Sunday, December 12, 2010

Photo Shoot

I'm assisting my brother-in-law (also a photographer) with a wedding in a few weeks, so we went out "shooting" together for a bit of practice. My daughter and sister-in-law were our subjects. We spent a 70-degree-California-December day at a beautiful park in Brea. Here are just a few of our pics. Sorry, MY pics (Ryan's are much better! 

This is Meg inside of a picture frame. We were trying for a something completely different than this. . . but she's five. 

My gorgeous sister-in-law, Rebekah. I love these shots with the chair:

 Here is Ryan shooting Meg. (these were great shots, btw): 
Look at the freckles!! I guess she is mine after all. 

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Home-made Christmas

I thought making presents for everyone would be nice this year. I mean--I can sew, paint, crochet, frame pictures that I've taken, combine talents with friends. . . So why not? 

It's December 11th and I'm exhausted! I'm actually pleased. . . and exhausted. It feels amazing to make something--spend the time and and energy, iron each seam, choose each fabric and trim. . . all the while thinking about the recipient. In this case, mostly children will receive my handiwork, perhaps because I'm sure they won't notice the mistakes. The time and energy has been fulfilling--I feel so full when I make a gift as opposed to buying another Littlest Pet Shop toy at Target. 

Mind, I have purchased several Littlest Pet Shops. In fact, I think I am done with my crafting--I made 14 home-crafted gifts this season and while I am satisfied. . . I am done. 

It's December 11th . . . and I am ready to stop sewing and go shopping. 

Friday, December 10, 2010

Time to think about my hair.

Twice a year I have to think of what to do about my hair. My hair is long, and the advantage on long hair is not cutting it so very often as some of my fellow females. It has come around to "hair time" though, and I have started the bi-yearly search for a suitable photo to bring along to the salon. 

The salon. Sigh. There are three ladies and one gentleman on this planet with whom I will trust to cut my hair. The closest of these lives two hours from my home, in Palm Springs. After that they live in San Francisco, New york and somewhere in Paris, I think, but I lost track of him years ago so really I'm down to three. I've learned my lesson about straying from these four individual's talent, so I remain faithful and I do my homework. 

I'm considering a cut somewhat shorter than what it is now, maybe six inches shorter. This lovely, fresh faced, youthful woman is sporting the length I am thinking about. And now, I am considering that cute gray hat as well, thank you very much.

And this one below, and she has some tendrils cut about her face which usually looks best on me. 

Hair color is also a small issue of thought. I have (embarrassed throat -clearing) grays. Far more than I'd like to admit and enough to not be masked by a few highlight anymore as we've done in the past. So the question is. . . blonde or brunette? I'll take this up with Stevie (my Palm Springs hair goddess).

Mine is this long now, but when I wear it pulled back like that I look like a Quaker. Or something.

This is more like what mine looks like most of the time these days, but I think I need to chop a bit off to allow it become healthy again. It has become heavy and flattens itself to my head. 

Thanks for joining me on my hair musings. Completely self-centered and superficial, right? O well, it happens twice a year and requires a pilgrimage to one of the remote locations mentioned above. So, you see, I need to travel prepared--preparation and a fabulous stylist are my key to six months of no haircuts! 

(These photos are all from the website)

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

A Rainbow Birthday

As you know, my Meg turned 5 last week and we celebrated on Saturday with a girlie "Rainbow Party!" The best irony was that it rained in torrents all day long so everything that I planned had to be moved indoors (and tweaked slightly), but it was still so cute and really fun for the children! I shamelessly copied rainbow ideas from multiple blogs, websites and good friends, so while not completely original,  I did create the details myself and put the ideas together into a party that was our very own. Here are some pictures:
We loved the Meg Whitman campaign signs, so we used one to identify the "party house." Of course, it required an umbrella for protection!
I bought these plastic "car lot" flags ages ago and had planned to adorn our backyard with them. Since the party moved indoors, the flags came right along, quite nicely I think!
The star of the show--my sister made this six layer rainbow cake (did you see the layers in the first picture?). AMAZING!! And it was tasty, too!

