Monday, March 31, 2014

Spring Break!

For the first time in forever we actually took a long weekend away to our favorite spot. It entailed several plane flights plus an overnight stay in the Houston airport (not my favorite way to spend the wee hours of the morning) but it was worth every missed hour of sleep.

It was what we call a stealth trip, something we haven't done in a few years. We, for some odd reason, have a much better social life in Florida than we do here at home so trips are full of family and social obligations. While we love all the people we usually get together with, it was so nice to not have anyone know we were around this time. Not to mention, every trip in the last 2 years has been dominated by air conditioning repair problems. Believe me, it's no fun to get in at midnight in the summer and discover your air conditioning hasn't been running for 2 months. It's even less amusing the next day at noon when the temperature in the house is over 90. But this spring break weekend was blissfully air conditioning repairman free! Just hours and hours of swimming in the pool, snoozing in the sun and a little side trip to say goodbye to a favorite aviation attraction that is closing down next month.


Thursday, March 20, 2014

The road to Cachagua

Every once in a while you have a moment that changes the course of your life. A few months ago I had one of those moments and it's all because of brunch.  All the best moments of my life involve food.

My boss invited us out to brunch at a new (to us) place - Cachagua General Store. This place, in the middle of freakin' nowhere, is unlike any place I've ever been. Gourmet food in a rather laid-back atmosphere. Cachagua (that's Ca SHAU wa) is a life-changing experience and not just because the road to get there is a treacherous, winding mountain path that makes me want to throw up just thinking about it.

See that red shack behind the sign? That's the restaurant. When we pulled up in the (dirt) parking lot I felt as if we'd driven through a time warp and stepped back into the '70s and I'm pretty sure I heard Dueling Banjos playing in the background. I was instantly fascinated and a little bit scared of this strange place. It's the kind of place that has beat up VW vans (complete with flower power stickers) parking alongside high-end BMWs and Mercedes. It's quirky and funky and a little out there...and that's just the outside.

Doesn't this say award-winning gourmet hot spot to you? But you should see their Yelp reviews. If you ever want to eat there, keep in mind that it's only open for brunch on Sunday and dinner on Monday. Any other day of the week, you're out of luck. Remember, I did say it was quirky.

The eclectic interior doesn't disappoint. Please note the restaurant dogs that just hang out in the dining room with you.

Take a close look at the "curtains" - they are actually paper drawings of curtains, it's like eating inside your favorite cartoon.

The food was pretty amazing, it lived up to the hype.

But how, you ask, could a simple brunch change your life?

It's all because of the clothes, my darlings

Of course I had to buy something new for this outing. Duh. Drawing inspiration from the hippy-chic atmosphere of the restaurant,  I found a cute, hippy/bohemian ivory babydoll top - so perfect! To this I added a crocheted sweater that I already had in my closet. All this hippy on the top needed the perfect embroidered jeans.
Cute, right? In keeping with the boho theme, I decided not to spend hours straightening my hair and let it curl the way it's always wanted to.

I put all this together and BAM - I felt like a new person. I loved the ruffles on my babydoll top, I loved my wavy hair, loved, loved, loved my jeans. I felt like me for the first time. I felt like a free spirit, creative, bohemian, wild-child. My new inner attitude must have shown on the outside too because complete strangers came up to me in the parking lot to tell me how much they loved my style. Um, wow.

That was such a great moment, I've worn the same outfit every day for the last six months. Ok, that's not really true (thank goodness) but I have refigured my wardrobe to reflect my new creative, hippy, boho, shabby chic, vintage cowgirl self. To be totally honest, some days are more successful than others. Creativity is a journey, I guess. All this creativity is spilling over into the house and garden although they are a long-term work in progress. It's really exciting to see where that will lead.

Cachagua will live forever in my dreams....because you're never getting me on that wickedly, winding road with the hairpin turns and sheer drops ever again.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Shabby Me

Lately I've become obsessed with the whole shabby chic concept of decorating. Yeah, I know, it's been around for years, where have I been? I can only say that I don't jump on bandwagons when a trend is hot, I prefer to wait until nobody else is doing it and then I'm unique. But there's no point in waiting until shabby chic isn't popular, from the sheer number of blogs I've been reading recently it's not going anywhere and I love it so I'm all in.

All my favorite blogs have been talking about the new Rachel Ashwell collection at Target, posting pictures of all their recent purchases and I was feeling so left out because my Target had nothing. Today I got the bright idea to travel down the road a few miles to another Target and there I confirmed that my hometown Target is totally lame because this one had a lovely Rachel/Simply Shabby Chic display. I turned a corner to the bedding section and I was instantly drooling on the floor wanting at least one of everything.

I am fairly obsessed with that basket, I must have picked it up and put it down at least 30 times. In the end I walked out of the store with nothing but a really long wish list but hopefully one day soon I'll be able to bring some of these lovelies home.

I consoled myself with a trip to the dollar store to pick up more of those fabric hangers and some scrapbook paper for a craft project I'm working on. Yes, you heard me right, I'm doing crafts. Never thought you'd live to see the day, did you? Well, that's a story for another day.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Market Day

Do you ever visit the Farmers Market? Our town has one on Sundays and it's always a fun way to spend an hour or so.

