31 October 2013

Don't Let Ghosts, Goblins & Monsters Steal Your Dreams


Happy Halloween! I had a little Pin Test I was going to post and then I didn't have the supplies I needed to finish them up. So frustrating. Maybe I will post it later in the week. So I thought I'd share something else that is spooky with you.

Letting go of our dreams and greatest joys - things that make us really happy. This happens because we get busy, lose our focus and sometimes even it happens because someone else has said something that makes us feel badly for seeking out our dreams. It often happens that one comment from another person can stop us dead in our tracks towards our dreams.

When we think about the things that make us most happy, immediately our hearts begin to soar. When I think about swimming I instantaneously feel the energy in my body rise. When I go swimming my soul sings. It's so easy to just get in the car and drive up the street to the pool. Once I have all my gear and I walk out to the pool deck I am feeling nervous and excited. After a few minutes I start to feel my groove with the water. About that time I kick off from the wall and glide through the water and in that moment I feel complete joy. The water and I have become one.

I was telling a friend recently about how happy swimming makes me and how I regret that I have not been going. I told her about how joyful I had been last week when I went swimming. She said she had a very similar experience with dance and had been missing it and had recently returned to it and found so much happiness there. For both of us these were activities we had picked up in adulthood, they had not been lifelong passions. This is encouraging because it means there are still new joys to be found throughout life. We aren't just stuck with whatever we chose to try in childhood or our youth!

We talked about the things that keep us from our newfound, but deeply soulful passions. We talked about how discouraging words can keep us from living our passions and how important it is not to let other people's attitudes or comments keep us from living out our passions. The same holds true for ourselves, we should not hinder ourselves from living our passions whether it be by becoming too busy and distracted or by talking negatively to ourselves about our dreams or our abilities to achieve them.

I am going to go swimming again today. I can't wait. I hope my dear friend continues twirling in her leotard! How much happiness we can bring to the world if we live our passions and encourage others to do so. By example we can inspire others to live their dreams too. There's nothing worse than seeing someone else living their dreams to make you feel like a crumb for holding on to lame excuses for why you aren't living yours. There is a way to draw closer to every dream we have, to accomplish more, to live more fully. We just have to look beyond Options A, B and C and realize there are a full alphabet of options to follow up on.

Life is too short not to seek our dreams There are of course times and seasons for things in our lives, but more often than not there are, again, other options for how we can still live more fully in our dreams. We can change our schedules, ask for help, join with a friend to each other make time. What are you dreams? What are you going to do to live them today? Tomorrow? Next week? Don't let ghosts of the past, goblin's comments or monster-ous fears keep you from having things in your life that make you most happy!


29 October 2013

My Favorite Brownie Recipe: Very Dangerous


A few weeks ago I had an inkling for a good brownie. I wanted the recipe my mom made growing up, but I didn't think she was home. So I started perusing (or maybe it was "desperately searching") the internet for a recipe sounded similar. I wanted a brownie that wasn't too fudgy or too chocolatey. I didn't want it too cake like. I wanted a firm, slightly dense recipe with nuts. I wanted a recipe that didn't need frosting or anything else to make it delicious. Just a good, basic brownie.

In what may turn out to be a "much to my detriment" outcome, I found the perfect recipe and it was exactly what I was looking for. Shortly after that I realized I was short on butter & it was late and I had a kiddo in bed so that meant no leaving the house. But luckily I was able to half the recipe perfectly.

I've now made this recipe three times over the past month or so -- and that was holding myself back, let me tell you. There are a few things I've learned. First, make sure the pan is very well greased since these are a dryer brownie and second, I learned that larger chunks of walnut are much better than small chopped bits. As a child we always made the brownies with chopped walnuts. I was lucky enough to have a few bags of walnuts The Man's aunt gave us straight from a walnut farm in Northern California. I followed the recipe and took the walnut halves and just broke them into two or three pieces with my hands instead of chopping the walnuts. The brownies were better and the nuts were more tasty this way. There's something about sinking your teeth into a bite of brownie with a big chunk of walnut that is just amazingly delicious.

I cut back just a little bit on the amount of cocoa I used, maybe just a little less than 1/2 cup. On one batch I had just a little more than 1/2 cup and they quickly became a little too chocolatey for me. But that is all personal preference. Here's the third thing I learned although I refuse to admit that it was by personal experience (haha)-- don't even fool yourself into thinking your going to put some of these in the freezer for later on. Not happening.

Well, now that I think back I actually learned one other lesson - a somewhat horrifying one - after making these brownies. I learned there is something very, very wrong with The Man. He walked in after I made these one day and said, "Why did you make brownies?" What kind of crazy person response is that? A "normal" person would've responded perhaps like this "Wow! You made brownies! You should do this more often!!!" or "Brownies! You read my mind! These look amazing!" or "Brownies are the food of the gods! Give me the entire pan, I demand it immediately!" Apparently I have aligned myself with another human being who does not fully understand or appreciate the beauty of a perfect brownie. This is very bewildering and perplexing! I must now rethink some things. wink. wink.

This recipe would be perfect for making brownie fudge sundaes or with vanilla ice cream. It's an easy "make ahead" option for entertaining and easy to cut up in lovely shapes if you need to take a treat to an event. A light dusting of powdered sugar would not be bad at all, but I don't think these need it at all. It might make them more festive for a holiday event. Imagine cutting them out in the shape of a Christmas tree and then dusting them with powdered sugar. Cute...and crazy delicious... (Plus if you cut them into shapes you would be forced to eat all the edge crumbs!)

Lastly please note that the cooking time says 20-30 minutes. That's a little broad, right? For a full pan in my oven I set the timer for 25 minutes and then ended up going just about up to 30 minutes. I cooked the brownies until the edges pulled away from the pan and a toothpick inserted in the middle came out clean. I am sure if you want them a little more fudgy you can just decrease the cooking time.

Quick and Easy Brownies

2 cups white sugar
1 cup butter
½ c. cocoa powder
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 eggs
1 ½ cups flour
½  teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
½  cup walnut halves

Directions

1. Melt the butter or margarine and mix all ingredients in the order given.

2. Bake at 350 degrees (F) for 20-30 minutes in a 9x13 inch greased pan.

From allrecipes.com
image also via allrecipes.com

28 October 2013

Our Pirate Halloween Extravaganza


It's Halloween week and we, like most people I think, started the festivities this past weekend. Our church held the annual Trunk-or-Treat activity. It's dinner, games, haunted house, costume parade and good treats. People decorate their cars (trunks) and the kids get to trick-or-treat in the safe confines of the enclosed church parking lot gates. It's a great thing when you live in a city where most of your neighbors are young professionals and there really isn't a neighborhood to trick-or-treat in.

The Man and The Bug are HUGE into Halloween so I'm trying to get into the spirit a little more. This year The Man decided to pull out his amazing pirate costume and The Bug who was an awesome pirate last year, decided to be a cat again. Then The Man had the idea to decorate the car like a pirate ship. If he'd had his way we would've had a Hollywood set quality set up, but thank goodness I brought him back down to earth!

