Book Club – The Art Forger by B.A. Shapiro

What can I say?

I loved The Art Forger! And I could not wait for the girls to meet this month. There is just something about the book that stirred my core.

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Cheers to our beautiful hostess “Diane” for sharing her lovely home.

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Friends, love them.

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And the discussion.

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Our group came with a mixture of likes and dislikes for the book. I’d say there were more who were not as fond of the book as me. But there were several of us who liked it.

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We all love Tracey adding her thoughts to the questions.

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She has a way of thinking deep and bringing out points I had not considered. In fact, I’m still thinking about the discussion and the book again today. Good stuff!

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And there is Lyn.

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She’s telling a story about Queen Elizabeth observing a sculpture of swords (I believe) that looked like (what she thought) a Christmas tree.

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And if you have never heard Lyn tell a story, you are missing something beautiful. Beautiful I tell you!

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I love our structured group and how we stick to the question and answers as we make our way thru discussing our books each month. It truly brings the book to new life as others share how the book made them feel. Although I think this story came after we had finished our questions.

But it was a story worth sharing.

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And I came home feeling satisfied after another good read and meeting.

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I wish – I wish I had taken an image of Sharon’s picture of her grandaughter who made the most beautiful bride last weekend.

And She shared the most beautiful wedding story “ever” with us.

The story of how she lost one of her granddaughters many, many years ago.

And the bride would have been her grand baby’s younger sister. The bride was born after her sister passed, so she never got to meet her sister.

So the bride (in memory of her sister) wrapped the ends of her bouquet with the lace from her mothers wedding dress and strung it with her mothers pearls. Then attached a beautiful picture of her sister as a baby to her bouquet. Then told her daddy “I wanted you to walk both of your daughters down the aisle.” Talk about moving a daddy to tears…

I can’t tell this story as beautifully as Sharon, but I want it here so that I can remember…

Blessings – Debbie

Summertime

Is For…

  • Enjoying nice long days
  • Dinner on the patio
  • Firing up the grill for things like shrimp, chicken and burgers…

I cleaned up a mess of these guys for dinner last evening.

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  • Finding my way to bed somewhere around 9PM and waking sometime around 5:30AM. I love my waking hours in the light and sleeping when it’s dark.
  • Changing nail polish every 4 or so days. This was the color applied yesterday.

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  • Enjoying sunset hikes with the hubs. Images taken this week with my cell.

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  • Bumping into Neighbors – It’s fun to bump into neighbors (on our way home) on these summer sunset hikes. They were interested in seeing the progress in our backyard, so we had them over + she brought us a nice sack of fresh fruit from their garden. We shared tomato plants + red pepper plants with them.

We’ve had several neighbors check out the place this week.

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  • No AC needed for the month of June – Loving our cool So Cal breeze
  • Fresh produce from the garden
  • The hubs planted pumpkin over the weekend – Here’s what it looked like yesterday.

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Here’s what it looks like this morning. We are big fans of these little greenhouse type trays to start plants. We pick them up from Home Depot.

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  • Beverages and visits on the patio
  • Reading good books – This month, the book club is reading “The Art Forger by Barbara A. Shapiro – two thumbs up = I’m loving it! It’s where my nose will be a good chunk of today.

Happy Summertime, Everyone!

Blessings – Debbie

A Weekend to Remember

I remember so many wonderful things over the weekend. So I guess it’s time to document these precious memories.

Memories like this rose blossoming – it was fun to watch over the last couple of days.

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And catching this vivid pop of purple. I’m not really fond of this plant, but I think the flowers that shoot up are simply spectacular.

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The dragonfly found a new place to rest. Last weekend the hubs and I used a sledgehammer on a faux rock. And the old supports are the last thing standing. Turns out, the dragonfly loves his new perch.

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Another form from a different spot.

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This guy has been soaring in the yard for years. I’m a bit sentimental but had the notion to shoo him away get rid of it. Turns out, the hubs has a bit sentiment too. I think he stays.

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Projects – Outdoor projects continue and work is still being done on the side of the house. The guys dug a new trench and pipe was tied into the backyard for proper drainage to the street. We look forward to next week new progress on the project.

While they were here, we had them chop down the smaller faux rock. It’s exciting to see things evolve around here, making this home sweet home our own.

