April 29, 2011

Oh, the Hats!!!

I haven't been caught up in the pre-Royal Wedding excitement, but I did DVR it and just finished watching it. Fabulous!

Kate and William look so genuinely happy. Someone mentioned during the broadcast that they have known each other for 9 years and they've also been living together. Good for them ... no surprises. A girl I worked with many years ago went on her honeymoon and was shocked at some of the things her new hubby did once they were together, like squirting the toothpaste directly into his mouth instead of putting it on the toothbrush. If that was the worst of it, then they're probably still happily married, but the point is, the royal couple must know each other's quirks and habits by now.

I have to admit, I find all of the pomp and circumstance breathtaking. The handsome uniforms ...

Kate's elegant dress and isn't her sister a stunner (love the name Pippa) ...

The bridesmaids and pageboys ...

The incredible Westminster Abbey ...

My least favorite part of the whole thing were the bells ringing prior to the ceremony. I have a hard time separating background noise from talking (I detest loud restaurants and bars) and it was extremely difficult to hear the details being discussed by Katie Couric and the others ...

My absolute favorite part? The hats, the hats, the hats ...

Putting on a fancy hat is just so much fun and we really don't get too many opportunities to do it up this way anymore. That kind of elegance seems to have disappeared with JFK and Jackie O.

As I watched the wedding, I kept thinking about Diana and how sad it is that she wasn't here to celebrate this special occasion with her family.

But they're off to an exciting start. Wishing the royal couple true happiness and long lasting love!

April 24, 2011

An Old Robe With a New Purpose

Cleaning out a closet, I came across a blue fur robe we had given the Granddaughter many years ago. She loved her robe and wore it as long as she could, but it's a children's size 6 and now, at age 14, she is wearing junior sizes. This sweet, warm, fuzzy robe was still in great shape and I put it in the donation bag in the garage. Then, after thinking about it for a while, I decided to repurpose it and retrieved it from the bag.

So what do you get when you combine this old robe ...

with this new fabric I found at Jo-Ann?

You get four-legged cute! Here is Louie modeling his new coat ...

and Miles lounging in his (is he cool or what?) ...

I combined ideas from several different dog coats I'd seen, measuring each dog to create custom patterns from freezer paper ...

They're soft, warm, cozy, and even reversible ...

They're easy to put on and take off with the velcro tabs and Miles and Louie really seem happy and comfortable wearing them. With no work or school last week on Good Friday, we took the Granddaughter on her first trip to the Grand Canyon, then spent the night in Flagstaff, Arizona, where the puppies were very glad to have their new little fur coats to wear after the sun went down.

I'm so pleased with the way they turned out and so glad I decided to repurpose that wonderful robe instead of spending the money to buy new furry fabric. Looking through the closets, I'm getting ideas for other things that I could make -- I wonder if Hubby would miss that shirt???

Easter Blessings

Because He Lives, We Too Shall Live

In this restless world of struggle 
it is very hard to find 
Answers to the questions 
that daily come to mind. 
We cannot see the future, 
what's beyond is still unknown, 
For the secret of God's kingdom 
still belongs to Him alone.

But He granted us salvation 
when His Son was crucified, 
For life became immortal 
because our Saviour died. 
Life is not a transient thing, 
It is change but never loss, 
For Christ purchased our salvation 
When He died upon the Cross.

~Helen Steiner Rice~

April 22, 2011

Cinco de Miles

Happy 5th Birthday
to our ornery - but wonderful - little Miles!

(aka Miles Davis, Miles of Smiles, Mr. Miles 
and, on occasion, Milesyoulittlebastard)

Musical background is "Doxy" by Miles Davis

April 20, 2011

April 17, 2011

Reading "The Happiness Project"

In our little Wine Club that Reads, we all take turns suggesting titles that we think everyone might enjoy. I had seen several mentions in the newspaper and a magazine on Gretchen Rubin's "The Happiness Project Or, Why I Spent a Year Trying to Sing in the Morning, Clean My Closets, Fight Right, Read Aristotle, and Generally Have More Fun" and was absolutely hooked by her idea. Being more of a self-help book, it's not our normal read for book club so I was thrilled when they all jumped on it as something fun and different to try.

