Friday, June 27, 2008

Happy (Belated) Father's Day, Dad !

Last month I posted a photo of my mom from the 70's, for Mother's Day. So here (a little late) is a picture of my Dad from the same general time period. Happy Father's Day, Dad! (I don't feel too bad about this post being late because I was actually with my Dad on Father's Day.)

I think this photo is about 1977 or so (dontcha love those plaid pants). During that time he was president of a little company called Automecca which produced the vehicle shown in the photo, the Roamer SportsVan. My dad has always been seriously afflicted with the Entrepreneur Bug and has owned a number of businesses over the years. As anyone who owns a small business knows, its rare to make more money than just enough to live on! I think my mom would have preferred my dad to have always had a "regular" job, but what would our lives be if we didn't take a few risks and go after our dreams?

My siblings and I certainly picked up on that lesson. Out of seven kids three of us run (or have run) our own businesses, and most, if not all, of my other sibs have expressed the desire to do the same. I guess we've inherited that mix of dreamer, optimism, and creativity that makes calling our own shots so irresistible. I'll never get rich with my little biz, but I'm sure having a good time.This photo is from about 1960. I'm on the left of my dad and my brother, Mike, is on the right. My dad taught all of us kids to ride two-wheelers as soon as we were old enough. He was very much involved in Boy Scouts for many years with both my brothers, and I got to go along on many hikes and campouts. He body-surfed and built sandcastles at the beach. He was my first dance partner, and he taught me to drive a car. Of course, he did once leave me behind at a hardware store when I was about 3 (he forgot he had me with him)!

Nobody's perfect but, as a dad, mine comes pretty darn close. Happy Father's Day, Dad. I love you!

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

The Purr...fect Solution to Keeping Cats Safe & Happy

Here's Jack safe behind our cat fencing. We installed this fencing three years ago when Jack and Scout were kittens. We had lost our handsome male Burmese, Tony, to a car earlier that year. It was so traumatic for me that I knew I could no longer allow my cats to roam the way I always had. I didn't want to go through finding another cat in the neighbor's yard, dead, from being hit by a car right in front of our own home.

We looked at a lot of different types of fencing and finally settled on the product provided by Purr...fect Fence at When properly installed this fencing is truly escape-proof yet allows cats the freedom to enjoy the outdoors and frees me from any worry that they will be playing in the road. We have a cat door so our cats can go in and out as they please which frees us up from being a door monitor.Here is a view of the cat garden from where I was standing under the arbor. They have all this room to roam! You have to look closely to see the slim black poles and the mesh fencing attached to it which runs just inside the wood fence. That's how unobtrusive the fencing is; it certainly doesn't make our garden look like a prison yard.Jack likes to stroll (or patrol?) along the stones that border our flower gardens. There's always a bug or butterfly to chase, grass to nibble, and dirt or warm concrete to roll on.
Looks like Scout is right behind him! She's really the superior hunter and has brought in many a lizard, bird, or rodent. That is the only downside to letting my cats go outside. I do have to clean up feathers or lizard pieces now and then, or corner and trap a mouse that she's brought into the house and let go. Nice!

In California there is talk of making owners register & license cats, just like dogs, and of requiring cats to be confined to the owner's yard. Happily, we're ready for that now. I know I've blogged about our cat garden before, but after spending an enjoyable hour out there this morning I just felt compelled to write more about it, and encourage anyone with cats to look into installing this awesome fencing. It could totally change your life and save that of your cat.

Monday, June 23, 2008

In Defense of Self-Portraits or, "Dah-ling, you look mah-velous!"

Ok, so we all hate photos of ourselves. I don't like getting my picture taken because I never like the way I look when I see the photo. I compare myself to the way I looked ten years ago. I was thinner; my hair had less gray in it; I had fewer wrinkles. What I usually find myself saying is, "Don't aim that camera at me -- I look terrible!" And the last thing I thought I'd ever do is . . . take a photo of myself deliberately!

Ok, so no one looks as "good" as they did ten years ago - why would we expect to? Isn't that just silly? Ten years of living is going to leave its mark on us, especially if we are living life to the fullest. Every gray hair has its story, every wrinkle, too, and would we honestly give up a single wonderful meal shared with family and/or friends in order to carry just one or two fewer pounds?

