December 31, 2011

December 27, 2011

The Gift at Christmas: Christmas around the world.

I suggest you enjoy this as I did.
Such rich pictures. You'll almost think you traveled.

Enjoy!

December 25, 2011

The Gift at Christmas: Being together


Christmas Eve is had in my home. My sister and her kiddos come along as does my mom and of course, the four of us look forward to it. But no one as much as me. The house is at its best with shining lights and lots of glowing candles. Orderly with minimal clutter and a settledness. It is only time to celebrate.

Somehow we've always, for as long as I can recall, had an Italian dinner. Before kids, it was an elaborate fish chowder on the lines of Cioppino (but with no mussels or calamari and with chopped potato). Then, when the kiddos were little, it was the fancy pizza and pasta from our long gone but well remembered Ferraros. (I don't know why, but I was shocked and thrilled to find they were open and cooking. The woman who took my order over the phone was so sweet. I asked if they did to go orders on Christmas Eve and she said in her thick Italian accent, "Of course, we're here so you can enjoy and not work so hard." Instant tradition.)

It's evolved back to home cooking, and last night we dined on ham, some spaghettini with pesto, a Caesar with anchovies and garlic bread. We enjoyed. We laughed. We relaxed. And even as the night grew old and the teens and preteens had us playing a game no one could catch on to, no one wanted it to end.

It is simply the gift of Christmas, just being and being together.

December 24, 2011

The Gifts, at Christmas: Humility

I came across this writing on a 3 x 5 card. I think I recognize the long hand as my Great Grandmother, Bama with a notation by her daughter and my Grandmother, Gommie. Good words.

Humility

"Humility is perpetual quietness of heart. It is to have no trouble. It is never to be fretted or vexed, irritable or sore; to wonder at nothing that is done to me; to feel nothing done against me. It is to be at rest when nobody praises me, and when I am blamed or despised it is to have a blessed home in myself where I can go in and shut the door and kneel to my father in secret and be at peace, as in a deep sea of calmness when all around and about is trouble."

the notation:
Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hands of God that he may exalt you in due time casting all your care upon him, for he careth for you. Be sober, be vigilant. I Pet. 5:6-7-8

They were thinking and wrestling with things I care about deeply.
The gift might also be exploration.

December 21, 2011

I still love this guy


I have to say, I love all that this behollied man conjures.
And I love the truth, that Saint Nicholas gave of his fortunes and inspired the dream.
We're days away from the story of his visiting and I can hear my youngest recanting the story that we just need to believe in him.

This year, the spirit of giving has really hit me as I've thought about the gifts I am giving and want to give to my friends and my family. It's been fun and challenging and very freeing.

So maybe the way I believe in Santa, is in the sense of expressing myself to in giving to and for others. However it is, I find myself just a little more grateful and aware of the enjoyment.


December 09, 2011

Christmas Light


This year, I have a somewhat different urge toward Christmas.


Things are different and interesting and good.

I don't feel like I need to bring out all the boxes of decorations and haven't put the traditional pieces in every nook and cranny.

I also notice that not every house in the neighborhood has lights. We're all experiencing the new economy, the new way of taking in the world and our response is lighter, different and maybe even simpler.

For me, it's more honest and grounded. More of Advent stillness and anticipation.

I don't know quite what to make of it. And I like it.

October 20, 2011

It's always about perspective, isn't it/?



I don't know Mary Anne Rodmacher, but I wish she'd said this a little earlier in my life.

October 17, 2011

Happier than.


Abraham Lincoln said something about most people being as happy as they choose to be. I think the thought is right. I'm not really up for circumstances determining the condition of my heart. I'll be very happy to take responsibility for that.

So today, I'm just thrilled to take this little -ism, enjoy the wink that comes with it and remember who I am - a gal who really is filled with joy and peace.

You too!

October 15, 2011

imposing thought














It is such an honest and wonderful truth.
And, there are people who demand the more from us.
What if we could be inspired by this thought, rather than being threatened?
How much more interdependent and powerful we could be.

October 11, 2011

I've taken an interest in Pinterest

Pinterest.
Pictures.
Sorting.
Categorizing.
Friends.

What's not to like?

I have spent more than a couple of hours in the last few days creating boards, searching, browsing, enjoying.

How about you?

October 10, 2011

In love with the Sandwich King

I have to say, we're all kind of loving The Sandwich King and his recipes are so good.



Have you checked him out on the Food Network?

