Wednesday, March 30, 2011


Wildflowers are blooming like crazy in the hills around here. It's one of my favorite times of year, for sure. How can you not feel hopeful with all these signs of new life, and new beginnings?

There's this great trail near my house that is just a few minutes off the well-beaten path, but when you're out there, you feel like nature is all around you. These Indian Paintbrushes are so colorful, and I love them even more because of their name.

Every so often, some mystery person stacks these stone sculptures out in the hills. These little pink beauties are wonderful in the foreground, don't you think?

This rustic fencing gives the hawks a nice place to light.

 I crossed paths with this roadrunner, I almost didn't see him, he's pretty well camouflaged, but I caught some movement out of the corner of my eye and pointed my camera. I was so happy that I got him, he was gone before I had time to get another shot.

Thursday, March 24, 2011


Last Sunday was the perfect day to for an indoor project. With winds howling and rain driving against the windows, I was grateful that it was warm by the stove.

I have a friend who makes this amazing Seville orange marmalade every so often. Her mother-in-law brings her Seville oranges from Northern California. Originally these oranges were from Seville, Spain. You, know like the where that Barber is from. These oranges are so bitter, they taste almost like a lemon, but without that lemony brightness. So, what to do with bitter, Seville oranges? Add 5 lbs of sugar, and make jam! And lucky me, my friend offered to show me how it's done.

I know this is no news flash for most of you, but I was not very domesticated as a kid, and have never done any canning or jam making before. Brand new territory for me, this domestic goddess stuff.

This is my friends mother-in-law, Bernice's recipe:

8-9 Seville oranges
1  lemon
7 cups of water
5 lbs. sugar
1/8 tsp baking soda

The day before, my friend squeezed out the juice and seeds of 8 Seville oranges. Separating the seeds and saving the juice and the rinds. She then covered the seeds with 1 cup of water, then cut the rinds thinly, added remaining 6 cups of water to skins and soaked overnight.

Sunday morning, we began our project.

Add the juice and baking soda to the skins, and simmer gently, uncovered for 30 - 45 minutes to soften. Skins must be soft.

At the same time, simmer seeds for 15 minutes covered.

Strain juice from seeds, pushing with a spoon to get as much through the strainer as possible, then add to rind mixture.

Using a wooden spoon, slowly add the sugar, stirring constantly. At this point, you have to keep stirring or it will burn.
Turn down heat and simmer gently for 1 hour, uncovered, until mixture thickens when tested. Start testing at 40 minutes. We took chilled plates, and placed just a bit on the plates, watching closely for a sort of wrinkling to happen. Ours took more than an hour to thicken, probably about an hour and 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, boil lids of 14 -16 jars. We sterilized the jars first in the dishwasher.

Then start filling the jars with the thickened mixture.

The golden-honey color is amazing!

Then place covered jars in a boiling water bath for 20 minutes.

Take out of the water bath, and voila, done! Lids clicked into place, and marmalade will be enjoyed by all!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Good beginning

Getting the family off and running this morning, I was lucky to spot this rainbow. Everything stopped for just a moment, while we looked out in wonder, and watched as it evolved into a double (you can barely see it in the last pic).

Some of you have asked if I've found the missing boot. The answer is, yes. It was in the garage.(?!?) I still think it may have been those smart-ass Leprechauns, cuz I sure as heck don't know how one was in the garage, and one was in the closet right where it belonged.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Could it be Leprechauns?

St. Patrick's Day was sort of special in our house growing up, on account of our dad being of Irish descent. He always wore his green tie, or a green golf shirt and made sure we had our green on as well.

Yesterday, after he got out of work, Mr. R called me and invited me to meet up to celebrate the day with some friends. Donning my green shirt, I went to put on my favorite boots, and was surprised to find one missing.

Last time I wore them, I wore both of them. And when I took them off, I took both of them off. So, how is it that now I only have one?

This is a question that I just can't answer. I have searched long and hard for the missing boot, but it's nowhere to be found. All I can come up with is, it must be those naughty Leprechauns.

Do you think they want a ransom?  There was no note, but I'm willing to pay big bucks to get my boot back.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Making sense

I'm trying to wrap my head around the tragedies that have taken place lately. I'm not having great success. In times like these, I find that I have to console myself with the familiar. With the very thing that has warmed my heart during springtime, since... well, since I can remember.

Those dusty memories of when I was a kid, playing in our little apple orchard, and smelling the delicate apple blossom infused spring air, is just what my soul searches for. And although those memories are buried far beneath, I am lucky enough to have a little apple tree blooming right in my own yard that I can revert to. In order to breathe that sweet hint of perfume, you must put your whole face right into them, and suck in the subtle scent of the blossoms, or risk missing the medicine that can mend your broken heart.

The world can sometimes be a burden (can I hear an "amen"?). Loss, and a life ever changing can sometimes feel like it's just too damn much. But the constant and familiar can bring sweet solace, too. Life and death are a part of who we are, but so are the ebb and flow of emotions. Right now, those foggy memories of our little apple orchard seem to be the keel that evens my floating shell.

If you wish to donate to the ongoing crisis in Japan, click here.

Thanks for listening, it's been a tough day. Good-bye Aunty Jane.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Tsunami tidal surge 3.11.11

When you are at the beach, on the sand, you can barely notice a small tsunami tidal surge. It's sort of strange, but it's really hard to tell the difference between a normal tide, and the sweeping tidal surges of a tsunami.

But this video, at the mouth of the Santa Ana River, just north of Newport Beach, California, shows just how dramatic a small scale tsunami can be.

video by: swswx

Usually boats that are docked in the marinas and harbors are tossed around during these smaller events, but beaches generally are left unscathed.

