Tuesday, May 12, 2015

happiness is…




This past Mother’s Day weekend was a busy one at our house.

We had nine cubic yards of dirt delivered on our driveway and I was downright giddy because guess what The Mama got for Mother’s Day?

Yep. Three big, strong workers for my brand new (pool-less) backyard. Yippee!!!

Oh how I love Mother’s Day.




And yes, I admit, it’s become somewhat of a running joke in our house that “Father’s Day is totally laid back and Mother’s Day is yard work” but if you’re a gardener, I’m sure you’ll understand.

Free help is always SOOOOOO welcome. And SOOO very appreciated.

In fact, I made a big, traditional breakfast before we all slipped on those thick, nubby gloves…and I couldn’t help but notice how happy I felt.



You know. There’s just something so cozy about the sounds of  bell pepper, onions and potatoes sizzling in the pan while loud conversation is going on.

Eggs… Check.

French Toast… Check.

Aspirin for a slight hangover… Check.

Apparently Saturday night was pretty fun.



When you have college age kids –22 and 20--who are busy with their own lives—spending quality time together is all that matters.



Truthfully, I’m not interested in presents anymore.

Time is the big gift for me.



Good food, big appetites and happy noise are my favorite Mother’s Day presents.


I didn’t get a whole lot of pictures of the guys with their wheelbarrows full of dirt because I was busy leveling the yard with my metal rake, while the hubby dug the big hole for our palm tree in front.

I actually got blisters for the first time in years.

How’s that for teamwork?

The dirt we’re adding is a blend that’s rich in nutrients for the plants and flowers. After it’s all in back we’re tilling the yard and then planting the rest of the trees.


At one point our next-door neighbor Jeff surprised us; he joined Patrick and Michael and helped them shovel dirt for a few loads. How nice was that?

Do you remember when we made an offer on that first house—the one we really wanted --only to have it fall apart at the last minute?  Afterwards, so many of you said it wasn’t the ‘right’ house and that we’d end up in the one we were meant to have.

Well you were right. Now looking back, we’re so thankful that first house deal fell through.

I think it’s such a blessing to be in the right place, don’t you?

Fig & Olive Newport Beach

So. We didn’t get all the dirt emptied but we got close. And afterwards we showered and went out to Fig and Olive in Newport Beach and had the best food.

The  Prosciutto, Ricotta, Fig, Olive and Walnut Crostini was a delicious starter.

I had Zucchini Blossom and Goat Cheese Ravioli

Patrick and Michael both had Maine Lobster Bouillabaisse

And Jim had a Truffle Risotto.

Unfortunately I couldn’t get good photos because it was so dark.

(Note to self: take that photography class)



It ended up being a pretty wonderful day, dirt and sweat and sore muscles and all.

Mostly because we were all together.




Where ever you are right now,

I hope you find a few moments to slow down and think about

your own tiny miracles.

I know

I consider your visit here one of mine.






Friday, May 8, 2015

ideas for a pretty Mother’s Day table; free downloads






Hello friends.

In honor of Mother’s Day I thought I’d share a few ideas you might want to use for your brunch or dinner table.

I love adding little details— and I’ve always thought a silhouette place card would be a perfect addition for a Mother’s Day table,  don’t you think?


So today I decided to make this one and share it with you.

Since I was in a time crunch to get this post out, I decided to use the old fashioned cut and paste method. Pretty basic.

But if you’re interested,  here’s how I did it.

(I’m sure there’s all kinds of stamps and stickers out there you can buy --but I made these without leaving my house)

Old Fashioned cut out and paste method.


First I found my image HERE.

After I clicked on it and singled it out from the page… I right clicked over the image again but this time I clicked COPY.

I opened up a Microsoft word document. I clicked PASTE and the image appeared.

Then I clicked SAVE and printed it out. Don’t forget to name your file.

(Sorry if I’m insulting anyone, ha. I know these are simple instructions but these are the kind I like best)


For this project I chose to make just one; I cut it out and simply glued it on these chalk labels I had from Joann’s Craft store. 

But if I’d wanted to make a bunch, all I would do is keep pasting the image on the Word. Doc then print it out.  Then you cut each one out, and glue. Voila!

I know it takes time, but I think it’s so worth it.


Some other easy ideas for your table include adding doilies underneath the glassware…

(you can find these at most Craft stores)




setting silverware on top of an old book page…

(you can find wonderfully yellowed pages in thrift store books)


and putting flowers inside tarnished silver pots and colorful tea cups.

Here’s some other inspiration you might like:




DIY Silhouette Place Card Tutorial

made from real pictures of your guests, how-cool-is-that?








Glassine envelopes

filled with flower seeds or a sentimental photo



free gratitude banner download



hey mama placemat download



I hope you found something in this post you can use.

But if you’re still collecting ideas …here’s some of my other posts related to Mother’s Day:

setting a beautiful Mother’s Day table

the perfect Mother’s Day table runner


how to make tissue paper flower napkin ring


Whatever you do, I hope you have a wonderful weekend…





I’m sharing this post at Feathered Nest Friday



Sunday, May 3, 2015

a post for animal lovers: please vote for this woman



One Spring evening Patrick left for the store and didn’t return.

Some time later the phone ran and I heard his Dad speaking quietly into the phone,

“Ok. Is there anything I can do to help?”

And seconds later he hung up. Evidently, before Patrick could make it to the grocery store he had spotted an injured fawn on the side of the street. A precious baby deer, maybe seven months old that had been hit by a car. The driver had never stopped.

