to the same restaurant Cheryl, Krissy and I went to - yummy fish tacos!!!

Last night was weird - I checked my email about 11:30 as I was heading to bed. I had an email from my friend in London, so I emailed her back. The phone rang - who could it be at 11:30? My friend from London, of course. We chatted almost an hour. Made for a groggy me this morning! They will be leaving London in the next year and a half, so looks like I'll be going to London next year. They live across from Buckingham Palace...free room and board. Now, to find a cheap airfare.

Tonight was my first Chick Flick get together with my newcomer's group. We did a movie and then dinner. But, I had a surprise - we parked near the restaurant and walked through Beverly's and there was Heidi Borchers. Since I was with a group, I hugged her and said I'd give her a call. That's on my to do list for tomorrow.

As I walked in the door tonight my phone was ringing. It was a high school friend of mine telling me of the passing of her boyfriend, also a classmate. So sad. My friend has had so many trials in her life and now this. My heart goes out to her, her family and our friend's family. I had seen Terry in September and he was fine and shortly after that he started acting 'odd' and seven weeks later he is gone from our lives.

Hug your kids, your spouse, your parents, friends, anyone and everyone that you hold dear in your heart.