We took a small trip to the desert this weekend. Worth the trip don’t you think?  All along the ride there were small desert flowers at the side of the road, and the cactus with the vibrant pink flowers were ready to explode.  While these bushes filled with yellow flowers were scattered about.  The birds were singing and the desert was blooming. I was glad to visit.  A long time ago I didn’t like the desert.  I was naive.  I just thought it was dry, dirt and had little to offer.  Thank goodness as I have added years I realize it’s gorgeous.  Many of the plants remind me of under the sea.  It’s really quote beautiful the brown and the blue. I’m so happy we get wiser as we age.  It’s an upside.

littlest and only teenaged girl

Abbie arrives

It did happen over night you know.  She went from the tiniest little girl and next thing I knew….she was a teenager.  My youngest, my littlest and only girl is officially 13 as of 8:15 p.m. last night.  This Sunday’s  film will be about her birthday.  We celebrated by going to breakfast as a family, then she had another party to attend, another March 8th baby.

2006 Abbie

I wanted to make her 13th day special so while she was at the other party I filled up balloons for her room and each of us in the family wrote her 5 notes and stuck them inside the balloons.  she got her ballet shoes so she can dance like she loves  and we finished our night with sushi.  It was a good day.  A really good day.  I think what meant a whole lot to Abbie was, that her oldest brother made sure to be a part of breakfast and dinner.

daddy and abbie

abbie dance

The strange part about being thirteen is, she woke up like an instant teenager.  She was grumpy and silent all the way to school.  I suppose the time change might have something to do with it too.  I know I don’t want to go to bed at night and I sure don’t want to get up in the morning.  It gets me for the first week or so.  Looking forward to the longer feeling days though.


She is a darling young woman, she has the sweet gene.  She has a tender heart, she is meek, she is mild, she is fun, she is silly, she is quiet, she is humble, she has joy in her heart and she loves Jesus with her entire being.  In so many ways she is a reflection of myself.  I watch her and it’s like I’m watching myself grow up again.  She and I have so many similarities it’s crazy.  She has a blend of me and Rich.  She looks an awful lot like her daddy but sometimes she looks like me too.  Mostly…her handsome daddy though.  She is a gift to us, a blessing and I’m ready.  I’m ready for this next phase.  The little phase was tremendous but we must solider on…move forward and face the future.

just a few of my favorite things

Remember when Oprah used to have her Christmas show and she would share some of her most favorite things then ALL the audience members would get what she loved? That was so awesome. I recently read a blog from a writer whom I admire very much, Emily P. Freeman and she shared some of her favorite things which are also simple gift suggestions. The funny thing is…I really truly love some of her favorite things and have similar things on my list. I even own the same book and coffee mug she has on her blog, only my mug has a letter (t) on it.


Earrings – just yesterday I picked these up for myself and I don’t normally buy earrings very often. I have to really, really, really love them and then I will wear them day in and day out for years to come. My most favorite pair broke this year and so these are officially my new favorite pair. I got them at my friend Lilly’s shop Share and Do Good. It’s a wonderful store in down town Fullerton, a giving boutique for great causes.


John O Donohue book – This book was recommended to me a few years ago by a friend of mine I met in my photo world. She and I were talking on the phone one night and she asked me if I had ever read any books by John O Donohue, the late John O Donohue was an Irish priest and philosopher. I was reading his take on our hearts last night, it’s a wonderful book and not sure why it took me so long to order it. Thank you Andrea for your wonderful suggestion.


Bible – I look to this book for peace, for uplifting, for living advice, it’s the best manual I have found for my life. It has all the answers and it comes with a living God who I can actually talk to. I have about 4 Bibles. One was given to me by my parents when I graduated the 8th grade, it’s a New American Standard version, then I received one as a gift from my sister-n-law one Christmas and it’s the New King James Version and I have a really big pretty one that my parents got Rich and I our first Christmas together and it has our name engraved on it, it’s a King James version and lastly my New International study Bible that I got for myself. I love how most my Bibles are gifts from people I love.


Candle – Lilly also sells these amazing smelling candles. Aren’t they just beautiful too? They are going like hot cakes so if you like the look of them I will guarantee you will love the smell of them and with each candle you buy it will feed a child.