Amazingly, the fawn appeared to be in stable condition although it was clearly in shock.

Patrick had called to let us know that he was waiting on the side of the street--along with several other kind folks--for the owner of Kindred Spirits, a Fawn Rescue organization to show up and tend to this newly orphaned deer.

The woman was on her way, however it would be a 30 minute drive from her home.

Of course my first thought was Wow. Who does this?

Who gets into her car and drives for miles on a Sunday evening to save a scared, wounded animal—left alone in some neighborhood?

This woman does.

Diane Nicholas is the founder of Kindred Spirits, a non-profit, volunteer based organization that’s dedicated to saving these orphans. Each year she and her helpers answer several hundred phone calls from people –across the nation--who stop to help a wounded deer and don’t know what to do.

And they drive miles –at the drop of a hat--to pick them up.



making a difference

When we lived in Gold River, a neighborhood next to the river, we shared our surroundings with these beautiful creatures. And if you’ve ever been been lucky enough to wander quietly upon deer out in nature---you know their aura of peacefulness. It’s magical.

For those of you who—like me—can’t stand the idea of a helpless fawn being separated from its mother and left to die. Please click HERE and support Diane’s worthy mission. Diane’s organization –comprised only of her and her two helpers--has been nominated to receive a $10,000 grant from the Lady Godiva Program.

Money to help her continue to save these animals.

But she is the underdog in this contest and she needs our help.

Will you take a second and vote for her?



A happy ending

Oh, by the way Patrick’s fawn had no broken bones. She was treated by antibiotics and according to Diane, by the next day she was acting playful.


Here is a photo that Diane took of the actual fawn being released back into the wild. It had been hand-fed every two hours by Diane and her wild-life handlers after it was saved.

One quick look back at Diane… before it re-entered its natural habitat.

A ‘thank you’ glance maybe?

I certainly think so.


Latest Update:

Diane just sent me this picture of her recent rescue. Three babies. Aren’t they precious?



This contest ends May 16, 2015. Vote HERE every 24 hours.


Good luck Diane I sure hope you win!!!






*excerpts of this post originally appeared on 4/20/12


Friday, May 1, 2015

goodbye old pool… hello outdoor space



inspirational photo

Well the good news is that the big, cracked in-ground pool that took up our entire backyard is finally gone.

Built in the early seventies, the oversized pool—and its poor condition—was the big reason this house was languishing on the market when we found it.

You might remember it was last year at this time when we were living in a tiny condo waiting for any kind of movement in the neighborhoods we wanted to live in…it was actually weird how small the housing inventory was back then.

We eventually decided to take a look at a home that had a lot of issues--- but was SO close to the ocean that we couldn’t resist.

DSC_0883 (2)

I still remember the sinking feeling I had when we walked into the kitchen; the previous owners had a bulky red couch pushed up against the sliding glass doors and the view was awful. All I saw was an old pool and a lot of cracked concrete.


And plain concrete walls that had never been planted except for a few dying plants and no trees to block the neighbors. Gulp, it was a far cry from our old backyard.

Plus, the last thing we wanted was another pool. Even though we’d had years of great pool memories in our former backyard—now with the boys in college we were ready for a different kind of outdoor space.

But after weighing the price and square footage and the proximity to the ocean we decided to make an offer despite the backyard. And I’m so glad we did. Since then we know we made the right decision; we’ve got some great neighbors and the floorplan has real potential.

Now. Fast forward 8 months and here’s a picture of the dreaded pool being drained.



Yep. We couldn’t wait. Even though our kitchen really needs to be remodeled we decided to divert the money and get rid of the pool, the first step in transforming our ugly backyard into a usable living space.


Because of the tight space on the side of the house, the demolition company had to use the smallest Bobcat available. Andrew was the talented driver who made over 200 trips with dirt before it was all over.





The city of Huntington Beach requires an engineer to be on-site to take samples of the dirt compaction after each foot of dirt was added.  


Yes, it was a verrry laborious (and loud) process.  


This is a powerful piece of equipment that produced vibrations we could feel inside our house.


Once the pool was filled we had to address the drainage and figure out the hardscape.

Because of the drought here in California we made a decision to forgo lawn and instead plan on designing with a combination of hardscape, softscape and lush plantings.




This week we finally had the concrete poured for our patio. Hooray!!!

Here’s the view from our sliding glass doors while it was happening.

IMG_2284 copy

I wanted to eliminate the step down when you walked outside…preferring a seamless flow with the interior of the house and fortunately because of our overhead structure already here, we don’t have to worry about flooding.

Although we finally got some great drainage in our backyard.

Before this, we didn’t have one drain in our backyard. Hard to believe. Lucky we don’t have heavy rains here.


Here’s a photo with the wet concrete. (No more step down)

We also have the backyard plumbed for gas and electrical so we can have a fireplace and up-lights for our palm trees. And of course, gotta have that electrical outlet for the blender. (Margaritas anyone?)


Now the fun stuff. Designing the landscape. The hubby wants palm trees, banana trees and Bird of Paradise for sure.


Even though I’m a lover of the English garden, now that we’re in Southern California I want to incorporate a tropical vibe and blend some drought resistant plants into the landscape.




I can’t tell you how excited I feel to finally have a backyard filled with good old dirt.

Funny the things that makes us happy. I’ll keep you posted on our progress.






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