And it was!

We had a wonderful meeting (at someone else's house) with all kinds of great treats to eat and, of course, wine to wash them down.

The thing I found most interesting was that every single person said they thought the same thing when they started reading ... "Oh no, this is just the same thing I've read before in a new cover." Then they kept reading and realized they were so wrong. Every one of us gleaned things from this book and the author's trials that spoke to us about pertinent issues we are working on or dealing with.

Gretchen Rubin breaks her happiness project into twelve months, with each new month focusing on a different aspect of happiness in her life. Personally, I was grateful that the first month, January, began with vitality and how to boost energy. She broke this chapter down into five personal resolutions that helped her accomplish her goals: Go to sleep earlier; exercise better; toss, restore, organize; tackle a nagging task; and act more energetic.

We had out-of-town company coming to stay for 10 days and I had some work to do to get ready for them, including cleaning and organizing. That first chapter really helped get me off the couch, doing some deep cleaning and reorganizing in several rooms that sorely needed it. And she was so right about acting energetic. That whole fake it 'til you make it thing really does make a difference if you let it. Cleaning out cupboards, donating things and throwing out crap; just making things sparkle really are essential to feeling lighter, satisfied and -- yes -- happier. I have yet to tackle that nagging task, which is cleaning out the master bedroom closet of all the clothes and shoes that I've collected over the years and can't seem to let go of. However, it's on my list.

And, funny enough, nearly every member of the book club said that they did some cleaning and reorganizing while reading this book last month. With marked feelings of relief and happiness.

Every chapter/month deals with another topic that the author felt would up her happiness quotient, including marriage, work, parenthood, leisure, friendship, money, eternity, mindfulness and attitude. She also came up with her own list of Twelve Commandments, which are personal to each of us. I really liked her first one, though, and adopted it immediately. When she'd struggle with uncertainty over something or waver at all, she'd start with her first commandment: Be Gretchen. This is a quick reminder that we each have to honor our own beliefs and quirks and make ourselves happy. We spend way too much time working our butts off to please everyone else out there which, come on, we all know is impossible. Be fill in your name here is the best way to make sure you are true to yourself. Love that one!

In Chapter Four, April, she focused on parenthood and especially the process of lightening up by acknowledging the reality of people's feelings. I took this one outside the box of parenthood and tried to use it everywhere I went. Lighten up because who knows what has happened in another person's life to make them sad or dour -- Maybe a death in the family? Marriage problems? Money issues? Who knows? I've really tried to give others the benefit of the doubt and lighten up (and I'm sure I'll be even more successful at it now that the in-laws have headed home). At the grocery store, at work, at the post office ... the only place I continue to have trouble with this one is on the freeway. I had to admit to the ladies at book club that I really struggle to lighten up during rush hour and could very happily just ram into some of those jerks. Hmmmm, I said happily ... do you think that counts?

I very much enjoyed this book and have recommended it to others with great enthusiasm since I finished reading it. I also plan to keep this one on the shelf and refer back to it over the years. Yep, it's a keeper.

If you're interested in a little instant gratification and reading more about The Happiness Project, you can visit Gretchen Rubin's website http://www.happiness-project.com/. Happy reading!

April 4, 2011

A Bag of Rocks and a Trampoline

I really do have a mean streak! Remember my post about tasers? Well, I will tell you straight up that I have never, ever thrown a rock at anyone ... however, that seems to be a recurring fantasy of mine.

We live across the fence from a school and they have been doing construction work over there. For far too long. The weather has been beautiful so we've had the windows open and what floats through the screen with the gorgeous Spring breeze is the beep-beep-beeping of these noise-polluting idiots backing up big trucks or something. Honestly, do they never go forward? Do they just drive around backward in circles? I thought I'd happily sit and knit and watch my DVR of Martha Stewart the other day and all I could hear was ...

Martha: We have a BEEP BEEP BEEP for you today. We're going to show you how to BEEP BEEP BEEP and then we'll top it off with BEEP BEEP BEEP. We'll also announce our BEEP BEEP BEEP.


