Monday, December 26, 2011

Wacky Time Zones!

Oh Lord! This holiday schedule has me all over the place, every where except where I am suppose to be. We had the merriest Christmas and are looking forward to a wonderful new year. I'm feeling much better though not walking without crutches yet.

This time of year always has me thinking about what I did well, what I want to do more of or better, and what I really didn't succeed at even remotely. This year, I seem to be looking back a little further and I'm noticing that I have failed far more than I have succeeded. I can hear you all now, "No way!" Well, to some degree it all depends on your perspective... looking at my family and marriage, I am wildly successful. Looking at my professional life and trying to figure out why I can't seem to find my "thing," you know, the thing that you love and the money will come... yeah, that thing! I am creative and entrepreneurial so it stands to reason that working for someone else may not be the best fit for me. That's fine and even the way I like it, but by the same token, I would like to find the creative endeavor that allows me to be me and make a respectable living. With 2012 just around the corner, I am embarking on doing what I love to do - continue going to school and honing my photography skills. My RiverLights Originals have several public showings coming and and I plan to also try my hand at portraits. I'll keep you posted. In the meantime, I am working hard to focus on what is good and all that I have to be grateful for. It's an effort everyday to accept all that is good and not focus too hard on that which I am not accomplishing. I don't know that I will ever be able to simply be content with what I have - no matter how good. It seems a large part of the cloth I'm cut from is to work for something more, something that challenges and educates me - even if I never obtain that which I am seeking.

Our gloves are still patent pending and I'm not sure the patent will issue. I am studying and learning how to work my way through the patent woozle-doozle and minimally buy some more time. I intend to sell like the Dickens for the next few months to see if I can get sales for the 2012-2013 season to the next level while continuing to secure that elusive and so expensive US Patent. We have a licensing deal waiting to be signed if we actually do get our patent issued. Yes, I am looking for a New Year miracle. Some people believe they come true.

With all that said, I hope you had the best Christmas ever and are looking forward to a bright new year. I would love it if you would jot me a note and let me know how you are. Lots of love and luck coming your way, from me to you! Happy New Year!

Monday, December 19, 2011

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas!

The last 10 days have been somewhat of a blur. This surgery has been as hard as the first one, which should come as no surprise since the first one was really hard, too. I told my doctor when he advised I take this route (ACL reconstruction w/additional procedure to remove arthritis from my knee cap) that I was loathe to do this again because it was so painful. He assured me that the process of ACL reconstructions has been streamlined and are not as painful as they were in the past. While that may be true, he failed to mention that the Oates procedure (the knee cap thing) is also incredibly painful! I decided to go ahead with the surgery hoping that it will eliminate the need for a full knee replacement in the future. In any case, I'm moving slowly and doing far less than I thought I would be by now. I know, I know, you all are making a point to tell me that slowing down is not a bad thing and while I agree with you, a dead stop is not good either.

Dave is going like crazy taking care of things I need, getting ready for Christmas, and working. It's hard letting go of things that are part of your holiday traditions but there is just so much that can happen in a day. I baked and did all my shopping before I had surgery so short of addressing Christmas cards and wrapping a few presents, my holiday tasks are done. I would have liked to baked more cookies to deliver to our neighbors and I'm missing some of the social festivities as I just can't be out and about right now. It is what it is. What about you, are you ready?

On a really fun note,I made my debut as an artist last week. My RiverLights Originals artwork is on display at Tango Frozen Yogurt in downtown Auburn. I haven't been able to go in and see it for myself yet, but I am tickled pink that my artwork is actually on public display. I printed note cards and sold out almost immediately (my first customer was someone who does not even know me - she bought all 3 sets the retailer had!) and I have seven 2012 calendars still available. You can see the images in the calendar at

Merry Christmas friends, I feel so grateful that you are in my life even if it is a Christmas card once a year, a weekly e-mail exchange or something more frequent. I hope you have a Christmas that is exactly as you want it to be, and if not, I wish you the ability to accept peacefully what it is and move on. With love, Kathy

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Monday Motivator...sort of.

Hi friends,

My knee surgery went well but the recovery has been slow. I know it's only been 4 days, but I thought for sure I would be up for writing a little weekly email... not so much. Tonight I'm writing this before bed because when I don't send my Monday Motivator it weighs on me, like that thing that needs doing, know what I mean? So off to bed I go hoping tomorrow will put me 'round the corner and on the upswing! Merry Christmas and I'll have something cheerier next week. Sweet dreams, Kathy

Monday, December 5, 2011

Cookie Factory!

