Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Fall on the California Coast

Fall is a subtle season here, a cooler breeze, sharper colors. Here is a bit of the scene from coast earlier this month:

Sea Ranch Cliff

Monday, September 24, 2012

A Room with Singing Mice and New Beginnings

As a tiny girl growing up in Minnesota, our third grade teacher had the tradition of inviting her class over to her house for the day. I believe that we piled in to the school bus, brought our lunches with us, and went to her house during the school day. Mrs. Owens' home had pretty white siding, and a picket fence and lots of flowers. We saw her backyard, which had a magical tree swing. We ate our lunches under a big tree.The kitchen was warm, inviting. We were all on our best behavior, in those early weeks of school when you want to make a good impression on your new teacher, and don't quite know all of the kids in the class. There are new friendships, new clothes, lots of nerves and anxiety.

The most amazing part of the house was her daughter's room. Nestled in the alcoves of the top floor, with dormers and shuttered windows that looked out over trees that were just starting to change colors, her daughter's room felt as if it probably had a family of singing mice that lived in the wall (an enchanting thought to me, I loved Disney's movie "The Rescuers.") She had a beautiful quilt, a white bookshelf full of books, and hardwood floors. I remember being one of the last children allowed up to see her daughter's room, one of the last to climb the old stairs, and felt like I did not have enough time to take it all in. I wanted to stand in her little walk-in closet and pretend that this was my room.

Dormer window

Later, much later, I went to grad school in Connecticut, and lived in the residence halls there. There at Yale Divinity School, I found a similar sense of enchantment in a space. My room looked out over a main street, lined with big trees, old floors, and a sense of history and scholarship that emanated from the desk, the little built in bookshelf and dresser. It was a place that felt like home, that had a sense of community built in, that became even more endearing as the seasons changed. Having most recently lived in California, I loved changing leaves, the silence of the first snow storm there. While I never discovered any singing mice, it was nice to live in that room for a year, to make it mine, to experience the life that came with that place.

Yale Divinity School

Friday, September 14, 2012

Zoom Friday: An Elephant Theme First Birthday Party

As we head into the weekend, and Zoom's second birthday party, I realize I never shared his first birthday with you all. So here we go, down memory lane, with Zoom's Elephant Theme First Birthday Party. There's a list of references of where I got everything at the bottom of this post.

A Welcome sign at the front door step, made from scraps of the banners:
Zoom's 1st bday 139

Elephant decorations in the kitchen. I used some Sesame Street ones my sister had, and covered them with our elephant paper:
Zoom's 1st bday 168

Zoom's 1st bday 161

Our gluten free cupcakes with Elephant toppers:
Zoom's 1st bday 163

We even had a tiny elephant planter near the cupcakes. I bought a new stand for the occasion, too, which now houses my little succulent plant collection. The bunting on the stand is from the matching elephant paper:
Zoom's 1st bday - cupcakes with Elephant Toppers

Post cupcake, you can see Zoom's elephant t-shirt in this photo, along with "Uncle" Steve peeking in on the birthday boy:
Zoom;s 1st bday Elephant Tshirt

My parents pose with Zoom, and show off his matching elephant t-shirt and bib:
Zoom's 1st bday 170

Elephant masks (and mouse masks, too) were part of the fun for our younger guests (OK, and some of the older ones, but I don't have any photo proof to share):
Zoom's 1st bday Elephant Masks

For favors, I found some elephant Webkinz for $5 on eBay. With only 6 younger guests, this seemed like a great favor for a good price!


For the older (read: adult) guests we gave out peanuts. Get it? Elephants love peanuts ...

And here's a picture of the three of us before Zoom devoured his cupcake!
Zoom's 1st bday 234

Where to find the Elephant items:
Cupcake toppers by 3rd Generation Crafts on Etsy
Elephant t-shirt and bib by Bubbles and Squeaks on Etsy
Elephant masks: Dollar bin at Target
Elephant Webkinz: on eBay
Elephant stamp on bag of peanuts: Hug Fish and Orange on Etsy

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Quote from Lao Tzu: On Being Loved and Loving

My BYW (Blogging Your Way) friend Jeanne of Shop Sweet Things posted this quote on her blog this week. She spied it in Old Oakland, a neighborhood I used to work in. Happy Thursday!

"Being deeply loved gives you strength; loving deeply gives you courage." - Lao Tzu

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Kitchen Inspiration: Gray Cabinets, Open Shelves, and a Desk

Our kitchen is meh. When we first looked at the house, I loved the light that streams in to the kitchen, I liked that it was pretty large, and I liked that the cabinets had potential. I didn't like the builder basic color of the cabinets, or the brown walls, the linoleum, or the overhead lighting. You can see more about my current plans for the kitchen in this post.

So what is inspiring me for this redo? I've fallen hard for some gray cabinets, for beadboard, for pretty curtains, and maybe some blinds. I want a little desk for ME! in there somewhere. Here's what I'm in love with:

LifeinGrace has a gorgeous kitchen, with smooth gray cabinets. I love the paneled ceiling, and I love the bright bowls and plates. I spy beadboard behind the plates! Did you know that I also have a lot of the polish pottery in that upper right hand corner? Adore it :)

Layla of The Lettered Cottage mocked up a gorgeous cottage kitchen a couple of weeks ago. The light teal cabinets are an inspiration. Again, I love the beadboard on the fossits (little space above the cabinets), and I like the two tone cabinets.  

Another challenge for us is that in opting to buy a two bedroom (down from a three bedroom rental) means that we lost our den. I'm not a fan of having a desk in the master bedroom, so we are going to have to look for a place to keep our desks. I'm still hoping to place a desk like this one from Young House Love in our .... kitchen, as a little nook just for me and my computer. OK, but much smaller :)

And while we don't really have room in our kitchen for a banquette, I'm dreaming of one in the dining room area like this one from BHG.com. I think it could be a great space saving option for us, since we have a fairly small "great room." I love the open shelving here, and the coziness of the corner bench seat. I think we could put some IKEA book shelves on either side of a corner bench to make it look built in. Now, how do we get all that great light into the space?

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Day Two: Whales on the Northern California Coast

We took a little family trip up the coast last week. On our second day, Zoom and I went to "Shell Beach" after visiting a little playground on the coast. He picked up shells, but spent most of his time throwing rocks in a small tidepool. And having snacks.


As he was having a snack, some people up on the cliff asked if we had seen the whales ... and no, we were so fascinated by our crackers that we had not. Thank heavens they clued us in!! We saw the whales spouting and flapping their tales. Amazing.

Here's Zoom and I by the cliffs, after climbing up from the beach.


After we got back from all that playing and snacking and whale watching, it was time for a "nigh nigh" in a dog bed. All in all, an awesome day.


PS. This was not taken on a Tuesday; nor were we even up there on a Tuesday. So the baby has day of the week socks, and he wears them on the wrong day... did I mention we saw whales? :)

Monday, September 10, 2012

A Trip Up the Coast: Zoom at the Ocean

Little Zoom turns two today, and his Granny and Doris are in town for a visit. They are from Ohio, and have not seen much of the gorgeous Northern California coast. It's one of my favorite places on Earth, and so we took a few days to go explore.

Each morning when he woke up, Zoom would run to these double doors and say "Outside," and then "water." He wanted to get his butt down to the ocean!


Zoom found a walking stick as we headed down to the cliffs.


The first day was cloudy, but we loved the views from the path.


Here's Zoom checking out the waves from one of the fences along the cliff. He couldn't take his eyes off that ocean: