Friday, December 10, 2010

Peanut Brittle

It's the holiday time again, and we are sweet makers, cookie bakers, candy breakers around here...  I started making cookies when I was a kid...  and still have the cookie book my grandma bought me when I was a teenager and inscribed this lovely note to me...  I admit, I was her favorite...  I think she tried to make up to my mom through me, but however it happened, she had a special spot for me, and I worshipped her.  Baking and making candy always brings me back to those days I spent at her house, testing cookie recipes, learning how to cook standing on a chair pulled up to the stove next to her.  She taught me how to make Rouladen when I was in the 3rd grade and I won a blue ribbon at the 4-H cooking contest with it.  She was so proud! 

I made this peanut brittle recipe today, it is from the family cookbook I made a while back.  It is from my cousin Donna Wrfight, who I think got it from the Joy of Cooking...  Let me say it BLOWS AWAY the Sees peanut brittle if you are a fan... here is a photo, and the recipe follows.  It calls for 1 lb of peanuts.  This makes a very peanutty brittle... you could use 1/2 pound and be fine.  I have also made it with other nuts and it is just as good.  Try your own version using macadamias, marcona almonds, pecans, pistacios, cashews, whatever nuts are your favorite.  I make one batch at a time, because the pot I have boils over when I add the baking soda mixture if I double it...  so beware of the foaming in the end....

I will be posting more family favorite holiday recipes all this month, so check back.... or subscribe and follow me on facebook....

Happy Holidays!


1 ½ tsp baking soda
1 tsp water
1 tsp vanilla
1 ½ cups sugar
1 cups light corn syrup
1 cup water
3 Tbspns butter
1/2 lb shelled unroasted peanuts (I have used the roasted salted ones too and it comes out fine)

Butter 2 cookie sheets and set aside.
Mix baking soda, vanilla and 1 tsp water together, set aside
Mix sugar, water and corn syrup together in 3 qt saucepan. Cook over medium heat stirring occasionally until 240 degrees or soft ball stage. Stir in butter and then peanuts. (recipe calls for 1 lb but I use a ½ lb and make a double batch that way I get more and it is still just as good) Continue cooking to 300 degrees, or hard crack stage. Be careful as it can burn easily at this stage… remove from heat and add in vanilla baking soda mixture. Candy will foam up and double in volume as well as darken, quickly spread out on cookie sheets and stretch with wooden spoon to desired thinness. You must work fast. Allow to cool. Break into pieces and serve. Can be stored in an airtight bag for 2 weeks.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Ode to my uterus

This is an art piece I did when I found out I was having a hysterectomy.  I was really bummed out about it for a lot of reasons...  Mostly I was angry and resentful at my ex for insisting I have my tubes tied cause he was too chickenshit to get a vasectomy... because I really wanted 2 more kids...  I would have them now and they would be 5 and 3...  little versions of me and Paskie...  with big eyes and dark curly hair and chubby cheeks...  probably fluent in english and spanish...  I cried for those babies that would never be born.  I cried for being so controlled by my ex that I allowed HIM to decide what would happen to my body, instead of taking a stand and saying, "No, you get snipped if you don't want more."  But then he never would have had his other daughter, who was a miracle, since the new wife wasn't supposed to be able to have kids... so she never would have existed if another choice was made...  I started to be sad for the loss of the should haves and could haves, and got so lost in it, that for a time, I had to just be with it and cry. Then I decided I had mourned enough.  I needed to find the gifts.  So I looked at all the things my uterus had accomplished and been through during her working years...  So here is my eulogy for Aunt Mary...

Aunt Mary we affectionately called her here in our house... her and her monthly visits. She loved to go on trips, and always managed to show up just as we were leaving so she could tag along for most of it.,  She had a rocky start in the early years as a teen.  We had endometriosis and a couple of surgeries, and wondered if we could even carry a baby... But like the little engine that could...  she chugged along in spite of the doctors warnings. She provided me with four awesome kids.  She and I survived induced labor, pitocin and no epidural (ouch) and a beautiful quiet easy breezy natural delivery without a doctor for the first half of delivery.  We had our water broke, and she hung in there like a champ as she pushed baby number 3 out with one push.  She was poked and prodded and  cut open with a c-section when baby number 4 decided she liked her butt tucked snugly under my pelvic bone.  She watched her friends Fallopian Tubes and Ovaries say a final goodbye, as I debated with the doctor over tying both tubes or only doing one and rolling the dice.  I wish I had been a gambler.  She worked very hard to help 3 different couples become a family through surrogacy.  She did her part, but their eggs just weren't healthy enough to implant in her...... 