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There was a bit of weed pulling and rose deadheading.

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Tomato picking and eating. Talk about the yum factor, let me tell you, that guy was so good!

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Happy Father’s Day Wishing – I called my pops to wish him a very Happy Father’s Day. And found this old faded out pic that holds priceless memories of pop, me and my brothers. He was taking us to bedebye. Love that he always had room for us and he still does with all of his heart.

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Friends – Friends invited us to their home for dinner last evening.

And when the “Hostess With the Mostess” can strike a pose in the midst of lobster preparation with all the fixins’, she’s pretty amazing. What a tasty meal last night!

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Fun with friends…

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You guys, now it’s time to pay close attention. See this bouRsin box? Well it’s not just any old box. It holds something very special. The Garlic & Fine Herbs GOURMET CHEESE is nothing short of a party in your mouth. So I just HAD to take this image such that I can find it in Trader Joe’s during my next visit.

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I love the festive handle on her cheese spreader gadget.

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And while I’m visiting Trader Joe’s, I plan to pick up a package of this too! And hey you guys, if you have a Trader Joe’s, and you have not tried these packages of cheese, I urge you to give cheese a chance. I’m telling you, SO good!

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I can’t think of anything more exciting to nibble on while preparing dinner. The olives were SO good too!

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+ A few veggies and a fiesta dip I made up to share.

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The hubs took the reins over the grill while Jerry looked on.

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I think this is the part when they decided it was time to flip the lobster.

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And peace was signed. And all was well.

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And the lobster was looking good! Image shot before the flip…

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Time to take those bad boys off the grill…

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The hubs adding holders for the sweet corn.

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Let us eat! All I can say is this – Everything was positively delish!

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Sweet Kitty – I’m just sad my camera scared Kitty and this is the only shot I was able to get.

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We truly had a wonderful weekend worth remembering.

Blessings – Debbie

Feeling Blessed This Week

There is much to be thankful for. We’re especially thankful for each other and time spent with friends.

We enjoyed a wonderful dinner out with friends Thursday evening, to kick off our 4 day weekend. We celebrated three birthdays. The hubs, mine and our friend Jules. I call my one friend Julie “Jules”. But it was quite comical as we couples had two Julie’s in the group. The couples kept calling the other Julie “The Other Julie”.

The hubs insists we celebrate my birthday all weekend. So he’s treating me to another birthday dinner and dessert tonight.

Thankful for the book club girls – Mid week, we gathered, we visited over coffee, lemon cake and fruit, we discussed around 20 questions our amazing moderator (Sue) put together (our book – The Last Aloha by Gaellen Quinn), we had lunch and spent the early afternoon visiting…What a great day and visit. Love these ladies! Wish I had all of us in the shot.

I needed a nap (that afternoon) to refresh, before spending the evening hours with the hubs.

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Vegetable garden – Our garden is producing some really exciting things these days. Exciting things! Like tomatoes…

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Our little cherry tomatoes flourish…

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Backyard Progress – Remember where I left off the last time? Here’s an image to remind you.

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And this image is hot off the press, early this morning.

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We hope this is all a memory very soon.

BackyardUpdate

It truly is worth the mess in order to make progress. We’re hopeful to have this part of the project wrapped up by next weekend.

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A view from the other side – We’ve given several vegetable plants away this week. We were hoping to get rid of a lot more. Now we’re trying to figure out what to do with all the leftovers…

In other news, we’re enjoying our jacaranda tree in “almost” full purple bloom. As is the oleander tree in pretty white bloom. We certainly enjoy the punch of color.

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Now to enjoy the next couple of days with the hubs…Feeling blessed this Memorial Day weekend…And remembering those who gave all…

Blessings – Debbie

A Flurry Of Events

I chalk this week up to a flurry of events.

The beginning of May, is another story (a good story that I can’t wait to tell). But a story that will have to wait for now.

The Flurry starts Monday, May 12, 2014.

Monday – the hubs left on a business trip bright and early in the morning.

Monday – I took the day off to relax and to read my book (The Last Aloha) for book club this month. I’m so glad I did, as I’m not so sure I would have finished the book for the meeting (next week) otherwise.

Tuesday – I took our cars for the annual emissions test, they both passed.