The cookie factory is open! Yes, I completely forgot to write my Monday Motivator because I was up to my candy eyeballs in butter, flour, sugar, and sparkly sugars in every color o the rainbow! I have all of my shopping done (except for one thing I ordered and have to pick up), presents wrapped, and I'm almost done with cookies and candy. I know what you are thinking, WOW! She's Super Woman in the organization department!, not so much, I can't find a gift I bought for my sister just two weeks ago! I am ahead of the game this year because I am having knee surgery on Friday and it's going to be a bigger deal with some grafting an plugging (it's all so technical!). Anything I want to do that requires me to stand and be moving with my hands and feet needs to be done before Friday. With all that said, what are you doing to celebrate the holidays? Do you decorate your house with more than a tree? Our tree this year is a Whooville tree, the trunk is literally curved with the tip-top and bottom of the trunk lining up while the body of the tree curves to the left. It's full and beautiful, 11 feet tall, and has character.

I'm sad that this is my last week of school for the semester. I love being a student and being immersed in a group of younger people and even a few my own age and older. It's a nice infusion of current culture and what a younger generation is thinking and honestly, I'm impressed. So many of these twenty-somethings that appear to be non-conforming, really care about our country, their future, and they are amazingly informed. I have many Russian immigrants in my classes as well, and more of the same,incredibly grateful to be in America, being or in the process of becoming Americans, and in some cases, they are more versed on American/world politics that those of us born and raised here. All in all, it's a blast! I am completely grateful that I have the opportunity to be back in school getting an education, it's just plain fun.

I hope you are all on track to have the happiest holiday season ever, filled with love and laughter of good friends. I will let you know next Monday how it all went and I expect I will have a good idea of my bounce-back time. Have a great week and lots of love!

Monday, November 28, 2011

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas! It's official, the holiday season is here. I like Happy Holidays for a greeting, too, but today I feel like Merry Christmas! Our Thanksgiving was really lovely and Dave outdid himself in the kitchen. As usual, we did our big meal on Saturday and thank goodness, there is no way Dave would have been able to pull off all he did if he had to have it done for Thursday. I hope you had as nice a holiday as we did.

On Sunday, Dave and I managed to get the Saturday mess cleaned up, carpets shampooed, Thanksgiving decorations down, and Christmas lights and garlands hung. We bought a tree, put it up and plan to decorate it tonight. I'm not usually in such a hurry to get Christmas up but I'm having what I hope will be my final knee surgery in two weeks. I expect to be less mobile through Christmas so if I need to do it, it needs to be done now - decorations, cookies, and cards will be on the list to get done prior to December 9th. What about you, are you in the holiday spirit yet?

On another fun note, it looks like may have my first art show for RiverLights before Christmas. The details are still being ironed out, but I'll keep you posted. I hope you have a great week and remember, you can't always control what comes your way, but you can control how you react, or not. Keep your cool and make this holiday season exactly what you want it to be!

Love, Kathy

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Magnificent Colors!

Hi Friends,

Happy Thanksgiving! I'm not sure how it has been where you live, but I believe we are having the most magnificent fall season I've ever seen in northern California. There is color everywhere and so many reds, yellows, oranges and I just love the trees that show all colors at once. Sometimes as I am driving along, my heart races at the way the sun illuminates the colors of the trees. It really does excite me.

I'm counting my blessing this week and a big one is that my family is safe and healthy. I'm pleased that so many of our men and women are coming home from Iraq and would like to see all the other countries on that list as well. I'm grateful that I have been able to go back to college this year, it's been a wonderful time. My gratitude list is long and it includes our friendship. I've opened my eyes to the importance of nurturing healthy, supportive relationships and letting go of the ones that do anything else. The idea that we need to be in relationships that do anything else, regardless of time or relationship is ridiculous. Trust your gut because you know the truth.

I hope you have the best Thanksgiving weekend ever and you get to be with people who lift you up and make you feel more like the person you strive to be. It's my position that you are already way more of who you want to be and you simply can't see it! With so much love!

Monday, November 14, 2011

Happy Fall Y'all!

It's almost Thanksgiving and even in these tough times, we all have much to be thankful for. I try to practice gratitude all year long, but I feel especially fortunate around the holidays. Dave and I have been enjoying a double dose of the fall colors and even getting an early start on prepping the Christmas decorations. We are already seeing the calendar fill up with holiday parties, school functions and all the things we want to do as a family.

