Color me creative


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On a recent shopping trip I discovered Kristina Webb’s Color Me Creative:  Unlock your imagination.  This lovely fat paperback begins with Kristina’s own story of being a very creative/artistic child and the way she and her family dealt with the often very UNcreative restrictions encountered in school.  She tells about becoming an Instagram artist with a huge following, and how blessed she feels with each new “like” or “follow”.

The second part of the book is a series of 50 artistic challenges for the reader, to be done in no particular order, without a grade or scorecard.  They look like delightful fun, and my original plan was to do them myself.

As I continued reading, though, I realized this book was tailor-made for Lily, who seldom puts down her drawing pencils except to read.

So as of about thirty minutes ago, Color Me Creative has changed owners, and Lily is eagerly drawing and naming a set of emojis for her first challenge.  This is going to be fun to watch!

23/50 Reading Challenge 2015

Sicilian Cheesecake


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In keeping with October’s NaBloPo Month of “Dish”, I have a suggestion for anyone who might be considering a meal at Olive Garden this fall.  As I often tell guests as I am seating them, the fall desserts are back on the menu, and our Sicilian Cheesecake is the best dish we have ever had on our menu (in my less-than-humble opinion).

Made with ricotta cheese, drizzled with a raspberry glaze, and topped with a caramel crunch crumble, it is absolutely divine!  In fact, if one must choose between an entree and this dessert, go for the dessert.  My motto is most definitely “Life is uncertain; eat dessert first!”  Enjoy!

Fantasy Fudge


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The theme for October’s NaBloPoMo is “Dish”, which should be perfect for those of us who love to photograph our fancy (or not so fancy) meals.  Today’s prompt asks us to tell about our family’s favorite dish.  I’m not sure I would call candy a “dish”, but when I am asked to make something for a potluck, group dinner, or gift, it is most often my Fantasy Fudge.

The Fantasy Fudge started as my mother-in-law’s recipe, carefully copied from the back of a marshmallow package.  I originally made it “the hard way”, melting marshmallows with butter and chocolate chips, stirring and stirring and stirring.  It was mouth-wateringly delicious, but a royal pain to make (all that stirring and stirring and stirring)!  One day I realized that the fudge recipe on the back of a jar of marshmallow cream used the same ingredients in different forms, and was cooked effortlessly in the microwave oven…but it was the exact same Fantasy Fudge!  From that day on I used the short-hand version, and life was grand.

Last summer our microwave died, so there was no more fudge until I bought a new one, just before Thanksgiving.  I made fudge like a madwoman to give as gifts (including the box I always send to my sweet brother-in-law in Ohio).  Then that new microwave bit the dust, as well, just after I threw away both the box and the receipt.  We still haven’t replaced it, and have been amazed at how well we have functioned without it.

But the holidays are rapidly approaching, and soon it will be decision time:  Do we buy a(nother) new microwave so that I can continue my fudge making, or do I bite the bullet and go back to “the old-fashioned way” of stirring and stirring and stirring?

Only time will tell.

A walk by the creek


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Wednesday morning while Daddy was sleeping and Melody was still at her hotel, I went for a walk.  It was a glorious  morning, warm for the coast, but not uncomfortably so, and once I did my circuit of the neighborhood, I ventured across Valley Road and down along Los Berros Creek.

This is the same creek that used to lure my little brother on Saturday mornings when the adults were trying to sleep in a bit, the creek that was off limits for a little boy and his bicycle, the creek that was home to his favorite creatures.

Of course, the creek bed is dry now.  When the rains come it will fill quickly, but that is rather hard to imagine.

Los Berros Creek is completely dry.

Los Berros Creek is completely dry.

Even with so little moisture, I found flowers all along the path.  This Queen Anne’s Lace was growing in a clump of dandelions.

Queen Anne's Lace

Queen Anne’s Lace

Looking rather like weeds themselves were these “Petroleum Pipeline” warning signs.  I had no idea there was a pipeline going across the creek and up through the neighborhood.

Warning: Petroleum Pipeline

Warning: Petroleum Pipeline

I would love to see this sunflower in full bloom — it was so lovely still in bud.

Sunflower bud

Sunflower bud

There was a massive bed of wild daisy-like flowers…probably thirty feet across and at least ten feet deep.  They were a lovely soft blue with grey-green foliage.

Wild daisies

Wild daisies

My most surprising discovery as I followed the creek path eastward was a grove of palm trees, edged with young grape vines.  They can’t be seen from Los Berros Road; I had no idea they were being cultivated nearby.

A grove of baby palm trees off Los Berros Road. Who knew?

A grove of baby palm trees off Los Berros Road. Who knew?

The palms were paired with young grape vines -- a perfect crop for a

The palms were paired with young grape vines — a perfect crop for a “gentleman farmer”.

By the time I got back home I had logged 2.25 miles on my Fitbit, and it was just barely 9:00 a.m.  Melody arrived shortly after, and Part II of my lovely day’s adventure began.

Leaving on a jet plane

“Oh my bags are packed, I’m ready to go…” But no jet plane for me this time, really.  Today is my first adventure with my Subaru.  I love the cargo space that is low enough to easily get into and out of with stuff.  I’m working my way through my morning checklist:  Girls up and delivered to school, clothes washed and now in the dryer, bags packed and ready to be loaded into the car, tall cup of tea for the road made.  I even took the time to read my owner’s manual and pre-set my favorite radio stations!

Now all that is left is putting my stuff into the car and stopping by the gas station to fill up…and I’ll be out of her a few minutes ahead of schedule.

If you are traveling today, go safely; if your adventure is at home, have fun!

