Organization Schmorganization

I was tidying up in the house in all of the usual areas that are visual.  It’s not Spring but some necessary spring cleaning became apparent when I opened the cupboard under my kitchen sink.  What was I thinking?  How could his be?  I don’t think this is how this is supposed to look?

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I took to Pinterest immediately!  (Haha cause it has all of the good ideas, I needed help and obsessions aren’t easily discarded apparently).  From the look of things, a small miracle was needed.

My cleaning habits really don’t require so much product but now that I have all of this stuff I have to figure out something to better utilize and keep more used products in the front.

I saw a picture of a much more organized cupboard and got inspired.  I ran to Target and got a tension rod to match my organization to the picture!

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I installed my tension rod fairly high in the cupboard and made sure to make it tightly fit so it could handle weight and not fall.

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Installation complete and cupboard not perfect but a bit more handy!  Anyone have any of your own organization tips and tricks to share?  I can always use them!

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Color Change!

I’ve had a case of writer’s block as of late, to be honest.  I attribute that to being too busy, the Olympics are on and there’s some change in the air for me.  I feel it.  Hopefully good change, but as everyone experiences, you take the good with the bad.

Being too busy is my own fault.  I’m trying to exercise simplicity this month.  It hasn’t kicked in quite yet but I keep trying.  The Olympics are not my fault.  I was disheartened to learn of doping scandals and  Rio venue issues but it’s still an impressive show.  If only I can get the network to play their recap of the day’s events earlier!  I’ve fallen asleep every night before something fun to see like the women’s gymnastic floor exercises and ultimately their gold medal.  Oh well, I guess that is what the Internet is for!

As for change in the air, that’s just it…it’s just a feeling.  Perhaps I’m too busy to really read the signs, but I felt like helping it along with some visual color change too.  I’ve had the same living room curtains since I moved in.  It’s probably been 10 years?  I’m not sure?  Time flies when you’re lazy to change your decor!

My original living room curtains were a black and white brocade.  I ended up putting them in my bedroom as well because I had several panels and no storage.  I thought black and white would be the perfect base to add additional accent colors throughout my tiny house but I never really did it?  Except for the kitchen where I added lots of red, I was pretty color lacking all over the place.  It’s time for a change!

I moved all of the brocade to the bedroom.  I’m now contemplating changing the blue accent.  I’ve had that as long as the black and white.  I’m thinking I need something else soon.

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To make my color change happen in the living room, I needed money but I lack that so I took to the world wide Internet to find inexpensive options.  I always loved tapestries and how beautiful they look hanging.  As I’m at a shopping mall all of the time, I was inspired by PBTeen’s use of them in their store displays.  Theirs were more expensive so Amazon afforded me to look and find what I liked.

I impulsively purchased 3 panels with bright colors of what I thought was mainly green.  Two days later I received my package and was surprised, not elated.  I had just rearranged the living room, took down the old curtains, called friends for moral support cause procrastination is my middle name, and I was ready for the new COLOR!  I unwrapped them and hung them.  I kept putting them up on all of the windows (there’s 4 in the living room).  I kept expecting that my taste would change with the color too?  My pals said they liked the curtains.  I said I liked the curtains, so I went to sleep with the boldest colors in my house that I’ve ever had in my life.  Red. Green. Orange.

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The next morning, I walked into my living room and sat down.  I convinced myself to live with it a bit longer…so by 12pm I ordered a new set of tapestries.  This time I looked for color but needed it to have some blue and not give me a seizure every time I saw them.  I was a bit gun shy cause I wasn’t exactly sure if the Internet  portrayed the colors correctly.  I had 2 light blue pillows actually.  The only color in the living room and I decided I liked them and wanted to figure out how to keep them.  With the red, green, orange version there was no way to keep them unless I wanted a circus theme.   Searching and searching, I settled on a deeper and more sophisticated bohemian color palette.

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The box arrived to my office and I was so excited to see what colors arrived.  I ordered a pattern with blues and some orange so I braced myself for bright purple and red.  I opened the box to lovely navy and royal blue with just the right amount of orange accents.  They were just what I wanted.  Now I had to wait the rest of the day to go home and put them up.

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When I got home, I removed my clown curtains.  I deemed them with that title for obvious reasons.  I eagerly hung the new ones in place.  They looked exactly right.  In this case, 2nd time was the charm!  I like the fresh new look for the room.  It’s rearranged and the curtains made enough of a statement that it squelched my desire to have new furniture which would be a lot more expensive to change!  For now, I’ll take a color change to refresh my environment and take me out of a writers block.  790 words later, I might have to change my curtains more often?

