Monday, November 30, 2015

return to the tor

Today I returned to Tor House.

No (sigh) I haven't gotten my job back but I do have a monthly volunteer commitment to restock the bookstore for the weekly tours and today was my day.

I love being there by myself...just me and the ghosts. There is something about that place that speaks to my soul.

I took a few pictures today to show you my new domain - the bookstore.

 the parlor

the library - the last time I was in this room was at my going away party

patio outside of the library

Isn't it a lovely place? I just love being there and am so grateful that I still get to spend time as a volunteer. The annual volunteer Christmas party is coming up soon and I look forward to seeing all my friends again.

In other news - November is coming to a close and so I've come to the end of National Blog Posting Month! I'm happy that I was able to post just about every day except for birthday weekend. I've enjoyed coming up with subjects to write about but I'll admit that I'm looking forward to taking a break for a couple of days before I start writing again.

Thanks for reading! Until next time...

Sunday, November 29, 2015


Don't you just love going out to breakfast?

I've had some great breakfasts this month and thought I'd share them with you.

 Pie for breakfast? Yes, indeedy!

All of this is making me hungry and it's almost time for dinner.

Hmmm, that gives me an idea. You know what's also good?

Breakfast for dinner!

Saturday, November 28, 2015


Today is my sister's birthday and all of my family gathered to celebrate with her...except me.

That makes me sad but she's almost 3000 miles away and getting there is a little out of my price range right now. Still, if I had known that everyone else would be there, I would have tried to find a way.

Because I live so far away from all of them, I'm not sure my family knows how much they mean to me and how much I miss them. It's been so long since I've been able to celebrate holidays with them, I've mostly gotten used to being away but sometimes, like today, it's hard.

I have a great family, they are funny and upbeat and resilient. When we do get together there is much laughter and very little drama. I am proud of each one of them. I am especially proud of my sister who is facing serious health issues with faith, strength and humor. She is such an inspiration to me.

So today I'm so grateful for my wonderful family. I was there with you in spirit, I promise.

Friday, November 27, 2015


Last year I wouldn't let Christmas in the house. It was one of the darkest periods of my life, things were dire and there was no Christmas spirit inside of me anywhere.

I usually love the holiday season and start decorating right after Thanksgiving but last year I stubbornly kept all the decorations in the garage and wouldn't even look at them.

 3 days before Christmas, Mr. T decided to take matters into his own hands and set up our little Christmas tree while I was at work to surprise me. It was a pleasant surprise and I was happy to see it although I never would have put it up myself. I had mixed feelings about having it up. Part of me was glad and part of me felt sad because I couldn't truly appreciate it. It was a complicated time. I let the tree stay up through Christmas day but I had it stripped and out of my sight the day after Christmas. Usually I reluctantly de-Christmas the house in January. Once I kept our tree up until April and hung Valentines and Easter decorations on it.

This year things are different and I can't wait to put up a few things and decorate the house. I am thankful that things are better, although if the rumors at Mr. French's company prove to be true things could go south very quickly, but I am determined to enjoy Christmas this year no matter what.

This brings me to a dilemma, however. 

My normal Christmas decorations are very pastel. We have a white tree with pink, blue and lavender ornaments. It's beautiful but this year I find myself gravitating towards something more rustic.

I blame the Dollar aisle at Target. 

Last week I walked in to Target and saw lots of rustic Christmas things - bold red plaid baskets, napkins and dish towels with woodsy themes and pine cones everywhere. Now all I can think of is decorating with a mountain cabin theme.

Of course I don't have any mountain cabin Christmas decorations and I can't go out and buy all new so I'm going to have to get creative.

Here's my start. I pulled out our little Christmas tree which has a burlap base. We bought this thing at Walgreens a million years ago and it's still my favorite.

I decided to put it in an old green bucket that I bought months ago at the thrift store and hadn't gotten around to painting yet. I'm so glad I was too lazy to do it because the green is perfect for now.

Luckily we live in the pine cone capital of the world so I'm always picking them up and bringing them home in hopes I can use them for a craft project...which is kind of silly because I really don't do crafts but at least now they're being put to good use. I'll get some more and fill up one of those red plaid baskets I saw at Target. Hopefully they still have some in stock by the time I get there later today or tomorrow.