Loving this time of year like I do, it was fitting that we went to Twin Peaks Farm over the weekend for the opening of mandarin season. The colors of fall were everywhere, the persimmons were delicious, but those darn mandarins are just not ready yet! Next weekend is the Mountain Mandarin Festival and it looks like we will not only have rain (with low snow predicted), but the mandarins will be very early season - that means more tart, less sweet. It's a bit of a bummer for the festival and all the people who travel to Auburn to buy their mandarins, but for us locals, it just means our sweet mandarin season will last a little longer. Last year I was sending them to my father-in-law in late January! I've got my recipes ready, as do Dave and Mason, next weekend we will see if I can hold on to my first place title or take home the grand prize! I'll let you know on Monday.

I am studying for finals and with the exception on one on line class, I am sailing through with all A's. The class that is in question could still be an A, but I missed an assignment and can't seem to find my footing. Keep your fingers crossed that an unexpected extra-credit opportunity will present itself in the next week or two. Hey, a girl can hope! If my calculations are correct, I could be graduating this time next year with my AA Degree.

Now I'm off to a parent-teacher conference where I expect to hear, "Mason is so darn smart, if only he could sit still and do his work." Much like my mom heard only where Mrs. Beckler says, " his work," my teacher said, "...not talk so much." Happy Holidays friends, I'm grateful for you and all the other wonderful people around me everyday! Make this week something to talk about.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Be The Change

The sun is out and it is a gorgeous fall day! It rained all weekend and frankly, I loved it! We had a fire going, I did lots of cooking and baking, seasonal decorating, and of course there were chores to do. Dave had drill this weekend so I'm sure he's feeling like he had no weekend at all.

As the holidays are fast approaching, what are you planning to do for holiday gifts? I sent out an e-mail that I received from my Aunt Jeannette about centering your gifts around local merchants. This goes beyond just shopping at local stores, but buying services from small businesses for people who could really use them. Dave has always been really good at this, not only shopping at little mom and pop gift shops, but he has given me a facial, a massage, and gift certificates to the nail salon where I like to go. BEST GIFTS EVER!! I love the idea of gift certificates for auto service, car washes, and finding businesses run by young people. Think babysitting -Uh, this one is GREAT! Computer work done by the people who know computers better than any of us old folks - high school kids. What about a local bookkeeper to track your small business (or family) finances? It just may be more affordable than you think.

Finally, I'm using this forum to shamelessly plug my original art, RiverLights Originals. All of you know I spent much of this summer painting river rocks and photographing them under water. Some of my images are of rocks out of the water as well. I even took one of my favorite rocks to New England and came home with some beautiful fall images. I've posted pictures on my blog and you can also find more on my Facebook page at RiverLights Originals. I have note cards ($1.00 each), calendars ($20 each), prints (4x6 - 20x30), and prints on canvas and metal. They really are quite nice.

With that, what are your holiday plans? Will you be traveling or staying close to home? Whatever your plans, I wish you peace and positivity. When you encounter poor customer service or the Scrooges that are bound to make themselves heard, be the change you want to see. Find something positive in every interaction and shake off the dark sledge that wants to hang on and weigh you down.

We all have so much to be thankful for, find a few things today and concentrate on the good. Happy Monday!

Monday, October 31, 2011

Happy Halloween!

A fun holiday like Halloween make Monday's way more fun! We started last weekend with the costume party at James and Lisa's house and it's been a Halloween themed week with decorations for the house, pumpkin bread, and costumes. Today Mason has a minimum day and we will go trick-or-treating at the local businesses through downtown. Sunday we finally had Mason's birthday party with his friends - sheesh, I was beginning to think we needed to just buy him one cool gift and think about a party for next year! Deborah came through with a Create Your Own Art party at Image Pathways in Newcastle. The boys had an amazing time! Thanks Deb!

Dave had been working on costumes for he and I since the beginning of the year. He found inspiration on a beer label from a locally brewed IPA. He made me the 1940s Bomber Pin-Up Girl and he was the bomb! Here's the label that initially inspired Dave and here is our finished product. Mason is going a the Zombie Michael Jackson (from Thriller) and I see lots of candy in his near future. It's been busy and now that Halloween is just about over, we will be in full Holiday Season mode and you all know what that means... it's just going to get busier!

How is it that we bought a car that I believed was one of "the most reliable" automobiles made (Subaru) and we are putting hundreds of dollars into it each month? Not including the payment! Grrrr, it wouldn't be so bad if we got it repaired and it was fixed, it's not. We think it is until we are stranded somewhere again. It's a 2003 so it's not even 10 years old and the "Full Coverage" Warranty I paid $3K for (which we have easily spent 1/2 of in repairs), is not what I thought it was. It's in the driveway with either a battery cable or ignition switch issue. I see a new car on our horizon...Whatever Dave wants, he's making the purchase as it's clear I do not have the good car ju-ju.