Tuesday – Fires broke out in San Diego County. Pretty nerve-racking. Especially with the hubs out-of-town.

Tuesday evening I went to my girlfriends for dinner. Since our boys were out-of-town, she had me over to their new home (they just moved in last Saturday, May 10th) for a nice dinner. Grilled chicken, and shrimp on the BBQ and all the ingredients to make fajitas, rice and beans. It was such and enjoyable evening of patio dining + conversation + Hawaiian music = perfection into the night.

I made her card compliments of nail polish.

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Wednesday – It was hard to focus on much. At that time, we had six wildfires burning in San Diego County.

I could see smoke from the house – I’d watched fire tornadoes broadcast in the area – Heard of 15,000 evacuations in Carlsbad alone – Watched thousands of acres burn – registered for reverse 911 – By then we (San Diego County) were calling in state and federal reserves…

And I was so ready for the hubs to get home.

Image taken from the neighborhood, Wednesday evening.

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I stood watching flames climb the side of the mountain. If you look close, you too can see the flames highlighting the mountain in the image.

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Oh what a night…

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It seemed our little world was going up in smoke while daylight vanished.

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Wednesday evening – From a fire captain on the ground – about the fire near us. – “…The reinforcement of crew is still coming in. More planes and they are allowing them to fly which is unheard of at night. They will be busting their butt all night.”

All I could do that evening was pack my little emergency bag in the event of evacuation and pray for the best.

Thursday morning – These “Bad Boys” were flying over our home – Made me tear up as I watched plane after plane and helicopter fly into the wildfires.

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Below is a view from our neighborhood Thursday morning.

I wasn’t so sure what was going on in the news. I was busy preparing for the hubs to come home.

I picked up the hubs around 10:45 and from there, we went for an early lunch date. Have you any idea how overjoyed I was to have him home?

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By the time we got home, these guys were in the hood. The officers told me that if the fire reached the ridge, we would all have to go.

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I stood and watched a bit longer, watching what seemed to be an ever-growing fire. While plane after plane flew in and out, trying to gain control.

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What I recall in the next few hours…

Packing the car – watering the garden – ash beginning to fall in the yard – the hubs paying some bills – getting stung by a bee – feeding the fish – telling the fish that I loved them, I did – and making one more round in the house to ensure we had everything that mattered most.

Soon, the mandatory evacuation was in force. And the reverse 911 call came,  it was time to evacuate. We didn’t argue.

Image taken from our driveway Thursday evening. These guys were trolling the hood with their sirens and speakers – telling all of us we need to get out! I recall the hubs and I giving a nod of respect and a friendly wave to these men on duty.

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We had suitcases packed, boxes of pictures, important documents…

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A fragile keepsake from China – computers – and other precious things we didn’t want to leave behind.

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And I recall that special hug and kiss in the hub of the home, before making our way out.

Finally we were able to relax in our new home – the Residence Inn.

Although we hit a rough patch finding a room. The first hotel was booked (due to  evacuations) and there were only two rooms available at the next Residence Inn.

Once we kicked off our shoes, we were truly at peace with whatever happened after that.

Thank you friends for your thoughts, concern, prayers and many in the area offering your homes for us to stay.

Friday morning – We woke feeling rested. The mandatory evacuation was lifted for us = we were free to go home! But not before breakfast. Que the “Happy” song somebody!

Friday Fire Report In Our Area – While it was good to be home, the fire doubled in size overnight consuming 3,018 acres. Fortunately for us, the wind had shifted. But there are still so many facing the loss of homes and businesses.

Today – Saturday Morning Update: Nothing But Blue Skies and 68° – Feeling so blessed this morning.

We came home early yesterday morning to a few signs of ash in the backyard and the smell of smoke.

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Still praying for our firefighters and officers hard at work today. We’ve had – Eight Marine Corps CH-46 Sea Knight helicopters, seven CH-53 Sea Stallion helicopters and four UH-1Y Huey helicopters, 1,000 firefighters and 161 fire engines providing support to the fire in what we call our backyard. Note: This does not include all the firefighters/fire engines/planes/helicopters fighting the many fires in our San Diego County area. There are so many more…

May we not forget those where the fire has reduced homes and businesses to rubble.

The fire is now 70% contained per our latest update.