Pandora – I love music and I used to have a collection of records when I was a girl, then it went to tapes and from there I graduated to cd’s and then it was iTunes and what I had on my iPod and now it’s all about Pandora. I LOVE Pandora. Music is a crucial part of my life, I listen to it when I cook, clean, walk, drive and work.


Typewriters – my new treasures!


Camera – my tool. I have been into photography since I was a girl, yes girl. Probably Jr. High. I have always been the girl who has a camera in her hand, or even a video camera. I used to make videos when I was in Jr. High and High school. My mom and dad were trusting enough to let me tote around their old-fashioned VHS video recording camera. I would direct fashion shows, interviews and little skits. I also would just document my teenaged life. Let’s face it…it pretty much was my camera even though my parents owned it. They were generous with it. I would love to have those tapes transferred one day. I think my parents still have them. So I rather adore how my Canon 70D takes gorgeous photos and video too!


Clementine’s – oh the smell! The taste! The vibrant color. What’s not to like?


Essential oils – A sort of new passion. They are good for all kinds of stuff. So I have a small collection I use for things like, my allergies, children tummy problems, headaches and also for preventative measures.  I deal oil….just sayin.


Vanille pefume. Oh how I love this perfume!!  It’s the best smelling vanilla I have ever smelt.  Okay, not bragging or anything but I think the one thing people most tell me is…”you are so sweet”  Yes sweet.  Of all things.  It used to tick me off, because I wanted to be edgy and I always considered myself a little bit of a rebel ,why can’t anyone else see what my inner self sees?  I’m learning to accept my sweetness so I decided if people think I’m sweet, mays well smell sweet too. I buy mine at Roadkill Ranch, my favorite clothes store in Fullerton.


Handwritten letters – The art of writing letters in cursive. The lost art. I want to re-visit my calligraphy days. When I was a teenager my mom had me take calligraphy one summer. The story with that is….I snuck out one night and got caught. So my parents decided I would write 500 times in calligraphy “I will not be deceitful to my mother and father anymore” My mom recently gave me the stack of my hard work. Good practice right?


Feathers – the feathers that I find, the feathers that are mailed to me from different states or even countries. It’s a gift it really is and I feel so blessed each time I find one.

And these are a  few of my favorite things!




Let me let you in on a secret. Yesterday when it was around 6:30 P.M. and we were at Target picking up the basics, milk, butter, cat food, dog food and lights for our tree, I realized as my stomach felt hungry that I had forgotten to eat lunch. Not only did I forget lunch…..check out what I did eat. Breakfast, black coffee and one glazed doughnut. Lunch a Slim Jim and a few Charleston Chews. And that’s it. That is exactly what I ate all day long. Does that sound nutritious and all kinds of good for my body and my brain? Duh. NO! And I will do this sort of thing on a regular basis when I have “fallen off the wagon so to speak” When I’m on the wagon, I’m insane. I will walk every single day and drink tons of water and eat every few hours but that my friends takes a lot of effort, a lot of thought and I will burn out every single time and especially when I do it 8 weeks in a row. They say 21 days forms a habit but obviously a solid eight weeks doesn’t even seem to work for me.

Trying to find balance is a true challenge for me. And as I type this I realize my word this year should be BALANCE. That’s it. Just made up my mind in mid sentence. My word will be balance.  Because as I type this I realize like most of us gals we take it all on, not just the favors asked and the every day kinds of things but then we pile on top of that “perfection”  Let’s see if I can juice every single day, buy the best whole foods for my home, cook really healthy dinners each  night, keep a clean and tidy house, the laundry, the kids, the animals and hum, lets see if I can work out an hour a day, and pray/meditate and maybe I can even read a book that will help me be a better person, and perhaps I can take a few on-line courses, and write letters to my friends and family, and pay my bills on time and remodel my dinning room, and make really cool things that I see on Pinterest and plant that new garden from seed alone. I would love to learn to stand on my head and be the most romantic and loving wife on the planet.  Balance is a great word.  It wins hands down and I wasn’t even looking for a word on this particular post.  crazy!  crazy cool!   I found my word for 2015!  BALANCE it is.  Will you be picking a word for this year? A word to keep you on track, a word to reign you in, a word to grow you a little, a word to make you more aware…just a word.  I would love to hear what you might choose.