Send me good car-repair vibes and I'll have to see what's up this time (or again) and get the Legacy fixed. I have one more post to write about our anniversary trip, if you are interested, they are up on my blog with lots of pictures.

Have a great week and let me leave you with this, when you think times are tough and life just isn't going your way, remember, "Things always work out in the end." If things are not going your way, it's not the end -- and that my friends is good news! Keep on keep'n on and know good things are just within reach!

Monday, October 24, 2011

Only 62 More Shopping Days 'til Christmas!

The holidays are coming! We only have 62 shopping days left before Christmas and the holidays and parties that lead up to December 25th are on their way, too. So many people are thinking, where did the year go? Not me, I love this time of year and all that it brings.

I did some pretty impressive preparation (pertaining to school and home) to be gone with Dave for 10 days, but I still had so much to do when we got home. I had a test, a final presentation, and several other papers due in addition to all the laundry, Mason's school and soccer, grocery shopping and more. The point to this rant is that I keep thinking what this week would have been like had not scrambled like I did before we left. Sheesh, it makes you wonder if going on vacation is worth it. It is, I know it is, we had an incredible time. I managed to get a post up about our trip and will write some more this week.

Today, let me say Happy Birthday to my sweet Mason! His birthday was on Thursday the 20th and we had fun celebrating all weekend long. So many of you called and sent cards and he even said, "Wow, so many people are calling me today!" You all really made him feel special and for good reason, he is a great kid! Heck, who needs more when you have one this great?! ;)

Next Monday is Halloween, what are you doing? Are you dressing up and going to a party? Dave, Mason and I all went to James and Lisa's party on Saturday. Steve and Ro were there and we all had a great time. Dave and I did a dark, classic Witch and Coachman while Mason recycled a Star Wars costume from last year (I love it when he wears them more than once!). Next week, Dave and I have an adults Halloween date night planned with far more original costumes on tap. I'll post pictures on Monday.

I love this quote and hope it inspires you this week, too!

In the fall, you don’t grieve because the leaves are falling and dying. You say, “Isn’t it beautiful!” Well, we’re the same way. There are seasons. We all fall sooner or later. It’s all so beautiful. And our concepts, without investigation, keep us from knowing this. It’s beautiful to be a leaf, to be born, to fall, to give way to the next, to become food for the roots. It’s life, always changing its form and always giving itself completely. We all do our part. No mistake."
~ Byron Katie Quotes from Loving What Is

Monday, October 17, 2011

Adventures in New England - Vol II

After seeing a Moose it was hard to imagine the trip would get any more exciting. I don't know if there was anything that was as exciting as that but renewing our wedding vows later that evening was surely a high point. We picked up the flowers Dave ordered on our way back to the Inn and it was time to get dressed and meet the minister. We had an intimate ceremony outside, it was simply perfect!

The next day we headed north and drove more scenic routes taking in color that was coming to life before our very eyes. We made a stop at an apple farm known for boiled cider. It was a treat to be able to see them process the apples (in a barn on a hill using equipment that actually required hand-cranking) from apply to bottle/jar while we stood there. We were invited in to see the whole simple process. The cider is basic for drinking, boiled to a concentrate for cooking and baking and cooked down to a cider jelly for breads and toast. Just delicious! We visited the Bennington Battle Monument where of all things, we ate the best apple we've ever had. It was a Vermont McIntosh and Dave and I both agree, it was awesome. While in Monpelier, we had dinner at the New England Culinary Institute - just one more great meal in a fantastic trip. We didn't eat a single fast food hamburger the whole time, in fact, the only big chain restaurant we ate at one time was a Subway. We had everything from Maine scallops to organically grown quail served with fried quail egg. Desserts were off the hook, too! Pumpkin surprise and apple cider sorbet were two of the best. We made several ZipperBack Glove appointments happen, one with a big name manufacturer that I hope to license our design to and another with our licensing agent in New York.

