visits to grandma

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“We were sent into the world alive with beauty. As soon as we choose Beauty, unseen forces conspire to guide and encourage us towards unexpected forms of compassion, healing and creativity.” (John O’Donohue)

We had a whirlwind weekend.  We got up just before the sun Saturday morning to travel a distance away to see my grandma.  She will be 85 on Tuesday.  I sadly have not spent very much time with this grandma but it’s never too late.  I decided and with the support of my husband that we would drive to see her, to give hugs and kisses, to cook with her, to grocery shop with her and then sneak off to her favorite taco stand. We left before her big party was going to happen but for me it wasn’t about the party it was about hearing her sweet voice, as she jingled around the kitchen “grandma? where are you hiding those bells?”  She giggled and smiled (she is good at that) “I’m not-a tellin”  then she spilled the beans….”they are tied to my socks”  We made her famous home-made blue cheese dressing and shrimp cocktail and some deviled eggs.  Her name is Joy, I have mentioned her before.  She is her name.  She smiles  and laughs often, her blue eyes twinkle and she tells the best stories.  We stop at her door and she opens it wide and she says “welcome to my casa, please do come in!”

black and white

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

What Remains

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[ISO 1250, 50mm, F/2.5, 1/4000]

“Today, see if you can find something that just isn’t willing to let go” and this my friends was a  challenge in Southern California.  Why?  Because the leaves they are stubborn and during this time of year they still hold tight and many of them not just a few.  It couldn’t be as obvious as a single leaf holding on for dear life.  I was hoping I could find a spider hanging from its web.  But I could not.  So in my usual way and because time seems to always be cut short, I walked the perimeter of my own yard.  First the back, then the front.  All of a sudden the roses caught my attention.  Although I still had three red roses in full beautiful bloom, there was one with a single red petal left behind.  Just hanging on, clinging, trying to give that rose its last bit of pretty.  It drew me in.  I took it from a few angles but this was my favorite.  And for the first time ever in this fall challenge, I share just one image.  All I did was lighten the exposure just a bit, the rest is straight out of the camera and shot on manual!! again!!  I’m really, really loving manual and also as Christina has taught me, I used a “prime” lens which just means I used my 50mm and that’s all it has for me is 50 millimeters, if I want to be closer I walk my feet closer, if I want it further I walk my feet back.

I’m always excited to see what Christina over at 22limes will show me.  I love how we are taking the same exact class yet it’s guaranteed we will show each other something completely different and even if we both took a shot of a single rose petal hanging on….it would be totally and completely different from one another.

 

Simplicity is the glory of expression”  Walt Whitman

carrot cake

My mom had a birthday this week.  So we decided to make her favorite cake and invite mom and dad over for her birthday dinner this week.  In August of 2012 my friend Staci Lee posted an amazing recipe for carrot cake on her beautiful blog where she even shows us the most incredible pictures of the process.  I have had it in my head ever since I read her post.  Me, I’m not a big fan of carrot cake but I know it’s my mom’s favorite so I kept this in the back of my head until this week two years later, we try her recipe.   Basically Sister Sarah came over to help us with the baking a few days before our gathering.  All Sarah and I did was shred the carrots and my littlest and only girl baker did the rest all by herself.  The blog and it’s pictures and directions made it nice and simple for my girl.  My mom had got us these really groovy baking caps from Italy when she was there so I thought you may just want to see what they look like as well as the baking team.  The smell was just amazing.  It smelt like a cozy fall day, only it was 98 degrees outside.  I can’t wait for it to drop a some degrees around here.

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IMG_9122IMG_9170and when you run out of napkin holders, heart-shaped rocks do a fine job.

The day couldn’t be more perfect.  I had ordered my mom a picture book from our summer trip to her Arkansas home and it wasn’t supposed to arrive until next week. When I got home from work yesterday it was sitting in on the front porch.  Hello AMAZING!  Then we had a vacuum problem.  My vacuum sucks so much it sucked a pair of Abbie’s socks right up and plugged up the hose.  So this gave me and Moon Rebel a little challenge.  It took us a while to figure out how to take the vacuum a part but when we did, he had a plan!  We couldn’t seem to push the socks out with the little golf club we used but his idea was brilliant.  He got one of grandpa’s fishing hooks, some string and a drum stick, made a little tool thing and fished the socks out of the tube.  We laughed and sort of had a bonding moment of sorts.  My cleaning got sort of pushed back a little but mom didn’t mind watching me finish up my vacuuming while she visited with our first to be born who is rarely around these days being 19 and all, so it was also great honor to have him there.  He even ate dinner and dessert with us and then watched the movie I made for my mom.  It was a very, very good night.

IMG_9165IMG_9162Why do my most favorite pictures end up blurry!!! I should do myself a favor and keep my camera on auto when we have family gatherings.

IMG_9173 This picture makes me so happy.  You have no idea.

Abbie and her cousin did a most excellent job decorating the carrot cake.  I couldn’t have made it look as nice.  Abbie sort of went decorating crazy and I found little bits of her frosting art here or there.  I think we have a baker on our hands:)  or at least a decorator.

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The big walnut tree

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I know quite a lot of people who hate walnuts! They are probably not my favorite nut but I do happen to know they are very good for us.   Good for the brain I have been told. But walnuts are more than a really healthy nut to me. They are memories.