Of course Summer is the best time to visit because of the variety

Those pictures are from last summer. The market isn't quite that colorful here in the early days of spring but it's still a worthwhile trip because of the yummy market food. My favorite treat these days is the baked potato stand.

I always get mine with everything but butter and jalapenos.

After my weekly treat, I usually go visit the dollar store around the corner, you never know what treasures you can find there. This week I found these adorable hangers - 2/$1!

They will be perfect to use to photograph clothes, I still can't believe something so pretty is only a dollar.

I love market day, can't wait for next weekend!

Monday, March 10, 2014

Bring On Spring

No winter lasts forever; no spring skips its turn.

Yesterday we finally got to "spring forward" to Daylight Savings Time. I know it's controversial and not universally popular but I love it. I dread the whole "fall back" time of year, I hate winter evenings that are dark by 5pm so I celebrate those extra hours of daylight in the spring and summer.
It's been a long winter and any signs of spring are welcome. I have a giant climbing rose in the backyard and every year when it's bare I worry that it won't come back but miraculously, one day it's just a bunch of sticks and the next it seems to have burst into bloom overnight. The abundance of blooms always takes me by surprise. I think life is a lot like that.
We could never endure winter if not for the hope of spring.

Friday, March 7, 2014

Let There Be Light

For like a shaft, clear and cold, the thought pierced him that in the end the Shadow was only a small and passing thing: there was light and high beauty for ever beyond its reach.”
― J.R.R. Tolkien, The Return of the King

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

I Heart Wicker

Once upon a time a beautiful princess moved into her first castle and it was perfect...except for one teeny tiny little problem - there just wasn't enough furniture to fill up all the rooms and the empty, echoing living room really bummed her out. The empty, echoing furniture budget bummed her out too, unfortunately.

But then the princess, who was really quite brilliant, came up with a genius idea - why not fill the living room with wicker! Since the princess was obsessed with interested in the Victorian era back then, wicker was the perfect solution. A full room of beautiful, lacy-looking furniture without bankrupting the kingdom. The prince and princess loved the solution and the kingdom rejoiced.

Wasn't that a sweet story? That wicker has held up well through 3 moves over the past 20 years and I still love it just as much as I did back in our first house. I love it so much, I've never really wanted to get "regular" living room furniture. We don't really use our living room, we live in our family room...which will never be photographed because we, well, we live there.

And while I still adore my wicker, I feel like I want to change it up a little to get a fresh look. I've recently become obsessed with fond of the whole cottage/vintage chic style of decorating which is cozier and less stuffy than Victorian but I'm not completely sure how to incorporate this style change into my living room.

I'm thinking that the first thing to do might be to get new cushions. My original 20-year old cushions are pictured above. I don't have a definite vision for the new cushions yet, definitely something non-floral, maybe a solid color or subtle stripes?

I'm totally open to suggestions - any ideas?

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Florida Dreamin'

A couple of years ago I wrote this post on the top ten reasons I'd rather be in Florida.  All those reasons are still valid but now I need to add one more...

My heart lives in Florida.

My mother, who lives unhappily in Florida, always asks me if I'd rather live in Florida or California. I always answer that I love them both and that's true to a certain point but it's not the whole truth.

I didn't always dream of Florida, I never even thought about having a home there until 14 years ago and then it all just happened and it seemed right and I've never regretted buying the house. It is my escape, my hideaway, my bolt hole. I go there to celebrate life's victories and to rest up from life's troubles. A few days sitting by the pool and I regain my emotional center. If I go too long without a visit, I start to suffer from withdrawal symptoms. I haven't been there for over a month and I'm starting to get a twitch.

Don't get me wrong, I really love my little California cottage and I plan on totally focusing on it for the next few months, redecorating and gardening and making it the cozy cottage of my dreams. I also adore Carmel, as I'm sure I've mentioned a few hundred times, and can't imagine not having it as a part of my life but if I won the lottery, I'd pack myself off to Florida so fast it'd make your head spin. I'd make that my home base, spend every weekend...who am I kidding, I'd spend every dang day... sitting by the pool and soaking up that wonderful sunshine. I'd make sure to visit Carmel every few months but my day to day life would be reunited with my heart in the sunshine state.

Can you tell that I'm longing to get on a plane to MCO? Oh boy, my twitch is getting worse!

Saturday, March 1, 2014

In Like A Lion...

I know it's not a popular sentiment right now in California but I don't like rain. To be more specific, I don't like rainy days. I'm fine with a rain storm through the night. If I had my way, all rain would take place when I was sleeping leaving me with beautiful days full of sunshine and sweet, clean air.

The universe, however, has decreed that I cannot have my way and therefore the rain, both figurative and literal, is falling on us for the next few days. Luckily we're not in the area that's getting hit with the big storm, complete with mudslides and home evacuations, so we'll just sit back and ride out the storm.

My favorite thing about rain is

the beauty it leaves behind when it finally ends.