October 08, 2011

Another thought on Steve Jobs


“Creativity is just connecting things. When you ask creative people how they did something, they feel a little guilty because they didn’t really do it, they just saw something. It seemed obvious to them after a while. That’s because they were able to connect experiences they’ve had and synthesize new things. And the reason they were able to do that was that they’ve had more experiences or they have thought more about their experiences than other people.
“Unfortunately, that’s too rare a commodity. A lot of people in our industry haven’t had very diverse experiences. So they don’t have enough dots to connect, and they end up with very linear solutions without a broad perspective on the problem. The broader one’s understanding of the human experience, the better design we will have." - Steve Jobs, 1996 WIRED MAGAZINE
It is my opinion, largely because I've experienced a life filled with creative people, that yes, creatives see things and connect them, but the highly creative person has something beyond experiences and one like Steve Jobs has much more than just vision. 
Again, I am grateful to be in this era of creativity and design.

October 04, 2011

Young House Love rocks!


Do you need a little joyful jug like this?
Well then, you really must see this blog.

And, these adorable self-titled DIY dorks have fabby things on sale at Joss & Main in a curated collection of well-priced fun.
Go see.

September 23, 2011

We share the gifts.






My friend Suze found this shell and sent it via FB.
Thoughtful gestures can make your day.

September 17, 2011

More of the twins and I'm not apologizing!


So far, I think this fascination is normal. Let me know if I carry on too long.

I just can't!

I can't share a new thought. I'm too busy laughing with the twins!


September 14, 2011

Late to the Party and happy as a clam


I just found this video and I have to say, they're the poster boys for having twins! Cute. Cute. Cute.

And Ellen had some good fun with them, too:


It's nice to be back, thank you!



August 31, 2011

Judging a book by the cover.

Yes you can and I did.
Who would put a pint of Sea Salt Caramel gelato in such an interesting (screw top) container like this and make such a simple, pleasing label and not make it also wonderful to the tongue?
I judged well and I will have to look into what ever other flavors Talenti has for me.
Sea Salt Caramel was a good first try.

August 29, 2011

How to improve cleaning your room. Add a tutu.

Oh, and perhaps, go back inside and finish.

A new love. (His name is Tim.)

Driving home Sunday night from little Jacky's birthday party I was all alone with KUSC and heard the revelation of Tim Andres.
I am head over heels in love.
And this is just a little part of why:

                                                                                  

August 28, 2011

Steve Jobs, “Computers are like a bicycle for our minds.”


I am so moved by all that Steve Jobs has brought to our lifetime.
And I'm thrilled for every moment he thinks different.

July 29, 2011

The Farmers Market Day: People

There was such a beautiful mix of people. The serious culinary shopper -- they are the wholesale purchasers who can buy before 8:30. Spotting the perfect onion.



A farmer from a family of farmers.




The chanteuse singing in lovely French with her somewhat illusive guitar.



























I so love being in the midst of the crowd as well as I do stopping to notice the details swimming around me.

And you?

July 28, 2011

The Farmers Market Day: Flowers

Yesterday I made a wonderful trip to the Santa Monica Farmer's Market. I promise to tell the whole story, right down to the grilled purple scallions we had for dinner.

But for now, for you, a few flowers:


















































It was almost impossible to walk away from the vibrant fragrance, life and color at just these stands.
Do you have a favorite?

July 26, 2011

The Intruder

This morning, I had my first cup of coffee in my garden chair as I read to the middle of MEMORIES OF RUNNING, by Bruce McLarty. I was up, oh so very early, and brewed the cup and took to the seat at first light. I traveled with Smithy to New York and listened to the old artist lady describing Art and Light and repeating, "That's Omega there. That's God's work," as she wandered off. I was engrossed in good writing, the good use of good words, and each time I'd reach for a big swig, I'd notice pieces of lovely in my garden.






The easing of the paint along the arm of my chair.











My pal's resting position.






The slight turning of the rose petal.












 The shifting light from the candle in the blue-gray of morning.








And then: the intruder.


The sun.

I don't think I've ever been unhappy with the sun peeking over the rooftop. But there it was with all it's light and warmth, beckoning for the day to start in earnest. But it had started, in the perfect way, with the chair and the book and the dog and the coffee and the time. There it was. Time.

I recognize I'm pushed to consider how I will spend my time this day. It look's like its time to fill my list with things (like working) that must be done. But this morning, in the early moments, I felt the fullness of what my soul desires: transporting words, the stillness of time, the coolness of morning, the beauty of Creation right in my yard, the work of a little black spider at his web within arms length and, without working to connect to God in scripture or text, just being in the midst of all He's granted, I am filled.






I'm even accepting the trickling light the intruder supplies as it dancing across my table.

Morning is changeable, I realize. The cool, the warmth, now the breeze. The waking birds are coming to peruse and a barking dog around the block is joining.

It must be time for a second cup.