No lights, no stockings but we do have a tree

IMG_6932Sometimes we make choices and the choices we make affect certain outcomes.  Like for instance I found it much more important to shop with my mother-n-law and aunt for the first part of Saturday and make cookies with my mom and other aunt the second part of Saturday than I did putting up Christmas lights and hanging up stockings.  I almost left the cookie baking/decorating early so we could buy our tree but mom thought it would be nice if we all went to dinner together.  I so rarely get to spend time with my thoughtful Aunt who has made me and my kids the most beautiful quilts through the years and who I spent so much time with as a child.  So I made the choice to go to dinner. The Christmas tree could wait.  Then my aunt asked if I would be sending Christmas cards this year and I said “no”  The past couple years I have decided not to spend my money or even make the time to gather the 5 of us in one spot to take a family photo.  I never did take a professional family photo of the five of us before Austin turned 18 like my dream list had wished for.  And isn’t this funny being I’m a “photographer” and I know lots of talented photographer friends.  I suppose sort of like the cobbler who has holes in his own shoes! Or again the family who never put air or heating into their addition but they work for a heating and air company! (yep us)  Anyways, she got me thinking.  She said “she looks forward to our Christmas card each year”  She even shared with me that she remembered especially the one I dressed our first son as an angel and will never forget that one.  I was happy cause I told her that one was a labor of love, that one I did when I only had one child and I rented a dark room and developed each print one by one for each card that I sent out that year. I was border line insane if you want to know the truth!  And as all things work out!  We got our tree on Sunday rather than Saturday as planned and I thought why not use our sweet (now up and running) little yellow bug to haul the tree, and let’s call Aussie to see how long he would be at work and would he be willing to meet up for a family picture.  He was more than willing.  This year I will have a Christmas card but only a few will receive it because also to ease up the stress of Christmas and how busy it can get and how often we forget even the true meaning because of all the hustle and bustle, I only ordered a few.  I will mail out a few to close family this year but I will post all our outtakes and a photo  in a future blog so you can see what they looked like:)  I want to get them first and mail them out before I reveal the “card”  And it’s not all perfect and matchie matchie, We all wore what we wear on a daily basis nobody got especially spruced up but it’s all of us….all five in one spot by the coolest car ever. IMG_6935Our tree still needs to be decorated and we still need to put our stockings up and maybe even, possibly put lights on our house…..maybe and then we will be festive at the very least. I released control too and let littlest and only girl pick out our tree entirely.  I’m trying very hard to just release and it actually feels really nice.  Better than I ever imagined. Our advent envelope said “make a meal, whatever you want and we will buy the ingredients and cook together” Abbie picked sushi and California roles.  Dinner was top-notch last night and she did so good on her roles (no picture opps) I do have the sushi though:) FullSizeRender

it happened….it finally happened


Yes!  It really did happen, I found not just one good old-fashioned typewriter but two! Saturday morning I got up to hit up a few darling stores in Bellflower with Mama Bear and Moon Mama when we happened to drive past an estate sale.  Not just one estate sale but two on the same street.  A darling street with darling old homes and so of course we stopped.  Counting these two estate sales, I have only been to three in my life and although it can be interesting, it’s also very sad.  Just so sad that all these strangers are rummaging through someones life.  All their earthly positions there for the taking.  It’s a strange feeling to me it really is.  It’s like I want to know more about the people who lived there.  The first house clearly lived an artist.  I didn’t find anything there though.  A few houses down was the other estate sale.  It was on its third day and everything was 50% off.  I walked in the very first room and immediately spotted a Royal typewriter, I pointed and said “I need that, how much for that typewriter?”  The gal said “$30.00  and today everything is half off, so $15.00” she gave me my little ticket and I wandered up stairs, totally stoked on the typewriter when I spotted yet anther one that even seemed older also for 30.00 but half off that.  I got two vintage typewriters for the price of one. The gal wondered if I might be making jewelry out of the keys.  I told her “no, I want to use these for actual typing”


