Sunday, June 29, 2008

Postcards from Shangri-La

The first thing you must do is imagine you are four years old again. Think back to when you had no worries or cares. Picture a time in your life when you could easily do a back bend or jump on a trampoline without peeing your pants or throwing you back out. Now, think, really think about what kind of a place would have been paradise to you at that age.

My son has found his heaven on earth.

Almost thirty years ago, my parents bought a sprawling piece of land from my great-grandmother. After she died, her part of the property was sold and my great-grandfather's shed was drug onto my parents land. Originally, their lot was dotted with peach, cherry and apricot trees, but they have slowly been replaced by more modern landscaping.

The trees that have stayed have grown large and strong. The oak leafs are as large as a man's hand. The walnut drops enough nuts to feed an army of squirrels. These towering oldies afford copious shade for the playground below.

Upon entering my parent's backyard, one is meet with a rock fountain that happily burbles and slops and acts as if it had a personality all it's own. The children are allowed to play freely in the water with no danger. It was designed for small people.
The apple tree down the way proudly bears the weight of the tree house and has graciously grown a perfect branch for a swing. A trampoline is placed nearby making the sour apples available to jumpers during the early season.

As if a child might become board with nothing to do in such a fanciful place, my mother has added an airplane teeter-totter and a large cement pad with unlimited amounts of sidewalk chalk and a menagerie of various bikes.

Nestled in the far right corner of the property are my father's birds. A few years ago, my father placed fourth in the world for his kit of Birmingham Roller Pigeons. You may be asking yourself, what are rolling pigeons, and who would want to raise pigeons, I thought they were kind of like flying rats? Don't. Just go with the fact that he is way into his birds and his enthusiasm has leached into the grandchildren so that participation in feeding time has become an honor.

We will be here in Shangri-La for two whole weeks. There will be lots of Popsicles and sweets, smuggled to the boy on the sly, before meals because my mother has transformed into an entirely strange woman, who indulges children with sugar and sits for hours to play and color with crayons while the wash needs to be done. There will be forts built out of old blankets, and serious meetings held inside addressing things like how many daddy long leg spiders live in the yard and the official rules to kick-the-can. There will be hamburgers and a cherry pit spit contest and fireworks.
I'll keep you posted.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

and so it begins

Some years ago, before the rodent came along, I worked in a bookstore. At the time, it was my fantasy job. I had worked in the dental field (a.k.a. the depths of hell) while Ben was in school. It paid well, but left me with a deep wrinkle between my eyebrows and the bad habit of judging people by the state of their teeth. So when Ben FINALLY graduated, I got a job at a little independently owned bookstore.

It was a lovely little shop with dark wood and a fireplace. We were allowed to take home any book we liked and read it, as long as it came back in mint condition. I read like a mad women during those years.

When I read Divine Secrets of the Ya Ya Sisterhood, I distinctly remember thinking, I really wish I had a group of good friends like that. The kind that you can poor out your sorrows to over a Diet Coke. The kind of friends you see so often, they notice if your blouse is new or you changed your eyeshadow. The Ya Ya's spent long summer days at the beach. Their children played and they chatted. In essence, their families grew up together. It's a good book, pick it up.

Funny thing, my life is turning out a little like the Ya Ya's. I have a great group of friends who I see all the time. Our children have formed their own gang with a structure of command so complex, it rivals Microsoft. Now that Summer vacation is in full swing, we go to the beach every Thursday, and some Mondays. We sit, we eat, we complain, we compare, we honestly tell each other that, yes, that makes you look fat, give it away. We are growing up together.

If you live in the area, and feel so inclined, stop by some Thursday. Grab a Diet Coke, slather the kids with SPF, sit back and tell us your woes. We are always interested in fresh problems to mule over.

Monday, June 23, 2008

how to pleasantly shock your children

Okay, you are going to need:

* a very busy day

* a crowded store

* children who are tired and hungry

* a bark collar for each child

Very funny, I know. But don't act like you haven't thought of it before.

Imagine the look on your child's face as they come to the breakfast table, hair askew, eyes still puffy and jammies rumpled, and you lovingly offer them a Popsicle for breakfast. I don't know how this will go over in your house, but let me tell ya, my boy nearly killed over in amazment.

Tovolo Popsicle Molds are available on Amazon. They have a variety of shapes available. The flower petal pops are soooo cute and girly, you must order some, if that's how your family rolls.