San Diego Fires May 2014 – For those not in the area, a few more details – “The 2014 San Diego County wildfires are a swarm of wildfires that erupted in mid-May, in San Diego County, California during severe Santa Ana Wind conditions and a heat wave. The severe weather conditions contributed to the spread of at least 14 fires, with 10 of them receiving names. At least nine of the wildfires are believed to have originated from the Bernardo Fire, which ignited on May 13, 2014. Igniting some 25,000 acres…”

Please remember those who are less fortunate. Those who came home to rubble. Those who suffered and who will continue to suffer loss in the days ahead…

Happy Note – I’ve been waiting for the daylily to bloom. Today is the first of many more blooms to come…

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Blessings – Debbie

A Delightful Wedding to Remember

Over the weekend, we attended our friends beautiful and romantic wedding. Truly a fairytale wedding to remember.

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Beautiful Music – The first thing we heard as we approached the lovely grounds.

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The Lovely Grounds

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I’m so happy we arrived early…

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What a treat to carpool with Jules and Jerry!

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Too cute!

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The hubs visiting with the father of the groom before the wedding.

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A few “before” wedding photos happening in the distance.

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The groom with friends before the wedding.

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Guests begin to arrive.

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Too cute!

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Beautiful mother daughter…

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This was the first “unplugged” wedding we’ve been to. All cameras and cell’s were to remain off during the ceremony. As they wanted the guests to enjoy themselves… So I shot this from the hip without looking thru the viewfinder or anything. It was difficult to obey.

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And I could not help but sneak a picture of “the Kiss”. I mean look at the beautiful princess with her prince charming. What a delight they are.

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Mr and Mrs!

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What a lovely ceremony…

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Beautiful mother of the bride as she gained an amazing son.

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Sweetness…

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Following the ceremony, we enjoyed a nice array of fresh outdoor treats.

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Guests begin to arrive for the reception.

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Place settings…

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The dazzling couple visit our table…

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What a fun wedding to remember – And I’m so happy we could be there.

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Let’s dance!

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Girls just want to have fun!

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My heart stopped when I looked down to see sweetness standing right in front of me wanting her picture taken too. So sweet!

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Love the photo booth! Way to rock it Jules and Jerry!

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Jules and Me – Do we not look jazzed or what?

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Aw…

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Makes me happy!

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Fun times and wonderful memories were made by all.

We wish the beautiful couple years of happiness and love that grows deeper into their golden years.

Blessings – Debbie

Let There be Cheesecake + Projects

After a week filled with progress and change around the home, it was nice to chill this weekend. Plus it was good for the hubs to get his rest to shake that nasty cold.

It was good to have friends (Julz and Jerry) stop by Saturday evening for a nice visit.

And do you know what they did? They brought us some chocolate cheesecake…

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From The Cheesecake Factory. Now that right there is Sweet Love!

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And over the weekend the hubs and I spent time in the garden and spent some more time at the local “Home Depot”.

I picked up a boatload of color samples for the guest bath.

Then came home and scattered the paper samples all over the bathroom. And spent a day picking out 5 different samples that I thought would work in the room.

Then went back to the Home Depot and picked up the samples of paint and splashed it in swatches over the walls.

And guess what happened next? Well it seemed to take a split second to decide which one I liked the best. And I was astounded with how easy the choice was in this room.

And then I asked the hubs what he thought about the one I liked the best and he agreed with my first choice. Let the joy-bells ring!

So folks, this is the room where I will be spending quality time this week.

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And I plan to tackle those baseboards with paint while I’m at it.

Fingers crossed it makes my heart sing in the end.

Until next time…

Blessings – Debbie

Baking ~ Gardening ~ Friends ~ Painting

There’s much to be said since I last posted.

And I have a moment to jump on in and post my heart out. Here goes.

I left the blog hanging with my bread making class last Thursday.

Last Friday evening, I was all set to put the lid on this baby and pop it in the oven for dinner. Like so.

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And the next thing I recall is this.

  • I had our butter “room temperature” and ready.
  • The camera was ready to take the image right out of the oven
  • The “bread cutting” knife and cutting board were ready
  • We did not bother with the cooling of the bread on a rack phase. No siree! We took a knife to this bad boy right there on the spot.
  • Butter was slathered and we were overcome with the yummy goodness of homemade bread.