My thoughts are with the Japanese people right now. It's hard to imagine how they are picking up the shattered pieces of their lives after so much devastation.

The Japanese Red Cross has mobilized, and are in the trenches helping people. If you feel inclined, here's a link to donate.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Weekend bliss

I had the best time last weekend! It began on Friday evening with a wonderful sunset happy hour with some friends in my backyard. I love starting the weekend off with friends, a little wine, and an unbelievable sunset! There's no better way to transition into sheer relaxation for the weekend!

Although the sunset was diffused pastels because of the clouds, instead of vibrant hues when it's sunnier out, it was still stunning! And the temperatures were pretty warm with just a hint of a warm breeze. My backyard is generally accosted by a huge wind factor, so it's really nice to be outside without that chilling wind!

Not bad for an impromptu pot luck! Do you think we need more booze?

Then on Saturday, we had friends over for a dinner that Mr. R cooked in honor of my birthday. I am still basking in the fact that I didn't have to lift a finger! Well, no bones were broken, anyways...

Sorry, no pics of the dinner party. I am terrible at remembering to take pictures! I'm trying to get better, though, I promise!

Sunday morning, Mr. R usually gets up very early and heads south to surf at San Onofre with some friends. This Sunday I jumped up not long after he did, and headed to the Irvine Antique Market. If you know me, you know that this is one of my favorite things to do! To scour all those booths, people watch, and find those hidden treasures is the most fun that I know how to have!

A precious snippet of history, no?

I never realized this before, but I think I must have an obsession with body parts! And what's up with her neck? It's just a little longer than normal...

I love what you're wearing!

Hello, Cowboy!

Poor guy never had a chance... gross!

Happy Trails

See? More body parts.

Isn't this fantastic?

Seriously, I'm so happy she was somebody's muse! Who would have guessed?

The whole time browsing and shopping, these guys play some great music, really creating a festive atmosphere! I love it!

Now that I'm back to the rigors of the work week, back to doing laundry, cleaning toilets and picking up after my dog and my kids, it sure was great to have such a lovely, inspired weekend. So, I wonder what's going on next weekend?

Friday, March 4, 2011

Butterflies are not free

Remember these 4 amazing butterfly chairs that I scored at the Long Beach Antique Market a while ago? I was so excited to find 4 of them together! You can read my post here.

I had literally been searching for these beauties for years. Oh sure, you can find them here and there, but they are always over-priced and usually you can only find one at a time. So, when I found these, I set straight away to sanding and painting them black. I also tried to salvage the existing covers, not because I was in love with the blue denim, it was strictly a matter of cost.

I sewed some of the pieces back together, tried to reinforce some of the seams, but alas, to no avail. The second one of our big-guy friends sat in one, it ripped and nearly landed him on his butt. Can you spell lawsuit?

I definitely needed to get some new covers. Those old denim ones were just not going to hold up anymore. After all, they are probably over 35 years old, not that there's anything wrong with that!

Being the thrift-master that I am, I looked at some different websites, and on ebay to find the best deal out there. Back in January, one of my favorite blogs called, The Brick House, posted how her friends at Circa50 gave her a bunch of butterfly slings for free (they usually run from $50 - $65 each at Circa50!). Hmmm, I guess it pays to have thousands of followers! But seeing that nobody was emailing me to give me free stuff, I had to go the cheaper route. Besides, what's that old saying about "nothing is ever free."? Yea well, I'm not going to fall into that old trap! Ha!

I found a company called Unique Contemporary Solutions on ebay, and ended up paying a little over $25 each. They didn't have white, so I opted for the natural.

And I am extremely happy to report that my chairs look beautiful! See?

And that view's not bad, either!

A couple of Ikea pillows later, and I am pretty happy with the results! Ok, I'm a little worried that the slings are too tight on the bottom, but they should stretch out, right?

Oh, and the bonus was, as I was puttzing around and fiddling with the covers, the goats were calling to me from the canyon below! Aren't they cute?

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Birthday bashing

Today's my birthday, and let me tell you, I'm not getting any younger. I guess we are all traveling down the same path. Some just seem to be traveling at a very different rate than I seem to be barreling down. And what's the prize at the end? Gray hair, achy joints and fallen arches? Aging isn't for the frail!

But today is a good day. I am really just another day older, just like every other day that I wake up. The old AA saying, "One day at a time", sort of rings true under this circumstance. Because any day that you can pry open your eyes, hoist yourself out of bed, and face the world head on, is a great day. Life is good, and it's always full of surprises. I love surprises, don't you?

In honor of my birthday, some friends took me out to lunch. It's a real treat to be with people who make you laugh, and who you want to make laugh! It's a real delight to know wonderful people. I am truly grateful for my friends.

We ate at a Vietnamese restaurant in Costa Mesa, called East Borough. Oh my gosh, it was so damn good! I ordered the Grapefruit Lemongrass, which was a delish salad with sesame chicken, red cabbage, shredded carrots, a wonderful mix of grapefruit, peanuts and toasted shallots and cilantro on top. I ate every morsel! I couldn't help myself!

It was that good!
But of course, I forgot to take pics before I ate the entire meal! Sorry, you'll just have to imagine how gorgeous the dish looked, just like you have to imagine how yummy it was, too.

My friend said her salad was amazing, but she just eats much slower than I do.

The beef stew with baguette, Vietnamese style, was tasty, too.

So, happy birthday to me! And may the years keep sneaking up from behind and passing me by. I know that sounds weird, it would be great if things would slow down a little, but that's not likely. I just want to embrace getting older, stay somewhat optimistic about the whole deal. I hope that I can always enjoy the simple things, those little daily surprises that life keeps hurling at me. Because, for me, that's what makes it all worthwhile. And like I said before, I'm not getting any younger, this may just be as good as it gets.