visits to grandma


“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

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.


Keeping it Simple and using the Light…Natual light.


ISO 2000, 5.6 1/5000

Sometimes being a mom, a part-time working one who works half the day then takes the other half to pick up one set of kids at 2 and the other at 3, it doesn’t leave too much extra time to take photo’s then write about them plus, cook, clean and find time to be healthy.  So these pictures are certainly simple and for sure taken in my own backyard and in the bathroom, and kitchen window however as boring as these images may seem there is a story behind each one.  Not only is there a story but I’m rather proud of myself with this prompt because I shot on full manual.  When I went on the PNW retreat Deb also shoots a Canon so she showed me how to shoot on the BIG letter M.  I mean I have shot on M before but just sort of half crazy cause I will dial this way and that until it looks decent and sometimes it can take lots of dials to get it right.  Oh, the revelation!  I just need to center the line inside the light meter, just place it in the middle and all is good.  And these my friends are straight out of the camera, no touch ups or photo editing which hello is not really my expertise (yet) anyway.

The first image is of a special pierce of jewelry.  It was a gift from my mom and it was bought while she was in France visiting my sister.  My mama knows I love birds and well, it has a bird on it.  It also has some very powerful words in French.  I had no idea what the words meant until my little sister came home for a summer and interpreted them for me.  In English it interprets “Little of us have the strength to change the story”  And these words are powerful and true.  Do you have the strength to change your story?  Think about that?  It takes enormous strength to change your life story, rather than just take it for granted living it with no real effort is far easier.  Now I love the necklace even more.  And I took this image in my very own backyard.  I hung it from a tree branch and the wind kept swaying it back and forth so long story short…was not easy to shoot this on manual and manual focus!  But this one looks pretty decent in the natural backyard sun light.

These next two images were taken in our down stairs main bathroom.  We have two bathrooms in this house but this is the family favorite.  All five of us prefer it and use it most often.  It has a nice deep tub, beautiful natural sunlight, sparkling white subway tiles (when clean) and now perfectly deep black walls.  It’s kind of dramatic now that it’s been painted black.  So I took a pretty red rose from one of my rose bushes grandpa left me.  The smell, oh how I wish you could inhale this rose, it’s perfect.  I took it using two settings.  I show you both.

image 3

ISO 2000, F4, 1/2000

image 4

ISO 2000, F/20, 1/60

My last images are at my front kitchen window.  In the morning it gets the very best light but by late afternoon which is when I took these images the lighting isn’t as spectacular yet still it’s okay.  I use this window when I bake in the afternoons and I shoot photo’s of my food.  And it’s of a feather that I have stuck inside of a potted plant.  Because if you know me.  You know I also love feathers.

image 1ISO 2000, F/29, 1/6

image 2ISO 2000, F/8, 1/25

And this is my version of the lesson natual light, which technically is more of a photo prompt than anything else and if you want to see how two people who live in two very different places view things in natural light, visit my friend Christina at 22limes

Update day 52

“Be kind to yourself, be patient, you will find your answers. Love who you are right now—even if right now isn’t a place you want to be—you will always be you—start to appreciate yourself! You will feel so much better! And do not compare yourself to others. You are on your own special road. Be well my fellow travelers and know your path is a good one.”  -LINDA SILVA PALLESCHI-

 Remember this POST from 7 weeks ago?   This is what has happened in seven weeks by doing just a few things differently.  I have not had a soda in 52 days, this is a big deal!  I have taken to drinking lots and lots of water and this week 8 we are up to 64 ounces a day but honestly, I was downing this amount of water from the start of the challenge.  I LOVE water.  That’s the easy part.  Stopped eating after 9 p.m. which is very easy.  I ate mostly foods off the positive food list provided and it wasn’t very hard.  I did still eat dark chocolate here or there but it has to be at least 70%. No joke I ate one row of chocolate nearly every night after dinner.   I had to eat at least 5 servings of fruits and veggies a day and exercise for 30 minutes a day and on my good days, really great days I got in my full 10,000 steps which was probably like 80% of the challenge. What I really loved about this challenge was also the spiritual aspect.  I prayed, read my Bible and journaled during these 8 weeks (technically just past 7 weeks so far) We would also get a bonus challenge each week.  This week for instance we need to floss our teeth each night, rest before bed by turning off the t.v. and just sitting in peace of listening to music and lastly this week we need to leave a gift at someones door step.  I feel better, I think I look a little better.  I have not changed in leaps and bounds but at a nice slow pace.  Below are my new stats and before and after pix.  I’m proud of myself.  Yes, I wanted to lose more like 15 pounds during these 8 weeks but I’m very happy to be headed down.  It feels so much easier these days to order water to drink when we go out rather than soda, it saves money too.  Oh and for the record I still enjoy a glass of wine every so often.  We get 2 free negatives a week.  We have a neutral food list, a negative food list and a positive food list.