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I may or may not have had anything else but bread and butter for dinner. Ok, I had the bread for my meal and the hubs had his bread as an appetizer + he had it with turkey, taters and green beans. Yup, I just had the fresh hot bread.

And Saturday morning we made toast. Oh my word, I can’t decide how I like it best. All I can say is this “By now, it’s a very good memory.”

Last Saturday we worked in the garden. We transplanted tomatoes, corn and peppers.

And I caught the hubs on camera taking a much needed break.

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I pulled a bucket of weeds.

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And the roses were fertilized – What a delight to see the assorted roses in bloom. This particular rose is called “Sun Flare”.

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And Saturday afternoon, our friends came over to spend the evening. Actually, we went out for a nice dinner. Then stopped by the Cheesecake Factory for our dessert. And came back to our place for a visit into the evening.

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Painting – My “To-Do” list calls for a little more painting in the house. Next up = the powder room.

While it’s the smallest room in the house, it has been one painful experience after another, starting with the valance.

To make a long story short, I still don’t have the valance, as I learned they don’t carry a large assortment in stores these days. In fact, Macy’s had nothing, zero, zilch in the store. But that’s ok, as I’ve decided that I’m going with a white valance.

This is the powder room before image.

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This “was” my inspirational color (on Pinterest) for that room.

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After 5 trips to the Home Depot and 8 different samples splashed in the powder room (this week), I have the color that makes my heart sing. Now to wait for the hubs to come home, as it’s just as important for him to like it too…

Note: I had a color close to what you see in the inspiration image, it’s just not visible in the image below. Hard as I try, the inspirational color did not work with the counter and flooring color in the room. But finding something that makes my heart sing, is so much better.

P.S. After posting the image (below) on Facebook, the hubs asked if Goldilocks had painted this room. It’s too cute to not make a note on the blog.

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I purchased two really cheap brushes such that I could have what I needed to try 4 samples yesterday. Note to self: Do not use those cheap sample brushes. The bristles they leave to dig out of wet paint are not worth it.

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One last blurb – The hubs spied our very first tomato Monday evening. We are so excited!

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As I think over the last few days and how far along I wanted to be on the painting this week, I’m reminded again – some things are worth the wait and all the extra miles it takes to get the happy end result.

Until next time…

Blessings – Debbie

Almost No-Knead Artisan Bread

Bread Making Class – So my sweet neighbor provided bread making lessons for the ladies this morning.

And I wrote a little letter before the lesson to the flour and components. It went something like this…

Dear Flour + Components, If you turn out anything like the bread Janene makes, you are going to be “So Yummy”!

Love, Me

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And out the door I went with my bowl + 3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour and spatula. Janene supplied the rest of the ingredients for us. How sweet of her!

I’m bringing the bread lesson to the blog, for review, just in case I need it. Sometimes I need these things. So here goes. I’ve included the notes from Janene along with the recipe. Everyone needs a note here and there, right?

Almost No-Knead Bread

  • 3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 tsp. instant or rapid rise yeast (I buy a jar of rapid rise) – She adds a heaping 1/4 tsp.
  • 1 1/2 tsp. salt – Exact amount for the salt
  • 1 cup + 4 Tbsp. water – Did you know 4 Tbsp = 1/4 cup = good to know
  • 1 Tbsp. white vinegar

NOTE:  May need a tad more water if needed to absorb all the flour – My leveled off three cups of flour did not need additional drops of water.

Whisk flour, yeast and salt in a large bowl.

Add water and vinegar. Using a rubber spatula, fold mixture scraping up dry flour from bottom of bowl until shaggy ball forms. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and let sit at room temperature for 8 to 18 hours.

We may or may not have told Janene that we would be showing up in 18 hours for the next step – In our PJ’s no less. 😉

Lay 12 x 18 inch of parchment paper over bowl and spray with Pam.

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She uses the Kirkland brand from Costco.

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Transfer dough to lightly floured work surface… Lucky for us, she made a batch last evening to sit at room temp for 18 hours, to show us the next step.

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Fun – FUN!

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Just about ready to dump out the dough.

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Out of the bowl and transferred to the prepared surface.

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And scooping out the last bit of dough.

