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!