July 24, 2011

The Ceiling of Complexity

I'm learning a little about this concept - the Ceiling of Complexity. From what I've read, it has to do with the number of things we have on our plate and the way they match up with our strengths. When we hit the ceiling, it's often related to a) too much and b) a weakness. In business, we're best working in our strengths and delegating the weaknesses.
At home, if you're the wife or mother, you just keep folding laundry and reorganizing the _______ (insert your favorite, pantry? refrig? sock drawer? car, where your children leave their socks?)
So, my regretful frustration (and attendant crabbiness) is due to the ceiling. I need to hire an underling to clean up after my kitchen extravaganzas and to pick up and to make coffee when I just need to work in my strengths: writing, painting, blogging, decorating the mantle, gardening. Ah ha!
There's something here, I don't know quite what yet, but it begins with addressing what I've put on my plate.
Today it includes a little garage clean out.

How's your ceiling?

July 23, 2011

A very Big Rush

My youngest asked me in passing a few days ago, if we could get tickets to see Big Time Rush in concert.

I have to say, the fact that the TV show boy band was touring (or really sang on stages) was nowhere near my radar. But we were alone for the weekend and absolutely free on Friday night. So, (with visions of boy bands gone by dancing in my head) my fingers walked the internet and I found a pair of tickets.

There are many joys in momhood and one of the big ones is truly surprising your kiddos. I downloaded the tickets and put them in my laptop bag. And then I waited for the ceremonial asking of the question - again.

A day later, she came through. We were ending our day when she said with just a hint of a whine in her voice,  "Mom, is there any way we could look on Craig's List or anything for tickets, I'd really like to see the concert." I asked her when the concert was - she said Friday - I handed her the pages I'd printed out, saying, "Read this, I think it says something about Saturday." It took her a few minutes to connect to what the pages were and then the shocked smile and "REALLY? WE'RE GOING?" Oh, yes.

So we went. We had fabulous orchestra seats amongst 12,000 screaming girls, parents and the occasional kid brother. It was great fun. The boys work really hard and put on a great show. They're well choreographed, but casual and they have tons of personality. But enough about them, the real show was watching my girlie as she kept mentally pinching herself, video taping with her iPod, singing with the boys and saying "Thank you Mommie, this is the best!" We sang along, jumped and clapped to our delight.

A couple of times it really struck me - these moments are few and far between and mark her stepping into the hallway of the teen years. Gratefully, we took the step together. My ears are ringing but as you might imagine, if was quite the rush.

Now, it's off to download the new song and the wallpaper.



July 21, 2011

Praying to Adopt

This family is very dear to me. Staci and Anthony and their girls are currently praying to adopt a child and grow their beautiful family.

Feel free to share or post this link to their website, or pass it along to anyone who might be considering adoption.

July 19, 2011

Seeing

Today I started the Revisiting Sanctuaries on-line workshop. (You can too! Go, it's wonderful.) I participated once before and want to dig a bit deeper and join the conversation and fun again. So today, I am seeing. I was specifically looking for something that brought be joy in color and this is it. A little geranium I picked up at Trader Joe's just because I love the color. I'm planting it in my little front garden with the beautiful variegated plant and the big rock.
It's stunning.

My gardens tend to the same color scheme. White and pink with a bit of lavender. So, I'm thrilled for this bold joiner.

So, I must ask: how does your garden grow?

July 14, 2011

Fanny. A curious cat, indeed.

Well, there we were enjoying a front yard barbecue when Fanny, the cat, came upon the condensation dripping from the ice bucket. This is a neighborhood party we enjoyed a week or so ago. And yes, I'll share much more about the fun we have making delicious foods for the grill and the plate. But I simply must share Fanny.

She's a funny cat. I don't qualify as a cat lover. I have, however, loved a couple of cats in my life and Fanny is one of them. (I like the T.S. Elliot kitties, too.) When we have coffee in the garden, she pops out of the front door (or comes out through the window) and joins we gals. On occasion, she's crossed the street and gone two doors down to sit on my front lawn, either waiting or observing. (My big dog is not happy about this.) When you don't acknowledge her, she might hit you. She also marvels at things. You can see her wheels turning. So, this experience was very funny. She walked up onto the porch and found herself under the little table. She felt a drop or two of water on her head and instead of bolting, like most cats, she simply surveyed and finally just drank the drops as they fell on her.

You can't imagine how much fun it is to watch her shenanigans. Unless you're a cat lover. In which case, she's very likely winking at you.


July 11, 2011

Out of context and yet, lovely

The other night I looked out on my neighbor's yard and saw this Liquid Amber leaf. Until the last week, our summer weather has been cool which makes me wonder, am I supposed to keep my thoughts on fall?

It makes sense.
Though I rebel terribly.

Let's go to the beach.
Shall we?