From Vermont we spent a day driving through New Hampshire on our way to Maine - the colors really turn on in NH. We stopped at a state park called The Flume Gorge. The Flume is a natural gorge extending 800 feet at the base of Mount Liberty. The walls of Conway granite rise to a height of 70 to 90 feet and are 12 to 20 feet apart. A trip into the Flume begins and ends at the Flume Visitor's Center. Guests can choose to walk through just the Gorge or do a two mile loop. The walk includes uphill walking and lots of stairs. The boardwalk allows you to look closely at the growth of flowers, ferns and mosses found here. We hiked the stairs and boardwalk - it was magnificent! Some of my favorite photos were shot here, it was really a wonder of nature. We arrived in Maine in time for dinner and as I've stated, there was no shortage of great food. I had a crab roll and Dave had some kind of seafood soup. We did have Maine Lobster and I want to go on record saying it's not all it's cracked up to be. Frankly, crab has more flavor and is less expensive. Just my two cents. It rained on us in Maine, off and on. At one point, we were at a lighthouse and it really started coming down - sideways and cold! We laughed as we threw rocks into an angry ocean and then went and warmed up with fried clams and chowder. I loved that it rained while we were at the seashore - the mood was romantically perfect.

The whole trip was one surprise after another and our time in New York was no exception. I will write about New York in my last post since so many funny things happened there. I hope this is as much fun for you to read as it is for me to share. See some photos below! Lots and lots of love.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Adventures in New England - Vol. I

It's Friday, it's Friday, it's the end of the week!* This is the song I sing to Mason to wake him up on Friday mornings, and if I forget, he sings it to me.

I feel a little more back in the swing of my normal life but like always, there is still so much to do. I promised myself I would not let the weekend come without writing at least one of my last weeks Monday Motivators so grab your coffee and enjoy.

It's no secret how I love autumn and the fall colors. Dave has been talking about a trip to New England in the fall for as long as we've been married so last year he started planning the jaunt for our 10 year wedding anniversary. For Christmas he gave me a New England calendar and a vacation tour book and noted some of the plans he had already made. We flew into Boston on Saturday and spent the day walking, walking, walking, eating, drinking, walking and walking some more. What an impressive city! It was a gorgeous day with unseasonably warm weather, perfect for seeing the Freedom Trail, the waterways, and so many of the historical monuments. I was especially moved by the Memorial Garden made up of thousands of military dog tags honoring our armed services. The artist that created that memorial did an amazing job, really amazing. Something I found interesting in Boston was their farmers market. It was massive and as we approached it I asked Dave, "What/where are the outlying areas that grow the fresh produce?" He said he wasn't sure, but clearly there had to be rural agricultural areas within driving distance. Of course I thought. As I walked through the market I noticed that nearly all the produce was imported. The fruits had stickers on them, some of the vegetables were bagged and basically, it was the produce department of your local grocery store outside. Though it was big, and colorful, it didn't really seem like a farmers market to me. I admit, I'm spoiled with Placer Grown real food and living in a state with such rich agricultural roots. The farm-to-table concepts were alive an well in Vermont though! More on that when I get to Vermont. We didn't have enough time in Boston (or any of the places we went for that matter), but we had to head south to see Dave's sister JK and her husband Jim. We spent a night with them and had a wonderful visit. They live on several acres and have a lake in their backyard. We sat by the lake with a glass of wine and watched the sun go down, it was just magical.

Sunday we headed north through the back roads of Mass to Vermont. We spent very little time on the major highways so our trip was almost exclusively scenic. We had some goals for our trip, of course to renew our wedding vows (Dave planned all of that with the minister, the Inn, flowers and more!), but we also intended to see a moose, visit several forts, and I wanted to get several specific photos. We've all seen the amazing images that come out of New England in the fall and I wanted to shoot some of those myself. I wanted some sort of abundant pumpkin patch with flowers and scarecrows surrounded by all the colors, a covered bridge, a brook or creek with red maple leaves all around, and of course a reflection shot. Additionally, we brought one of my painted rocks with us and photographed it along the way. I will post lots of pictures on my blog and send the link out once they are up.

The colors were not what I expected when we arrived and I wondered if I had set the bar too high. I mean, they were pretty, but not like the photos I had seen. I started to get an inkling that maybe those images were not exactly what the human eye really sees, if you know what I mean. We had lunch at The Golden Eagle in Vermont, known as the restaurant on "The Famous Hairpin Turn" and the view was beautiful. It seemed to me that the colors had not arrived yet though the locals were saying, "Look! Their here!" We continued on to our Inn making a few stops along the way, one being The Vermont Country Store. You might know this store from the catalog, but let me share with you, it's impressive. They carry all the touristy stuff, unique clothes, local artists work, and all kinds of retro candy, toys and gifts. You can get stuff like Gee, You're Hair Smells Terrific! shampoo and conditioner. Do you remember that from the 1970s? Well, back then it was $1.98 a bottle and today to have your hair smell terrific will set you back $14.99 per! They carry a wonderful selection of meats and cheeses, candies and wine. We picked up some venison sausage and it was to die for! Just one of those shops you can browse and shop in for hours.