As for decorations, I'm going to turn to my old friend - The Dollar Tree - to see what they have to complete my theme. Or maybe I'll take a page out of the Little House books and string popcorn and cranberries.

So this year I'm especially grateful for Christmas spirit. I know what it's like to not have any which makes it even more special when it comes back.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Wednesday, November 25, 2015


Charlie has been a part of our family for almost 6 months now and I am grateful for her every day but it has taken on a new meaning in the last couple of months.

Early in October Charlie started acting differently, not jumping up on the couch or bed and just generally being subdued. She kept eating well and she didn't seem to limp but clearly something was wrong.

All she did was lay around on her bed and look at us with sad eyes. It was heartbreaking.

We took her to different vets, loaded her up with supplements and even tried acupuncture. Everyone concurred that she had slightly injured herself and would be fine but it might take a little time. She would get a little better and then she'd be bad again...over and over. Just when we'd start to relax, things would go backwards.

It was several long weeks and we worried and cried and felt helpless. We missed our happy, energetic little puppy, missed doggy kisses and snuggles, missed all her crazy antics.

Then one day, just as suddenly as it had begun, it was over and our Charlie was back. She jumped on the couch, flipped over on her back and wanted a tummy rub. What a relief. Of course we took our vet's advice and have been over-resting her so that she doesn't reinjure herself but it's not easy because she's so excited to feel better. It's like she's filled with joy.

I know how she feels.

I love you, Charlie and I'm so thankful that you're a part of our family.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015


I'm so grateful for this area where we live. I've loved Carmel ever since my first visit in 1994 and it's been wonderful to have the opportunity to live here since 1998. No matter where we end up next year, living here has been a dream come true.

I love it so much that it was the only place I wanted to spend my birthday morning. Mr. T was working all day so I took myself off to my beloved Carmel for a solo breakfast trip, which is kind of perfect for an introvert like me. I was exhausted from having to be social at work all week (along with trying to learn a whole bunch of stuff that just isn't clicking yet in my brain) so a quiet morning in my favorite place was exactly what I wanted.

I love Carmel on weekday mornings before the tourists have taken over. This is the headquarters of the Carmel Heritage Society, which was my workplace for about a decade. Isn't it charming?

I think that's one of the things I love most about Carmel, all the charming buildings and unique architecture. Many of the most charming buildings were built in the 1920s which has become my favorite decade to research. Hopefully one day I can do something with all that research but whether that happens or not, I've spent many happy hours immersing myself in the '20s. The building above was the first Tudor/fairytale commercial building in Carmel and was used as a weavers studio and ticket window for the theater that used to reside behind it. Nowawdays it's a very popular candy store...they make delicious fudge!

My favorite spot in all of Carmel - the Tuck Box. Built (by my favorite research subject, Hugh Comstock) and opened in 1926 (as Kay's) it has always been a breakfast and lunch spot and was my destination for birthday breakfast last week.

My favorite table, off to the side. Our local paper (in print since 1914) comes out each Friday so I grabbed a copy and prepared to entertain myself during my meal. The dining room was fairly empty which is kind of unusual for this place but I wasn't complaining.

The avocado and jack cheese omelette was particularly delicious that day but the real star of any Tuck Box meal is the scone. It's unlike any scone I've ever had anywhere else. It's not your regular biscuit-type scone, it's unique. The recipe was introduced in the 1940s and is supposed to be of nothern English or Scottish origin but I've never seen or tasted anything like it. It's especially good with the homemade jams and marmalade that the Tuck Box has made for them and I never turn down a little whipped cream. Just looking at the picture makes me want to skip work and go back today for more.

The dining room is cozy and adorable. Most people enjoy sitting in the front bay window but I prefer my little table off to the side.

I did spend the rest of the day being more social but my solitary breakfast in Carmel was the perfect way to start the day. Carmel will always be my hometown and I'm so grateful to be able to spend so much time there.

Monday, November 23, 2015


Thanks for all the good wishes for my birthday last week. I had a great day and we even managed to get away for a little road trip over the weekend. First road trip in over 2 years, oh how I've missed traveling!