But we did go all out on a few projects. I decided I should dress up early that morning. So after everything was made and we were a few minutes away from leaving for the evening, I threw together a costume with a black maxi skirt, my brown Frye boots, a brown belt worn high to increase my buxom-ness (ha), a white peasant top and some big gold earrings. I added the sweater later when it got cold. The Man loaned me a piece of fabric that matched part of his costume that I wore as the scarf in my hair. I already had the side braid that day so it was an easy go for a pirate girl.

But early in the day we spent quite a while at Home Depot trying to figure out the ship. We bought several square 3/4" dowels at various lengths. Strangely, our one issue was trying to figure out how to get the top sail to stand up and then when we got home The Man found a very heavy standing lamp in the dumpster at our apartment and we just popped that on top of the car and lashed one of our poles to it for the top sail. Then The Man lashed our pirate flag on top of that. Unfortunately you can't see the front of the flag in the car photo, it's blown backwards so you only see the blue backside.

The lower sail was easier. We lashed two pieces of wood into a cross and then attached them to the hitch bike rack. Boom, sail two. We didn't have a lot of time to fiddle with things so we just had to go with it when we got close to what we had imagined in our heads as far as how the sails went.

We bought some plastic white chain at Home Depot and in the afternoon I spray painted it black on the balcony in a box. I had to re-position it and spray it again several times to hit all the surfaces. Next I drew and cut out the anchor from foam core  I learned that foam does not like spray paint and in fact it eats foam. That made getting the sides of our anchor to look black was a little  tricky. But it worked out all right in the end. Our original plan was to wrap it in silver industrial tape to give it a shine and some added strength. But time ran out so I just grabbed the spray paint can I was already planning to use. When we were getting loaded up to go home the anchor got hit in the car and one of the ends broken. It's already been taped up and I guess before we use the anchor again we will tape it from top to bottom.

Next we needed a flag. While I was whipping up all these little projects The Man headed to the thrift store to pick up a few white sheets and a black shirt for The Bug's cat costume. Of course she did not mention until that moment that she needed a new black top for her costume even though we'd been talking about her being a cat for several weeks now. Classic kid.

I had several thoughts on the best way to do the flag but in the end I decided to go with stenciling it. The first thing I had to do was find a piece of fabric I could use. In my thrift store donation bag I found some old blue cloth napkins. Each one was now a different shade of blue and they were quite beat up so I grabbed one of those. Then I needed it to be black so I grabbed my black spray paint and sprayed the entire thing on one side and let it dry while I searched for a graphic image from the internet. When I found one I ran it through our copier/printer a few times to get it the correct enlarged size.

Then I put the image on foam core and cut out all the white areas of the image and the eye cavity and nose cavity. Then I taped it all onto the now dry black "flag". I taped on the full skull then placed the left eye socket and nose cavity where they were supposed to be. With about two tablespoons of white craft paint left, with my fingers crossed that it would be enough, I started dry brush painting the cutout areas. It took a couple of coats because the fabric really absorbed the paint and I was working with a black background.

Once I got that done I pulled off my stencil and then took a dash of black paint and a tiny brush and touched up areas where the white paint had bled through too much. I was using a plain piece of paper for my stencil so getting it wet with paint was a bit of a problem. But with just a minute of touch ups, it was all looking much better than I had ever hoped or anticipated. I credit The Man for teaching me the fine art of tiny brush touch ups. He has saved many an art project for me when I needed some painted areas cleaned up. This was my first time creating my own stencil and I was really happy with it. I definitely want to play around again with doing some other projects like this!

I had the fan blowing on high speed to quickly dry all the the painting projects.It worked fantastically. Thank goodness because we had our backs to the wall on time. We got to the church and things were well underway with the games and we sent The Bug off while we rigged up the car decor. Then The Man ran off to get his costume on. He didn't get a chance to get his beard on, so I added one for him in the photo editing process of the family photo, haha. He looks much more authentic now. Who ever heard of a baby-faced pirate?!

We had a fun night with friends. We were exhausted by the end of the day. It was a lot to pack in the car to get there and a lot to unpack when we got home. We all got our PJs on and watched a movie for a while to unwind. The Halloween candy has barely been touched. Our girl likes to collect candy at Halloween and Easter but after that she's pretty much done with it. She'll eat a few pieces now and then, but she actually just forgets about it. I don't get her at all. haha.

We have a school carnival later this week which will be festive and fun and The Bug will get to wear her costume again. Friday night was a good start to the holiday celebrating. Last night I told the man it's just four weeks until we can put up the Christmas decorations. He didn't seem quite as excited about that as I am. Hope you enjoy you Halloween week and get some time to spend with family and friends. Sending you our best wishes.

25 October 2013

Bring A Little Sunshine


Earlier this week I realized I had created a fun little daily habit for myself over the previous few days. I had been finding little ways each day to send a little ray of sunshine to someone that I knew. It hadn't really been a conscious things but then I realized that I was feeling a want to do that each day. Sitting at my desk in the mornings I was now looking for something I could do every day.

In the days leading up to this realization I had sent an email to an online friend who wasn't posting as much lately. Just wanted her to know I was thinking of her and hoped all was well in her world. I took a photo that I thought might inspire a friend on a goal of hers and emailed it to her with a little note telling her I was cheering her on. I sent a note to a young man at church who I was impressed by as I watched how he conducted himself in his duties. After a few days of this, I was looking for more and more I could do to bring a little smile or ray of sunshine to another each day.

Sure it was nice to serve others, that's a good thing, but I realized how good it made me feel to do something for someone else instead of just being knee-deep in my own To Do list every day, thinking only of my own chores, tasks and challenges. A definite win-win. This week The Bug helped me leave handmade Halloween garlands on the doorsteps of two friends. It was really fun to do that together. Later that night one sent a photo of the garland hanging in her dining room.

So I am throwing out a little challenge to everyone who reads this. See what you can do each day for a week to shoot a little ray of sunshine into someone else's life. Maybe it's holding a door for someone with their arms full, maybe it's letting someone into your traffic lane, making it's smiling at someone instead of passing by instead of staring at the ground, maybe it's a note, maybe it's a meal delivered to their door. It you listen to your soul it may very well guide you to where you are needed and where your encouragement will brighten a day.

When I think of the collective light we could create together, it would overpower the earth with beauty. We definitely need more of that. It makes me think of the song One Little Candle. Our little candle sure can brighten up the world.

24 October 2013

A Shopping Day All Alone


image via Ontario Mills

Saturday I had the chance to get out of town for a bit. I had time to kill in Ontario, CA so I took the opportunity to have a very leisurely day by myself shopping and having a fabulous lunch. My first stop was to Joann craft and fabric store. I learned something about myself there. I have to go with a purpose. I actually have a few different projects in mind to do and had a little research to do on each one of them. I thought at the end of my research I would pick one or two of them to do and buy what I needed and get going on them.