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Then knead 10 to 15 times.

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Add more flour to the work surface as needed. She said “don’t be afraid to add more flour to the prepared surface and into the folds, girls!”

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Knead

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And finally kneading into a ball.

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Shape dough into a ball by pulling edges to the middle.

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How beautiful is that?

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Then transfer dough, seam side down to parchment paper lined bowl.

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It’s getting there…

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Then cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rise at room temperature until dough has doubled in size and does not readily spring back when poked with finger…approximately 2 hours.

For this process, Janene turned her oven on “bake” for just about 30 seconds to warm the oven. Then turned the oven “OFF”

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After the oven was turned off, she placed her bowl into the oven to sit and rise for the 2 hours.

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About 30 minutes before baking, adjust oven rack to the second from bottom shelf (the rack just below the pot in the upper photo) for baking the bread.

If you are using the two hour oven method to allow the bread to rise, be sure to take out the bread for the following step. Unless you have more than one oven.

Then heat the oven to 450°. Put dutch oven (or heavy pot) covered with a lid in the oven and keep the empty, covered pot in the oven for 30 min to preheat the pot.

Her go-to bread making pot and lid.

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Carefully remove pot from oven and remove lid. Pick up dough by lifting parchment overhang and lower into pot letting excess parchment hang over pot edge.

Cover and place in oven and bake for 25 min.

Remove lid and continue to bake 5 min to brown the top of bread.

Carefully remove bread from pot and transfer to wire rack to cool.

And if you are anything like me, it will not cool for long as I will be ready for warm bread and butter…Ahhh…

*Note – Janene did say that after the original 8 – 18 hours sitting at room temperature, the bread can go into the refrigerator for a day or so before baking. Once you are ready to bake, simply remove from the refrigerator and go to the next 2 hour step.

If you are making this, I hope yours turns out as yummy as the bread Janene makes.

You know what really upsets me? I mean really, I had my camera all ready to go to the class and left it sit right there on the counter. And all images, except the first image of me were taken with the cell phone. Makes me sad, but I’m still happy I took the pictures. Goodness knows I work better with the step by step process.

Edited after I made mine as I made a few changes. Here’s what I did…

Purchased a new Dutch Oven – I didn’t have one.

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  • Let my mixed dough mixture sit for 12 hours and put in the refrigerator over night.
  • Took the dough out of the refrigerator at 1PM (Did not jump into the next 2 hour step from there) and let sit without disturbing for two hours.
  • Then went to the kneading step and let sit in oven (heated for 30 seconds then turned OFF) 2.5 hours.
  • Did not preheat my dutch oven as the manual for my new pot clearly states “Do not heat empty Dutch oven. So I didn’t.
  • Then placed pot with dough in oven and baked for 27 min (covered) I thought it needed a little more time (the recipe calls for 25 min covered) to bake as my pot was not preheated.

DSC_2440Then took the lid off to brown for an additional 7 minutes.

After all that, I came to the conclusion that this recipe is no-fail! You really can’t mess this up.

I love how crispy it was on the outside and I especially love the CHEW of this bread. So good!

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Blessings – Debbie

Happiness is

Happiness is – Changing plans for my outdoor garden party when our beautiful weather turned cool and rainy. My party of 12 ladies enjoyed laughter, visits and friendship.

Unfortunately this is the only image I have to show for the ladies luncheon yesterday. It does make me a little sad that I don’t have pictures to remember our day.

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Happiness is – a tiny begonia in full bloom.

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Happiness is – Taking more than one picture of the plant, just because.

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Happiness is – Receiving this lovely vase of roses from my neighbors garden.

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And finding the right spot to enjoy them this weekend.

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Happiness is – Wisteria in full bloom this time of the year. I sure wish I could bottle the aroma.

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Happiness is – Picking a rose from the garden for my bud vase.

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I spy an Egret! How about you?

Happiness is – Having the new alligator head in the pond to prevent this guy from helping himself to our fish. I decided to watch him today to see what he would do. He definitely seemed bothered as he made quite a commotion. After 3 or so minutes, he flew away.

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Happiness is – Seeing a grasshopper for the second time this week. This guy crossed my path today and I decided to shoot him too. Makes me happy.