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Fun with Flags!

In honor of July 4th, I decided to decorate since the neighbors all have flags on their porch.  I didn’t think that attaching a flag holder to my porch was going to happen successfully so I got crafty.  I’ve seen flags banners all over and thought I might try making some of my own.  Here’s how I did mine.

imageFirst I went to the fabric store and picked up four different fabrics.  I chose patriotic themed fabrics with a red, white and blue color palette.  I got about 1/2 yard for each but it was a lot more than I needed.  I’ve been able to make about eight flag banners so some friends and family got some too since I only needed two.

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I also bought a white nylon rope that you can usually find in an upholstery section of the fabric store.  I measured the length that I wanted it to stretch at home and of course bought a lot more!

I had pinking sheers (those are the scissors that cut a zig zag edge), hot glue gun and glue sticks.  This was a no sew project.

Here’s my directions for this super simple project:

  1.  Cut a triangle template.  I used an Anthroplogie catalog cover cause it was heavier weight paper.   image
  2. Use the template to cut about 3 or 4 triangles of each fabric that you choose.  I cut them with scissors first with about a smidgen over the template (like 1/8″ maybe). image
  3. Once the triangles are cut out, trim each edge with the pinking sheers.  This will prevent the fabric from fraying and give a decorative edge to the flags.  image
  4. Cut four notches at the top of the flag wide enough to thread your string or rope throughimage
  5. Allow for a tail (maybe about 12″ or so), make your first knot.
  6. Thread one of the flags using the notches.  Tie a knot at the end so the flag doesn’t shift.image
  7. Tie the next knot about an inch or two away.  You decide how far away you want to place your flags on the rope.
  8. Repeat threading flags and tying knots at the beginning and end of each flag.image
  9. Alternate the fabrics all the way across.
  10. Once you’ve set the flags on your rope, use your glue gun or a fabric glue to tack the knots to the fabric to secure them.  I glued some of the rope in the middle too.image
  11. Hang your flag banners and have a party!

Happy Birthday America!

Here’s an example of them hanging at a friends house as well.

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Quilt Imposter

I got a bit busy lately but there’s been some good stuff that I’ve been doing!  I went to QuiltCon!  It was a quilting convention down the street in Pasadena at the convention center, so I didn’t have to travel far.  A friend of mine went the first day and managed to get us free passes for the next day.  We decided to check it out and see what we could see.  There were a few of the stereotypical ladies with a quilted cat tote bag, but we found other women and some men of all ages.  Unlike myself, I think most actively quilt though.

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I have to tell you that I’ve only quilted one very bad looking small blanket that I gave as a baby gift.  Luckily I actually don’t see that person anymore, so my embarrassment over the project doesn’t have to be relived every time I see them.  As an attendee of the QuiltCon, I came across lots of people with incredible enviable skills.  I didn’t belong, but I was determined to ooh and awe over the fabrics and the work without being detected.

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The convention had classes and lectures but being an imposter, I honestly wasn’t sure what the topics were about and we got so excited over the showroom of fabric and vendors that we went to spend most of our time there.

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This machine…I call it the Big Cheater because it basically embroidered and did all of the work for you.  It was probably as big as my house and cost as much as my car, so even though it would have instantly elevated my non-existent skills in the quilt area, it was not coming home with me.  Bye Big Cheater.

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Lots of samples were on display to make sure I knew I was inferior to all of experts at each booth.

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After visiting every booth and nervously dodging one that we would had to create a square for a charity quilt, we made our way to the exhibits.  This was where the competitors were and some special exhibits.  I was excited over the ribbons they gave.  They were custom fabric ribbons.  I got so excited that I didn’t really take any good pictures of them?  Next time.

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My favorite exhibit was a group of quilts be Molly Upton.  She sadly only lived for 23 years and these quilts were from the 70s.  I loved her mix of fabrics and her designs were ahead of her time.  She was an amazing artist who I would never had known of if I didn’t attend QuiltCon.  It was worth every minute as the imposter.

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If you have a quilt convention in your area and you value the artistry of quilts, it’s worth a visit.  I was amazed at the variety of quilts and the products available.  Not sure if I will find quilting in my hobbies, but I’ll pretend again to attend another QuiltCon!

A Clean Start!

It’s the time of year where there is change in the air and New Year’s resolutions weave into conversations as we make plans to conquer another year!  For me, perhaps because of the December that I went through, I am thankful for family and friends.  I’ve been trying to find ways to thank all of the special people that have carried me and help me grow through this journey.  I also just enjoy making things and I’m enjoying being creative again for a change.