I have to confess that I was going to order pizza. But when asked Meg if she wanted pizza for her birthday dinner, she said (and I  quote--and I swear it came out in one long sentence): "No mommy, I want my favorite.  Spaghetti and meatballs, tomato soup, mac-n-cheese, steak, watermelon, peas and that yummy bread that is crunchy. You can have salad, mommy." So that's what we had for dinner. 
Here are photos of just a few of our activities:

The girls all declared the best activity to be the Rainbow Colors Treasure Hunt. I may post the entire activity by itself, in a day or two. I wrote little rhymes and the girls had to figure out the location and color until they found all the colors of the rainbow, at the end of which they discovered a treasure box filled with goodies. It was super fun, but lasted all of six minutes!

These "to-go" boxes left over from our last party came in very handy. I packed up lots of leftover treats and sent them to our neighbors after the party. Meg thoroughly enjoyed the visits to each house, sharing her birthday treats and announcing her new age five status. 

Happy Rainbows! And my sweet Meg: Happy Fifth Birthday, baby.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Birthday Week

This week, my baby will turn five.


That is half of a decade.

A five year old is a child, not a baby.

I have tried to make her promise to stop growing, to stay four forever, but the lure of birthday presents is too strong to resist. Alas, she must grow.

But she assures me that she will live with me forever. Even when she is a "big and has lots of children."

Meanwhile, I am planning her birthday party, which will occur next weekend. She has chosen a rainbow theme, which makes it easy on ole' mom. We are going to keep the birthday party fairly low key this year, but it still is fun to dream up ways to make the day magical for her.

I'm most excited about the six layer rainbow cake my sister will be making for her!

Birthday week is always busy, but exciting. And bittersweet. . . how time flies. 

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Pretty Pumpkins

I so wanted to post this a week--no two weeks ago! It's been waiting on my Blackberry for the moment, and now that Halloween is over, it's kind of pointless except to those of you who (like me) will remember this sweet pumpkin decorated with black rhinestones and try it yourself next year! 

And now. . . bring on the Holidays. (I'm tired already)

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Item #468 on my "I Want It" List.

This chair is adorable. From the Re-Trouv辿 Collection designed by Patricia Urquiola (yes, that last sentence was copy/pasted, there's no way I could have figured out that symbol!)I would like to have it. Do I need to say more? It's on right now marked down from $1,084 to $465. Still too steep for me but that's why I have the "I Want It" list. 

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Start with a Kernel

Last Thursday, I went to a book signing and talk by Diana Gabaldon, at Vroman's Bookstore in Pasadena. I have never had the desire to actually attend a talk or book signing before, maybe because most of my favorite books are old and the authors. . . unavailable. I have been reading Diana's books for about a year now ever since my grandmother gave me the first in the series. I don't think I have ever enjoyed a series better, nor pursued a series so long without becoming exhausted by the style or characters (Little House on the Prairie was possibly the last that held my focus so long!) I could go on and on about the merits of Gabaldon's writing, style, depth, characterization. . . but that isn't what I want this particular post to be all about.

This post is about what an inspiring evening this was. I have heard Diana speak before (you can hear her podcasts on her website) but who knew she was full of such "on the spot" wit and humor and wisdom. She took questions from her readers in the audience (the crowd swelled well past the expected attendance and the bookstore staff seemed to be in shock) and every answer was an in depth explanation, containing examples, a little serious secret sharing, established trust and a little comic relief. I admit that I sat in awe of this amazing woman, her ability to command both the page and the room and her cool, even stride not only in this situation, but in life.