Around here, homemade Popsicles are the best thing since sliced bread. I blend up all kinds of goodness and freeze it into pops. The boy doesn't seem to care that they are yogurt/juice/berry pops instead of high fructose corn syrup/benzoate/sulphite. If it's frozen into the shape of a rocket, it could be asparagus flavor for all he cares. Well, asparagus might be stretching it a bit, he does, however, love to eat frozen peas, not unlike a little koi fish.

My next batch will be yogurt/berry/granola blend. A true breakfast treat. There are lots of recipes online and most of them are fairly healthy.

It feels sooo good sometimes to say yes, instead of no, not that, no, not for breakfast, no that will rot your teeth. So when the little rodent stumbles down the stairs for breakfast these days I say, sure Thom, you can have a Popsicle, would you like a cookie to go with it?

Sunday, June 22, 2008

un grandes partido y diseño grandes domingo

Well the wedding came and went. It seemed sooo long and so short all at the same time. I somehow became (who am I kidding? I deemed myself) official snap shot taker. We left at 10:00 pm, after the toasts were made and the cake was cut, only because the boy had fallen fast asleep in our arms. He was covered in dirt from head to foot and plum tuckered out from hours of play. All I can say is, WOW, those Mexicans sure can throw a party.

Today is my 14th wedding anniversary. We really, really wanted to go to the Santa Fe Indian Market. It is a once a year event that brings in thousands of Native American artist. I was so excited to meet some of the artist that I have admired. But it was not to be, not for this year at least. We literally couldn't find a flight into Santa Fe on any airline that weekend. So, we are already planning for next year.

In the meantime, we are both talking about getting a Nora Bill bracelet. Which leads me into my pick for Design Sunday.

Nora Bill and her husband, Emerson, live near Santa Fe. The Bill family is very well known throughout the Southwest. Nora's style is very distinguishable. She uses very heavy gauge silver and a cold press technique to create her amazing bracelets. I am so bummed that we aren't able to go to the market this year. I am positive she would be there. I just want to stand in the corner of her studio for one afternoon and watch her work.

Maybe someday I'll just get in my car, drive to her house and knock on her door. Would that be weird? Oh well, I'm already known as "Señora Blanca Loca" (Crazy White Lady) in Rosa's family. Evidently they aren't accustomed to my paparazzi style of photo taking.

Friday, June 20, 2008

an empty room

Last night I was weak and foolish. I allowed myself to look at blogs that speculate about the wait for Chinese adoption. One site estimated that we should receive a referral for our daughter in June 2015.

I tiptoed through the dark up to my boy's room. I stood and listened to him breathing. I smelled his hair and held his hand. Then I walked down the hall to the empty room. The crib is still up from when Thom slept in it. The sheets are on the mattress. Pink clothes are hanging in the closet. We are waiting. It is hard.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

rosa' ducha nupcial de s

I have this really good friend. She is from Oaxaca, Mexico. I met her when she knocked on my door looking for house cleaning jobs. She speaks very little English. I speak very little Spanish. I think it is a tribute to our friendship that it has transcended the language barrier.

She and her husband have decided to get married in the Catholic church. Yesterday, I threw her a bridal shower. It was a little strange not really knowing what everyone was chattering about, but I got the main gist of the jokes and we laughed a lot.

I choose to use the peony as my theme, because I love them, and they are in season, but also because in Chinese culture, they are the symbol of happiness and prosperity.

I knew I wouldn't be able to coordinate shower games, not speaking Spanish and all, so I decided to have them each scrapbook a page for a album I bought Rosa. I choose Anna Griffin's whimsical papers which have a nice wedding feel to them. They are pretty formal, but the girls broke out the glitter and stickers and in no time, the album was "mexicanized" with bright colors and sparkle. It turned out great.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

prime real estate

A swanky little bird has taken up residence in my fuschia plant.

I have decided to call her Tessy Lou. A fussy name for a fussy fowl. Now I just have to figure out how to water my plant without getting the nest wet and cooling the eggs.

Monday, June 16, 2008

is this normal?

Thom and I were driving around town the other day. Our conversation went something like this:

"Mom, we have to go to Tammy's right now and get my Speed Racer cars okay?"

"Well, I don't think Tammy is home right now. Maybe we can go over later tonight. Right now we have to go home and start making dinner. Daddy will be home soon."

"I think Tammy is probably home, so let's go now."

"We will get your cars, but I'm not going until I call Tammy and make sure she is home. What do you want for dinner?"

