Tuesday, November 30, 2010

My Christmas Table Setting Project

This was a centerpiece at a wedding we went to recently and I thought it was a very cool idea.  I told my darling husband that I would really like to have a candle-holder like this up at the lake and he was delighted because, it seems, it's pretty easy to make.  Get a log, drill a hole and insert a candle.  Of course, it has to have holly or poinsettias to compliment it but that part I can do.  We have a couple of trees he would like to trim so that works out well but I think he could make it work with some wood that we used to buy at the grocery store for our (old) wood-burning fireplace.  I got this idea from a California Ranch Wedding that we went to recently. It was a keeper idea. 

Friday, November 19, 2010

Thanksgiving Color

For everyone who thinks California doesn't have seasons (like my family on the East Coast who come here only in the summer and think it's always hot out here) I took these photos today.  It's been gloriously beautiful the whole week and, unfortunately, I picked an overcast day to take the pictures but..nevertheless...

This are my neighbor's trees but I get to enjoy them too:

Downtown in the village:
The vineyards:

Proof that God is with us every day.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

The China Study...veggies...Yum

This is where my darling husband of 35 years, thinks I've lost my marbles...mind you, we met in high school when we were 15 so he thought he knew me pretty well.  Ha ha.  Who knew...

Let me just say that I read a book called The China Study a few months ago - written by a scientist who has been involved in the study of nutrition at Cornell university for 30+ years ( more like 40 years, I think).  Anyway, he's something of a bright guy.  Soooo...I was convinced.   And....I've totally changed my way of eating.  No kidding.  At my age.  Pretty funny!      
I basically eat veggies.  Well, actually, I DO eat veggies.  And whole grains.  Nothing from animals for a few months now.  Hey - if you read this book you would too.  

I feel great and I am getting very creative with my cooking:

Here's my whole grain penne with vegetables.  I think the wine is acceptable - it doesn't come from an animal right?  No wonder I like this way of eating.  (And I've lost 6 lbs. too boot)  Cool!

Getting Ready For Thanksgiving...My Lil Greenie

Before you run away from hearing about cleaning (UGH)  You have to hear how much I love this little carpet cleaner!  Usually I pay a carpet cleaning service $200+ around Christmas and then again after the rainy season but this little guy has saved me close to $500. this year alone.

It all started when our "visiting dog" came to visit.  She's getting on in years and couldn't contain herself so I ended up with quite a mess in the living room.  My neighbor Anna came to my rescue (not for the first time, I might add) and she brought over her little carpet cleaner just like this one - she has 2 dogs so she knows.  Anyway, the little carpet cleaner did its job and I have been using it ever since. It cost me about $100. but has saved me about 6 times that much in professional cleaning.  It's especially great to use on the stairs.

So here you see my stairs (17 steps..phew)  BEFORE:


Ta Da!

Now I'm ready for company...and I have $200. to spend on other things.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Cleaning Out My Drawers (Boy, my mother would have laughed at THAT title!!)

Ta Da! My junk drawers look Goooood !!   I can't tell you how long my messy drawers (ooops - there goes my Mom laughing again...) bothered me.  Every time I opened them, I would kind of snarl to myself and swear I would get to it.  Well, my lovely husband decided to play golf this morning (surprise) and I had time on my hands.  Got 'er done! See........
Next...my medicine chest and the pantry.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Cheap and Chic: Backyard Beauties

Beautiful hydrangeas from the planter under our family room window....Transformed into indoor decor:

It took some doing to get my husband to plant the hydrangeas a few years ago - he just didn't like them - but I kept telling him that they would add a lot of color in the backyard and he loooves color.  He wasn't feelin' it but he caved and now he really does like them. When we sit on the patio by the cottage, they give us a burst of raspberry color (I have a section of green hydrangeas also and I almost like them better).

The only drawback is that in the Fall they dry out and get long and leggy and really need to be trimmed back.  But before they get to that point, I cut a few and use them inside.  In this picture, I found a container on sale at our local craft store for $19. and, with a bag of moss to anchor the stems, I added my cut hydrangeas.  They will dry like that - in place - and I won't have to do anything more.  And, the best part is:  the artificial versions were selling in the craft store for $8. a stem.  And...mine were free!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Longing For The Lake...

Lake Love

Morning From The Deck

The lake didn't look this great last weekend because it was pouring all day Sunday.  Good thing Paul and Dave got in their golf game the day before.  Last week was a fun weekend with friends and it was a nice reprieve from the "To-Do" list we have going on up there.  It really seemed strange to sit on my comfy couch with a glass of wine and just chat with Lisa.  We did that sort of thing over the summer but the past few weeks have been one long painting party.  And the Big Guy goes non-stop.  Then he spends the next 5 days bent over at about a 45 degree angle.  Seriously, he walks that way for about 4 days and gradually gets more upright as the week goes on.  Sigh.  But he loves it.  The Lake House is his dream come true (notice I capitalized Lake House).

Monday, November 8, 2010

Cheap and Chic: Leftover Trimmings

We all have something left over from our yards - trimmings and whatever we've clipped that seemed dead.  Well, we can make a style statement with these trimmings by bundling them and placing them on out porch, by our front door, on the fireplace hearth or even, in smaller bundles, on our Thanksgiving  tables.

This design concept dates back to pilgrim times when homes were decorated with pine boughs to brighten spirits during the dark days of winter.  Found objects often make the best art.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

It's Off To Work We Go...

Wow, Big Guy!  Don't step back!  There he is paining yet another room.  This time it's the guest bath - it's only half way done so I had to go down to the store and buy some more today to bring to the lake...he's going to groan, I'm sure.  The thing is...I always start out painting by myself but Dave is such a perfectionist that he can't stand to see me doing the cutting in and he has to take over that part of it and then, before I know it, he's doing the whole thing!  

Well, we still have quite a few more rooms to do and winter is our painting time because the weather isn't so great.  By the time we're done, we'll be sick of the colors and will want to change again.  So - every time we do this, I wonder:  how old is too old to do this sort of stuff??/ 

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Stone Steps...It Was Worth The Work.

Here's our attempt at major landscaping / hardscape by ourselves.  We needed steps to the pergola (made by the Big Guy and his devoted brother) with lots of instruction and advice by the local lumber supply store).

We picked out the stones (too many tons to even count)...  and then....

...had to configure how to place them...

and, now look at this...

They are awesome steps!  Accomplished by the Big guy along with a hardworking, talented 20-something guy named Monte and an amazing little Bobcat.

We still need some plantings, of course, but we're trying to keep with the natural landscape of native grasses
and wildflowers.  The slope behind me, where the photo was taken,  is a favorite spot for deer.  They take naps there when we're not around and like to snack on the vegetation... so we're taking our time to experiment in finding species that won't become their main meal the first week they're planted. 

Monday, November 1, 2010

The Optimist's Creed

Promise Yourself...

To be so strong that nothing can disturb your peace of mind.
To talk health, happiness and prosperity to every person you meet.
To make all your friends feel that there is something in them.
To look at the sunny side of everything and make your optimism come true.
To think only the best, to work only for the best, and to expect only the best.
To be just as enthusiastic about the success of others as you are about your own.
To forget the mistakes of the past and press on to the greater achievements of the future.
To wear a cheerful countenance at all times and give every living creature you meet a smile.
To give so much time to the improvement of yourself that you have no time to criticize others.
To be too large for worry, too noble for anger, too strong for fear, and too happy to permit the presence of troube.

Remembering Rick...a Good Man.