Instead what I learned is that wandering every aisle and pouring over everything in that store just leaves me at the end totally depleted and overwhelmed. I looked at fabric for gauze cotton scarves, I looked at all the great chunky yarn, I studied up on fabric dyes, wood storage units, large cardboard letters, ribbons, scrapbook paper, holiday decorations and more. By the end I was completely without motivation to choose anything and couldn't wait to get out of the store. From now on I go in with a short shopping list, buy what I need and leave. I decided on a nice long wander at the dollar store next door.

After my wander to the dollar store, I headed across the street to Ontario Mills. I rarely have time to stop there of it I do I just make a quick in and out to two favorite stores right near an exit. But since I had the time I did the entire wander. I tried on a mountain of clothes at Gap Outlet, and went in every store that interested me. It's a great time of year to outlet shop, there are incredible sales. If you live in a warmer climate now is the time to stock up on clearance sale summer clothing. Lots of the fall stuff is on sale too, which is great for those in cold climates. Living in a place where I only wear fall clothing a few days a year, getting stuff on sale is a great way to go. No need for a giant seasonal clothing investment.

I was pleased to realize that Ontario Mills has a great food court. It looks like it's all very recently been done because it's very hip and cool looking while some other areas of the mall are a little dated. There were lots of food options. Since we don't live near a Chipotle I had a fantastic burrito in a bowl with barbacoa and chicken and their delicious limey, salty chips with a soda splurge.

It was so nice to sit and eat in peace without having cooked it, without having to jump up to get anyone anything or even have to converse. Heaven! You forget how exhausting mealtime can be when your managing the meal and feeding people three times a day. No heartburn, no dishes, no telling anyone to each their spinach, no cleaning up spilled water, no listening to other people chew loudly looking at how they are mangling their food on their plates, NO DISHES!!! I need to eat alone more often!

After lunch I completed my long journey around the circular behemoth mall. I found lots of temptations, including giving up on a pair of lime green leather clogs on clearance that I went totally ga-ga over and a pretty leather bag that was forty percent off. I didn't buy the cute flat pink leather sandals that felt like canoes on my feet but would have been perfect for standing and long walking days at amusement parks, museums, pumpkin patches and parks I find myself at so frequently. It's funny I'm still thinking of a few things.

I still have a little time to kill so I headed to DSW and Target. At DSW I finally gave up on pouring over all the lovely riding boots I had been looking at all day. I don't really need riding boots, as gorgeous as they are when I live in a climate where I can really only stand to wear boots about 10 days a year. I have a nice pair I keep to wear when I visit the family in the winter and I wear then every once in a while here. But honestly investing in boots that are just going to sit in my closet is a little silly. But boy do they have some gorgeous pairs out this season.

At Target I learned a big lesson. I found a faux leather jacket that I thought would be an awesome "high-low" style piece, something inexpensive that could be mixed with more upscale items to create a great look. In seconds I came up with a ton of different ways I could wear it and things in my closet that would work well with it. I am super picky about faux leather but not totally opposed. I tried on the jacket about five times, like it, thought I should get it. Texted my sisters asking their advice, no one responded. I balked & left the jacket at the register.

An hour later my sisters both texted me back, "get it". Great. I was still thinking about it too. So I headed back to Target. Checked at the register I left it at, even caught the same guy who was doing "go backs" when I was there. He had taken it to customer service, so he was nice enough to walk me over there and go through all the bins looking for it. When it wasn't there he said it must be back on the racks. No, no it wasn't. I actually went back to the department four different times while The Bug and I wandered Target and it never came back. Someone must've snagged it. Big mistake. Agh!

When I got home & checked online and of course they don't have the jacket available online. Maybe I will go check the two Targets about 20 minutes from here, but I don't have high hopes. I kind of feel like the shopping gods are just going to punish me to teach me a lesson on this one. I'm sure tomorrow morning I will see it on the pages of InStyle magazine as a great "high-low" fashion look on some supermodel or celebrity.

But hey, I'll just keep reminding myself how nice it was to eat all by myself. That was reward enough for one day. Next time I go shopping all day I'm taking someone with me who can give me an instant opinion. Do you like to shop alone or do you need someone with you? Have you ever put something back and then regretted it?

23 October 2013

Make Your Own Personalized Meditations


A few weeks ago I was sitting in my car, on hold, waiting for something or someone, I can't quite remember. To entertain myself for a few minutes I started going through the voice recordings on my iPhone. Sometimes when I am on long drives, if I start getting brainstorming ideas I click on my recording device and just talk it all out into the recorder.

I deleted a few that were obsolete or that I had already taken action on and then I came across one from last Spring. It started out a little annoyed, because I had just recorded a long list of things I needed to do and apparently it has not recorded. So I was starting all over again. I began with a lot of things I needed to do before The Man came home from deployment. Fix-ups I wanted for around the house, organizations projects that needed desperate attention, issues like dealing with our flattened couch cushions, getting a new filing cabinet, and so on.

Then I started talking about activities I wanted to do over the summer and new routines I hoped to established. Next I started talking about goals for our marriage and then workouts and my personal goals. I started really talking to myself strongly about my goals, really cheering myself on and reminding myself of all the great things that will come when those goals are achieved. I reminded myself of things that are holding me back because I still have these uncompleted goals and how much there is to look forward to once they are accomplished.

On the recording I started to cry as I cheered myself on and spoke to my own heart. I loved everything I said to myself as I listened. I felt a deep connection with myself! It was amazing to hear myself speak those inspiring things and hear the voice of my soul speaking to me. I felt as if I was not alone but had this awesome woman on the recording, who is with me every minute of every day, who totally gets me, cheering me on.

Then I thought, Hey I love meditation. I love inspiration. I love to sit back, close my eyes and listen to things that inspire and encourage me. I should make my own meditations! And you know what? You can do all of that on your iPhone. You can make voice recordings, videos or even slide shows. You can even put music in the background. Last week at the golf course I videotaped The Man's golf swing so we could study it. Our golf course plays music on the loudspeakers in the driving range area, so our funny little home video had very clear background music already incorporated into it. You can add your own favorite soundtrack to your meditations.

So I decided who better to create meditations for me than me! I am going to start recording my own meditations on the voice recorder and on the video camera. I know what I need to do. I know what encourages me better than anyone else on the entire planet. I can take these recordings with me anywhere I go on my phone. I think I will start with one encouraging me towards my goals, one to help me relax and stay centered and one to inspire me to an energetic day each morning. I could probably use one to help remind me to put taking care of myself as my number one priority too as this take constant reminders.

Would you like meditations created in your own voice? What would be the first meditation you would want to make for yourself?

22 October 2013

The Slowing Down of Fall And Winter


After I knit my first eternity scarf a couple of  weeks ago I received several well-placed hints about how much a certain little person liked it and felt she needed one too. So the next time I was at a craft store I picked up a skein of eggplant died chunky yarn to whip one up for her. When I got home she was snooping around in the bags and I asked her not to do that. She could not help herself, pulled out the yarn and let out a scream of joy. It was never once discussed what the yarn was for and still hasn't been. But she knew and she loves purple.

When I finished my scarf I realized I really missed having a knitting project. I always crave knitting in the fall and it certainly is the time of year when I do my best projects. I never feel like knitting in the summer or spring really. There's something about knitting that makes it okay that the nights are getting darker earlier.