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Happiness is – Getting a 3 day weekend with my love. That makes me so very happy.

Happiness is – Feeling blessed…

Blessings – Debbie

Two Weeks Ago

Two weeks ago yesterday (Saturday, February 22) we celebrated “BIG”.

Our longtime friends came to town! All the way over from the East Coast.

Al was on business, but they had Saturday wide open.

So we invited them over to spend the day.

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We spent the beautiful day on the patio.

  • Enjoyed BBQ Brisket with all the fixins for lunch
  • Had the best conversation
  • Sipped coffee in the afternoon with cookies
  • Strolled thru the garden
  • And I just didn’t want this day to end…

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The hubs played chess and backgammon with this sweetheart, who just turned 7 a few weeks ago.

I was completely smitten with the little cutie and awestruck with his focus on the game.

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While it’s been years and years (about 6 & 1/2) since our last visit, we agreed not to let so many years pass ’til we meet again.

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The beauty of a true friendship, is that we can pick-up right where we left off. And go on, as if time stood still.

Blessings – Debbie

Happiness Is

Getting my camera out and finding a fun subject (the dandelion) to shoot.

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And blow the dandelion, then take another shot.

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And cutting my bangs right before my lunch date. Well, not in the parking lot, but about 5 minutes before it was time to head out.

I really don’t think I’m ready to grow them out. But the rest of the hair continues to grow.

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My girlfriend and I met (for lunch) at Panera Bread. Makes me happy.

And I was nearly half way finished with my lunch when I remembered to take a shot of my lunch. In case you did not read earlier, I’m doing my best to take images (this month) of  the food I eat when dining out. + I believe it will help to make healthy choices.

I had the turkey chili with an apple. And it was a delight to catch up with my dear buddy Sarah.

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P.S. The above photo was manipulated in photoshop by using tools in the filter gallery to give an artsy look to a not so pretty picture. I’m still not so sure it looks artsy, but I went with it. 🙂

As for the rest of the day, food shopping and house work are well underway.

Blessings – Debbie

Book Club

All images shot today, were with my trusty cell phone.

We finally had our first book club meet (World Without End by Ken Follett) of 2014! And I for one could not WAIT to see the girls. I believe I counted 16 of us today! And talk about the amazing book.

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Each month a different gal hosts the group and we gather in for a wonderful morning to share and go around the room answering a series of questions.

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But first things first. Lyn had prepared coffee, juice, and peach tea with passion fruit.

Everything looked so yummy!

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And the fresh berries were perfection!

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I was a bit timid taking pictures at first, but I thought, just as everyone was getting ready to leave, that I might want to snap a few images to remember. I’m so glad I did.

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Our lovely hostess (Lyn) on the left and Sue. This makes me want to take pictures each time we meet and at least get a shot of our lovely hostess. I hope the girls are warming up to me taking pictures.

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After our meeting ended, I had a few errands to tend to. Like having my oil changed. It was too pretty to wait indoors. So I sat in the shade of these palm trees.

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And a little note about my healthy plan while at book club this morning.

I had my breakfast before the club and I was able to just look, take pictures and not touch.

But I have a feeling the next 6 days could potentially lead into some pretty major temptation.

Image below was majorly manipulated in Photoshop, just for fun.

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You see, the hubs sister and husband are coming into town tomorrow and will be here through next Tuesday.

The hubs has Julian apple pie a la mode and other yumminess (I’m sure) on the menu over the next several days.

So I’m thinking about amping up my accountability on the blog, by posting my progress each day. I’ve also thought about the title for the next 6 days. I think it will go down something like this – Six Days of Confession. Makes me want to pull up the big girl panties and hold on!

Now I’m not one to watch my healthy eating habits on special occasions, visits with friends and family…But after this long drawn out Holiday craziness of eating coupled with the fact that my healthy eating has finally kicked in, I just don’t feel ready to splurge.

So my goal over the next Six Days is this. Make healthy choices and maintain or lose a little.

I’ll keep the blog posted with truth.

Until next time,

Blessings – Debbie

Happy New Year

Wishing a Happy New Year to all of you!

So the hubs and I have spent the last couple of weeks enjoying the holidays, spending time with friends and working around the house.

And working around the house has been right up there on the top of our list.