Then a few months ago, I started noticing she was tired...  worn out, and literally falling out of me...  Poor Mary.  We had a good run... Wish I could have put you up in a hammock with a mai tai and let you retire in style...  but we had to part...  you and I... I will miss you.  You were very good to me.  I will remember you fondly.  I never thought of you as a curse.  I celebrated every single time you visited.  and also the times you didn't..  I wish you well Mary.  Rest In Peace....

Monday, December 6, 2010

Classes with the Fabulous Katherine England

So I took some classes this past weekend at Katherine England's studio in Fullerton.  She is such a sweet person.  Spent Saturday doing a fused glass class, and Sunday making a Wizard of Oz journal.  Learned some great techniques and made some really cool stuff.  If you are ever in the area and want to take a fun class, check her out... I am planning taking some of the classes next year. 

The journal was a color copy of the book front and back, glued to birch boards 1/4 inch thick.  We used PVA and a credit card to stick it down, and then minwax polycrylic to seal it.  Then we used the 140 lb watercolor paper sheets to make 6 signatures, and sewed it together using the coptic stitch technique.  She gives you all the materials you need to make the book.  I would suggest if you want to add jewels and bling bling to the stitches, you bring that along with you.  I bought this sparkly red faux leather at the fabric store with one of those... "I don't know what I will use it for but I am getting it anyway" kind of moments... and LOVE how the sparkly red looks on the spine.

The houses were all made with Dichroic glass.  I cut and nipped the pieces, and made a holy ton of houses for a future mosaic piece.  I also experimented with making pendants, sandwiching 2 pieces of glass, dichro to dichro with clear on top, and got some pretty cool results.  I can't wait to get more and make a ton more things.  I want to make pendants for my etsy shop...  I have some steampunk themed ideas rolling around in my head that would be really cool....

Tuesday, September 21, 2010


Remember when we were kids and would play tag or capture the flag and you would hate to be the kid who yelled "I surrender!" because it made you the "loser"?  I have been experiencing these "loser" feelings a lot lately... Buckling under the weight of all the things I need to do, but have yet to accomplish, I feel overwhelmed.  In a new town with absolutely no friends...  Alone in ways I have never experienced before, I am faced daily with medical issues, doctor visits, insurance company and attorney phone calls... Some days, it is hard to get out of bed...  I was trying to remember if I have ever felt like this before, and then I remembered the post partum depression I experienced with Kayleigh...  No... It couldn't be THAT...  not the D word... But then I just let go once I recognized it...  It is depression...  It is a lot of things, all rolled into a big ball of surrender...  and I think that is what is depressing me... The surrendering... as if by surrendering to my life and my current limitations, I am a loser...  Intellectually I know this is not the case...  But the fighter in me says, "that's it, it's all over once you surrender.."  

Will the world stop turning if I don't get my boxes unpacked?  Will the art supplies shrivel up and blow away waiting for me to use them?  Can a person actually die from too many unexpressed creative ideas?  These questions haunt me, and keep me awake all night...  What I really need right now is some grandma therapy...  When I was a teen ager and feeling blue, I would visit my grandma, and tell her all my troubles... she always had wise advice on how to help me, and if she couldn't think of anything else to say, she would put her arm around me and pat my back and say, "then just have a good cry, let yourself really feel it... you will feel better."  So here I sit, a box of permission slips (tissue) on the table next to me...  trying to have a good cry...  I have my grandma's permission....  and I feel like if I start to cry...  I might crack apart and never stop...

I feel blocked at every turn...  In more ways than I even want to put out there into the world in print... but some, like decorating my home, getting organized, creating a nurturing environment for my family, starting the Christmas gift making, and creating my "Creative Business" I started so many moons ago and never finished...  these are the things that frustrate the hell out of me... because all these physical limitations and other things are happening that prevent me from doing the things that are literally BURNING in my soul to do... And every time I come up with a solution, it involves getting or hiring help, and that appears to not be an option.... So I am stuck here... Knowing I need to just give up and let it go for a while, and refusing to let go because then I will be a loser...