August 23, 2014 October 14, 2014
Weight 177 170
Hips 43-½” 40”
Legs 22” 21”
Arm 12” 12”
Waist 37-½” 35”
Bust 41” 38”


Total lost in pounds -7   total lost in inches -10

The weird part is, I lost all these inches half way through the challenge and not much after the halfway point, but I did shed more weight after the half way mark,  averaging about 1 pound per week.  In fact and I can’t really count it but three days ago the scale read 169 but each day after it has stayed at a solid 170 but that just means the 160’s are close and no it’s not about a number but I still want the spare tire to be GONE.  I can feel it flap when I walk.  It sure would be nice not to feel that when I exercise.  So my goal is to lose the spare tire.  Which has not happened yet so I continue.

week 1 and 7 frontI can see a difference but to be honest the pants do not feel much different, then again the before picture I had been wearing them a good long while, the after they are straight out of the dryer which are always more snug until I wear them a few days.  Yes I wear them more than a few times before the next wash.

week 1 and 7 sideI think side shows most the difference.  I love that my boobs are shrinking.

week 1 and 7 backI can’t tell as much from the back

the big day

Yesterday I walked with the littlest and only girl.  I told her if I walked with her I wouldn’t wear my headphones.  She said, “Oh, mom it’s okay, wear your headphones”  I said “No way Abbie, if you walk with me I want to talk to you, see how your day was and enjoy your company”  She said “okay and smiled” Then she told me about her day.  And this isn’t new.  When she walks with me we talk, if Moon Rebel walks with me….we talk.  It’s a oppertunity but it got me so excited thinking about what’s ahead.  I’m pretty sure I will have more time.  Time to read, time to walk and time to create.  Abbie really wants to bake.  It’s been so hot around here that turning on my oven is my last thought but I sure can’t wait for it to cool down.  The first really serious cool day we will bake.  And when the holidays begin to approach we will completely enjoy them with crafts and laughs and pictures of it all.  I will never stop documenting our life in photographs.


When I picked up Moon Rebel today he gave me the WEIRDEST look.  I said “yeah, so my hair was in my face so I pulled it back”  He says “not that mom! I never see you wear lipstick!”  “Oh that, well I deactivated my facebook and took Instagram off my phone, so I put on some lipstick and pulled my hair back while I waited” He barely believed me, “really mom?  for real?”  “Yep for real”  in which he puts his hand in the air and wants a high-five!

IMG_5495When Littlest and only girl got into the jeep she said “I love your hair mom!” I tried to ask littlest and only girl to take a picture with me today when I picked her up.  But she would not, she said “here mom, let me just take one of you” she took out her phone and snapped. Then she said “I’m saving this as your profile picture for the times you call me”

Nature begins its retreat

Give me odorous at sunrise a garden of beautiful flowers where I can walk undisturbed.

Walt Whitman


*I* am “exaketededly” three inches high, and it is a very good height, in-*deed*!

– Lewis Carroll (Alice in Wonderland).

Our assignment this time was to capture fall in its starkness, to find beauty in what one may not normally see as beautiful.  I made a conscious effort to use my 50mm lens for this assignment so I could get closer.  I don’t have a macro lens but I do have a macro setting on my camera, which I didn’t use strangely enough.  I didn’t have to go far.  I walked into my backyard.  I wanted to work in my garden.  It’s time to pull it back to bare.  It’s still hot here but the tomatoes have been producing less and less and there was more brown stems than green. I was thrilled to find this little guy on the old tomato plant.  Just as I was going to rip it from the ground there he was!  It took me straight back to Alice in Wonderland  Can you see that?  It’s all I can see! I mean minus  he is green and not blue, minus he isn’t talking to me or smoking but honestly it’s all I can imagine. This little darling creature took me back to a magical place.  And I think he or she, I shouldn’t just assume it’s a boy but anyway, I think “it” is just gorgeous in every way.  I examined it closely and touched it and basically tripped out on how completely unique this creature is.  Where do they come from?  How is it they specifically look to tomatoes for their nutrients?  I don’t see them otherwise? But this is not all I saw.  This is just the first thing I saw.


