Life Lessons

"Figuring out our gifts in life is part of our journey to becoming enlightened human beings.” – Allison DuBois

Monday, December 29, 2014

Goodbye Light, Hello Thrive

 Song - Light you Up by Shawn Mullins

For the last few years, instead of doing a New Year's resolution, I participate in Ali Edwards - One Little Word.

The idea is that you ponder, meditate, journal, scrapbook on just one word for the entire year.  I have been doing this for the last 5 years and it is so much more helpful to me than to make a resolution, which often feels like pressure.

Here are my words for the last few years......

2010 - spirit

2011 - intention

2012 - balance

2013  - simplify

2014 - light

For the last few days of 2014, I have been spending time thinking about what has transpired with my word "light" so that I can let it go and focus on my 2015 word. 

 2015 - thrive

It's a beautiful word in so many ways.

I'm feeling inspired!

"The ideals which have lighted my way, and time after time have given me new courage to face life cheerfully, have been kindness, beauty and truth." - Albert Einstein

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

'Twas the Night Before Christmas

Song - Dogs Barking Jingle Bells Song

.....when all through the house, not a creature was stirring except Mika opening her stocking stuffer 2 days early!

She had to sneak into our bedroom, go through several bags of goodies, decided not to take the toothpaste that was earmarked to go into the boys stockings and found her own little treasure.

I didn't have the heart to take it away from her as she won't know if her stocking is short one gift on Christmas morn!

Happy Holiday's to you and yours!!!

"It came without ribbons. 
It came without tags.  
It came without packages, boxes or bags.  
And he puzzled and puzzled 'til his puzzler was sore.
Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn't before.
What if Christmas, he thought, doesn't come from a store.
What if Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more."
--Dr. Seuss from How the Grinch Stole Christmas  

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

A Winter's Day

Song - I am a Rock by Simon & Garfunkel

Painting and prepping for Christmas has kept me indoors for the last few weeks.  But today I needed to drain some water from the swimming pool due to the amount of rain we have had lately in California!  On my way out to the pool I passed a few beauties....

Even though it is Winter, there is still activity in the garden this time of year.

My Sweet Pea's have begun to climb......

And fragrant Alyssum is growing everywhere!

Camellia's are budding and flowering.  I had just picked three beautiful flowers from this bush which is one of the few remaining plants from the previous owners.  Thank you Nancy!

There is one last leaf left on our Callery Pear trees.

The Rosemary is blooming.......

Mother Ferns are still growing baby ferns......

Lemons are ready for picking.......

The roses are making one final attempt....

My large urns of Salvia are beautiful this time of year......

The Primroses return year after year.....

My Daphne bush is ready to scent the entire garden!

Sweet little Forget Me Not's are blooming everywhere! Little darlin' - I won't forget you!

A few lingering Hydrangea blossoms....

A hopeful Geranium bud......

Time for some tea and garden lemons.....

I know you will find some beauty in your winter day today!

"Every gardener knows under the cloak of winter lies a miracle...a seed waiting to sprout, a bulb opening to light, a bud straining to unfurl.  And the anticipation nurtures our dreams."
 -- Barbara Winkler

Friday, December 12, 2014

Here Comes Pete & Re-Pete!

Just Squirrels

Tell me, do squirrels have a life purpose?

I mean other than to empty my bird feeders and their pure entertainment value?  Oh yeah and to drive the dog crazy as well!

I filled all of my bird feeders earlier this week in anticipation of the big California storm that hit on Thursday.  But the squirrels were in all of them by the time I walked into the house.

"Hey Pete how the heck do I get around this dome?"

"I can just hang out here all day long and get my 3 square meals!"

"Good thing the tree grows branches perfect for my toes to hang onto!!!"

"Hey, Pete.......maybe she won't spot me back here?
Dude it's like I'm in full camo gear - Hehe!!!"

"OK - Re-Pete, I've got this one covered and it's got me covered!"

"It's a good thing she put the "umbrella" over my feeder!"

"And a good thing there is a little handle on here for me!"

"Hey Re-Pete, I'm stuck to my food bowl"

"Pete, it's time to get away - quick, let's take the vine freeway"

"Hurry, she's coming outside with the dog!"

"OK Pete, I'm right behind you bud"

"Hey Re-Pete, I think I have room for one more go around!!!" for a little bird time...........