My neighbors have been so nice and left me gifts and cards.  I decided to make some Honey Almond Chamomile soap that I found on Pinterest To give to them.  I chose a goats milk based soap and discovered that this recipe is really just mixing and not really creating from scratch.  I suppose all home based soap and candle creating is just mixing cause I don’t have any goats or bees.  I’ll still take credit for the soap but say thanks a lot to the goats and people at Stephenson Farms that made my soap base!

For my adaptation of this recipe, I didn’t want to make as much as the original recipe called for.

2 lbs goats milk soap base

2 tbsps ground up oatmeal

2 tbsps honey

2 1/2 chamomile tea bags

1 tsp almond extract

1 tsp vanilla extract

First I microwaved my 2 lbs of soap base.  I microwaved for a couple of minutes at a time and broke up the soap a little at a time.  I also used a bowl that I was getting rid of due to a chip because I didn’t like the idea of soap with my food bowls.

While I was microwaving and melting the base, I measured my oatmeal and chamomile tea into my mortar and pestle.  I mixed and ground up both items.

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After the base melted, you need to work fairly quickly so you can incorporate ingredients without the base separating and drying with a skin on the top.  It can be melted down again but I found the soap comes out creamier and better the less you reheat and handle it.

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Mix in the ground oatmeal and chamomile.  I put a little at a time so I could see the ratio of grains through the base.  You might decide to not put in as much as I did?


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After incorporating the dry ingredients, I added the honey, almond and vanilla extracts.

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I mixed everything thoroughly until it looked like I wanted it to.  I wanted a fairly even amount of grain to my base throughout.

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Next, I spooned the mixed soap into a silicone mold.  My mold had six 2″ rounds.  I was much messier in spooning my soap in the mold than you have to be!  It does clean up easily though if you are equally as messy or more.

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After they cooled, I decided to create crochet scrubber covers.  I didn’t follow a pattern for this so I’ll have to try to write out the steps involved later for any crocheters.  You can also message me here if you want me to figure that out for you sooner than later!

Happy soap “mixing” and Happy New Year!  Here’s to clean starts and a great 2016!


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Chicken Soup, It’s What the Doctor Ordered!

As you know, the family was sick through Christmas.  I managed to catch a minor cold this week, so chicken soup is on the menu.  It’s a simple and basic recipe that my mom taught me.  Hopefully you won’t get sick, but hopefully you’ll still try the soup to warm your bones on these chilly nights.

Start by bringing a package of chicken breasts, one onion and about three medium celery stalks to a boil in a large pot.  For this, I buy the whole chicken breasts with skin and bones.  You remove it later but it makes for a better chicken broth.  Cover the celery, chicken and onion with enough water to be about 2 inches above the chicken.  Bring this to a boil, then reduce the heat and let the chicken cook for about 10 to 15 minutes.  If you can pull the chicken easily apart and it’s not pink inside, good job!

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Next, remove the chicken and vegetables from the broth.  Let the chicken cool down.

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You can discard of the celery and onion.  I usually like to strain the broth after it cools a bit.  You can strain it through a kitchen towel to a bowl then put it back in your pot to cook the soup.

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Cut up about three to four carrots and celery stalks.  For this, you’ll want to de-string your celery so you won’t get inedible celery strings in your soup.

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You can add more or less vegetables.  Add them to the strained chicken broth.

After after the chicken has cooled enough for you to handle, shred it into bite size pieces.  Obviously remove the skin and the bone.

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For this soup, I like to make a large pot.  I cook an egg noodle separately and add to each serving day because otherwise the noodles will get gummy and make the soup murky and thicker.  I prefer also adding salt to it to taste rather than putting it in when cooking.

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As I usually make this when I’m under the weather, it makes sense to me to not season it heavily cause taste buds most likely want something simple.  It seems to work for me and makes me feel better, however I’m sure this can be a great simple base to add more vegetables and any savory seasoning that you like to change it up.

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Hope y’all stay well through 2015!  Let’s all plan to have a healthy and happy New Year!

Let’s Roll!

My apologies for a lapse in the cooking and blog writing.  My family is a bit under the weather this holiday season.  I’m recovering from surgery.  I had a little cancer that had to be removed, so my doctor successfully removed my thyroid and some lymph nodes.  They say that I won’t even miss them!  It turned out to be a couple of types of cancer with one rare type called medullary.  My family and friends have been calling me an overachiever!  I’ll be just fine but have some healing to do, so I’ve been taking it easy.  Not an easy thing for me to do, but necessary.

My uncle had knee surgery, my aunt is not feeling well, my parents decided to get a bad cold…so needless to say we’re all not celebrating as usual this year.   We will all get together in the new year and have a redo on Christmas.  For now, we’re all going to focus on healing.