We arrived at The Weathersfield Inn after dark but it was fun to pull in the driveway and see the historic house all lit up. Our room was small but quaint with a fireplace and claw foot tub. Here's where our trip really gets good, with the food that is! The Inn keepers have a garden and work with the local farmers to create a menu that is truly farm-to-table. All the selections were of seasonal fare and Dave and I both had meals that were like none we've ever eaten. If we are friends on Facebook, you got to see many of the delicious meals we ate along the way. Monday morning we got an early start to photograph the Jenne Farm (the most photographed farm in America) and to toodle Vermont, oh and go see our moose. Yes we did, we intended to see the moose on Monday! The folks at the Inn let us know it was dawn and dusk that were the likely times and probably near water. On our scenic drive, I noticed that there were bouts of vibrant color, but not really that much more impressive than what we have here in northern CA but when we did round a corner to a bouquet of WOW, Dave heard me gasp, and OOOH & AHHH! What he heard more than anything else in 10 days was, "So pretty. It's just all so pretty." He can hear it in his sleep. Laughing! We stopped at a park, one of those just a little sign and a gravel parking lot on the side of the road to have a picnic lunch and as I gathered my camera Dave boldly said, "Kathy, there's a moose!" I hurried softly (that sounds like a contradiction, but it is exactly what I did) and sure enough, in the trees right there at the start of the trail head was a young bull moose. He just looked at us, kind of like Spencer does, let me take his picture and then walked away. We couldn't have been more thrilled, we high-fived and whoo-hoo'd. We started back toward the park and when we realized the pond was more than 2 miles in, we decided to get back on the road and see more and hike less. Not only that, we had seen our moose, we didn't need the pond. As we came back out on the road, there were 3 moose running along the freeway back into the woods. Seeing them was less impressive than being face-to-face, but it was cool to see more than one, and let me share with you, they are big!

Let's stop here and I'll pick up with more fun in my next post. I have several really funny stories and lots of great pictures to come!

* Posted on Friday 10/21 due to travel.

Adventures in New England Pictures - Vol. I

Monday, October 3, 2011

Chilly Fall is Here!

Brrrr! There is a definite chill in the air that is fall. You hear all the time how California doesn't have real seasons and I don't think that's true. From what I can tell, California (at least where I live in N. CA) has a distinct spring, summer, fall, and winter, but they are not extreme and sometimes take their time coming or going. My friends who live in the mid west and north east share with me how extreme the seasons are for them, primarily when Old Man Winter comes to visit. I know my day will come when I get to put my ideas to the test, but for today I am enjoying the cooler weather and looking forward to the extreme colors of fall in New England. Dave and I will be renewing our wedding vows in Vermont this time next week.

Dave began planning this trip last year and as a Christmas gift, he gave me a calendar and a guide book to touring the fall colors. He had already started planning (and paying for our trip)! I know I'm a lucky girl to have a guy who will not only plan such an adventure but he planned everything including the ceremony and flowers! Ten years is certainly a noteworthy anniversary but not nearly as important as appreciating, and celebrating our union everyday. I think we do a pretty good job.

As I prepare to be gone for ten days, it's all about making sure everyone who is helping us has what they need and know each other in case something comes up. I spent this weekend doing lots of homework and some extra credit since I will miss a week of classes and I put up the fall garlands with some Halloween decorations as well. I've got two presentations to do on Thursday and the only real bummer is that I am going to miss seeing my mom while she is in California. I chuckle as I think to myself, you would think all the years we've been together, we could coordinate our schedules a little better. So now it's time to get to the busy week I have ahead and leave you with this to ponder, if you were to plan your dream trip of a lifetime for this time next year, where would you go and how much would it cost monthly if you started paying for it now? I bet it's more doable than you think but it will require your commitment. Much like getting married and staying married, you have to commit. Happy Monday friends!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Happy Autumn!

Good morning friends,

It's been a crazy busy weekend that slipped over into my week. If you recall, I noted last week that my weekend was slated for cleaning, yep, that's exactly what I did. I went through Mason's clothes, shoes, toys, much of my stuff and every single little Post-It of paper. It was painstaking and as is the case, produced more work. I found the paperwork for the Miata that never got submitted to the DMV, insurance notifications from my knee surgery in June that when I read more closely stated they denied the claim, and just when I thought I would be on the hook for over $6,000, I found all of the preauthorizations for said knee surgery. All of this leads me to why I'm writing the Monday Motivator on Tuesday at 6:00 AM - I was at the DMV and on the phone with the insurance company much of the day yesterday. And when I wasn't tied up with all of that, I was taking a test for my Business 85 class and studying for a Physiology of Fitness test I have today.