 I took away one golden principle on this evening. Diana Gabaldon is a former university professor holding multiple degrees. She knew that she someday wanted to try to write a novel and so. One day. She began. Just like that. She chose a subject matter, she chose a period of history, she pictured one figure in her head (Jamie, our main male character) and then she sat down to write. "Where is he?" She asked herself. She pictured a room. "Who else is there? Who is that woman?" and she "saw" a gathering of men. "What are they doing?" and so, she began. This is not the opening scene in the book, it occurs about one third of the way through, and occurs after the main conflict is introduced in fact,  but this is where she began, without even being aware of what her story would be about. This was her first kernel. The scene began to bloom and blossom around this first kernel, and then she saw another kernel, and began again there. The story takes shape around these kernels of action and drama, which at some point she "flocks" together with important details. I was surprised to learn that Diana does not have an outline for her novels, nor does she know where story is going to end up as she writes, she simply allows it to take her, while her attention is focussed on these kernels of inspiration. I don't know exactly how many books Gabaldon can claim in all, but I know that she has completed seven books in the Outlander series, all of which are enormous and powerful. I cannot imagine a more satisfactory success. She is currently writing book eight.

This principle of the kernel is transferable to multiple creative venues, and is so simple. Sometimes I discard my ideas because I don't believe that in themselves they are enough to complete a piece of work. I never let my ideas get farther than the protective custody of my brain. In doing so, I may be limiting my creative potential, never giving these ideas (or kernels) a chance to develop. Since listening to Diana, I have been challenged. What am I waiting for? An entire book does not appear in her head at one time, nor should an entire finished product appear in mine, no matter what I am working on at the time. But a single small idea, which seems insufficient, could provide the fuel to propel something that might just be worthy. Just maybe. Maybe not. But I ask myself this: when I am feeling the most energized and satisfied? When I am in the creative process. And so, why shouldn't I allow this creative energy to push me along? And so I will. I will begin with a kernel. I will use that energy to create a second kernel. And shall see where these lead. This is such a simple formula and yet risky to those of us who feel the creativity inside but are hesitant to allow it to lead. The fear of failure looms great and the censors scream "you are not worthy! You will never finish well!" But I will see Diana as inspiration, and use her kernel principle as a guide.

Because who wants to write a structured outline? And in truth, how in the world can you allow creativity to freely flow from structure such as that? And so, we shall start with a kernel, and just go. No apology, no censor, just get going with one idea. And then another. And another.
Here we are getting close and personal with Diana Gabaldon. That's my sister, myself, my grandmother and my Aunt (left to right). Sorry about the photo quality--I only brought my little camera!

Thank you, Diana, for an amazing evening of inspiration. And the principle of the kernel.

Friday, October 1, 2010

A little somethin'-somethin' to make you smile.

I've been visiting this blog every few weeks, usually late at night when everyone is sleeping and I'm not yet tired. . . and I start to poke around blog world for something interesting and inspiring. It is called The Unknown Hipster  and I adore this guy. He is a fictional character who "crashes" events and happenings around NYC, and he records everything in cartoon sketches. Some of which I could actually frame and hang on the wall (But I won't because that's not nice):
Given that I love NYC and miss it every day, I like to visit and see where my cartoon friend has been lately and what ruckus he has stirred up in his travels. I also love his style. 

"Born French, Unknown Hipster early moved to New York to become a painter, a poet, or whichever position was available on the Art scene. Once a lead tambourin for « Uneven dusk », it’s unclear what became his main occupation after the band quickly broke-up. All can be said is that Unknown frequently appears at Fashionable and Cultural events without being necessarily on the list."  (from

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Happy Apples!

It's that time of year. . . go pick some vitamin C. Keep that old bugger of a doctor AWAY!

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

I just love a good party!

A few weekends ago, we celebrated my niece and nephew's 5th and 2nd birthdays, respectively. My sister and brother-in-law put so much love and hand-made goodness into the "Country Hoe-Down" theme, and everyone had a real boot-kickin' good time. The party was held at my house (for all my grumbles, I have to say that this house does parties well) but the details all came from my sister's heart!
This was such a happy party, full of fun and joyful details, but take a gander for yourself, why don't-cha:

Here was the scene just before the chuck-line opened. I loved the red and blue checkered fabric that my sister bought in bulk. It became tablecloths and even napkins (my mom hemmed all of these napkins!). The lunch was really so yummy as well, if you can read that menu, every single item was delicious (I made the BBQ sauce) (and yes, Lisa--we "borrowed" your corn and cilantro salad!).