I find that although I've never been a fan of "dark by 5 pm" that there is a certain biological calming and desire to nest and do nurturing things like drinking tea, do creative projects and yes knit. Sitting curled up on a couch with a project or book feels just right for this season for me. I feel very in tune with all that this year. I find that this year I am enjoying the pace slowing a bit, that the evenings feel longer and I feel more inclined to quiet, creative time. It feels like we're spending more time together as a family in the evenings too.

I think I'm going to do all I can to drink this feeling in this year. I am looking forward to putting some nice music on, lighting up the fireplace and creating. I can think of a multitude of projects I would enjoy doing this winter. See my "Fun DIY Projects To Try" board on Pinterest for the first hundred or so, haha. Beyond that I would love to make my own Christmas cards again this year, knit up a storm of scarves and hats, make more jewelry, fabric dye and stamp, make some pillows, do some sewing projects, cook soups, bake bread, all sorts of crazy, fun, meditatively relaxing activities.

Part of my plan is to get The Man and The Bug involved too. They are both massively artistic and creative and I want more of that for all of us. While out shopping last weekend I picked up two sketchbooks. Last week The Man had an idea he wanted to draw out and could find nothing but computer printer paper to draw on. He should have a simple, proper sketchbook. I got a mini-size for the mini. I am going to set up some family time for the two of them to draw together. I will join them with some project of my own. Maybe I'll plan a couple of holiday projects for us all to do as well. You know what they say "The family who crafts together stays together." Haha.

I'm so glad my soul is appreciating this natural slowing down that happens as winter approaches. While I do love all the bursting forth of Spring and all the sunshiny business of summer, I am learning to really enjoy the harvest and the rest that follows. It's so natural for us to need to rest and have quiet in our lives. I'm going to pretend that the next few months are one big cup of hot cocoa for the soul and make sure to rest and nurture mine.

I just finished all the knitting on The Bug's scarf. I just need to sew the ends together now. I guess I'd better come up with another knitting project to keep my fall mojo going.

image by kalanicut

21 October 2013

Don't Wait For Perfect


We'd been talking about wanting to invite people over for dinner for a while. But we always put it off thinking we didn't have time to get the house looking perfectly tidy, things weren't the way we wanted them, etc. The seat cushions on all the crummy dining chairs we have seem to be all coming unscrewed at one time, our big brown lounge chair needs desperately to be recovered, I'd like our front entryway table to have less junk piled on it and instead have a lovely curated display welcoming anyone who enters into our home.

So guess what we did? We invited our friends over anyway with one day's notice. The Man made the invitation on Sunday afternoon and Monday night we were hosting a dinner. Monday turned out to be a crazy, busy day too, so we had very little time to prepare. I prepared the menu, The Man prepared the house.

Bursting at the seams as we are in this place, there are some areas that should not be storage that are. So he was scrambling to make the main living space look presentable and welcoming. He did a pretty great job from where we started and I remembered yet again that sometimes one of the best ways to get things done is to give oneself a ridiculously tight deadline.

Did the house look perfect? -- No.
Did some of our furniture look a little more worn than I would've liked? -- Yes.
Were there a few little messy spots still? -- Yes.
Would I have liked to have washed the front entry rug and sweep off the balcony. -- Yes.
Did we have fun anyway? -- YES!
Did our guests enjoy looking at the artwork we have created around our home with our own hands? -- Yes.
Did our guests spend their night looking for imperfections in our home? -- No.

Our guests were far happier not to have to make dinner, to get out of their house for a while, break up their routine, eat some delicious food and have fun and laugh with us. It was a good experience to have to let things be imperfect and still be able to have a perfectly lovely time with friends.

I'm not going to get so hung up on what people think about our home and just try to be a great hostess and make them feel welcome and give them a happy time while they are here. It's amazing how much happiness and enjoyment we will put off for the sake of things not being perfect...as if they ever, ever are or were in the first place. Lesson learned....trying to remember it.

image design by kalanicut with a little help from PicMonkey

18 October 2013

Seasons Greetings From The Pumpkin Patch

Last Saturday we made what will very likely become the annual trek to Underwood Farms in Moorpark for the Fall Harvest Festival. It would be a gross underestimate to say The Bug was excited to make the trek to a good pumpkin patch before Halloween. Halloween is very likely the favorite holiday of the entire year for my two people.

The Bug started talking about what she was going to be for Halloween last November. This is how serious these two are about it all. She has not yet, still made a firm decision about what she is going to be for Halloween but we will look forward to a final decision soon.

Underwood Farms was a perfect place to visit for pre-Halloween activities. I prefer to think of October as the time of celebrating the harvest but for my two people it is all about Halloween, jack-o-lanterns, costumes and scary things. Here's a laugh for you, when we were leaving Saturday evening I wondered why my parents never took us to a working farm/pumpkin patch when we were growing up. Then I remembered we lived on a working farm and our annual trek to the pumpkin patch was just down the road to another farmer's plant shop and pumpkin patch each fall.

Very funny realization about my childhood, thinking I'd missed out on something that it seemed like everyone else did then realizing I was living it every day. We did not pay to go and see what life was like on a farm or orchard. We just went and worked that way every day. Visiting a "working farm," going to pick apples each fall at a "pick and pay" -- shoot those are activities for city people who drive out to the farmland to see what life on the other side is like. My life was the other side. Instead we drove to the city to ride an elevator or escalator and other "city" things.

At Underwood Farms there were lots of different games people could play to win a small pumpkin, you could take a tractor ride around the farm, shoot corn cob cannons, tomato slingshots, visit the petting zoo and see pig races. There was also live music most of the day, fantastic food vendors and lots of fresh produce and pumpkins and gourds of all kinds for purchase.

Last weekend we were there for antique tractor weekend and it was sweet to see old tractors my dad and grandpa drove around our farm when I was a little girl. Now that we no longer have a farm, it stings a bit. When I was about five years old I learned how to steer the tractor in first gear on the flat fields while my dad and grandpa stacked hay on a trailer hooked on the back. My dad would stand at the side of the tractor and holler directions to me, especially when making turns so that I wouldn't jackknife the trailer and dump all the hay off the side. We always loved to ride next to the seat with my dad or grandpa when we were very tiny.

At Underwood Farms, at the very end of the day we picked out a nice big pumpkin. In a sea of robust pumpkins it didn't seem that big but on our porch it looks a lot bigger than any pumpkin I ever got as a kid. My two terrific artist people plan on having a meeting to discuss carving artwork in the coming days. Apparently carving a pumpkin will not be a one-day affair in this family as it was in mine growing up.

It was fun to revisit facets of my childhood and celebrate the season of harvest. I think we all had a fun day and it was great to get out of the city for a few hours. Getting a great deal on a pumpkin, enjoying all-you-can eat shave ice, stinky goats and a tractor ride made for a very fun day. I am sure we'll be back next year if not before that. A season pass costs about the same as what we paid for the one day visit.

Did your family go to a farm and pick apples or pumpkins when you were a kid? Is this a tradition you have carried on?