I learned last night that part of the healing process should include making cinnamon rolls on Christmas Eve with my good friend Debi!  I unexpectedly decided to bring her lunch that afternoon and then stayed to help her make four types of cookies and cinnamon rolls.  She did most of it, but it was a great time hanging out as we listened to holiday tunes and chatted about how funny I was on drugs from the surgery.

Cinnamon rolls for her family is a holiday tradition.  The recipe comes from their church cookbook.

Disneyland Cinnamon Rolls (from Sarah Judkins)

1/2 cup warm water + 2 Tbsp. yeast (mix and set aside)

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1 (One) 3 oz. package of instant vanilla pudding mix

2 (Two) cups milk (microwaved to take the chill off)

2 (Two) tbsp. sugar

1/2 cup butter, melted

2 (Two) eggs, slightly beaten

1 (One) tsp. salt

8 (Eight) cups flour

In a large bowl, mix the pudding with the milk.  (This pudding is going to be thicker than normal as we are not making it to the package specifications on the box)  Add butter, eggs and salt.  Mix well.  Add the yeast mixture.  Mix well.

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Gradually add flour and knead until smooth.  image

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Put in a large greased bowl.  Cover and let rise in a warm place until it doubles in size.  Handy tip:  warm a wet kitchen towel in the microwave.  Cover the bowl with the towel and set in the microwave.  Do not turn your microwave on!

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Punch down, cover and let rise until double in size for a second time.  The recipe calls to do this twice but we did this about four times and Debi says she usually does it more.  It can take 8 to 10 hours.  We did a faster version in about 5 hours last night.

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Roll dough on a very large floured surface to a long rectangular shape, approximately 34″x21″.  We split the dough in half to do this.  It would have rolled out to the entire surface of the table if we didn’t split it!

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Spread:  the recipe suggests the following

1(One) cup butter, melted

2 (Two) cups brown sugar

2 (Two) tbsp cinnamon

Brush on melted butter.  Mix brown sugar and cinnamon.  Sprinkle over top.

We did ours with a minor modification.  We mixed the butter, brown sugar and cinnamon to make a spreadable paste.

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Roll into a jelly roll.  Measure every two inches and cut.  Handy tip:  use clean dental floss to slice!

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Place in a greased pan, gently pack them so they stay together, and allow to rise in a warm place for 20 minutes.  We placed our pans on top of the stove cause the oven was warm from baking cookies already.  Bake in a preheated oven at 350 degrees until golden brown, 15 to 20 minutes.  Frost while still warm.

Cream Cheese Frosting

1 (One) 8 oz. package cream cheese, softened

1/2 cup butter, softened

1 (One) tsp vanilla

3 (Three) cups powdered sugar

2 (Two) tsps milk

Mix well in a bowl until creamy and smooth.

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Hope you enjoy your holiday with family, friends and warm cinnamon rolls!

 

A Dia To Remember

A couple of friends of mine were interested in celebrating Dia De Los Muertes on November 1st in honor of a friend that passed away way too soon last year.  So we started in Old Town Pasadena for their celebration but we only found a few window displays (and a few shopping items).  We all got the memo, and dressed in black and wore as many flowers in our hair as possible.  It’s November but it was 90 degrees out so we were in summer attire.image

We understand that Dia de Los Muertes is a celebration of remembering loved ones that passed before us.  This seemed fitting and so we went on this mission to check things out.  There seems to be lots of symbolism or traditions that have evolved such as sugar skulls, gold marigolds, altars and displays.  Some of it seems scary, but I gather that culturally it’s meant to honor or show respect for the deceased.

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Since Pasadena wasn’t quite what we were looking for, we decided to go to Olvera Street in downtown LA cause if there was going to be a celebration near us, that would have to be where it was at!  We were right.  There was a ton of traffic, hard to find parking and lots of crowds to navigate which proved we were right and it accomplished our mission.  It was a feast for our eyes!

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The day proved to be a cultural feast that helped us hold significance for a passed loved one for the girls.  Even though it was crowded, it was great fun to see the traditions, colors, fabrics, altar displays and hear the music!  We, of course, ended the day at a Mexican restaurant with food and margaritas.  It was a great Dia to remember!

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Do any of you celebrate Dia de Los Muertes?  What are your traditions?

 

The Family Tree

My dad planted two trees when I was about 4 years old, a peach and an avocado.  My favorite tree was the peach tree because as a kid, it was one fruit that I couldn’t get enough of.  His favorite was the avocado tree.  Over the years, a decision had to be made – which tree to keep as they grew bigger.  There wasn’t room for both trees in the backyard, so the avocado tree won and there went my supply of peaches.

