Thursday, September 25, 2008

"One Phone Call Can Change Everything" my friend, Linda, recently said. So true!

We received the phone call a few days ago, and we're still reeling, reassessing, and rearranging our plans for the fall.

What's this all about? In case you didn't notice already, the ticker showing how many days are left until our sailing trip is gone. The trip is off. The Baja Ha-Ha will take place, as it does every year, but we will not be among the sailors enjoying the trip.

This is due to the domino effect of Hurricanes Gustav and Ike. Our captain, Leo, on whose catamaran we were to crew, works for FEMA on as as-needed basis. Following Gustav Leo was mobilized to Texas to assist with the aftermath. He was still there when Ike arrived to create even more havoc and damage. FEMA's job grew ten-fold.

Knowing they'd be nowhere near finished inspecting homes and applying for FEMA aid on behalf of the homeowners, Leo had to make a decision. Stay in Texas and continue the work, or leave before the job was done, not to mention walking away from the opportunity to make some good money. His decision to stay meant our trip was off.

It has taken Mike and I a few days to assimilate the news. We'd been getting ready to go for over two months, so it's proven hard to modify our thinking processes. I keep finding myself thinking things like, "oh, I've got to make sure that I have a two-month's supply of my medicine for the . . . oh, wait, no, I don't." Mike, who didn't bother looking for a new gig when his last contract engineering job ended, now will need to start looking again. I had just cleared my schedule of client work for my digital scrapbooking business, so now I need to ramp things up instead. We even had to cancel our housesitters, Richard and Mary, and we felt terrible about the short notice (only three weeks).

There is a silver lining, of course; in fact, several. We'll be able to go to my mom's for Thanksgiving, after all (we missed it last year due to the Baja Ha-Ha 2007), I won't have to leave my kitties for two months (that's a tough one for me), and Richard and Mary found a new housesit opp almost right away (just goes to show how GREAT they are!).

Life likes to throw curve balls, and we just had one come our way. We'll just have to think of it as an opportunity to make new plans.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Arrr! Eat up yer tomateys, me hearties!

YO HO YO HO, a Pirate's Life for Me!

In honor of International Talk Like a Pirate Day here is a photo of me from a few years back when I dressed up like one for Halloween. I'm ready to pillage and plunder!

It was really fun and at work I won the costume contest for the ladies (even though I was dressed as a man, lol). This was one of my fave costumes in recent years. Mike let me use his "real" ceremonial sword from his time in the Marines, though he calls it his "pig sticker," don't ask me why, we're probably better off not knowing! Arrrrr!

Also, in honor of the day, we ate tomatey-sammies for lunch 'cuz there be tomateys on the vines, matey, and this way there won't be no scurvy on-board THIS pirate ship!

Oops, actually, that was yesterday's sammie in a pita pocket. Today I had my tomateys on sourdough bread with lots of lettuce, and Mike had his on rye bread with saurkraut. Yeah, kinda prissy, and not very pirate-y.

So to make up for that little lapse of culinary judgement, this evening I went digging for buried treasure:

Arrrr!! Found some, too!

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

I Received a Blog Award!

I'm sooooo slow getting to this (sorry, Tracy)! I received the "I Love Your Blog" award (you can see it on the left-hand side of my blog) from my blogger friend, Tracy, of Scrappin' A Latte'.

Thank you, Tracy!

Tracy is also a digital scrapbooker and we connected online because I am a scrapbooker-for-hire, and she creates awesome digital scrapbook elements. I have bought a number of items from her to use in my digital scrapbook layouts, and we read each others' blogs, too.

ANYWAY! Long way 'round of saying now that I have received the award, I get to pass it along to three of MY fave blogs, and here they are:

JUDY (aka BrizzySis) - this is my BFF who blogs about her life (which includes her two woofies) and any random thoughts float through her same-age-as-mine, interestingly-creative-type brain.

Organized, Naturally - my L.A.-area niece, Seana, who is a Gen-X neat phreak and who has created a business and blog geared toward helping those of us who are organizationally-challenged, and all in an eco-friendly way.

On the Road Again - my fave pet- and house-sitters, and my friends, Richard and Mary, who chronicle (ok, Mary writes most of it but Richard is in the photos) their travels throughout the northern hemisphere as they take excellent care of vacationer's homes and pets.

I hope you'll take a moment to check out each of their blogs, I know you'll enjoy them!

And Judy, Seana, and Mary, now you get to pass this award on to YOUR fave three blogs!

The Family that Keyboards Together

A typical evening at our house lately.

I'm at my laptop blurfing (blog surfing) or updating my own blogs:
Mike is at his computer doing something that involves GoogleEarth, math, maps, sailing, or spreadsheets: And Michael, who is here temporarily and on loan from the Luo Yang College of Technology in Luo Yang City, China, is probably writing movie reviews for, and which you can read here (just look for the "Movies" link).
Yep, the boy's got a suntan! He's been working in construction for the past month or so while waiting to return to China (the visa app is in process).

So Mike and I are in the same room, each at our own desks with our computers. Michael is in the next room over. When Michael and I want to talk we send each other instant messages, lol! Oh, and we are often simultaneously chatting online with his brother, Rodrigo, in Southern Cali, and/or his girlfriend, Xiao Riu, in China.

Don't you just love modern technology?