July 09, 2011

July 9 - A significant date

So, tonight, my Dear Husband and I will celebrate one gazillion years of dating.
We celebrate every July 9.
Our first date.

A trip to the Santa Monica Enterprise Fish Company.
A chat over Mutiny on the Bounty and an episode of Star Trek.

And here we are a few years later.
We're making plans to take the kids along with us for a night of remembering and celebrating.

Happy first date day, Dear.

July 08, 2011

July 03, 2011

A Garden Party

Tonight the neighbors will gather on the lawn at John & Mary's for a pre-4th celebration. John will haul his barbecue from the backyard out to the driveway and the various sons will set up tables and chairs. Mary and Marjorie and I will bring out the linens and things and candles, candles, candles and voila! The 3rd of July.

We'll have lots of kids from 6 to 22 and plenty of loud fun.

Mary's yard has a fabulous peach tree that calls for summer enjoyment. We sit under it on weekend mornings for coffee and chatting. It's the relaxing time in my week.

Tonight, each family will bring their own meat and two other contributions. So, I'm thinking of making this Skirt Steak with Chimichuri. My girlie wants Opa Fish and she wants to whip up Aunt Nancy's Apple Pie in a Brown Paper Bag and Aunt Margaret's World Famous Potato Salad.

I have some beautiful Angelcots from Frieda's and think there's an Angelcot tart coming our way. Angelcots might be the perfect apricot. They're new to me and apparently available for a very short window at Ralph's and Trader Joe's. They are white and sweet with a delicate apricot flavor and also a hint of a buttery flavor. I think they'll be wonderful with a pate sucre or puffed pastry and a little creme Anglaise. (You'll find all these recipes and pix over at What Am I Cooking? later in the week. My other darling Mary-friend has a rhubarb sangia recipe up now. Yum. Yum.)

So we will enjoy. And hope your 4th celebrations are great.

July 02, 2011

Beauty and Paris

Well, now Paris is calling and I'm not really packed to go.

Jump on my friend Jill's tour of Europe and see these fabulous photos of the City of Lights by Pati Pakulis.

Or go see Midnight in Paris. A love letter to Paris by Woody Allen.

Selena Gomez wants you to take your daughter to see her in Monte Carlo. (It's PG for a couple of reasons. A dialogue will follow.)

The there's always my favorite, Julie and Julia.

And if you want to experience the writers life in Paris, read Janice's Blog live from her adventures at the Seine.

Bonjour!

July 01, 2011

Rethinking my shoes.

Yesterday Bloomingdale's decided to make contact again.

After all these years, they seem to have forgiven me for curtailing my trips to New York and, therefore, our rich relationship. On one of my first trips to NYC, a work pal and I ran out on a lunch break to visit. The little jaunt was exciting and overwhelming and a start of a beautiful relationship.

In their halls and sections and floors, I learned about the many more brands that exist. The ones that never made it to the little rounders in Los Angeles. They had whole sections dedicated to Tahari designs rather than the small rack at my local Bullock's or I. Magnin. It was a visual education, a retailing education, certainly a fashion education and of course, fun. Even if all I bought was a mascara. It was my mascara from Bloomingdales.

And then, I came home and they sent me a catalog where I could buy shoes. Not the shoes at the aforementioned stores, or Nordstrom, but Bloomingdale's collections of shoes. It was all good fun and I managed to grab some unique and simple and beautiful shoes on sale, from Bloomies.

So yesterday was clearly an attempt on their part to rekindle the old romance. And they were successful. I clicked on the email which featured a shoe that took me right here. And right to the shoes. As I clicked through, my youngest took the chair next to me and commented: "You should get some of these. You used to wear cute shoes, but now Mom, they're kinda grandma."

After the initial sting wore off, I gave her a kiss and clicked in earnest. She's right and I knew it. I kinda knew it when we were shoe gawking at the Music Center. I took a little inventory the other day when I cleaned out my closet and saw this mix of older fun heals and, well, Clarks. There's nothing wrong with Clarks. There are plenty of cute styles (kinda). Like these on the right. But the brand is about comfort and I seem to have collected only flat black or brown, which are, in the eyes of my preteen, not cool. So I perused. And clicked. And put many pair into my online Brown Bag. I was encouraged to buy these:

I settled on a slightly lower pair of black patent leather espadrille platforms and some DKNY sandals. Both passed muster and were on a double sale. So, all is well.

I'm revisiting my appreciation of shoes for fun and fashion, giving the heave ho! to shoes in the grandma category and taking Bloomingdales up on their advances.  Rekindling the courtship, so to speak.

And so with great expectancy I ask, what's on your feet?

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Original text and images sole property of BirdandSeashells. If you wish to use something, please ask or quote me.