16 October 2013

A Pin Test #16: Wire Wrapped Necklaces

I know this is another Pin Test, two days in a row, but I promised to share photos this week and had technical difficulties with the photos. So this is for you V.S. and anyone else who saw my FB post last weekend. Saturday night after a long afternoon at the pumpkin patch, The Man and The Bug sat down to watch a movie about dinosaurs. Since I didn't really need to see another movie about dinosaurs, while they watched I sat at a desk nearby and decided to play with some new jewelry supplies I bought last week. This was the beginning of Pin Test #16.

I bought suede and 1mm leather cord and some jewelry wire. I think the grand total investment was about eight dollars. A while back I found the blue square tile on the beach. I thought it would make a nice pendant, it just had a very nice shape and I could see it hanging around my neck. I wasn't sure what I would do with it, but it got my creative juices flowing.

I think the piece of sea glass was sent to my by a blogging friend in Australia who knew I loved sea glass. This is Indian Ocean sea glass. I have Pacific Ocean sea glass and Atlantic Ocean sea glass, but having Indian Ocean sea glass seems like something a little extra special. The shell shard next to it I found in San Diego. I loved the texture and many variations of blues and browns on the surface. Lastly is an orange shell shard I found in San Diego as well. I do love orange, so this very worn down piece with such bright variegated color stood out to me.

I pulled out my jar of special shells I'd saved, thinking each one could be a potentially great piece of jewelry based on coloring, size and shape. Then I went to Pinterest which linked me straight to YouTube for great tutorials about how to make wire wrapped jewelry. This is the pin that got me started sending me to a video posted to YouTube by Gayle Bird. I ended up using some of Gayle's technique but then also watched another video by The Potomac Bead Company on wrapping sea glass. This one gave me another option for wrapping that I liked a little better.

On YouTube I could figure out the basics, wrap wire around the thing but I knew my pieces would look a lot better and I would save myself a lot of frustration if I studied up first. There are a ton of tutorials on YouTube and project ideas on Pinterest. If you're interested I would send you in those directions. There are so many I really don't want to recommend any because you really need to find one that most fits your style and how you learn. Just search for wire wrapped jewelry on either side and you will be bombarded with options.

Once I got the hang of how to start, keep the wires tight, securely wrap and best of all how to make the "bail" (top loops -- learned a new word!) it was easy to make these four necklaces in about thirty minutes. One of the necklaces I finished and then I broke one of the wires when I was trying to tighten them up on the backside. I had to cut all the wire off and start all over again. That was a little frustrating but what is a creative project without at least one mini-disaster?


I definitely learned some things and will do some things differently next time. I think my favorite is the sea glass piece. I like the "less is more" aspect with the wire and I think that was the last piece I made so I had a better idea what I was doing. I'm out of wire now, I only bought a small amount, but I'm looking forward to buying more and doing more play with wire wrapped jewelry. Once I started looking at all the tutorials I got inspired about all the amazing bracelets, earrings and pendants you can make.

You do need proper jewelry pliers and I used a round pencil as well to wrap the loops for my wider bails. I have different pliers: one pair that cut wire, one pair that are smooth cones to curve wire and another that look like basic home improvement pliers (but much smaller) to hold onto wire and gently pull it when needed.

This is a super easy project and a great way to take a small treasure and make it into wearable art. These would also make a great gift for friends and family for the holidays. The cost is very small and it would be easy to make quite a few of these at one sitting. Much easier than say piecing together a quilt or knitting an afghan, haha.

15 October 2013

A Pin Test #15: Mouthwash & Vinegar Foot Soak

image via

So I have a good new supply of pins to test out. This one caught my eye as I'm big on skin beauty and care. It's called Home Remedy For Toenail Fungus by the blog Herbs and Oils Remedies and it is Pin Test #15. I don't have nail fungus problems but similar pins have recommended this more for removing dry, dead skin and softening feet. I decided to look for a sale on no name mouthwash and try this out.

Upon doing further research and a little wondering, it seemed strange that this recipe only made 1 cup of liquid. As the only commenter on the post mentioned, "How do you soak two feet in one cup of water?" Hmm, a mystery right from the get go.

I did a little more research and found another pin with a bit more information. It's good to read the comments here and get a slightly better recipe. From initial descriptions it sounded like you do this soak and the dry skin literally comes off. Upon further reading you still have to pumice or scrub your feet. It seems like soaking your feet in any sort of liquid would do that, right? I still didn't understand the magic of the mouthwash. If you'd enjoy a good laugh about this foot soak, see this pin.

So I bought the ingredients and then spent a ridiculous amount of time hunting around my house for a foot-size tub I could do this in. Finally I just resorted to doing it in my bathroom sink & I climbed up on the side of the vanity to sit. Since the original recipe didn't quite seem right I just multiplied it a few times. I think in the end I ended up using about 1 1/2 cup vinegar and mouthwash and then probably 5-6 cups of warm water.

After soaking for a few minutes I started to notice that my feet were burning a bit - stinging might be a better word. It was never unbearable or trauma-causing. I rubbed my hands on my feet to see if it was working and my feet definitely did feel softer. The liquid in the sink gradually became more cloudy which I took for another good sign that dead skin was coming off. Gosh, I have to stop myself here for a minute and apologize for how gross that sounds and how disgusting it is to me to be talking to you about my feet. Please forgive! But if I'm going to test this pin I have to give you the real scoop.

After about 10 minutes, soaking was starting to get a little uncomfortable with the burning sensation and sitting on the vanity was really starting to hurt my back. So I decided to try my pumice for a few minutes. That took off more dead skin, but in the end I didn't feel like all the dead skin just fell off my feet from this process.

Afterwards my feet were still burning for a while (okay it was a couple of hours) and I noticed that my wrist burned a bit after my hands got wet in the liquid as well. That liquid burned on every spot on my hands and feet where there was a little cut or cracked skin. Maybe next time I need to bring my amounts of mouthwash and vinegar down a bit more -- or a lot more. I did try to just do a 1:2 ratio with the water but maybe that was still too much.

After so much effort on my feet I decided I might as well make my toenails look good too so I did the nail whitening treatment I did in Pin Test #1 Shape Magazine's Whiten Toenails Tip. Big mistake of that process was when the whitening treatment, made of peroxide and baking soda got all dry and crusty on the towel under my feet. Without thinking I grabbed the towel and all the dried up peroxide/baking soda crumbs went all over the floor. Sigh...

I will say that after both processes my feet did feel and look better, but neither is a silver bullet to fabulous feet. In fact my feet felt quite dry after the soak, so I decided to try another pin, haha, the benefits of coconut oil originally posted by The Honey Bee by Andee Layne. I am envisioning that my feet will be much happier after a long soak in oil in a pair of socks.

I am pretty torn on whether to give this pin test a Yes or No. I would say if you're interested, definitely try it. But I think you could pretty much get the same results from soaking your feet in just about any gentle liquid for ten minutes and then pumice-ing your soles. I will have to keep experimenting on this one before I can make my final decision. In the meantime I have a giant bottle of no name mouthwash and a jug of vinegar to use up.