So let me put in just a few words in defense of self-portraits, in favor of jumping into (instead of out of) group photos, and of allowing others to point their cameras our way because we do want to be captured in all our glory and with all our imperfections because . . . ten years from now . . . we aren't going to look as good as we do today, right now!

That's right - ten years from now we will look back at the pictures and say "whoa, baby, I looked good!"

My advice? Get out that camera, hold it at arm's length, point it at your face and take a photo because, dah-ling, you look simply mah-velous!

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Rodrigo and Dianna's Wedding - June 14, 2008

Here are just a few snapshots from Rodrigo and Dianna's wedding, taken by myself, Michael, and Rodrigo. Dianna, on the steps of Santa Clara Church in Oxnard, California, simply gorgeous in her exquisite gown, veil, and bouquet. Isn't she breathtaking?!?After the ceremony, the bride and groom with their parents. From left to right: Terry Oliver, John Oliver, Dianna, Rodrigo, me, Rodrigo DeZubiria (Sr.). [Although Rodrigo (Sr.) and I are divorced and we have both remarried, we are all good friends, which makes it possible for us all to attend the wedding, participate in the ceremony, and have photos taken together.]Rodrigo and Dianna, Maya DeZubiria, their flowergirl, and Adam Parker, their ringbearer. Maya and Adam both performed like pros, walking up the aisle together, making their little bows at the alter, then turning and quietly walking to their seats. No one could have done a better job!Dianna and her bridesmaids, and her matron-of-honor, Jeanette (to Dianna's left). I don't know all the names of the bridesmaids but I will find out since I'll need that info for when I create the wedding album. They all looked simply stunning.
Those feet sticking out from the circle of ladies belong to Jeff Fassett of Fassett Photography. I can't wait to see the results of this particular maneuver! Jeff specializes in digital wedding photography, and he produces awesome pictures. Rodrigo, Dianna, and I met Jeff at a Wedding Expo in Camarillo and immediately liked his style, both creative and personal. He even created a slideshow to present at the reception that included baby and childhood photos of Dianna and Rodrigo AND photos from their wedding ceremony which had taken place just a few hours prevous. That was a huge hit among the guests!Rodrigo and his groomsmen, including his Best Man (his brother, Michael), and his ringbearer. I know the names of most of these guys, but a few I am not sure of so I will wait and list them all in a future post. Aren't they a handsome group?? My parents, Mike and Jeri Hansen, with Dianna and Rodrigo. We are very happy to have Dianna join our family, as well as her parents, Terry and John, her brothers, John Paul and Frankie, and her extended family, too. We met many of our new family members at the wedding and reception and are going to enjoy getting to know them all. Dianna even has an orange tabby cat. I knew I liked that girl!
Rodrigo and his dad, brother, and sisters Emma and Maya. Emma was a junior bridesmaid and also had the honor of performing one of the readings during the wedding ceremony. She did a great job, every word clear as a bell, and she didn't seem nervous at all. She has grown up so much in the last year - quite the young lady now!

There are lots more photos to come, and better ones than these, since they will have been taken by Jeff. I am anxious to see the ones taken during the ceremony, inside that beautiful church. So keep an eye out for more updates SOON.

I do apologize for making everyone wait so long for these first photos. Since our return home (very late) Sunday evening, Michael and I have spent most of our time sleeping! I was totally exhausted from a trip to China and then the wedding, and Michael, as most of you know, just arrived from China on the 11th, and was still suffering from jetlag when he was plunged headlong into last-minute wedding preparations. It's only today, Wed'day, that we are feeling rested. Poor Mike had to go straight back to work on Monday. Can't figure out how he managed to do that - I sure couldn't have.

Now Rodrigo and Dianna are on their honeymoon -- two weeks in Costa Rica. Congratulations, and have a wonderful time!

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Only 2 more days....

.....until this pair is WED!

This digital scrapbook layout is from August of 2007. On this day, at our Hansen Family Reunion, Rodrigo and Dianna announced their engagement.

In just two days, June 14, 2008, they will become husband and wife.

The very next day they leave for a two-week honeymoon in Puerto Rico, and to start their new lives together.

Congratulations Rodrigo and Dianna! Our Love and Best Wishes Always!!!

"The Real Measure of a Day's Heat . . .

. . . is the length of a sleeping cat." Charles J. Brady.