Thanksgiving is this week!

I love Thanksgiving. I love everything about it - the preparation, the parade, the food, the reminder to take time to be grateful.

So that's what I'm going to do this week on the blog - focus on the things I'm most grateful for this past year. As I've mentioned before, it hasn't been my most favorite year and yet I woke up this morning with a roof over my head, food in the pantry and a job to go to. That's a lot to be thankful for and I am.

Friday, November 20, 2015

happy day

It's time to celebrate so the blog is taking a little break. 

See you next week!

Thursday, November 19, 2015


Saw this in a store earlier this week and it seemed appropriate with my birthday rapidly approaching. LOL!

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

birthday week

I really like celebrating birthdays, I've never understood people who say it's just another day. What's so wrong about having one day a year that's special? Most of life is rather routine so it's nice to break out of the rut and feel special for a day.

Having said that, my last couple of birthdays were rather understated. It's not that I need presents (I like 'em but I don't need 'em) but there's a difference between not getting any because there's nothing you really want and not getting any because you can't afford anything outside of survival necessities. I told myself it was ok and that I didn't need anything but I was still sad and it made an already bad situation feel so much worse.

So this year when I found out my friend Dawn was opening an Etsy shop for her hand beaded necklaces, I took a look, found this awesome necklace and decided to treat myself to a little early birthday present just because I could.

It is even more gorgeous in person and a tangible reminder that bad times don't last forever. I appreciate every step forward...even if it's sometimes followed by two steps back.

Happy birthday to me.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Travels with Charlie: Santa Paws

Every year a local rescue organization (the one we got Charlie from) offers pictures of your dog (and family) with Santa for a small donation.

Every year I want to do this but I either a) find out about it too late or b) can't afford even the small donation or c) both.

This year was, finally, different. I got an email about it well in advance and, for the moment, it wasn't beyond us.


So we got Charlie all gussied up in her little outfit and headed off to the local mall.

They have the cutest Santa's Workshop all set up for the kiddies which they let the rescue organization use the weekend before it opens up to the human public.

Of course no kid can go by without wanting to peek in and see Santa. He was nice enough to come out and talk to a couple of them which will probably be a really special Christmas memory for them.

When our turn came we went inside the workshop and took picture after picture, pose after pose. It was warm and cozy in there and you kind of forgot the rest of the world existed. We ended up with 35 pictures with several different poses. It was a really good value, I want to do it every year.

I don't want to post too many pictures until we pick the ones for our Christmas card but I do have one that I love.

Merry Christmas y'all!

Monday, November 16, 2015


Just had to share a couple of pictures from yesterday's photoshoot with Santa. I'll write all about it later this week. We had the best time.

Santa was really patient and we got some great pictures...just not these. Can't wait to share more with you. 

One of the pictures will be our Christmas card this year. If anybody wants one, send me your address! I'd love to exchange Christmas cards with you.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

happy Sunday

It's been quite a week, on both a global and a personal level, and there is fear about the future.

But I vow to not let that stop me from being happy in the moment.

We're on our way today to take family pictures with Santa...all of us including Charlie, who is dressed in her pretty Halloween dress again. I still haven't figured out what I'm wearing and since we're supposed to leave in 25 minutes, I guess I'd better work on that.

Have a happy Sunday everybody!

Saturday, November 14, 2015

goat hill

Last night was hard.

I sometimes refer to my husband as Mr. French on this blog because he grew up in Paris. You can't even imagine how emotional he was as he watched his beloved city under siege.

In addition, there were several members of his family out and about in the city last night and it took some time before everyone was accounted for and we (and the rest of the family) were assured of their safety.

So we decided today would be a day of fun and beauty and took ourselves off to the Goat Hill Vintage Fair. 

Why is it named Goat Hill, you ask? Because the original site for the fair was a 14 acres goat farm in the Santa Cruz mountains. It outgrew the original location after just 2 years and has since moved to the county fairgrounds but the name stuck which is just fine by me because I adore goats.

It makes for some cute advertising and displays.

More tomorrow!

Thursday, November 12, 2015


My sister sent me an early birthday present.

She thinks she's cute. 

Ok, she's cute.

I love it!