14 October 2013

5 Tips To Update Pinterest Boards For The Season


This is a follow up to a post I wrote called 12 Tips To Increase Interest In Your Pinterest Boards. In 12 Tips I actually gave 13 tips to get more eyes looking at your pinterest boards and following you. This is just a little seasonal reminder of things you can do to make your boards more relevant to other pinners. You can see how I implemented all these changes on my Pinterest boards.

1) Make seasonal changes now. If you live in a climate where it is fall, going into winter, it's a good time to move all your summer stuff to the bottom of your boards and bump all your all and winter stuff to the top where it can be easily found. (And vise versa if you are in the Southern Hemisphere). I bumped down my outdoor spaces and summer clothes boards until next Spring. I bumped up my fall and winter fashions, cold weather food and beverage boards. This is the time of year when people are looking for ideas for outfits to wear to special events and clothes to stay warm, recipes to take to parties, and new things to serve when they host.

2) Move all your Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas related boards up to the prime real estate at the top of your boards by the beginning of fall. A lot of people start looking for holiday creative inspiration starting in July or later. Many like to get a head start on holiday projects. Get your good ideas out there early for maximum exposure.

3) Update your cover shots. I went through and edited all my cover shots on each board to something more seasonal. I changed my shoes board cover photo from sandals to boots, sewing projects board to a winter wool skirt. I made sure any DIY/creative ideas, food or beverage boards have fall/winter/holiday ideas visible. I switched my home decor boards from light summery photos to darker, cozy selections.

I changed my outdoor spaces cover shot from a lush garden to a charming photo of comfy chairs surrounding a cheery, warm firepit. I even changed my meditation board cover shot from a beach chair to a bonfire on a beach and my adventure girl board from camping to snow skiing. Almost every board cover can be switched up for a more seasonally inspired feel. A fresh look for your covers show potential followers that you are an active, thoughtful pinner. Sometimes just changing the order of things makes people see things in a new way and interact with you in a different way.

I learned this back in the day when I was designing my own line of handbags and toiletry bags. I found that if throughout the day I moved my merchandise around the booth, it gave me something to do so that I wasn't just sitting staring at people when they came by. It gave my booth energy, kept me busy creating new arrangements and I found that people would come back into my booth later, seeing things they'd totally missed the first time because they were in a different position. Same thing applies to Pinterest boards. Changing what people see when they first approach can bring them back with fresh eyes.

 4) Created a four seasons feel on generic boards. I started my beverage board in the summer, so it's almost all icy, cold drinks. As I went through to make my edits, I realized my beverage board needed more variety so I added some hot drinks to the board too. You can add winter fitness activities like snowshoeing and cross-country skiing to your workout boards, add things like soups, fondues or au gratins to your food boards. Having a balanced spectrum of pins on your boards will also tell other pinners that you are thinking big picture and small details too.

5) For better flow and easier viewing divide out your boards by season if needed. I found my fashion board was getting really big. I love looking at other people's boards but when they go on too long, I start losing it -- focus, interest, the reason the I came to that board in the first place. I never want anyone to feel less excited when they get to the bottom of a board than they did when they started! So I decided to break up my board into two: Fall/Winter and Spring/Summer. Now the two boards feel much more coherent for their theme, rather than bouncing all over the place.

I am thinking of doing this with my shoes too, because I guess I've always known this but on my shoe board it's quite apparent, I'm a boots and sandals girl. So those two things feel a little disjointed together in mass quantities. Breaking them up will give people a clearer focus for what to expect, rather than looking through the board and seeing boots for a while, then jumping to very summery sandals and then back to boots. This is a "give the people what they are looking for" philosophy that comes up in marketing and branding all the time. Help them find what they want more easily and quickly.

So there are your five tips to help you make your Pinterest Boards jump out at visitors. Hope they are helpful. Have a terrific day. Sending you my best wishes.

Fall Fashions via all other images by kalanicut

11 October 2013

Favorite Santa Fe Shops


Because The Man has roots in New Mexico, I have had the chance to go to Santa Fe a few times over the years and have really enjoyed getting to know the city, it's layout, shops and restaurants. I thought I would share a few of favorite stops, some we visit every time we go to Santa Fe and another we just found on our last trip there.


Back At The Ranch: If you have a soft spot for cowboy boots this is cowboy boot heaven. This shop has created boots for many of Country Music and Hollywood's biggest stars.


The colors and patterns are amazing. It's a great place to wander and it seems like it's always our first stop. The staff there is very friendly and welcoming too.



The Burrito Cafe: A nice day of wandering in Santa Fe, often gets fueled with a stop into The Burrito Cafe (click this link for a photo and directions). It's kind of the first cafe we come to once we've parked and walked to the center of town. After the 45-minute drive from Albuquerque everyone is usually ready for a little break, a sit in the sun, a cool drink and a snack. We often end up ordering a couple of items and sharing them.

Let me just say this right up front, do not ever attempt to share one Sopapilla (think Indian Fry Bread) with honey with your family. You'll get one bite and suddenly it will be completely gone. Order at least two and keep one close to you on the table. We always sit outside where there is good people watching, comfortable, simple seating and always just the right amount of shade or sun. The food has always been good.


Sequoia Lifestyle Gallery - Santa Fe: On our last visit we spent quite a long while in a new find for us, Sequoia Santa Fe. It's part art gallery, part home decorating boutique. The rustic slab wood furniture is amazing. There is so much to see and so much to be inspired by in this shop. We stayed for quite a long while discussing art and furniture pieces and wandering the rooms. Here's a map.



Serats: I don't even know how to begin to describe Serats. It is a collection of imports: rugs, furniture, doors and other decorative elements. There are room after room of things to see from mosaic ceramics to middle eastern rugs and furniture. Out back there is a large warehouse and courtyard full of old doors and wood carvings for sale. This is an amazing place to wander.


Seret is big time opposed to any photography in the store. But you can see more of their wares here at their site. There are lots of streets to wander in Santa Fe and all sorts of interesting galleries, eateries and jewelry and clothing shops.


Santa Fe like many tourist towns is always changing so while there are always spots that have been there for decades there are always things popping up too. In fall, winter, spring or summer, Santa Fe is always a fun place to wander and explore. You will eat well and your creative soul will be fed well too.

Do you have favorite haunts in Santa Fe? I'd love to hear about them and put them on our list for our next visit. How about Albuquerque or Taos? I'd love to hear about your favorite spots!

10 October 2013

Our Ideal Family



Over the years I've written about creating My Dream Life and My Life charts to help me better understand exactly who I am and what I want from life. I was thrilled a few weeks ago when we met with our advisors for the FOCUS program and they gave us a sheet that looked amazingly familiar. It was an Our Ideal Family chart and except for a change of words it looked just like my My Life charts with the title written in the middle and lines shooting out from it like a sunburst!

Why had I never thought of this? So for our homework we were asked to sit down as a family and
come up with a list of things that we want to be part of our ideal family life. I was obviously very excited about this. This was right up my alley! So one Sunday night a few weeks ago we all climbed up on our bed and started talking about what we wanted from a dream life.