When I was just a little girl with absolutely no worries at all and bathed in unconditional love I would frequently visit my great grandparents on my mom’s side. They came from poverty and migrated here during the dust bowl in hopes of a better life. It was so hard for them, but they were hard working and determined people and they settled in California up north in a farming town. They had a really beautiful big walnut tree in the middle of their yard. When I was little it seemed enormous and the yard seemed sprawling. I’m not sure how many of you have visited Northern California, more inland where the farming country is but the soil smells sweet and I remember this sweet smell of the soil. Grandpa had hung a swing in that grand tree and I often would sit on the swing and dangle my little childhood feet having endless conversations with myself because I was born first to my mom and my little sister didn’t come until 11 years later. And although my mom remarried and I gained a brother who was 6 years older than me, I was mostly an only child for quite some time. So I was completely content being alone on the swing under the big beautiful walnut tree talking to myself.

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This is a real photo of my great grandparents with two of their children, I think that’s my grandpa there, the boy and the little girl is my Aunt Louise

I remember their back garden where in the far back grandpa would burn their trash every so often and it was such a treat to stand next to grandpa in his old hat and trousers as we watched the trash burn together. He was a quiet man, very quiet but I loved him so dearly because he would let me comb his hair while he watched t.v. and we would walk to the corner store together, he with his hat, hand in hand walking down the dirt path. He would quietly tell me I could pick out a toy or treat every time we went. I cherished those little trinkets so very much. I specifically remember two of the toys very much.  One was a tiny little Asian doll and the other was a small tea set.

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This is NOT a walnut tree but just some trees, pictures were limited this post but my posts always must includes pictures

At night when we would get ready for bed, I slept with grandma and grandpa slept in a tiny room that was more like a passing hall with a twin bed. I remember grandma’s clock. Tick, tick, tick. I remember the smell of Vicks. I remember the sound of distant trains and the sprinklers that go tee, tee, tee, tee. So when I hear these sounds today, when I smell the Vicks. I think of them. My mind goes straight back to when times were easy, simple and free spirited.

I could go on and on and on about my good memories with great grandpa and grandma but really, the walnuts I just ate. They reminded me of this. And each time I see walnuts this is where my heart returns. I bet you have similar stories associated with sounds, smells or certain foods? And sadly I have not too many images to share because back then we didn’t take pictures of our every days we instead stored them in our heads and in our hearts.

 

feather

feather

When I spy a feather

I think of many things

I think of far away friends

Delicate life

Creation

Jim Morrison

His poetry

Bird of Prey

I think of the people who have already gone before us

I think of the ocean

writing messages in the sand with the seagull’s feather

I think of grace

I think of love

I think of the dove

I think of the egret

It’s amazing how those feathers give birds flight

God is pretty awesome

Remember we have feathers too

We just have to remember to use them

They are gifts

Back from a break.  It was so nice.  It’s always hard to get back into the groove you know.  I’m working at it.

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preparing for the week ahead

A wise woman once told me this,” we don’t plan to fail just fail to plan”  and it couldn’t be more true.  It’s not easy either when it comes to planning, maybe even more difficult for us mom’s raising a family, when our first instinct is to make sure they have all their needs met first.  However I also know that I will not change or can’t change until I put some real true effort into the transformation.  The Fitbit is amazing.  It motivates more than I ever realized it would.  I went the entire month of March gaining first three pounds then coming back down to even it out to a complete wash.  My first week of April wearing the fitbit I lost 2.8 pounds.  I got in all my steps and met every single goal every day from Sunday until Friday when I weighed in.  I just returned from a weekend with the girls Sunday afternoon and I returned refreshed and ready for a new week.  Good friends, and mountain air has a way of doing that to you.  I decided to try two new recipes from my awesome new cookbook called “Oh She Glows” also a great blog to visit. I made her “present” glo bar for this weeks snack.

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chopped and measured my pecans then toasted them up in the oven (giggle..I see a heart in the nuts)

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Measured all my dry ingredients for the barIMG_3886

Rinsed my kale for my salads this week and my smoothies in the a.m.IMG_3889

Is this not the cutest little owl measuring cup?IMG_3892

peeled my banana’s for the smoothiesIMG_3900

Figured it would be much easier to put a majority of the smoothie ingredients in a bag and toss into the freezerIMG_3902

And this morning, let me tell you!  It was so easy to toss this in a blender and just add, almond butter, ice and almond milk.  This is also from the “Oh She Glows” cookbook.  The getting ready part wasn’t a part of it but the awesome recipe part was. IMG_3907

The recipe for the glo bars made 12 bars, my model was more than happy to hold my tray for me, first he only had his underwear on and I figured that wasn’t very appropriate so he ran into to put some real clothes on and we took the picture again. IMG_3912

My salad jars once again are filled up and ready to go.  I know, I know kind of boring the same smoothie breakfast all week, the same glo bar snack, the same salad for lunch but it’s quick, it’s easy and it makes the most sense to my checkbook.  Then for dinner we make whatever comes to mind that’s where I get my variety.  I can tell you the bars and the smoothies are very, very yummy and I can’t wait to try more recipes from the new cookbook which I also highly recommend.  My friend Alice introduced me to this cookbook and the reason I’m most interested in it is because my oldest doesn’t eat chicken, pork or beef and his darling girlfriend is Vegan.  So This mama here wants to be able to cook meals she can share with them too!