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Letterboxing in Benicia

A fun new activity!! I just discovered Letterboxing via one of the blogs I read, Potted Frog. (This is why I love blogs!) Letterboxing is very much like Geo-Caching, except you don't have to have a hand-held GPS. Visit one of the letterboxing websites, is one, and locate letterboxes near you, or in an area you are planning to visit.

A letterbox is a waterproof box hidden somewhere in a public area. At the letterbox website you are given clues and directions to follow to help you find the box. They are never in plain sight; they might be hidden under a bush or leaves, or in a pile of rocks. Inside the letterbox (usually a plastic food container) will be a rubber stamp (often hand-carved), a small notebook, and possibly a pen and/or ink pad. You should take with you your own rubber stamp, ink pad, small notebook, and pen or pencil. Once you find the box you stamp its notebook with your stamp, then write the date and sign your "trail name." You then stamp your own notebook with the stamp found in the letterbox.

I did a search for letterboxes here in Benicia and found two! This afternoon, for a fun outing, Mike and I went in search of them. We found both. One set of clues required us to slide down a concrete slide at a park! The other had us start at the old Capitol Building downtown. I won't give any more info than that as I don't want to give away the locations of the boxes. We stamped the letterbox notebook with our stamp, a striped cat (using orange ink!) and wrote the date and our trail name, we chose Stripey Jack. It was fun to look through the notebook and see who else has visited the box, and when. One had been visited just two days ago.

We now have our first two letterbox stamps in a small notebook (pictured above). Oh, and each letterbox has a name which corresponds to the stamp inside. The two here in Benicia are called "Witchypoo" and "Sandlot."

This would be a great activity for families; kids love it because it's just like going on a treasure hunt. Before you go, though, be sure to read the rules and etiquette of letterboxing found at, and other letterboxing websites. There's some definite need-to-know stuff there such as being very discreet once you've found the box, what to do if you can't find the box, etc. Here's a great getting-started article. Best of all, it's great motivation to get outside walking and exploring. Take your dogs, too!

So, put on your hiking shoes and get out there!

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Not Enough Time, Never Enough Time

My "happy" little bundle of quilting fabrics. The book contains the pattern I'll be following, called "A Piece of Summer."

This is what I want to work on this weekend.

But I have client layouts to finish up. And some things to do around the house and yard. And family to keep company with. And meals to cook. And books to read with a cat in my lap. And some sleeping (including napping). And I'm doing everything way more slowly than usual due to the current heat wave and no A/C in our little house.

Don't get me wrong. I love doing all the above. But it's still hard to be patient and let this quilt-to-be wait its turn. Honestly, I don't know HOW I ever squeezed in a full-time job!

What's awaiting your attention?

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

My Own Eco-Friendly Produce Bags

A few weeks back I found these pale blue sheer curtains at a flea market. I got two panels for $5.00. I washed them in hot water and bleach, then hung them to dry. I had plans to repurpose them as reusable eco-friendly produce bags.

This tiny white "treat" bag from a wedding was my inspiration, not so much for the bag itself since that was just a simple rectangle, but I LOVE the drawstrings. Not just your ordinary drawstrings, these are the type that draw shut from both sides, and are super-easy to re-open.

Here is one of my finished bags. In cutting up the sheers I found I would be able to get 8 to 10 bags out of each panel, so I'll end up with a total of at least 16 bags. Four are completely finished. The next dozen will sew up quickly since now I've got all the shortcuts figured out.

The drawstrings are a teensy bit more trouble than the regular ones (that draw shut only on one side) because two separate strings must be threaded completely through the casing but are worth it for their ease of use and, I think, they're just cuter! I used lengths of yarn that I have in my stash so the 16 to 20 bags I'll end up with only cost me $5.00 and a little of my time.

Here is one of the bags with three Gala apples inside, giving an idea of the size of the bags, which are very close to the standard plastic ones available in any grocery store.

I'm pretty happy with them!

My Camera went to Lake Tahoe for Labor Day Weekend . . .

. . . and I got to stay home and do this:
Well, it's almost done now anyway! We have to spread one more load of sand to fill in the cracks between the bricks. Right after we'd dumped the first load onto the bricks our little cousins Bryce and Bradley came over for the evening while their parents went to a dinner. We couldn't have had a better playtoy than that sandpile!
As you can see the boys played out there until it was nearly dark, even after we'd gotten them fed and into their pajamas!
So fun to have a patio again! Mike barbecued out there on Monday evening. It was soooo nice. Food always tastes better when it's cooked outside. And today we had our lunch out there. I'm already thinking of looking for a pair of comfortable lounging chairs so we can lay back and read on these warm summer evenings.

At least, for as long as they last!

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Welcome to the World, Baby Girl!

The latest addition to my family. My niece, Randi, had her second baby this past week. Introducing Kalleigh Rheann Brown:
Proud papa is Shawn Brown. Little Kalleigh has a big brother, too, named Shawn, Jr.

Medical complications made it necessary for Randi to have an emergency C-section and Kalleigh was born about 6 weeks premature. Isn't she just the tiniest thing??? Just 4 lbs. 7 oz. and 18 inches long! She is still in the hospital until she gains a little more weight but, other than that, she is doing great.

Congratulations, Randi and Shawn!

Jack and the Birdbath

Hey, buddy, that's not a water bowl! It's not?