Or, the length of a half-sleeping cat. Jack finds the coolest spot in the house, the kitchen floor, for his afternoon nap. Outside in the cat's garden Scout, who spends much of her waking hours hunting small rodents and reptiles, has her eyes and thoughts on something high in the tree.
Ah hah! A small rodent it is. This squirrel was up very high in the branches where he obviously felt safe enough to just settle down and wait out the threat. He doesn't realize that we have wrapped the trunk of this tree with sheet metal.

Scout couldn't have climbed it if she'd wanted to. It also helps discourage raccoons from coming into the garden and then through the cat door into our house where they eat every speck of cat food they can find and track water and mud all through the kitchen and dining room.

Of course, that doesn't keep Jack from climbing the arbor! This is about as high as he can go, though, before he is stopped by mesh nailed on the top crosspieces. He's always searching for a way out of the garden so he can go off on one of "Jack's Big Adventures" outside the confines of the Purr...fect Cat Fencing.

In spite of their instincts to hunt and roam, Scout and Jack do manage to content themselves with a quieter (and safer!) life in their small corner of the world.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Things I'm Grateful for Today

a special, enclosed garden that my cats and I enjoy every day, and that helps me slow down, reflect, and enjoy each moment of each day

the lovely young woman our son is marrying on Saturday

the soothing breeze that comes up each evening, from the Carquinez Strait, to cool down our non-airconditioned home each night

Kohl's Department Store, who had just the right "foundation garments" to wear under my dress as "mother-of-the-groom" for said wedding

safe travel for our younger son, from China back to the U.S., to be Best Man at his brother's wedding

my husband, who didn't scold me for buying him a new white dress shirt just because I thought the one he already has is just a teensy bit grayish

the cutest little clutch that will be the perfect purse to carry at the wedding

my mom and dad for hosting 8 or more people at their home so that we can all enjoy the wedding without the expense of a hotel room

an invitation to tea in late June with the Westcoast Scrappers

my sister, Denise, for doing all the work (including getting the pint-sized tux) so her son, Adam, can be ring-bearer in the wedding

Crystal Light pink lemonade

my sister, Lisa, who affirmed that it was ok for me not to get my underarms waxed even though I'll be wearing a sleeveless dress for the wedding


my in-laws, Art and Betty, who wish so much that they could attend the wedding and send their Best Wishes to the bride and groom


a brand-new wedding band for me that exactly matches my husband's (to replace the one that I lost a couple of years ago)

sunless bronzer by L'Oreal

my cousin, Laurel, who just moved to Benicia (how great is it to have family in town??) and who will look in on my kitty-babies while we are off to the wedding

micro-wave popcorn

gift cards because they make gift-giving SO easy

seedless watermelon -- it makes dieting so much nicer

my dad who will bless the rings of our son and new daughter-in-law

mockingbirds, hummingbirds, and squirrels, all of which my cats love to watch in the garden, and I love to TRY to photograph

family members making time to come to the wedding even though there are lots of other things going on in their lives

digital cameras, and the realization that I don't need to worry about taking photos at the wedding because Jeff Fassett of Fassett Weddings Photography will be there, wooohoooooooo!

two orange tabby cats urging me to come to bed. . . .

Tuesday, June 10, 2008


Is there a 12-step program for people addicted to blogs? That would be me! I can spend (literally) hours every day reading blogs, leaving comments, following any and all links in the blogs, which usually take me to other blogs with fun posts and links to follow, and so on and so on! My bloglines list is nearing 40 blogs now and growing rapidly. Nothing is more exciting than hearing that little "ding!" that bloglines makes every time one of the blogs I subscribe to is updated with a new post. I drop what I'm doing and rush over to see what's new, lol!

Most of the blogs I follow are written by women who love the same thinks I do -- whether it's scrapbooking, cardmaking, sewing, quilting, cross-stitch, knitting, photography, etc. Some of them are written by members of my family; blogs are a great way to stay in touch with family and friends and share photos.
My latest blog find is "Just for You by Jenn," which I found via Lisa Leonard's blog (another great read & you've GOT to check out the jewelry she creates)! Jenn yet another talented lady. She's a Stampin' Up demonstrator/seller and she makes the coolest greeting cards!She's also running a contest and all you have to do is read her blog and leave a comment on it to be entered in the random drawing for a free set of Stampin' Up stamps (shown above). So hurry over there and check it out!