"I really think she is home."

"Thom, Tammy likes to run errands in the day and she is gone a lot. I am quite sure she is gone."

"That's nonsense."


"Did you just say 'That's nonsense'?"

"Yes, that's nonsense."

"Umm, I think you better not talk until we get home, Smarty Pants."


"Mom, I want a milk shake for dinner."


Here's what's new at Secondsister:

Sunday, June 15, 2008

design sunday

Okay- here it is, my new favorite t-shirt company and worthy cause all wrapped into one.

Topo Ranch is a dream . . .

In the beginning, it was the dream of Alex’s great, great grandfather, Edward Breen. He survived the Donner Party and founded the original Topo Ranch. Located between Monterey and San Benito counties, those 20,000 acres were part of the Mexican San Lorenzo land grant. Throughout the late 1800’s and early 1900’s the spread was a cattle ranch, fig tree farm, supplier of wool to the U.S. Cavalry, and even used for Western films by the likes of Gary Cooper. Eventually, the bank foreclosed on it, like so many casualties of the Great Depression.

The “Topo” for which the ranch was named is Spanish slang for that stretch of land’s most populous inhabitants. We gave him wings to symbolize the rise of Topo Ranch once again, and to give flight to
our dream of buying back the ranch. We can both look back on five generations of California dreamers, but it was Edward Breen’s pioneering spirit that inspired us to follow our dreams. We hope our quality dry goods inspire you to follow yours.

Alex & Eric

Adventure 16 carries Topo Ranch t-shirts and I usually look for them there. However, they are opening retail locations. One is open in Venice and another one is under construction in Boulder. I may have to take a road trip up to the Venice store.

Topo Ranch has come up with a great line of clothing. It isn't cheap, but they need a large profit margin if they are ever going to buy back that ranch. I for one, will be happy to help them.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

passive aggression

One of my *Amelies is to open the bedroom shutters on a sunny morning. Sugar Daddy is like a vampire, in that he insists on sleeping in total darkness. So the shutters are clamped tight so no street lamp light can leak through. He even covers the little blue light on the TV. I personally find it a little bazaar, but it doesn't bug me too much so every night we sleep in pitch black.

In the morning, after the vampire leaves for work, I love to throw open the shutters and call out to the birds, Cinderella style. And they come. Not because of my angelic voice. No, No. I was not blessed with the gift of song (not that I don't sing anyway). I entice/coerce the birds to come to me with bird seed, sugar water, berries- you name it. I am not above using manipulation and coercion, as seen in my parenting style. Think Cinderella, only smarter.

So the last week or so, I have eagerly opened the shutters only to be met with the annoying sound of yard construction. Don't get me wrong. I think it is wonderful that our neighbors are improving their property- even if it is the absolute dumbest thing to do right now considering the housing market. The problem is, after two years of serious construction noise in our new housing tract, I thought everyone in our neighborhood was pretty much done with their yard.

I can barely hear "my" birds singing over the sound of the brick cutter. It is a screechy sound that goes strait to my nerves and I must admit that I have a burning desire to march over there- through the wet cement- and smack them over the head with a shovel. But I won't, because I am passive aggressive to people I barely know and also, it's against the law.

* An Amelie, according to my family, is something that you secretly love to do. If you have seen the movie Amelie, you know what I am talking about. Some of my Amelies include: pulling radishes from the dirt, opening cans of soda, picking price stickers off new items, running my hands through strands of beads, saying the word mochacho, (I try to work it in whenever possible), kissing my mochacho when he is sleeping and driving along the 101 with the windows down.

I am totally fascinated by the little things other people love to do. What is your Amelie? Leave a comment and check out this blog.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

have you heard the exciting news about cool whip?

Today was preschool "graduation". Is it not almost embarrassing how these days, kids "graduate" from every grade? But it was fun to go to. Thom's class sang and danced for the parents. Sugar Daddy couldn't make it. He is entrenched in preparation for a trial that I fear may cause a heart attack. If not that, then at least premature aging.

After much deliberation, (which I won't burden you with here, because I know that, after years of childlessness, it is extremely boring to hear about other people's children's education) we have decided not to send The Rodent to kindergarten next year. Instead, he will go to a class at the same preschool which is in between preschool and kindergarten. In fact, we love his school so much that we plan to keep him there K-8th grade.