I am trying a new tactic today...  Little by little, every single day, I will try to create one thing in my life that is a step toward the life I want... I can see it so clearly, what it looks like, what it feels like, even what it tastes and smells like...  So instead of focusing on how far away it is, I will focus on how much closer I am getting to it every day.  Accepting myself the way I am now, and embracing my limitations is a step in the right direction.  Taking the time to nurture myself and care for my poor body right now when it really needs some kindness and love is another step... Doing little, manageable projects that I can accomplish on my own, will give me a sense of satisfaction, and quiet the creative whispers that are becoming screams in my heart.  I can only do what I can do, which is my best...  the rest will just have to wait...  and every day I repeat these words to myself over and over....

"What God leads us to... He leads us through...." I saw it on a church billboard here in town the other day... and it really jolted me... So I am surrendering it all to God... I am letting Him handle the details for me, because it is just too big a job for me on my own right now...

Monday, August 2, 2010

Healing Journal Day 1 (how to make it)

I took this Dollar Store journal filled with brown paper, and flipped it over so the pattern on the cover wouldn't show through the semi transparent fabric. 

Then I deconstructed my daughters t-shirt so I had a front, back and sleeves.

I put a generous coat of heavy gel medium on the cover, pressed the fabric on to the book board, then flipped it over. 
Using more gel medium around the edges, I folded the extra around the edge, being careful to make sure the corners stayed really flat. I then took one of the book pages from the book, lined it up with the holes and covered it with gel medium, sticking it down over the inside of the cover.  This gives you a very nice custom finished look. 

Here is my finished journal, ready to be hole punched through the fabric in the existing holes, and tied with some cool fibres I have... This project is very easy, and the cool part is, if you mess it up, pull it off and do it again.  This one took me 10 minutes start to finish including taking the photos.  You can use old book boards if you want, just be sure to cut a strip 1/2 inch thick and the same length as the book board before covering with fabric.  This will allow you to open the book without damaging pages or the cover.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Healing Journal Challenge...

I looked up all the things that are wrong with me in the Heal Your Body Book by Louise Hay the other day... I found it really interesting that everything boiled down to the same core issues... I decided to create a healing journal with the illness/diagnosis, the metaphysical reason for the illness, and the affirmation to change the belief causing the issue... I will be posting it here. My friend Danita is joining me in a healing journal project as well... Anyone else out there have some body issues they want to look at more closely and release? I am hopeful that the process of making the journal, really looking at the issue and then releasing it will help me to heal myself and my life in ways I am not even able to imagine... Stay tuned in the weeks to come as I share what I learn here....

First step is creating the journal....  I bought a TON of these little books at the dollar store about 7 years ago and have had them in a box all this time...  I had been covering them with recycled clothing from the depot and selling them at art fairs and craft boutiques...  So I am starting with one of these... covering it with an old T-shirt and then gessoing the pages to give them strength....  I will post the finished book tomorrow with instructions...

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Looking for the pony

I know I have told the story before... but for those who don't know it, my grandma was always an optomist...  She loved to tell this story about the identical twins, one was a pessemist and one was an optomist. Their mother took them in  for a medical study, and they put the pessemist kid in a room full of toys, and the optomist kid in a room full of horse poo.... They left them alone for 15 minutes and went back to check on them...  The pessemist kid was crying in the middle of the room, saying that there was no use playing with the toys because they were just going to make him leave anyway and he couldn't really enjoy them if he couldn't keep them... Then they went to check on the optomist kid, he was nowhere in sight.  In the far corner of the room, they saw movement, and he was elbows deep in the poop, scooping it up and throwing it over his shoulder, digging another huge scoop and flinging it over his shoulder.  The doctor asked him what he was doing, and the little boy wiped an arm across his sweaty brow and stated "With all this horse shit, there has GOT to be a pony in here SOMEWHERE!"

That is my life these days...  Sometimes you're the windshield, sometimes your the bug... I just keep looking for the pony, and hoping and trusting that it will all be so much better on the other side of the room full of horse poo....