I came home and looked them up.  The Royal seemed to go for around $270.00, and  I think is about a 1949 model, the LC Smith & Corona seems much older than that even and is very unique in that the roller is very small/short, like it was made to type out small labels or something and the number keys are in double, no dollar sign or percent sign or any of those characters, just double numbers??  I can’t find anything like it on the internet and I can’t even find a serial number or more information on the actual typewriter?  It has me really stumped.  The Royal had ribbon already and it works really pretty great, the Aa sticks but I’m going to try rubbing alcohol on the top or some may say bottom of the keys and see if it unsticks it.  Needless to say….I’m really, super excited about my typewriters.

FullSizeRender (1)IMG_0742  That’s not all, as I was paying, Moon Mama spotted a belt buckle that was engraved with RICH, hello!  I had to get it, just had to.  It was only $2.50 and it meant the guy who lived there was named Rich!  I wish Rich was there to talk to about those typewriters, I think he would have been glad someone was buying them to actually use and not tear apart for jewelry. When I got home I presented it to motorcycle man and he got a big old grin but since he doesn’t wear belt buckles, we decided I could just wear it.



perfectly imperfect

feb 2011February 2011

It was the beginning of 2011 and it was in this year I had begun to form relationships with like-minded photographers on a site called Flickr. I joined Flickr in 2009. I actually “stalked” Flickr for an entire year before I decided to join. I would log on and just browse the main stream. It was so inspiring to see what this world was about. I was totally captivated by Shutter Sisters and the women contributors to this group.

When I finally got the courage to join Flickr I started slow. I would just post things like what I was eating and I was as usual and probably forever will be striving for a healthier life style and so I posted lots of pictures of post work out and my kids of course. I posted lots of pictures of my kids. I would see what other people were posting and I began to see people were not just posting pictures but actually forming relationships? I would see that someone would post an image and receive tons of comments and likes. I have to be honest. It had me feeling as though I was not worthy to even be posting on Flickr. I was lucky to receive one comment or three views. It felt like work. I wanted to be like everyone else. I wanted to be liked. I wanted to be noticed. And I had such low self-esteem and self-worth (still a work in progress) that I felt not even worthy to ever place an image in the Shutter Sisters group, the one group I most admired. Looking back I realize this was the one safe group of total acceptance but I was too afraid to even participate.

I ended up posting a picture or two in the group but it was always far and few between. As I wrote before, things really changed when I decided to participate in a group called BAM, created by Tiff. This is when I began to really participate in the art of self-portraits. Yes art, not like “oh look at me” it was more like, “I do exist.” I formed friendships. They were real friendships, not make-believe. Emails would be exchanged, blogs would be shared. I began to get to know these women and realized, they were just like me. They had insecurities and fears too.

Holly for instance picked up on my “I have to do everything, I have to do everything just right and if I don’t I’m a loser attitude” So she recommended a book called “The Gifts of Imperfection” Holly, she seemed like she had been on her journey longer and she seemed secure and she was for sure a good listener and had insight. So I took her advice and ordered the book. I read the book. I loved the book. And now a few years later, I have forgotten this book, the words in the book. Someone will say “I’m taking Brene Browns class” and I will say “Oh, I read her book, the Gifts of Imperfection” like this is some amazing bit to add to their comment. When I have forgotten the words, I have forgotten the practice.  I have decided to re-visit the book because I’m not exactly sure why it’s taking me so long to calm down, to realize I don’t need to do everything, I don’t need to be perfect and to be just exactly “right” to begin my journey. I just need to begin ready or not and mostly NOT because I can’t grow if I don’t try. So that’s all. Just reading this book again and felt like revisiting how it all came about. I also want to say, I’m happy to be a part of this community and if there is anyone out there who just looks and doesn’t feel worthy, please know you are.  You are completely worthy, you are worthy to contribute, you are worthy to show your art, you are worthy to speak your mind.  You just have to begin.