Sister Time


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Today my precious sister arrived at Mom and Daddy’s for a week.  I can’t be there the entire time, but I can — and will — drive over right after taking the girls to school tomorrow.  It is ridiculous to think that it has been over a year since our last visit together, but we have had scheduling conflicts the last several times.

Our agenda will be something like this:  Hang out at the house and visit with Daddy and Donnie, go to Shell Beach and sit on Mom’s favorite bench by the edge of the cliff, eat at Denney’s at least once, hang out at the house some more.  Perhaps even sleep a little.  And Melody has promised she will help me go through some of Mom’s more mundane, less exciting, collection/stuff, to see what we can donate to the local thrift stores.

There might even be some Tuesday casino time in there somewhere…not because she loves to gamble, but because Daddy does and we might be invited for the day.

On Wednesday I will come back to Visalia, refreshed from our visit and ready to see my girls again.  And in less than a month, we will be together to watch our childhood friend be the mother-of-the-bride.  Such fun!

Just a few more days


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Georgia used this wonderful chevron paper from Close To My Heart's Sangria paper packet as part of her autumn decor.

Georgia used this wonderful chevron paper from Close To My Heart‘s Sangria paper packet as part of her autumn decor.

Autumn comes in three more days.  I wrote that so calmly.  But what I want to do is shout “AUTUMN COMES IN THREE MORE DAYS!!!”  Autumn is, by far, my favorite season of the year, even when Mother Nature seems to be holding onto the hot weather beyond the beginning of next week.

I love getting dressed in the morning and needing my long-sleeved shirt to go get the girls ready for school.  Of course, by the time my load of wash is ready to hang on the line, I will be peeling out of my long sleeves and looking for a short-sleeved tee.  The wash takes longer to dry than in mid-summer, too.

I’m adjusting my late-night walks, adding a jacket that starts out zipped up and can be unzipped as my body warms from walking.  All these small signs point to the same thing:  autumn comes in three days.  Happy autumn.

Blessed Rain


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It rained today.  Not a deluge, not even a downpour, but a light, steady rain on our side of town for about an hour and a half.  It was enough to make the sidewalks wet and slightly dampen the dirt that used to be our front lawn.  It was enough to clear much of the guck out of our air, and to drastically lower our daytime high temperature.  When Olivia and I walked from the car and back picking Lily up from school today, we actually got wet (it was lovely)!

All day I heard reports of rain up and down California.  And while the rain wasn’t enough to make a dent in any of the fires raging throughout our state, it was enough to begin to lower forest temperatures, increase humidity, and bring hope to those fighting the fires and those fleeing from them.

Even better, tomorrow’s forecast includes rain across the majority of the day, and a high temperature of 79 degrees.  That’s a far cry from last week’s 106, and will certainly make firefighting much easier.

And while my heart aches for those whose homes were in the path of the flames, I am so grateful that this break in the weather can perhaps slow the progress of the fires.

I will continue to pray for gentle rains and still air, with no lightning.  God is good.

Fire. Rain. Prayer.


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Fire.  Domesticated, it warms our homes and cooks our food.  Left to run wild, it destroys everything in its path:  homes, communities, wildlife, watershed.  Fire has the upper hand in California right now.  Fire brought on by the EPA mandated mis-management of our forests that virtually destroyed our logging industry and let the forest understory grow unchecked.  Fire exacerbated by our horrific drought that has turned the dry trees and brush into tinder awaiting a spark.

Rain.  Rain is the answer.  Rain and rain alone will tame the fires raging in our state as it begins to slake the thirst of our parched earth.  Rain will wash the soot and dirt from our air and let us breathe easily again.

Prayer.  Prayer binds us together as one community, whether we pray to God, to The Great Spirit, to Buddha, to Mother Earth…Prayer unites us as we search for answers, for meaning, for restoration.

Please join me this night, tomorrow, and continuing on without ceasing your prayer.  Pray for rain that will vanquish the fires.  Not just little sprinkles, but steady, solid rain that will soak into our dry ground and down into our aquifers.  Pray for the safety of the firefighters, and of those whose homes and livelihoods are in the path of the fire.  Pray that the rains come before it is too late.

Fire.  Rain.  Prayer.

Down time


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So what does a self-confessed bookworm do when she is flat on her back and sitting is miserable?  She reads…a lot!  I know I’m way behind in recording/reporting my reading  for 2015, but I will happily share my reading over the past three days.  (I’ll catch up on previous reads later.)

Lily brought Inkheart home to read over the Labor Day weekend.  Inkheart is a wonderful young adult fantasy by Cornelia Funke, the first in a trilogy that also includes Inkspell and Inkdeath.  I picked it up Sunday afternoon after calling off work, and before nightfall I had passed Lily’s bookmark and was nearly half way done.  With Monday being another day of enforced leisure, I completed it by mid-afternoon, much to Lily’s chagrin.

I was totally charmed by the story of Meggie, the girl who had no memory of her book-restorer father ever reading aloud to her.  Through the misadventures of her father and her lost mother’s aunt, she discovered his terrifying gift, and came to realize that she shared it, as well.  I will be looking for the next two stories in our local library soon.

Today Lily brought home The Tale of Despereaux, by Kate DiCamillo.  I read the story of this tiny little mouse who fell in love with a princess before bedtime, and found it totally charming.  I will give it back to Lily to finish when she wakes up in the morning.

Tomorrow I will catch up with some more of my reading for the past month or so…somehow book reviews just haven’t been forthcoming.  But I can say that I am well on track to read 50 books this year.

Accounted for so far:

22/50 of 2015 Reading Challenge.


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