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Family, Friends, shopping and cocktails

I spent the day yesterday with my friends  Pat, Debi, Joanne and Mel...  As always, we had a really great time eating, power shopping and getting caught up on all our lives...  We only see each other about once or twice a year, but when we do, the fun is ON...  I love that we can come together, appreciate seeing one another and catch up, and then go on with our lives, picking up where we leave off the next time we see each other.  They are incredibly sweet and talented ladies with the greatest sense of humor...  I LOVE being around them... 

Then I spent a few days of quality time with my mom, stepdad and nieces....  and a day with my wonderful daughter Megan... Nothing beats hanging out with two of your favorite females on the planet. Megan, Mom and I went and saw Inception... what a GREAT movie... You can't really describe it, you have to just experience it...  Megan was on the edge of her seat in the theatre...  Mom and I got a kick out of her.

After the trip up north this time...  I realized that I am missing a sense of belonging somewhere.  I don't really belong here yet... and with constantly taking a trip up there every 2 weeks, I am not really here or there....  I am in limbo, still living out of boxes, struggling to unpack things between various doctor appointments and making sure not to overdo it with the arm...  Taking the time to take care of myself has been one of my hardest life lessons... and I think I am still not learning it very well...  But I am also getting clear that part of settling in and getting comfortable with a place comes with time... I just need to learn to flow with the timeframes a little better.  Patience.... I need it... and I need it NOW!

I haven't had much opportunity to make friends here in the OC. I did meet one sweet lady named Danette from the Kelly Rae Roberts flying lessons class that lives about 40 minutes from me... She was really lovely, and we chatted for a couple hours at Barnes and Noble about art, and our dreams of where we want to take our art... We are planning on creating some art dates to get together and actually DO art here soon. I have been trying to create some community for myself down here... I went to Katherine England's studio, which is in Fullerton, and met some gals in her Monday Nite Class that were a hoot... She is an incredible artist. I knew it was her house before the GPS told me... It is Periwinkle blue with chartreuse green trim with the cutest whimsical fence... I went to check out the studio and see if it was a class I would be interested in taking. I felt really honored, because she told me initially that I couldn't be in that class because it was full, but several of them talked to her and voted me in... I was stoked about that... They were so welcoming and fun... Eating dessert and drinking wine... My kind of gals! I am looking forward to getting to know them better. I also posted a note on the Artfest website about looking for OC artists that wanted to get together regularly for art play dates... I had a few people respond, and I am collecting names so I can start a group. I even met a scrapbooker at the Wal Mart in the magazine aisle who I plan to call and contact about getting together to scrapbook... So it is all coming together slowly...  I think things will pick up once the kids get here at the end of the month....

Sunday, July 4, 2010

God Bless America and Flea Markets...

We spent the morning at the Pasadena City College Flea Market...  Let me tell you, these people got it going on... They have the actual market at the college.  You park in the far parking structure and ride the golf cart shuttles in the the market.  There are 2 lots on either side of a 3 story parking structure.  The market is inside the parking structure, and in the 2 outside lots.  There is no admission charge like Long Beach, Rose Bowl, Alameda and some of the other antiques markets I have been to.  They do require the vendors to sell items at least 20 years old and the prices are the best I have found down here so far.  Lots of record dealers, and vintage clothing people... And jewelry vendors galore with all the fun costume jewelry from the 30's thru 60's.  I did see some great furniture buys too, but was not there for furniture that day.  Definately check it out.  It is worth the trip....  It happens on the 1st Sunday of every month. 

We spent the evening at the park in Yorba Linda with our friends Mike and Claire and all their British friends.  It was a fun way to kick off our first official holiday here in So Cal.  Really great fireworks show.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

I thought I was a Gypsy

My husband Pascual tells me I am probably descended from Gypsies.  My great grandmother's last name was Montoya,.  He tells me that is the most common name for Gypsies in Spain.  I have always loved traveling, and journeys, be they physical or spiritual.  I have always had a fascination with horse drawn vehicles, and love camping out under the stars.  I love oracles, like Rune stones and Tarot cards and palm reading.  My mom is a psychic, and I have learned to read people from her.  Something in my soul just lights up whenever I hear any strong rythmic music with heavy tribal beats and the soft yearning sound of a violin. The first time I heard Flamenco music and saw real Gypsies dancing in Madrid, I felt like I was at a family reunion.