The best part about all of this is that my house is clean and it feels, at least for the moment, like the clutter is back under control. When it starts to creep back in, I go back to what worked before, give away 10 a day, I walk through the house and I find 10 things that can go in the garbage, to Goodwill or be given to one of Mason's friends (as in shoes and clothes he's not wearing any longer). What do you do when you feel like the piles are taking over? Is it hard to let go of stuff that for some reason or another you think you need to keep? It's way easier for me, the hard part is making the time to actually go through it to see why I thought I needed to keep it to begin with.

Let me leave you this morning to start your day with Happy Autumn! I love this time of year and this one is especially exciting as we are going to New England for our 10th wedding anniversary! I can't wait! Dave has been planning this for more than a year. We will be renewing our vows at an Inn in Vermont with all the fall color for a backdrop. With that said, I have a request. If you feel so inclined, I would love to get a message from our friends and family to include in a box that we will open on our 20th anniversary. It would be best if it were sealed and noted on the outside, do not open until 2021. Anything you think would be fun to read about after 20 years of marriage. They can come anytime in the next few months but we will seal the box up at the end of the year and put it away until it's time to open it in 2021. What do you think, are you in? If so, e-mail me and I'll send you our address.

Have the best week ever!

Monday, September 19, 2011

Iron Chef at the Honey Festival

It's Monday and I'm a studying fool! Well, maybe not a fool if I'm studying, oh, I don't know! I'm seeing double having read so much today but not really up for yoga this afternoon. I'm not sure if my belly is knotted because I have two tests and a presentation tomorrow or maybe something else - just not feeling up to par.

This weekend was a usual Partak whirlwind. Mason played soccer on Saturday and his team won! Hooray! Last week they gave the cheering-rights to the other team so it was a good morale booster for the Lightning Balls. I spent the remainder of Saturday prepping food for an Iron Chef challenge in Granite Bay on Sunday. The contest was at the Honey Festival and boy was it a good time. Mason and Dante raced pinewood derby cars and Heather, TJ and I cooked in the challenge. Truly, the secret was in organizing my dishes with ingredients all pre-cut, chopped, sliced, diced, and measured. Even with the failure of one of my grills, I had a gorgeous plate of an appetizer, main course, and dessert ready in just 45 minutes! Add to that a honey themed cocktail and my garnish was actually a side dish. Yeah, I know, I'm a bit of an over achiever! Laughing. The only down side to the day is that the other team did not show up. I'm confident that we would have won had the other team showed up because I met the people (Yes! They were there!) and when they saw what I prepared, they came over and admitted their plan was not nearly in the same ballpark. Who knows. I know it was a lot of work, lots more fun, and team Red Headed Honey Bees won the hundred bucks. That's our team in the photo.

It's not uncommon for some of you to comment at how much we cram into a single weekend, but let me share with you, when we are all in bed asleep before 9 PM, it was a full weekend! Now I'm gearing up for a very busy school week and trying to find a way to get my house cleaned. Reading the calendar for next weekend, it says, "Don't write on me, Kathy has to clean house!"

If you are on facebook, will you check out Mason's video and vote? It's super easy and we only have 10 days left to vote - you can vote once each day. My competition got a plug from a blogger with a facebook page full of 12,000 + friends. We are still ahead, but they are closing the gap. here's the link if you're willing. :)

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

It's Already Tuesday!

How the heck does this happen? It's already Tuesday night and I'm just now writing my Monday Motivator. I can remember when I NEVER put a MM out late, yes, I said never. Well, I can also remember being responsible only for myself, going out until 2 AM dancing on a weeknight, and wearing smaller and cuter clothes! Today my life is all about Mason and his activities, our household and all the duties that fall under that header, and a full time school schedule. With that said, some things get done later than I would like and others don't get done at all. So be it.

Last weekend was full of fun. Friday Mason had a friend sleep over and what started out as a cam pout on the front deck turned in to being scared of ghosts and the two of them sleeping in Mason's room. Saturday Mason played his first soccer game and let's just say, it's all about having fun, right? " 'Nuff said. We took the boys to the Gold Country Fair here in town and they had lots of fun seeing their friends and riding the rides. Saturday night we met up with a group of friends and danced and sang along with Tainted Love, a great 80s cover band. I bet you are thinking, Wow! What a fun weekend. But we're not done. Mason and I got up really early on Sunday morning and each made a batch of cupcakes for the contest at the fair. Mason made a chocolate cupcake from a mix to which he added all kinds of candy bar pieces and then decorated with guess what? More candy! He called his entry "Everything But the Kitchen Sink" Pirate Booty Cupcakes. I made a spicy fig cupcake with honey cinnamon frosting. There were 14 entries in the youth category and 28 entries in the adult category. Mason took 2nd place and I took 1st place*. It was especially fun because Mason is old enough now to do all the steps. I posted the pictures below so you can see what a wonderful journey it was for him. If' you've been with me since the beginning, you'll recall photos of Mason decorating cookies as young as three years old. He's come a long way and I'm especially proud of him.