It was fantastic to hear what each person wanted from our family life. Some listed spiritual things, others mentioned ways we communicate and interact together, some had great ideas for adventures and fun times together. As we sat together the image of what our ideal family could be really started to gel.

I could see what each person brought to our family and better understand what each person needed. I was able to see where we were lacking a bit, where we could build and to recognize that we had some really fun things to look forward to in our future. You could see each person's eyes light up as they talked about what they hoped or and wanted for our family.

What a fantastic experience this was. I am going to put this all into a frame worthy list that we can post in our family and refer to often. I think it will help us to stay encouraged and excited about our journey and to continually refocus our efforts toward having the idea family experience that we all want. Thank you Focus advisors for the awesome idea!

You can read more about the life-changing effects of a My Life chart on how I live in this guest post I wrote for reFind Joy here. Have you ever created a roadmap for your idea family? How did you incorporate it into your family life?

image by kalanicut

09 October 2013

The Tree of Joy

image via 

For some reason, The Tree of Joy came to my mind this past weekend. I started thinking we all need a Tree of Joy in our lives. Let me tell you a little about this lovely, magical place. While I don't quite remember all the details of how it got its name, its impact clearly still has an effect years later.

After graduating from junior college, a group of friends and I all transferred the very next week to summer school at a nearby university. We graduated, moved and started spring semester within days. In the midst of all the upheavals of transitioning to new apartments, desperately seeking jobs and signing up for hard-to-get classes we found a tree, right near the main quad of campus on a nice grassy patch that became a bit of a secret hideaway from the bigness of our new surroundings and all the problems of the world.

I can't even remember what kind of tree it was but it had low hanging branches which created a bit of psuedo privacy on the sprawling, busy campus right outside the main entrance to the student union building and bookstore. The grass was thick and soft and made for a perfect place to flop after a particularly unpleasant class or calm nerves and cram before a test. It was a place to be seen and a place to hide out. Little by little a small group of friends began to make this our on campus gathering spot. Heavy backpacks were strewn about and jackets were used for pillows. Naps were taken there, problems were shared. When friends walked by they would stop and sit a spell under the Tree of Joy with us. Many. many people overtime has occasion to meet the little world under the Tree of Joy. Some became regulars, some used it as a general meeting spot, others just enjoyed one lovely day there meeting new friends.

One day I was under The Tree of Joy and two friends joined me. One was a friend from junior college the other the brother of a friend from high school. From that meeting they later fell in love and got married and have three wonderful kids now. The Tree of Joy definitely had magical powers to wrap its arms around people and help people wrap their arms around other people.

This past weekend as I was thinking about this lovely spot so many years ago now, I remembered that I think some time ago the university chopped down our little tree and ripped out the grass. I think it's a big concrete slab now. I kind of feel like our world has changed in the same way the surroundings of our old tree have changed. We've replaced so much of gathering and time spent relaxing and enjoying time with other people for concrete (phones, computers, desks, cubicles, text messages, cars, etc.) The softness of the grass of life is gone, the safety of the arcing limbs stripped away.

When I think back on The Tree of Joy it inspires me to return to simpler things. There's nothing more simple in life than sitting in the grass, under a tree, enjoying the dappled sunlight on your face, staring up at the sky and clouds and just breathing. Some days it's laughing and talking with friends. We need more Trees of Joy, more time doing nothing much of importance that ends up being really important to our mental health, our relationships, our gratitude for nature and for our beautiful world. Simple things are where life's greatest joys are found. We all need our Tree of Joy or perhaps our Couch of Joy, or Patio Rocking Chair of Joy somewhere in our lives.

This all inspires me to make sure my family has its own Tree or Trees of Joy, spots to gather, feel safe, laugh and rest. It's fun to think about creating Trees of Joy for friends and extended family too. That inspires me to think about how I gather and host in a more inspiring way. It's not just about the food and the color of the napkins. Creating a truly organic Tree of Joy environment is something I want to strive for.

I hope when people come to my home they feel the branches of love protecting and wrapping around them. I hope they feel that the sun's glare is a bit shaded from their faces, that they are safe to let loose and laugh or cry. I hope that when they leave they feel refreshed, encouraged and strengthened.

Such was the power of The Tree of Joy so many year ago and the fondness of those memories encourages me to not forget the feeling one has under a Tree of Joy. May we all find many more Trees of Joy in our lives.

08 October 2013

More Toilet Roll Crafts: Bats, Cats & Owls

Last week's Pin Test was all about Toilet Paper Roll Bats. Sunday afternoon we had a little crafting time and after saving up toilet paper rolls for a couple of weeks we have enough to experiment with. Here are toilet paper roll black cats.


Here are our owls. There are a ton of really cute toilet paper roll owls online which we spent quite a while looking at for inspiration. You can see them here. The online cat images was not to impressive so I'll skip that.

Here are a few more owls we made as well. Thinking we'll have these from our lemon tree in front of our door. It's a scraggly thing unfortunately so it will be very halloween-ish once the it's full of owls.


These are great for kids and I love any craft that involved just paper, scissors, glue and all the imagination of the human mind. It's amazing what people will come up with when you put a pile of such simple art supplies in front of them and turn them loose.

all images by kalanicut

07 October 2013

Celebrating Our Family's Triumphs

This past month I have made a big commitment to start celebrating our family's triumphs. Two weeks ago, The Man had a day of major, major success. He conquered three huge efforts in one day. On a normal day just one of those events would be enough to totally stress a person out. He conquered all three in one work day. It was awesome.

So The Bug and I decided we needed to have a celebration. We planned a special family dinner, a special treat for dessert and bought Daddy a small bouquet of balloons, one which proudly said "Great Job!" We also each made a quick congratulations poster to welcome him home in celebratory style. It was so fun to make a BIG fuss when he came in the door, smothering him with hugs, kisses and cheers. He was surprised and I think it made him feel really good. He didn't need it, but sure appreciated it.

Then eight days later he had another BIG triumph. We're talking something that was years in the making. The Bug and I decided we had to have another celebration. We made posters again, bought a new balloon bouquet and planned another special dinner. We made a fuss.

That same day The Bug completed a big math goal. We realized we were doing really well helping her excel at reading but had not done quite as well at helping her with math. So we made flashcards and started running through them every day with a goal for the end of the week to be able to do all the flashcards in under two minutes. Another great family triumph to celebrate. So without her knowing I planned to do a double family celebration the night we celebrated Daddy's latest big accomplishment to include celebrating her math success along with a little gift for her.

There are lots more days that can easily and cheerily be celebrated: report cards, earning a new belt in karate, finishing a giant project, losing a tooth. There are so many fun ways to elevate the every day and create special family memories. All this fun sure has perked up our evenings and dinners around here and I think it's been great to celebrate as a family the daily successes we are always working towards.