But then I have the same affinity with Hawaii.  The feel of the tradewinds on my face, the smell of the damp earth and the Plumeria on the breeze.  The taste of a Mai Tai, the slice of pineapple all juicy as it runs over my hand.  The soothing sounds of the surf crashing as it lulls me into the soundest sleep ever.  The feel of waterfalls crashing over me, and the tang of salt on my lips after playing in the surf.  The sounds of the Conch horn and the tribal drums and listening to a ukulele while dancing  the lovely soft motions of the hula.  The sad inexplicable feeling I get when leaving the islands that I am leaving home forever. 

Then there is Italy.  Land of my grandfathers people...  Tuscany, the lovely stone villages with tiny winding streets and beautiful cathedrals.  The chatter of the Italian language that always sounds like an argument, even when they are just discussing the weather.  The gorgeous blue oceans, and the glorious foods, so wonderful each bite is like a miracle on your tongue.  The art, the sculptures, the timelessness of a place where people have lived for thousands of years. 

Our plan is to travel all over the world together starting in 3 years with small trips, and escalating to monthly residencies in other countries to really immerse ourselves in the culture and feel the experience of being there....  Traveling to new places, seeing new things, experiencing new wonders with the man I love.  what can be better than that?

 Then I talked with my Great-Auntie Anne...  This lovely woman in the photo with me is 95 1/2 years young.  She has LIVED all 95 years of her life.  4 children, numerous grand, great grand and even a few great-great grandchildren are the legacy she leaves behind.  But believe me, she ain't done yet...  She was the last guest at the wedding on Saturday.  One of the first ones there, and the last one out after all the tables were folded and the chairs put away and the presents loaded and the catering trucks were gone, she was there, chatting with everyone. Visiting and reconnecting with family she hadn't seen in a long time.  All the way to the car she chatted about the old days, when she was young, before all of us were born, when she and her 6 siblings lived on the farm, and dreamed of the lives they would have when they were grown. 

I was thinking that in another generation, the family won't even remember any of them.  The ones that do are getting older, and passing away.  She is our last stronghold on the past.  On our German heritage and the remaining member of the original 7 kids that started this now 600 plus extended family of cousins and aunts and uncles.  She outlived 2 husbands with a poise and dignity and grace that is unfathomable in these modern times.  She is devout, and raised her children to love God, but to enjoy life as well, and embrace all the beauty of life.  She has traveled all over the world with her husbands and family, experiencing and living through things most of us can only imagine.  But at the end of her days, in the sunset of her life, with all the experiences and life and love behind her, the one thing she wants is to be home...  In her home... surrounded by the memories of her family.  Living in the house her husband built with his own two hands, Their heir little family had grown too big for the small little dollhouse cottage he had built next door when she was his bride.  The cabinets and countertops custom made for her height.  Her lovely paintings hang on the walls, a home full of love and memories. 

I realized in that moment... I am NOT a gypsy.  I may love to travel, and to experience new things... but in the end, after a few weeks, I want what she wants... to go HOME.  To be in that place where I create the energy, where my memories reside.  In the end, after you have outlived your life partner twice, all you have left are your memories.  But she is never bitter.  She faces each new day with a smile.  She says if she wakes up, it is always a good day, and cause to celebrate for the simple fact that she DID wake up.  She lives each day now as if it is her last.  Thankful for what she has, and grounded in the knowledge that she is exactly where she wants to be.  Her kids worry about her.  But she is the most stubborn person you ever met.  I think the stubbornness is what keeps her going.  Her inability to give up on living her life.  Her insistance on walking to the hairdressers across the street every friday to get her hair done.  Her simple acceptance to stop dying her hair at 95 because she is old enough to have white hair now instead of blonde.  Her decision to live out the rest of her life on her own terms, the way she wants, and against her kids wishes.  Still sharp as a tack,. with a memory like an elephant, she reminds me of things I told her years ago that I no longer remember saying.