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Here’s a pic of the avocado tree on the left and the peach tree on the right.

You should know that I was introduced to the avocado in a strange way.  My dad liked to mash it up, sprinkle sugar on it and pour milk over it. Being Filipino, he called this his merienda. No one in the family was a fan of this dish so it always served a party of one.  Today I like avocados, but not even sugar could get me to eat them as a kid!

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Me when I was about 5 years old.

It dawned on me that the avocado tree has truly grown up with the family and is like a second sibling to me.  We have various pictures with the tree and of the tree.  It’s been a backdrop for birthday parties, bbqs and backyard shenanigans.  I’m sure the tree would love to tell the story of when my brother and I launched his Hot Wheel cars off of the roof.  (It was my brother’s idea but I was a great cheerleader).

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Avocado tree when it was about 3 years old.

One year, there was a fruit fly infestation that was coming to the area.  We couldn’t give the tree preventative shots or take the tree inside to protect it.  Worried about the health of the tree, my dad found an advertisement for a local forum on the fruit fly.  He attended this meeting along with several community farmers.  They all shared with each other to gain insight to their problems, “How many trees do you have?”. Dad answered, “One”.  They were all growers for local groves of avocado farms and fruit trees.  Dad had a grove of one.  After the initial shock from the farmers that dad had a single tree, they tried to offer him suggestions.  They had ideas, products and suggestions for lots of trees if dad had a farm, but with one tree…it wasn’t going to work.  So dad had a good story to tell family and friends about his interaction with the farmers but ended up concocting his own recipes to help the tree and prayed for the best.  It seemed to do the trick as we still have the tree standing today.  (There’s a recipe for this concoction that has gone through several versions to perfect it, but I was sworn to secrecy!)

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A photo close up of avocados when the tree was about 11 years old.

Another year, I visited my parents and there was tension in the air.  I asked my mom what was the problem and she explained that they had had some plumbing issues.  They were trying to decide if they were going to take care of the problem.  In most houses, this wouldn’t be such a big decision?  Of course you would fix the problem!  But because the pipe ran under the avocado tree, this became an impossible situation.   One thought was to just let that bathroom be non-operational.  That’s not an option in my mind but I guess if you gave my parents a decision of harming their third child vs. fixing their toilet…they just couldn’t bare it.  Luckily another plumber came up with another solution, so they didn’t have to compromise the tree.  It was plumbing or the tree, and the tree won again.  Thankfully the toilet works again too!

Proud dad with his 11 year old youngest kid.
Proud dad with his 11 year old youngest kid.

My dad loves to give avocados to family and friends.  If you express any desire to eat them, you can expect a bag the next time daddy sees you.  They have been gifts to people far and wide.  Recently, a family friend from the Czech Republic asked dad for some avocados to take to her grandmother on a visit.  We weren’t quite sure she could get through the airport checkpoints with an avocado?  She got nervous and gave the carefully brown paper covered grenade-looking item to her husband to take back home with her after dropping her at the airport.  Before he left, he chatted to a TSA agent about the avocados and they said she could take them with her!  So he quickly passed them to her in line and she flew happily Continue reading The Family Tree

Roger’s Gardens – A Delish Shopping Trip!

We celebrated my mom’s birthday recently.   We usually like to drive my parents places that they don’t get to go to on a regular basis, so this birthday weekend was no exception.  I think we tired the parents out but hopefully they had some fun in the process.

There’s a nursery and gift shop in Corona Del Mar called Roger’s Gardens.  It has a great selection of plants, patio furniture, pots,  knowledgeable staff and a great gift boutique.  They also decorate for seasonal gifts and decor, so the Halloween Boutique had just opened this same weekend.  If you like Halloween, this is sure to spark your creativity!  Mom loves this place, so it was a good idea to take her there.

The theme this year for the Halloween boutique is “Something Wicked This Way Comes” and it’s truly like entering a magician’s tent with a maniacal display of whimsy, gross, scary, absurd and glittery objects.  Heaven.

Beware – tons of pics to follow!   If you can’t visit this year, then I’ll bring the store to you here.

IMG_2181Being a marketing person, I look at signage way too much even when I’m personally shopping. They had my attention with old timey fonts and ribbon motif. Well done, Roger’s Gardens!

AND…those pumpkins!  Love!  They had a variety of pumpkins, different shapes and colors scattered around the nursery.

It was 100 degrees outside, but the pumpkins made me long for cooler weather so I can comfortably cook in my kitchen again.

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