Anyway, with summer break here, I am on the hunt for fun, educational (or quasi) kid projects. If you have one that you think is fab, leave a comment and let me know about it. Here is the first craft we will be making.

Those people over at Martha Stewart Omnimedia sure are crafty!

On a more serious note, I wanted to let everyone know the exciting news that Cool Whip now comes in a can! I am seriously psyched about this because Cool Whip is the one processed food that I absolutely love, even if it is essentially like eating PVC pipe. Imagine, making wonderful little Cool Whip stars on Jell-O, strawberry shortcake, fresh berries, pudding. . . ahhhh, the possibilities are endless.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

a good monday

Monday went by too fast. It was a good day.

Sunday, June 08, 2008

lazy design sunday

Sunday Morning

I'm so lazy today, I just going to give you the link to my design pick of the day and let you expore the wonderful edible world of Icingdreams yourself. Oh how I wish she lived closer!

Saturday, June 07, 2008


If I could just get over the smell of incense, the idea of worshiping a rat and the oppression of women, I think India would be a wonderful place to live. I get lost in the colors of everyday Indian life.

I won't be packing my bags quite yet. For now, I am happy to glean inspiration from photos. Hummm, what will I make today?


Made these yesterday. This is what I wrote about them:

"Today the sun is shinning. The birds are singing and my plants are growing tall and strong. I ate my lunch in the shade of a large umbrella and a tuna fish sandwich has never tasted better.

I made these earrings today only because I couldn't not make them. I had to somehow capture the moment.

They are entirely handmade. I used large citrine briolettes that are a beautiful shade of sunshine. I like to name the birds I make and for some reason these birds seemed like Piper and Frankie."

I won't be sad if they don't sell.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008


Yippee! Got some great exposure today for Secondsister Jewelry. For the third time ever, I made the front page. For all you laymen out there, this is kind of a big deal.

I found this amusement park coin at a local antique shop. It has a great old patina on it. It tried to do a little research on the Ellwest Jolar amusement park, but it seems it is long gone and there isn't any information readily available. Anyway, it is a really neat old token that says "Heads I Win" on one side and "Tails I Lose" on the other. I love the vintage look the of glass beads. They are Czechoslovakian. I threw in some crystal and jade for good measure.

Thomas has a knack for using grown up phrases like "well that was unexpected" and "I'm just sick and tired of this". I happen to think it is funny, and sometimes cute, when he says these things. But I wonder. Do other people think he is weird and feel sorry for him that he is an only child that spends too much time with just adults? Should I be exposing him to more four-year-olds?

Incidentally, he has also started throwing in a "damn it" every now and then. I try to keep a straight face. Really, I do try.

Monday, June 02, 2008

once bitten, twice shy

A few months ago I sent in my donation (three pair of earrings) to the Craft for China fundraiser. Please take a few minutes and check out the Craft for China website and then go to the Ebay auction which just opened yesterday. It is for a very good cause and there are really great things being auctioned off.


Yesterday was the FCC Kite Festival Picnic. The highlights were flying kites, of course, (Thomas got a spiffy Spiderman kite from Target), Sparkles the clown, Ben getting stung by a bee, and me getting bitten by a squirrel. Yes, you read that right. A squirrel.

Tell me, what kind of brazen rodent thinks they can take on a human? What is this world coming to? I know they are rationing rice at Costco and gas prices are causing a small hysteria in the suburbs, but really, has the mania trickled down to rodents? Are they rising up in revolt?

Thankfully, he didn't break the skin. I was, however, extremely embarrassed by the screech I let out when he chomped down on my thumb. I recoiled in humiliation to my lawn chair where Ben sat pulling a stinger from the bottom of his foot. I heard the soft murmured questions from the spectators. "She was bit by what? A what? A squirrel? Was she harassing it? Well, she shouldn't be feeding them anyway. You did say is was a squirrel right?"

All this just because I didn't have another Ghirardelli brownie to share with with the scoundrel. Ingrate.

Sunday, June 01, 2008

design sunday

Since I have spent a copious amount of time at, on or near the sea this past week, I thought I'd share some of my favorite "Etsy Ocean" items. I have the Flirt print. I bought a frame for it, but I think I will also have a mat cut. I plan to put it in my bathroom over my vanity.

I really wish I had made the wave ring. It's sooo me.

Speaking of Ocean stuff, did anyone see the National Geographic special on giant squid? I am dying to know how it ended (I kept nodding off). Did they finally get a photo of it or what?