I hope that one day way in the future, I grow up to be like her.  So strongly grounded in who I am, that I KNOW without question where it is I need to be.  That I have experienced all the things in life there is for me to do, and yet I still find joy in a visit from a family member or a walk to the beauty parlor.  The sight of my garden coming in fills me with hope and joy mixed with a feeling of renewal as I watch another spring being born.   I hope with all my heart, that this gypsy girl learns what Auntie Anne has learned, that home is where your heart resides, inside of yourself...  and that the greatest art in life is the fine art of being human.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

10 things I learned today at the flea market

1.  Wear 50 SPF sunscreen when your lilly white body has not seen the sun for 10 months
2.  Start in the back where the cheap stuff is and work your way forward.
3.  Don't buy from the first vendor that has something you like. 
4.  Make friends with the vendors.  If you shop there every month they will hold things with you in mind.
5.  Bring lots of water and a lunch.
6.  Wear a hat and sunglasses.
7.  wear comfortable shoes.
8.  bring your husband or a friend to help carry purchases.
9.  There are a lot of other people in the world with the same taste as me
10. There are no original ideas.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

What happened to the whistlers of this world?

I was getting gas recently and a man was walking in front of me whistling an old tune.  I remember my grandpa always whistled.  My father in law used to whistle too.  I wondered, "Is it a thing from the depression era?"  Do only old men whistle anymore?  Even the old wolf whistle when a guy saw a cute girl has been replaced with texting and IM chats.  I miss the whistling.  We need more whistlers in the world.  I started thinking about how maybe they did it during the depression as a way to shake the blues... Thus the reason for the song Whistle While You Work, which was written in 1937 during the depression era.  Maybe whistling was our grandparents and great grandparents form of old time Prozac.  My Auntie Anne (who is 95 and still kicking) says they never noticed what they didn't have, because everyone was poor.  But you took care of what you did have.  You made it last through many hands.  An old dress that was too small became a new dress to a younger sibling.  People were creative and decorated their homes with simple things made from dumpster finds and scrap wood and chicken wire, and called it a pie safe or a cupboard.  All this LONG before the Shabby Chic and Flea Market Style or Country Home trends became popular.

 I like simple things.  I got rid of most of my furniture when I moved, and now I am having fun scrounging flea markets and antique stores and thrift stores and garage sales for the perfect pieces that will make my new house feel like a home.  I have looked at the furniture stores which are a dime a dozen down here, but I never get the thrill in those commercial showrooms like I do in a junk or antique store.  I found a cool place, Old Town Orange in the city of Orange has a BUNCH of antique stores, and they have flea markets in many of the cities around here every weekend.  I am in Junkers Heaven right now...  I found these items at some local thrift stores and I am going back for some of them today.  I love the patina and rusty peeling paint, I love the old hand carved wood, and the craftsmanship of old things.  I think, like all old soul people, I tend to gravitate toward things with a history, that had meaning for some depression era lady or gentleman.  It survived with them through hard times.  It was used, and loved, and taken care of until some future generation decided they no longer wanted that old thing.  Then I come along, and it is there, for sale in a place that I would find it, in the exact moment that I was looking for exactly that thing.... and I am in love with it as much as the person who owned it before.  I take it home, feeling the thrill of another fabulous find... and as I load it in my car.... I hear whistling in my mind...

Friday, May 28, 2010


The day is finally here.  I have been talking about it and posting about it for months, and now it is upon us.  I have been so busy packing, repacking and purging that I haven't had time to really think about what it will be like to NOT live in the Bay Area anymore.  I have been focusing on getting ready, keeping my family somewhat together and living between 2 places for 6 months now.  The finish line I have been racing toward was the ultimate goal of finding a house and settling down to start a new chapter of our life in Southern California.  Initial thoughts were "Hey, it's only a 1 hour plane ride or a 6 hour car ride.  I can come back and forth as much as I want." and now I am saying "I HATE that drive down I-5 and once I get to Valencia, it is STILL another 2 1/2 hours home because of all the lovely LA traffic."   Where did my time go to appreciate all the old things I am leaving behind, and the new discoveries ahead of me?    

I think every town and area has a "vibe" or "groove" that is unique to itself.  I have been many places in the world, and although I have loved visiting them... there were very few that took my breath away enough that I would actually want to live there.  Maui is one... The Amalfi Coast in Italy is another... and then there is my hometown.  Martinez, home of the Martini and Joe Di Maggio and the father of the National Park Service John Muir.  Is it home just because my family has lived here for 5 generations now?  Is it that I know where everything is?  Is it because I know so many people here?  What is it about this town that has cast a spell on me.  I know many who leave, but they come back. Why does this place feel like home to me?  Why do I think of this town when I think of going home?