I was venting my frustration with our Youngest Daughter on the phone with my usual version of: "I'd like to throw rocks at these guys!" She suggested a trampoline so I could pop up over the 6 foot block fence with a bag of rocks to throw. Definitely had me laughing hard picturing myself bouncing on a trampoline, hurling rocks over the fence.

This, of course, led to the retelling of one of her favorite stories about me from probably 16 years ago. The kids were still in high school and we went camping up in Payson, Arizona. It was one of those busy summer weekends with lots of people enjoying the great outdoors and we were fortunate to find a wonderful campsite right near the road that ran through the campground.

Very late in the evening, a group of nutjobs pulled up and proceeded to set up camp right next to us in a spot that was not a campsite. They unloaded all their stuff and started blasting music that echoed across the mountaintop. It was so loud and so obnoxious.

I was in the tent with the kids and dogs trying to sleep, Hubby was still sitting by the campfire and I. JUST. COULDN'T. TAKE. IT. ANYMORE!!!

I sat up in my sleeping back and screamed at the top of my lungs ...


YD says my eyeballs were popping right out of my head and I looked crazed. Well, I was!

I was in a royal snit because, frankly, sleeping on the ground is hard enough without throwing in the too loud, crappy musical serenade. I hollered at Hubby, "Let's just throw rocks at 'em!" Of course, we didn't, but I came very, very, very ... very close.

That may be one of the reasons why I have a dislike for camping, aside from sleeping on the ground, cooking on a tiny little stove, trying to clean the dishes in a tiny little tub, peeing in the bushes -- oh, and fishing. Yuck!

But I will say I've been told a story from Hubby's side of the family that makes me grin from ear to ear every time I hear it.

His Dad (my FIL) was the only boy with 6 sisters. When they were children, sitting around the dinner table, he apparently said something smart-mouthed to his mother, which would be my Hubby's Grandma. She got up from her chair to smack him upside the head and he got up and ran from her. So he's now running around the dinner table and she's chasing him, getting angrier by the second. His sisters, not about to let an opportunity to get in on the action slide by, are screeching, "Get him, hit him!"

He runs outside and climbs the tree in their yard, she chases him out there, all the sisters come piling out the door and, by this time, she is so pissed off that she starts picking up rocks to throw at him, trying to knock him out of the tree.

Oh, it does my heart good to hear that other spunky broads have felt this way ... and actually acted upon it. I never met her, but I have a strong kinship with this woman.

So I guess I'll head off to look at trampolines and gather up a big bag of rocks from the yard!

April 2, 2011

"Night Road" Giveaway Winner

Congratulations to gtyyup over at Life at the Rough String on winning my copy of Kristin Hannah's "Night Road."

If you've ever wondered what it would be like to live life on a working ranch, are ready for some great stories and fabulous photos, please give her a visit and try not to be too jealous ...

gtyyup, I'll email you ...

April 1, 2011

98 Degrees

Yes, I realize it's April Fool's Day, but that is no joke. We are supposed to hit 98 degrees in Phoenix today. We've had a beautiful Spring, but I see Summer coming like a runaway train. Which reminds me, have you seen "Unstoppable" with Denzel? It's fabulous! Kept me on the edge of the couch for most of the movie.

We went to a charity fundraiser at a garden nursery recently and picked up some Brilliant Hibiscus and Asparagus Fern to replace some we've lost. Here they are, all in a row and waiting to be planted ...

The hibiscus really is named Brilliant. I don't just think mine are smarter than the average hibiscus. Maybe I should have a bumper sticker made: My Brilliant Hibiscus is an honor hibiscus!

I also picked up some herbs to put in containers on the back patio. Rosemary ...

... and Basil. They smell so amazing! Almost makes me want to cook something. Almost.

Since we'll have company in town starting this weekend and we're already up in the 90s temperature-wise, we'll have the patio and pool deck and furniture all hosed off and spit-shined, ready to enjoy.

Even the babies got a haircut. I said "Sit" and they did, but notice Milesyoulittlebastard looks like he's ready to bolt ...

Happy April, everybody!