The children each received a boxed lunch:

Goodie bags are an integral part of every country birthday gatherin' and these ole boys were chuck full of kiddie goodness. The desert wildflowers that decorated the whole house were gathered by my parents on the drive "down" that morning. I thought they were so pretty so I left them out for several days after this before we realized they were the source of our terrible allergies. Oh well, they were pretty.

The entrance to the house displayed some cute portraits of the birthday Lad and Lassie (photography by their adoring auntie) and some cowboy hats, in the case that you might a'forgot your own. And some bandanas 'cause country picnics can get pretty darn-tootin' warm. You might need to wipe your brow. 
Oh, hey! There's the birthday mama herself! (This is my sister and party creator extraordinaire) I'm drooling over her boots (thrift store) and her long legs (seriously, we are so genetically different. . . ) and isn't she just adorable?
I had but one job, and that was to run the photo booth. Here is a product of my labor:
Horse piñata 
"Little ones go first--no grabbing--there's enough for all y'all so nobody push--no you may not eat that right now--give some of those to the smaller kids--wow that's a big bag of goodies--DON'T LET THE DOG EAT THAT!"   Ah. . . .piñata aftermath. So classic.
But will you just look at those precious cupcake cups!
And a custom horse-shoe candy on each one.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Penelope by the Sea

My husband frequently has business in San Diego and will stay in a hotel to avoid the drive several days in a row. And occasionally Meg and I will join him, if we have nothing else on our busy schedule. For that reason, we've spent several days this summer lounging at the amazing hotel pool (Grand Hyatt) and exploring the Seaport Village and downtown areas. 
This is Penelope, a public art installation along the Seaport Village boardwalk. Dozens of artistic creations line the boardwalk in this area, but this is the one Meg loves to return to. Part of the appeal is the fact that she can climb inside and look at the world from Penelope's eyes. But she also can't get enough of the story of the mythical goddess (she is a goddess, right?). Luckily, the sculpture features a brief description so I was able to sound really smart ("wow, mommy, you know about everything"), but I have actually been Googling in search of more details about Penelope and Ulysses, in order to answer Meg's questions. I'm struck with the irony that I never studied Greek Mythology, yet I hold a Bachelor's in Literature (how is that?). I'm also inspired by the constant questions about Penelope, and think that perhaps I will buy a book.

 I love this sculpture. Look at the weaving detail and the movement. It's absolutely gorgeous, and inspiring. Mostly, I love that it has actually inspired my four-year-old to want to learn about ancient Greek mythology. And in doing so, has inspired me to research, read and discover a few new things myself. Here is an article about Penelope and Michael Stutz, her creator, if you care to learn more. 

Here is another fun art installation along the boardwalk. 

The boardwalk is a great place to kill a few hours looking at free art in San Diego with kids--bring a little bike or scooter. It's also a great place to run, given that the weather is always balmy and the terrain is completely flat and the ocean is always on your left. Or your right. You know what I mean.

Monday, September 13, 2010

The Dog Days are Over

Goodbye to summer. . . I don't know about you, but I just don't feel ready to let go of summer goodness. Our family has enjoyed a summer packed with trips, treats, fun, adventure, cuddling, family and friends. I hope you can say the same. And even though it's still warm (it's Southern California, after all), I'm just feeling a little sad about turning the page this year, a little sappy about sending my Meg back to school and dragging my feet to actually be somewhere besides the swimming pool at any given time on Monday morning. 

Goodbye to summer eating, al fresco, of course:

Goodbye to laying in meadows and blowing dandelions seeds:

Goodbye to summer activities:
Goodbye to summer s'mores (that's my grandmother! She rocks!):

Goodbye to summer friends, near and far, old and new:
Goodbye to vistas

Goodbye to smiling faces:

Goodbye to special places:
Goodbye to the amazing light that inspires me to run back for my camera:

Goodbye to happy people who drive around in happy cars:

Goodbye to this guy, whoever he is. Rock on, friend. 

Goodbye to crisp red white and blue:
Goodbye to young love--I mean--summer tunes. 

Goodbye to this moment, on the beach at sunset:

And goodbye to unforgettable "firsts":
Farewell summer and farewell summer friends. 
Until we meet again. . .