Sometimes something bigger than a verbal "congratulations" or "good job" and pat on the back is on order. I find it often takes a few "Hooray!" cheers before people really start hearing you and are able to slow down, sit back and celebrate their own success. Without a fuss, I'm not sure my family members really understand how proud I am of them, or how great it is that they've worked so hard. It's easy for each person to just pass over their hard-earned success thinking of the weight of more to come, the next item on the To Do list or to focus too much on small failings. Making these days into celebrations seems like such a great thing to do for the heart and soul of our family.

image by kalanicut

04 October 2013

Tourist In My Own Town: 3 Vintage Airplane Museums

stamped concrete at Planes Of Fame Museum

You may be wondering what vintage aircraft have to do with a blog about stylish and simple living. Read on. You'll see that if you are a fan of gorgeous architecture, color, design and adventure this post fits right in. Recently The Man and I took a day and visited two vintage airplane museums in Chino, California. The Chino Airport complex is a major gathering spot for vintage aircraft in the United States. They are everywhere. It's amazing what you see just on the airport runways, not to mention what you might see flying overhead.

The first museum we visited was Yank's Air Museum. It was inspiring. Just walking into the first room at the museum you could feel the excitement and energy of the early days of aviation in this country. I thought of Charles Lindbergh, Amelia Earhart and thousands of other less famous pilots who had a major role in the development of the air flight industry in the United States. It's so fascinating that in early days of aviation, having a plane was similar to buying a car and there was the thought that everyone could be a pilot, very much like how everyone drives cars now.

Seeing the gorgeously built wood framed planes was just amazing. If you like color, artwork, and handmade things there is plenty to love at an aircraft museum! I loved seeing all the old private planes and the evolution of the military planes too. The workmanship was so beautiful. All the planes have been lovingly restored to operational standards and the paint work was stunning. At Yanks you could walk through hangars of aircraft, including some very amazing military jets that you often don't see up that closely. You could also walk through their work space where they are currently restoring aircraft.

At Yanks we ran into two of the guys who run the place and had nice, long visits with each of them. One took us out to the yard to see all the yet to be restored aircraft they have. It was fun to wander around and hear his stories about where the planes came from and what their plans are for them. The Yanks guys only restore American made airplanes.

It made the visit even more meaningful to be able to talk to the guys who know the planes and have worked to restore them and bring them all together. The Man is a big plane buff, so he loved talking shop with them.

The second museum we visited was Planes of Fame which is actually just down the street from Yanks, both situated at the Chino airport. Here we met some amazing World War II veteran volunteers. It was great to hear their stories and learn from them. It sad to think that the greatest generation is now mostly in their late 80s or 90s. They won't be with us much longer. I'm sad to see us lose that generation of great people.

At Planes of Fame there were several hangars you could walk through, full of aircraft as well as a yard full of planes and other vehicles that are waiting for restoration. You can imagine what a challenge it is to come up with the money to restore each plane. Not to mention doing the research on how they were built and finding the parts or making the parts to restore them. At Planes of Fame they also had some British, German and Japanese aircraft.

I wish I had taken my other cameras. I ended up relying on my phone camera for all these shots and I killed the battery twice, once at each place, while recharging it during our lunch break. Here's an idea of what some of these beautiful aircraft look like before restoration.

I have always been interested in World War II. I imagine myself a young lady who would've gotten involved somehow, maybe been a spy or something exciting. So while I'm certainly no airplane buff, I enjoy visiting museums that The Man is very interested in and I always enjoy myself and find interesting things to learn about. If you are a student of creativity and ingenuity you'll find lots to enjoy at an aircraft museum.

In the past month we've now visited three vintage aircraft museums. Another great one to visit is the Palm Springs Air Museum, surprisingly located (haha) right by the Palm Springs Airport. Apparently it's ranked #2 best out of 65 attractions in Palm Springs. We had a great day there last month.

I will say that two big air museums was a little overwhelming by the end of the day. It got very hot in the afternoon, to the point that just being outside you could feel your skin burning. We were hot, tired and exhausted by the end and made it home for a quick dinner before collapsing into bed early. Southern California has such an amazing and rich place in American history and certainly in the aeronautics industry thanks to people like Howard Hughes and others. As I say repeatedly, SoCal is about more than Disneyland, as lovely as that great amusement park it. I really encourage people who visit to do more than just see amusement parks and the beach. There are lots of inspiring things to see and do beyond the five to ten major tourist attractions.

Here are a few other awesome places to visit in SoCal:

The Huntington Library and Gardens Visit One and Visit Two

all images by kalanicut

03 October 2013

Stealing Time Back For Your Life

image via

Monday I was chatting with a friend and we were talking about all the things we WANT to do and then all the things we HAVE to do. We both made some comment about the need to "steal" or take time back for ourselves from all our responsibilities.

Then the real story came to light. Our time is for our lives, for our self-care and to create a life for ourselves. Our chief responsibility in life is to make ourselves into something beautiful, useful and of worth. Yes that also means home, family, friends and other external commitments but aren't we looking at the wrong way completely when we feel we are trying to "steal" time back for our own well-being, our own goals, our own happiness??? The act of stealing is defined as taking something that DOESN'T belong to us, without the owner's permission. Should taking time for ourselves really be equated with a jail-able offense?! Hello broken philosophy!

I often see bloggers who are so busy that they become seriously ill (some repeatedly) and have to take time away because they are overdoing it. I see bloggers complaining about their lack of quality time, or how being a full-time employee, full-time mom, full-time artist and full-time blogger makes them feel tired and strung out. (Gosh, I can't imagine why. wink.)

It seems we still need a major life shift to one of living simply and well, versus overly complicated and unhealthy with a very poor quality of life. Quality of life is not something we should steal for ourselves or our families on a Saturday afternoon or during a nap on Sunday afternoons. We should be more important to ourselves, our lives should be valued more in our own eyes.

I think when we really started looking at how we can simplify our lives we could cut our commitments in half and then cut them in half again. I did this last fall and I still feel too busy. I still need to cut from my life. We should all be doing more things that make us happy and fewer things that complicate our lives and make us miserable.

Often we take on things that sound fun and exciting, only to be diminished by the added stress, time and energy. It's hard to give up things that we want, when it's just not the right time or it's not best for our health and well-being. Perhaps we need to think very hard about whether opportunities really are one of those "just have to go for it" moments or if the damage caused will be more than the benefits we hope to find. It's far easier to just jump like an eager beaver at every opportunity or shiny object that passes before us than to take the time to really evaluate the true value.

In social media every day there are people sharing their excitement about a fabulous new opportunity or venture or commitment they've made. Having something exciting to share about your life is important to people, it creates a sense of good effort or value. For small business people  it's very important to show your business, you and your brand are moving up in the world. For most of us, we want to demonstrate to others that we're up to good things.

But why is it so hard to feel externally great about living a simple and happy life? Is being calm and happy considered a negative in social conversation? Maybe the people who are doing that just aren't on social media and are using their time to do what's really important to them instead. I'm not sure what the answers to all these questions are. I don't know what the best steps are to a simpler life. But these questions keep coming up again and again in my own head, in conversations with others, online, in books and in the media. There's clearly a problem. How do we solve it or make genuine, measurable change?

How are you handling the quest to focus on your life and simplify everything else?

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