"If we had a keen vision of all that is ordinary in human life, it would be like hearing the grass grow or the squirrel's heart beat, and we should die of that roar which is the other side of silence" -- George Eliot

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

What's That Wet Stuff Falling From the Sky?

Song - Rhythm of the Rain by the Cascades

Yes!  We finally have some rain in Northern California!!!  My flowers are loving it and the change in weather makes me want to stay home, light the fire, curl up and read or paint!

Over the last two months I have helped to hang two art shows.  One at the local Town Hall Theater and one at Chimney Rock Winery in Napa. One of my paintings at the winery is of my nieces daughter, Lily.

I have always had a passion for Bouguereau's painting of Yvonne (see below).

I just love the soft colors and the innocence of it all.  Those little dimpled arms and sweet face. Her hands on the chair.

So our Lily reminded me of this little girl.  I asked her mom to pose her similarly and take a few photo's for me.

Not quite there but she is trying very hard.......

Look at those eyes.....quite the doll!

So after several more, Lily's pose was just what I was looking for.

Now, I could never paint like Bouguereau and I wouldn't want to......I just don't have that kind of patience or talent.  So I thought I would put a fresh twist on the beautifully composed painting that he did back in 1896.

I have a French painting stool that looks similar to his prop in Yvonne's painting. And I re-dressed Lily similarly to Yvonne.

I eventually lost the back of the stool and changed the angle of it somewhat.  But I still needed something on the stool that would keep a little girl entertained.  Right?

I had just returned from the nursery with a flat of white Primroses.  I sat one in a pot and painted it in from life that evening.  Perfect addition along with a "old world" print in the background.

Pulling together all of these "props" to see what would work was fun and I loved painting little Lily!

"Lily (with a nod to Bouguereau)"

"Each day I go to my studio full of joy; in the evening when obliged to stop because of darkness I can scarcely wait for the morning to come... if I cannot give myself to my dear painting I am miserable." - Adolfe-William Bouguereau

Monday, October 27, 2014

Surfing in Tahoe?

Song - Say Hey (I Love You) Giants Version by Michael Franti & Spearhead

Just returned from a weekend wedding in Lake Tahoe.  My nephew Paul got married on Saturday and it was a wild & crazy!

Friday afternoon and evening were beautiful at the Lake.  We sat out on the deck and enjoyed the evening stars.  Chilly but clear and calm.

Saturday morning we woke to high winds.  The pine trees were thrashing against the cabin.

We visited with my beautiful parents, enjoyed the fall color, went to breakfast and then a drive.

My parents were in Tahoe for the wedding as well!


Due to the winds the waves were big for Lake Tahoe.

Then guess what we saw?????

Ashley dipping her toes in the ice cold water!  Burrrrr.......


Surfers on the Lake!

Until this moment, I had only heard that sometimes you (not me but you!) can surf the Lake.

I personally was amazed!

Mr. B, Andy & Ashley, and Jon all voted to return to the cabin to light a fire and play Canasta with Tyler!

Out of 8 boxes of cards we could only find 1 that was complete.

So then guess what happened? began to rain, then snow.  It was majestically beautiful!

And oh so very romantic for the wedding.............

.....except the bride and groom were planning on getting married outside!

But as the 4:00pm wedding time began to roll around, the sky parted and sunshine showed it's sweet little face.  I think Mother Nature heard the brides prayers!

The staff set the chairs up on the dock and lit the heat lamps.

Then guess what happened?

Grandma Betty and Grandma Tillie came out as the "flower girls"!

And the beautiful, happy bride Katie and her father came down the isle.

Sunset on Saturday night.

Sunday morning we woke to a warm and calm day.  Go figure!

A GIANT footnote about the wedding:

Now, my nephew and his dad (my brother) are Giant fans, so since the wedding was being held during game 4 of the World Series, they were kind enough to leave a TV on in a separate room so those of us that just couldn't stand the torture could occasionally peek!  It was a great win and wedding!

Thanks Paul & Katie!

Thanks Giants!

“I don’t have a great answer for that (inspirational speeches),” Pence said. “I’ve read a ton of books. Not one in particular, but I consciously try to find the good in everything in every situation that happens. Was it Voltaire who said, ‘I choose to be happy because it’s good for my health”? Why not? Even through some of the toughest things that’ll ever happen to you, there’s something that makes you stronger, something you can reframe to make it good. It’s what I believe. I don’t know if it’s true or not, but it makes me feel better.” --Hunter Pence (a Giant star!)

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