The sky was very blue and although it was hot, if one didn’t know, they might think this a cool and crisp fall day.  That’s another thing I like about pictures.  If pictures don’t have words people can look at them and make up their own story.  I do it all the time but mostly I do this with pictures of people.  I make up their stories in my head based on how the photograph reads.   So just know, this day was warm and I spent this day on my knees in the garden.  I pulled all the weeds.  I got dirt under my nails and I have it ready for the crimson and clover.  This is my plan.


This is my favorite from the day.  Just a few little leaves hanging on for dear life.  The golden sun shining through the otherwise dead leaves.  When I stand back and look at this tree it’s just full of crispy dry and dead leaves.  It looks sort of pitiful actually but as I walk up close this is what I see and it’s gorgeous.  I add my 50mm lens and it becomes art.  Its Gods art and it is good.

IMG_8841And when the assignment had the word specifically STARK.  This is what I found  It’s stark and it’s completely beautiful.  And for me this assignment wasn’t very hard because it’s what I naturally do.  When I feel a need for peace,  I will grab my camera, this is my tool and I walk into my very own backyard which is in the suburbs backed up against a busy street with occasional sirens and traffic, with cables stretching across the sky but in this suburban setting we planted three trees. Just three.  One for each child and only just two seasons ago.   They are sort of new trees.  I have only seen the littlest and only girl’s tree experience spring once so far and it had pink flowers!  It was perfect.  I’m not familiar with their seasons just yet.  We almost thought we were killing the boys trees.  It seemed a little too soon for the leaves to turn crispy brown but I’m thinking it may be normal.  We will see when winter comes and they will be bare and then as spring arrives we will see their new baby green buds that open to leaves. I think it will be like this. I have taken so many pictures of the kids trees it’s a little crazy but for me it’s peace.  This is all for today. Remember Christina at 22 limes because she shares this assignment with me.  I can’t wait to see what she found and what she will share.  It’s a lot like Christmas morning to me when I get to see what she will post too.




Do you really need that?

Motorcycle man may say something like “We should really get rid of this shopping cart, I mean you haven’t even used it in over year” Do you know what my response would be? “well, I think I will use it today, yeah, I’ll walk to the store and I’ll use my shopping cart today” The very moment he wants to cleanse I will hold on so tight, and I will make every single excuse as to why we just can’t get rid of that, whatever that may be.   He really cracked me up one day years ago when I noticed my yoga mat was missing. “I was like where is that yoga mat?” I walked up to my sons room where I saw they had cut up my yoga mat to muffle his drum set! So I say “why did you use my yoga mat?” And naturally their response “come on mom, you never use it” me, “yeah, but I was going to use it just now!” This is the story of my life. I hold on to things. I have a really hard time letting go. Some people are natural at letting go and some people are not. I want to be in my mind but I’m not really made that way.

iphone july aug 163

You know what else? I like to find things. And I have to literally talk myself out of bringing things home. This week my neighbor had a wooden ladder out by the trash. I wanted it. So I tell littlest and only girl “I really want that ladder” She says, “Mom, do you really need that ladder? What will you do with it” “Well, I will put it in my garden and put planks of wood on it and make it like a flower pot shelf stand thing” She talked me out of it. I didn’t go get it. These things happen a lot and I would say it’s 4 against 1. The kids seem to take the side of motorcycle man. They always ask me the important questions. “Do you really NEED it?” “What will you do with it?” and “Do you have a spot for it?” They are all so smart and they keep me level headed, they really do. I still sort of wish I had that ladder though.

How are you made? Tell me in the comments section. Are you a release kind of person or a hold on tight? Are you a tosser or a collector?


Believing what is true and breaking bad habits


What if I say,

I’m healed

My legs are smooth

I’m wrapped in His peace and love

What If I say this instead of

I hate my legs

I can’t

I can’t leave them alone

Will I really believe these words?

I have heard it’s a proven fact that if you say positive words over and over and over again

One will really begin to believe it.