I think it is like the famous old saying, home is where the heart is.  My heart is here, or a large part of it anyway.  My roots, my friends, my family, my memories and history are all here in this tiny little town on the Carquinez Straits that many people don't even know exists.  I will miss it here...  I will miss my life here.... and everyone I love, but I can't help but be excited for the changes to come.  New adventures waiting to be had.  New friends to discover and fall in love with.  So many opportunities ahead of us with a clean fresh start.  Standing on the threshold of terror and excitement, I am ready to jump into the unknown.  I am ready now because my wonderful husband has already paved the way for us to make it easier.  He is braver than we are.  He has done this before, leaving his country and all that was familiar to come here for a better life...  How can I not do the same with him as my example?  How can I not support him as he has supported us?  I am ready now, because he has made sacrifices that have made life easier for the rest of us.  I am ready to do something difficult for love of him, and all he has done for us.  I would follow him anywhere.   So now I must go where my heart is...  with him... to this new life we are creating for our family... 

Wish us love.....

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Nini's Garden

My son Austin lives with his Dad and Grandma Nini in Walnut Creek.  She has one of the most beautiful gardens I have ever seen.  Not just because it is pretty, but because of all the love that went into creating it... His grandparents bought the property in the 1950's and raised a large family here.  Gardening was Papa's passion, and he would spend hours puttering in his garden.  He is gone now, but Austin's dad takes care of the garden, and it thrives, a lasting legacy to all the love Nini and Papa and their family have put into it through the years.

Monday, May 17, 2010


I talked about this on Facebook but I want to share how AWESOME my day was yesterday with my pals the Bay Area Art Sisters.  I met these ladies on the Artfest website a few years ago, and we have been getting together once a month to do fun art projects.  This is one talented group of women with a collective pool of knowledge that is fathomless.  I always come away from these get togethers inspired, rejuvinated and wishing the hours would slow down for the time when we are together so I could do more. 

We spray painted all kinds of things.  All my stuff is packed up, so I brought paint, and some vintage wallpaper, and suitcases (I had 10 of them in storage, I thought it was 9, but I found another one today.)  At first I was really feeling challenged.  The other ladies were going to town with a sense of purpose, and I didn't know what to do until I saw this piece Michele did.  I was so inspired, I tried a sheet of wallpaper and then boldly started in on the train case.

I knew I wanted a pastel look to it.  I plan on using them in my studio to hold my vintage fabrics.  I chose all the easter egg colors, with a darker purple and blue for contrast.  After layering the cream, pink, green and blue, I needed something to make the images pop, so I used the purple lightly and loved the look.,  Then I tried the blue and started to really see where this would go.  I just kept layering the colors and images over one another until I liked the way it looked.  Using silver on one of them created a damask effect that was cool, but too different from the other two, so I layered more color over the silver until I got the results I wanted.

I love how they turned out.  My favorite was a stencil Michele had that I used a lot.  The checkered rubber rug mat made cool checks and a neat mono print that I loved.  The plastic doilies made cool floral motifs that all blended really well together with the stencils I used.  I like the pastel paisley hippie look they have.

Here are some of the projects the other ladies did.  As you can see, their talent abounds.  I am addicted now, and can't wait for the rain to stop so I can bust out the spray paint and go to town making pages for journals.

I have been missing the ability to create.  I am really limited on the things I can do with my arm, so this was perfect for me.  I think I want to get a small air compressor and an airbrush kit so I can do more types of painting. 

I love getting together with other creative people and sharing ideas.  There is a consciousness that is created, as we all go into the zone and work on our projects together.  Sometimes there is chatting, and sometimes we are quiet as we concentrate on the process, but no matter what we do, it is always cool, and it is one of the best ways on the planet to spend a sunday afternoon....  I am going to miss these ladies, and plan on trying to make as many of these playdates as I can even after I move.  I urge you to plan regular art dates with friends to play and make art.  It pushes you to stretch out of your comfort zone and try new things.  I can't wait till I move to LA and make new art friends down there.  These ladies gave me some ideas on where to go to meet people, and I have my super awesome friend, the fabulous artist Sharon Soneff down there who I have been dying to spend time with.  I am looking forward to a creative summer!