While we were having all this fun, Mother Nature has been going crazy with lightening and flash floods. Luckily, it's mostly at higher elevations, but the light shows have been wonderful! Now we're all back to work and school (some of us, both) and there just doesn't seem to be enough hours in a day to get everything done. I know you understand, your life is equally busy. Happy Tuesday and welcome to almost fall!

Mason's Cupcake Baking Journey to 2nd Place!

Monday, September 5, 2011

A Long Lazy Weekend

Happy Labor Day weekend! As tradition has it, Dave is usually at his Pacificon game convention while I am home with Mason. This year we broke the mold and Mason and I went with Dave. The convention provided us with a gorgeous suite that we used to visit, relax and just have a really great time. Mason and I spent some time at the pool, but he spent most of his time learning the games Dave loves to play and even finding a few of his own interests. I did homework and met Lisa A. in San Mateo for lunch and some window shopping. Other than missing my mornings at the river, we had a really nice, low key weekend.

On the contest front, I am currently in two that I have a really great chance of winning. If you are on Facebook and wouldn't mind "checking a box," (one just says vote and the other is clicking on thumbs up), I would sure appreciate your votes. There is no registration for either contest, all you need to do is click the box - once each day. Thank you for helping. Here are the links to the facebook pages or you can find the links to Mason's video's from my wall.

Video is titled "Rafting Fun."

Video is called "Cartwheeling for a Klondike"

Again, SUPER easy!

I will post pictures of the convention on my blog for anyone who wants to see just what it is Dave does with these little figures Dave paints and plays games with. I hope you all had a lovely Labor Day and are headed into a productive new week!


I don't know what many of these games and figures are, but it was sure fun looking around. Oh, and did I mention all these little figures are 15mm to 25mm in size and hand painted? Yes!

Monday, August 29, 2011

Lazy River Saturday in Monte Rio, CA

Happy Monday! It's a beautiful day to start a new week. School is back in and that makes weekends feel special. Do you know what I mean? When the kids are out of school, all the days run together even though work doesn't give us the summer off, the weekends don't "pop" like they do when school is in session.

Saturday we got up early and headed to Monte Rio, CA to play on the Russian River for Diana's birthday. Steve and Ro rented a few kayaks and canoes for all of us to play with and as you can imagine, the pot luck lunch was great! Fresh salsa, caprice salad, deli sandwiches and plenty of fresh summer fruit. Dave and I had Mason and my nieces two kids with us and those extra smiles (well, mostly!) made for a fun family dynamic. We left the river about 3 PM and tootled through Calistoga stopping to buy a treat in the Snack Car, a candy store in a passenger train car. From there, we made our way around Lake Berryessa and had dinner in Winters. It was fun sharing the stories of my childhood camping at Markley's Cove, riding my bike with friends to the lake (yes we did!), and how much we loved to stop at the dam and look over at the spillway. We got home much later than we planned but it was a really fun family day.

Sunday we all did our own thing. I met my friend Deb at the river to color rocks and Dave stayed home to watch the race he taped from the day before. Mason and Dante split their time between driving Dave crazy and then coming to the river to bug me! Not really, just boys being boys. Dave made a delicious chili for dinner and that got me thinking how I can feel fall approaching. The smells are shifting from sweet summer scents to savory fall fragrances. The days are getting shorter and the nights are surely cooler. I can feel my energy start to vibrate in a way it only does this time of year. I love, love, love the fall season! This feeling I get as the summer season ends and fall begins makes me wonder if there is some kind of scientific connection to who we are as beings and the time of year that resonates most with us. Do you know?

So now it's back to school and work, laundry, dishes, grocery shopping and more. I hope you are well and enjoying your weekends, too. I want to leave you with a quote my friend Joel posted on facebook. Having all the kids this weekend and seeing how different they are, it's easy to focus in on what bugs us or what we feel they can improve on. This quote comes to me at the perfect time as a reminded to find their magic and foster it, nurture it, and help them grow it. Have a great week genius friends!

"Everybody is a genius. And if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid."
~Albert Einstein