Loving God, Loving People


Seek out the message you need to hear most today. Something that reminds you that you are exactly where you are supposed to be and that it is enough.   Note: Sometimes what we need to hear the most, we can stumble on (I love Divine intervention) other times we need to gently remind ourselves with handwritten affirmation. When you’re open to listening, you’ll get the message loud and clear.  Tracey Clark


We are half way through the fall project and as it is half way through we are to pause, find a message we most need to hear. I thought this would be easy.  I see words everywhere.  I’m a word girl however in the busyness of my week I had a hard time pausing.  I actually had to contact my partner in crime, Christina and ask for an extra day.  When the extra day came and went, I asked for another couple of days and just hoped with all my heart that I would find a “message” in the desert.  We had planned to visit our family in the desert and I thought I may find it there.  I did.  It was in my sister-n-laws bathroom window.  The word FAITH.  it was there.  I snapped a real quick picture and wondered if I might find even more “messages”.  The next day Sarah took us around a nearby desert town to see some sites. We parked and walked around, I saw someone had made a heart of rocks they collected.  I stood inside the heart and thought about how I’m surrounded by LOVE in my life and how if I didn’t live by faith, the faith I have in Christ, I’m not sure where I would be?  It all began to make sense.  Faith and Love are the two words and actions I needed to hear this weekend.  I needed to be reminded of my faith and to recognize that I’m loved.  Deeply loved.  We had a busy week but we had such a wonderful week.  As Friday approached we had a big family dinner at our house, we ate, we laughed and we loved.  We got up the next morning and met up with more family. We had breakfast out, we ate, we laughed and we loved.  We drove out to the desert we hung out with even more family, we ate, we laughed and we loved.  What is important in this life?  For me it is my Faith and it is LOVE, love of family, friends and people.  Loving God, Loving People.  For me this is life, this is living. These are the messages that found me, I wonder what messages found Christina. 

scenes from the morning

IMG_6686what was your morning like today? I got to take it a little easy because littlest and only girl doesn’t have school today….or tomorrow….or all of next week.  This means I don’t have to rush out in the morning.  I like that.  This morning motorcycle man tried to wake me with jokes “so a man was across the street and waved at me, I waved back and he said, oh sorry, I thought you were someone else, and I said I am someone else”  I was so confused “I was like Rich did this really happen?”  he just laughed, he got a kick out of himself.  Then he comes back to say “you know that one lady who walks her little dog every morning?”  me “ah huh”  “well I asked her if her dog bites and she said no, so then I said but then how does he eat?”  then he laughs and laughs.  I was like, am I in the twilight zone? You have to picture, he is the morning guy.  He makes the coffee, he waters the lawn, he lets the animals out for fresh air, he takes Moon Rebel to zero period, yep, he is the morning guy.  Me, not so much.

I hope you all have a great day today.  I will be looking for cadet blue, I will be meeting with teachers for conferences, I get to have tea with a friend, I hope to find a feather, it’s been a while and for sure a heart will pop up someplace and maybe even some words, my goal is to find some inspiring words today.  See you tomorrow.  Tomorrow is fall project with my friend Christina.


magic happens at the strangest hours


Last night.  I woke up at around 2:45 and I just laid in bed with my eyes WIDE open.  Just as awake as anyone could be.  I got up, walked around a little, used the restroom and laid back to bed with my eyes WIDE open.  Then as I just lay there, eyes totally adjusted to the dark, just staring wide eyed at the night-time happenings, I hear the fairy wand go off.  It was just after 3:00 a.m.  So I lay for a little longer then think, I should check that message.  It may be something I’m supposed to read.  I also had a feeling I knew exactly who it was.  I was right!  It was her.  My tree house club leader, just checking in with me, showing me some sketches.  Some really amazing sketches.  I got up for a while and sent her a few more messages.  Back and forth we went.  And you know what?  She took my mind out of scatter mode, she calmed me down.  I stopped scratching and picking at my legs and I found myself smiling at 3:15 a.m. in the morning just me and my treehouse  buddy and Max of course.  And we even schemed up some plans, like crazy plans in the middle of the night.  Well, it wasn’t middle of the night for my friend, it was more like late morning but anyhow.  This is what happened in the wee early hours on the West Coast in the West house.  I found it to be a gift from God, he was using my friend to calm me down to distract me from all the scratching and wide awake-ness.   I’m so thankful.  You have no idea.

P.S. this is a true story.