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Birthday Joys

Although today is my actual birthday, Mom and Megan and Kayleigh and Savannah took me out to tea for an early birthday treat, since I was going to LA on my birthday.  We went to the tea shop in Pleasanton and ate in the garden. The food was so beautiful, and we all had a great time visiting and giggling and drinking copious amounts of tea.  Savannah and Kayleigh thought of a dozen different party themes and are planning a tea party of their own.  They discovered peanut butter and marshmallow creme sandwiches.  Kayleigh says they are hecka good.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Packing and Purging

I am getting things organized for the movers.  I found things that have been packed away for 5 years, most of it going to the Goodwill.  I have eliminated about a third of the stuff in storage, trying to reach a goal of being able to pack it all in to a 30 foot moving truck.  Thanks God for my friend Kerry who has been an absolute miracle worker, helping me get my stuff together.  We are almost done and soon will be packing the apartment up. 

I am spending my birthday this year in LA with my sweetie.  I am driving down to find a house.  We found one that we love, and we hope we get it.  Just in case, we are still looking at others, but our fingers are crossed.  Finding the right house has been a challenge.  We want to find a place we can make our home.  A place that our kids will love, and that has all the amenities we are looking for.  We love the town we are moving to, and are really looking forward to getting settled and being together as a family.

I don't know how people do these cross country moves, or international moves for that matter. I am really struggling to keep it all together and organized. 

I am dying to do some artistic project, but between my recovering arm and being so busy, I just haven't had the time...  My hope and goal is to get it all organized in the new house the first week of June, so I can start creating things in my new studio right away.  I am really looking forward to a new space, organized and clean where I can spend HOURS making cool things.  6 more weeks and it will all be over. 

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Breezie Loo turns 3

My niece the adorable Breezie Loo as I call her had a birthday today.  SHe was so funny singing happy birthday to herself.  Here she is opening her presents, wanting to play with each one and getting mad at us when we took them away so she would open the next one.  I love little kid parties.  Reminds me of all the themed parties I threw for my kids when they were little.  Clowns, pirates, space robots, renaissance faires, tea parties, the jungle, Chuck E Cheese... Those little people birthday parties are over for me now, but man I miss them.....

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Easter Break and Touring through LA

The kids and I came down for a week to see Paskie and have a little vacay.  We ate at Forest Gumps the first night and passed the Forest Gump trivia test with flying colors.  It is our all time favorite movie, and we quote it all the time. 

We visited the Long Beach Aquarium on Easter Sunday.  We had fun petting the stingrays and the giant crabs were incredible.  I loved the seahorses.  We have been to a lot of aquariums, and I prefer the one in Monterey, but this one is really nice, and has an arboretum outside with sweet little parrots that perch on your shoulder and drink nectar from a cup.

We went to Knotts Berry Farm, Had the famous Chicken Dinner and the Berry punch.  I couldn't ride anything with my shoulder still in a sling, but had a lot of fun walking around with my honey looking at all the museum exhibits and shows.  It was fun to watch the kids running from ride to ride deciding on which one they wanted to go on first. 

Pascual had to work during the week, so the kids and I went to the La Brea Tarpits museum on Tuesday.  It was cool because it was free day, but there were HUNDREDS of elementary school kids running around on a field trip and it was difficult to see some things.  If you are in the Los Angeles area with kids, definately check this place out.  Kayleigh enjoyed seeing all of it because she had just studied it in school.  Standing next to a mammoth skeleton, you really get a feel for how huge they actually were.  It is a cool experience, and they have the lab there with glass windows where they work on things and you can watch the technicians as they clean the bones. 
We went to Philippes for lunch after the tarpits.  My great Grandpa used to take my grandpa here, and my grandpa took my dad and his siblings.  This has been here since 1907 or something like that.  They make the ORIGINAL french dip sandwich.  The legend goes that a police officer came in to get a beef sandwich and the sandwich maker accidentally dropped the bread into the meat juices.  The police officer told him to use it anyway.  He came back the next day with several friends for another of the french dipped sandwich.  They aren't sure if it was called that because the owner Philippe was French or because the officer's name was French, but the sandwich was born. They were so good, Zack ate two of them.  It was a quick but fun trip.  We haven't been on a family vacation in 5 years, and it was so fun to get to experience a new area, and see some of the touristic parts of our soon to be new home.  I think we are going to love living down here, once we get settled in.