I’m going to practice saying

I’m healed

My legs are smooth

I’m wrapped in his peace and love

You see sometimes my posts will be a little poem I write, other days it may be full of images, while other days I will share a recipe or idea, sometimes I write about trips to the moon, I will share adventures we go on, a piece of furniture I love,  the golden light, share scripture or my beliefs.  I feel so privileged that I have a spot to share my feelings and my thoughts and although I prefer to be positive and focus on things that are good, or the blessings in my life, the truth of the mater is I will also sometimes share or talk about things I struggle with and it’s not easy when I do.  I feel vulnerable when I share things that are hard for me.  I know I’m not alone.  There are others who have their own struggles. We are never alone and I believe God created us in the largest part to love one another.  We can do this in sharing, in listening and showing our love and kindness to those around us.  I feel surrounded in love.  I’m blessed and so I share and I share most openly. Today was one of those open days.

Update, can’t think of anything more creative to say than…UPDATE

photo (20)


And day after day, I wake up feeling

Day after day, I wake up feeling, feeling

Potentially lovely

Perpetually human

Suspended and open




Open up

Your eyes

And then…

_Regina Spektor

And what happened in May?  Lots of really beautiful and good things happened in May it was a month of surprises and happy days, love an abundance of it.  Food.  Lots of food.  Celebrations, trips to the moon.  Yes.  It was all these things and guess what happened to me?  I felt joy, I felt sadness, I felt light, I felt darkness, I walked and walked and danced, I toasted, I hugged, I kissed, I held tight, I let go.  May was full, it was “chalk” full.  Later I can share the 24 hour get-a-way and other nice things but today it’s time for the update.  I really want to call it dreaded update but that’s sort of being negative when really all I am is human.  I gained 4 pounds.  That happened.  And it’s okay.  He loves me anyway.  He will always love me anyway.  I’m blessed but I still want to be strong, healthy and clear minded so although I have “fallen”  it doesn’t mean I can’t dust myself off.  So please reach for my hand, pull me up, kiss my cheek and tell me it’s okay.  It’s all going to be okay.  I have new days ahead of me.  No more looking back.  It’s over, that part is over.  Because although I gained 4 pounds, I watched a beautiful couple wed, I got news of a baby being born, I celebrated another year, I was acknowledged as a good mama, I celebrated LOVE with my love and mostly the month was good, better than good.  So let’s focus on that shall we!!  Yes we shall!  In the end what will matter?  Will it be the number on the scale or will it be how often you laughed, how much you really felt, truly, truly felt.  I’m OPEN, yes I’m open sometimes too much, sometimes it scares people but if it does that’s okay too, it means they are not ready to be my friend.

A heartfelt thanks


The photo above represents a big, big, gigantic thank you for all the support I received yesterday.  It blew my mind and what it really had me realizing is, all my friends and family are beyond amazing and it had me feeling beyond blessed.  Is there such a thing as beyond blessed?  Yes!  No doubt, I felt it yesterday.  This photo also is in honor and memory of my Grandpa Hoff who on this day three days after my 40th birthday left his earthly body. It’s been 4 years today and that just doesn’t seem possible.  I know you know exactly what I mean.  I still hear his laugh, I still hear his greeting and I feel it an honor when he visits me in my dreams.   He loved his roses and when I see mine in bloom, the ones he gave me to plant I always think of him.  He left me his rose memories and also the white egrets, those too.  The roses I cut today from my garden were ones he called “The Abbie Rose”  He said the color reminded him of Abbie’s skin.  (photo credit Dylan)

I want to tell you all and show you some pictures from a garden tour I went on this weekend but I took so many pictures that I will have to spend some time narrowing those down.  I can’t possibly share all 177 of them.  I will pick my favorites and tell you a little about the day later on.  In the meantime I leave you with my new favorite drink. Matcha Green Tea.  It’s a fine green tea powder that’s 10 times more potent than drinking green tea and we all know just how good green tea is for us.  I ordered it first at Starbucks and it’s not on the menu so just ask.  They only charged me 90 cents for a grande and the other day during happy hour I ordered a large for only 30 cents which is crazy talk but I think they don’t seem to have a set price on the drink yet.  It’s cheaper than plain coffee and its way better for you.

photo (19)

I’m also excited about the quinoa salad I threw together yesterday.  I used red quinoa, celery, carrots, red onion, garbanzo beans, black beans and cucumber.  The dressing I made included olive oil, balsamic vinegar, minced garlic, a whole lemon, and just a tiny tad of soy sauce the gluten-free kind:) I made such a big batch I was able to fill up three jars to eat as the week goes on. Cause everything is cooler in jars right?