In fact, I painted the office on New Years Eve. And went to sleep for the night at 8:30 pm. I could not keep my eyes open for the dropping of the ball in Times Square (east coast time).

And on New Years day, paint was applied to the baseboards in the office.

*See Image Below for the hubs project* – The hubs tells me this is going to be our home’s new gigabit network, 5G wifi, telephone, cable, and audio distribution center. I have no idea what this means, but he says I’m going to like it when its finished.

News Flash, he has already shown me the volume control for the outdoors, kitchen and dining areas. He’s right, I’m going to like the goodies.

I don’t know who is having more fun, but I can tell you we are having a grand time.

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I’m working on taking down the Christmas tree today. And I’m so thankful the hubs ordered special ornament containers for me this year. I can’t tell you what a delight it is not having to individually box the ornaments.

Our Lenox ornament this year. Our collection has grown over the last 17 Christmases together.

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“It’s a day of rest – to rest up from my week of vacation and to rest up for another week of vacation” – Said The Hubs, last weekend. And here this weekend is almost here. And that means it’s back to work for him Monday. But let’s not talk about that now. We’re still on vacation!

One of my special places to spend time, is still around the pond. Lately, I started crushing up the “big fish” food for the babies. Just after a week of feeding, the babies swim up to me as if I’m their best friend. True, they spent their first 6 months eating algae. While they still feed on the algae, they obviously like to forage for new fodder.

What a joy it is to watch the little babies change color. Of all the babies (approx 70 from the spawning last spring), this is the only one who has completely turned orange. And we have one I call “Rudolph” he/she has a red nose and the rest completely dark, just like the other baby you see in this image. We even have a few with a blueish tint. We understand it takes six months for the babies to develop color.

Six months are up, so we expect to see some big changes in the pond this winter/spring.

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I hope to be back soon as I hate to get so far behind on the blog.

Wishing Joy, Blessings and Happiness to you this New Year.

Blessings – Debbie

December Blurbs

Early December, I enjoyed a “Monday Funday” with my girlfriend down in the heart of San Diego = Seaport Village

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Lunch at the Fish Market

And the hubs and I enjoyed a lovely dinner date with this couple last weekend. Love spending time with friends…

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The hubs and I enjoyed a beautiful Christmas program – Weeks ago.

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We enjoyed the view and music from our front row balcony seats. After the program, we had a lovely time at our neighbors party.

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“At Christmas I no more desire a rose than wish a snow in May’s new-fangled mirth; But like of each thing that in season grows.” – William Shakespeare, Love’s Labour Lost

“Shakespeare may not desire a rose in December, but he didn’t live in San Diego” – From the diary of the previous owner of our home.

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A December rose is a wonderful treat. And these roses are left for our enjoyment from the previous owners.

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A beautiful night sky – I was admiring the sky one evening while out cleaning my paint brushes and roller. Go me! I finally finished painting the last hallway a few weeks ago.

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December 19th = the hubs last day of work thru 1/6/2014!

The babies are happy. Although we think we lost one to that egret, as we only count 9 of the original big guys. But they are happy and loving life – Image shot a week or so ago.

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Last Friday, the hubs took me Christmas shopping in LA. I thought we were going to do some shopping in the Fashion District. But that was just a little “white lie” as the hubs had other plans. Plans to surprise me with diamond earrings. And surprise me, he did.

I told him I really didn’t need anything for Christmas. However, I did tell him I could use socks (mine have holes the size of quarters), a sweater and new hiking shoes.

But this is what the hubs thought I needed and what I got to unwrap Christmas morning.

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Arriving to Christmas Dinner at The Hotel Del.

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Carving the turkey

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Sand in my toes after dinner, was just what I needed.

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Sandcastles

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A Sandcastle for Christmas.

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The view – looking out to Point Loma.

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Ice Skating – It was fun to watch…

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Remembering Christmas Past – The silver ornament revealed a hidden surprise on Christmas morning, 1998. I said yes! And we’ve lived happily ever after.

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This Christmas – A day we – enjoyed sandcastles, time together on the beach, Christmas Dinner at Hotel Del, the afternoon and evening with friends, more presents, a bonfire, roasting marshmallows and visiting into the night.

Feeling Blessed and enjoying these days with the hubs.

Blessings – Debbie