Monday, June 9, 2008

World's Most Beautiful Bride-to-Be

If you've been watching my ticker box you'll know it's only FIVE DAYS 'TIL THE WEDDING!
This is Dianna Marie Oliver. Soon to be Dianna Marie DeZubiria! She's marrying my son, Rodrigo. I have always wanted a daughter (or two!) and soon my wish will come true! Next on my Wish List?? Grandkids (hint hint)!

Here are just a couple more photos from Dianna's bridal shower on June 1st. It was a wonderful party at her aunt Jeannette's lovely home. Forty of more people were there and Dianna received so many nice gifts including (All moms, hide your eyes!) several articles of lingerie.
It's not just her wedding gown that will be a special surprise to her husband-to-be on June 14th!
This is me, my niece Megan, my Mom, another niece Kirsten, and my sister Lisa. We all attended the shower together and had a great time. The food was delicious, the decorations very pretty, the games fun, and we got to meet lots of Dianna's family, friends, and co-workers.

The next few days will be whirlwind-busy while we all scramble to finish up last-minute preparations for the wedding on Saturday. I just called Mike at work to remind him to ask for at least Thursday and Friday off. I wish he could get more time off but that probably won't happen. We'll make the long drive from northern Cali to southern Cali on Thursday, and will probably stay at my mom and dad's house (if there's room).

I will see many of you there! And for the rest of you, stay tuned.....there WILL be photos!

Friday, June 6, 2008

Baby Girl

Here's one of the newest additions to my ever-growing family. This is Leah, 3-month old daughter of Brittany and Brandon. Isn't she absolutely adorable???

My younger brother, Steve, is Leah's grandpa, and I think it's entirely unfair that Steve got to be a grandpa before I got to be a grandma! He has two grandkids now, and another on the way.

Well, maybe I won't have to wait TOO much longer since my oldest son, Rodrigo, will marry his sweetheart, Dianna, in just 8 days!

Thursday, June 5, 2008

There's Nothing like Fresh-baked Bread

Nothing tastes better than fresh-baked bread. While I was growing up my mom baked 4 loaves of bread at least twice a week for our large family. I loved coming home from school and smelling that bread baking in the oven . . . almost as much as I loved smelling her fresh-baked chocolate chip cookies! My mom still bakes, though not as often since it's now just her and my dad at home, but I always look forward to her bread when I visit.

These days everyone is so busy that few have the luxury of devoting the majority of an entire day to the process of homemade bread. Even for people who are self-employed and work from home, like I do, can't devote the time (at least not very often) to make and knead the dough, put it through all its necessary restings and risings and, finally, bake it. So, when I found this book, "Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day," looked through it and realized the authors literally meant FIVE minutes a day, I couldn't wait to try out their new technique.

You've seen the photo (above) of my first loaf of artisan bread. It turned out great!
This is the dough ball before it was baked, on a wooden chopping board sprinkled with cornmeal. I chose the "Light Whole Wheat Bread" recipe for my first attempt.
Yep, those are cat paws. It's Jack. He always wants to help in the kitchen. I let him watch. No touching or tasting!
Here is the bread after I cut the first slice. The texture is wonderful, the crust thick and chewy just the way I like it and, best of all, it tastes delish!

Did it take just 5 minutes a day? If you don't count the time I spent reading the book -- YES! It's amazingly simple. All you do on the first day is mix together water, yeast, salt, and flour in a great big bowl, either by hand or with a mixer. Then you simply let it rest (in the same container) for a couple of hours (resting & baking time is not included in the 5 minutes a day calculation, of course). The dough rises and then falls a little in that time. Then you pick up the bowl, put a lid on it, and put it in the fridge.

The next day you cut off a piece of dough the size of a grapefruit, shape it into a ball, and let it rest on a cornmeal-sprinkled board for 40 minutes. Then slash it a few times with a serrated knife and bake for 35 minutes or so. And there's still enough dough in the bowl for 3 more loaves of bread! Each recipe is large enough to bake 4 loaves at once, or one loaf at a time for up to 14 days.

That's it! NO KNEADING! That's the hard-to-believe part for me. I've baked bread for 20 years and every recipe, except quick breads, requires kneading of the dough. Plus, the only rising or rising time is the initial two hours, then the 40 minutes before baking.

I'm very excited to have found this book and am going to buy a copy for myself. Until then I'll try not to spill anything on the copy I borrowed from the library.