Saturday, March 31, 2012

Lotto Prayer

Dear Lord,

Well, You didn't give me the lottery jackpot last night so I guess I will just have to move ahead... I had some big plans for that money...I am grateful that all I spent was one dollar, not like some of those schmucks who blew their whole paycheck.  Actually, I didn't even buy the ticket...Dave did, but California is a community property state..sigh...he would have shared...

But I am disappointed still.  Oh the good I would have done...okay, after my first villa in Tuscany...and maybe a little car...

I'm sure that the winner will be just as generous as I planned to be had I won, Lord... You know, giving to the poor, halting global warming, saving the spotted owl...

What, You say...You know my heart? You really think it would have been my undoing? Not right at first, Lord! Okay...I guess there's a slight chance I might get too self centered after a year or two...

Yea, You're probably right...I obsess over the slightest downward click in the Dow would I ever survive a gazillion dollar portfolio...guess You know best...I still would have liked to try...

But hey, Big Guy, thanks for saving me (literally!).


Laurel.  You didn't win either?

Friday, March 30, 2012

Road Trip Rules

Most people today would say we have poor timing to plan a road trip this Spring.  I might agree, given the obnoxious price of gas in the U.S. However, I have found that even at $5.00 a gallon, the price of gas will be the least of our excitement.  You have to plan for a road trip, or any travel adventure for that matter.  We have been to Europe twice, to the islands a couple of times, but we have "done" more road trips. I don't pretend to be a world traveler, but I have learned a thing or two about traveling in general.

I will say that my hubby and I do pretty well traveling together. As we drove through France one year, we only had a couple of minor skirmishes over directions and routes, and most of those took place while circling the roundabouts, trying to decide if the GPS device was correct or the paper map. Once we escaped the tyranny of the roundabout, the screaming stopped.

So how do you plan a road trip? It's not the same as it was when our kids were young...the seat belt laws were relatively non-existent or at least not as punitive. Our van had a bed in the back: one kid playing on the bed, two in the middle seat fighting and one on an ice chest between us surfing the channels on the radio. I wouldn't dream of doing that now, but hey, I used to stand up in the bed of my Dad's pickup riding down the road.  Country girl, remember?

So here they are - Laurel's road trip rules.  I've thrown in a few other travel tips that we learned the hard way.

1) Have lots of maps and learn how to fold them.  The main source of revenue for a map company is maps. The more maps they print, the more profits they make.  Hence, companies that make maps print them on really flimsy paper, so that they rip and tear with use. Maps only last 400 or 500 miles, so you need at least two copies of each map, especially for states like Texas, where you can drive for days on the same highway, folding and refolding the map everytime you drag it out. Use colored pens to mark your route, even though you will change it several times during the trip. Throw them away when you get back home, or you'll get confused next time.

2) Learn the native language. I like to study up on the language before I go. You will be regarded as a more friendly tourist if you master a few phrases - "Where's the nearest toilet" or " Can I have some ketchup on these green thingies" or "I'm not paying that much for that purse!" Since we are heading for Texas, I have even learned a few important phrases: "Where's the Alamo?" and "Bless her heart!"

3) Portable devices are very useful tools. You can never have too many portable devices on a trip, especially if you want to stand out as a tourist.  You will need several cameras, so each of you can take the same exact scene in case one of you isn't good at focusing.  If you each have an iphone, so much the better - that way, when you don't have any signal on either phone, you can each be frustrated.  And it's good to have a portable GPS, in case you can't figure out how to operate the one in your rental car or in case your paper map is totally thrashed.  And of course, don't forget all the chargers, chips and cables to go with your devices. You need them when you're traveling 70 MPH down the don't want to miss the turnoff. And by all means, wear them all around your neck.

4) Keep a journal of your daily adventures. You think you will remember everything about your trip, but you are wrong, especially if you are advancing in age.  So you best write it down. Who would have thought that I would forget where I lost my purse with my passports and all my credit cards? Or that little cafe where we both got food poisoning...not good on a drive trip! Besides, journals are fun to read several years later.

5) Have reasonable expectations and set reasonable goals. You cannot get from Denver to Houston in one day, even though it "looks like freeway all the way, honey".  You can't expect to find one of those really nice hotels in a town with a Quonset hut for a post office.  And you can't get a glass of Rombauer in a diner the specializes in fried catfish. You need to go with the flow and flavor of the region, take it easy, and keep your snotty attitude in check. Your mantra is "When in Rome, do as..."

6) Do some research about your destinations. We don't usually make a lot of reservations on our road's more fun flying by the seat of our know, "ex temper".  And forget those AAA Travel guides - by the time you find out where you are and are madly flipping through the pages for a hotel suggestion, you have passed three places to get a good meal and four places to stay.  Surfing the internet for the "significant" historical stuff and other noteworthy places where you will be going is fun and informative, and worth the effort. You don't want to get back home and have your friends say "What? You didn't see the Leaning Tower of Pisa??? You went to Italy and you didn't see it????". "Duh!!!"

7) Memorialize your trip. Besides the journal you so diligently kept during your trip, you will want to put all your pictures in a scrapbook of some kind when you get home.  But rather than spending a gazillion dollars on all that pretty paper, the ink and photo paper for your printer, the stickers and embellishments, the punches and glues, might I suggest downloading them onto the Costco website or My Publisher. You will end up with a beautiful coffee table book with a lot less hassle.

Road trips are all about compromise and adjusting to the daily flow. They are about listening to great music, laughing over yesterday's trauma, finding interesting sites, experiencing new cuisines and capturing a little history.  They are not for discussing why your son quit college, the rapid downfall of your IRA or your mother-in-law's drinking problem.  They are for your amusement and adventure.  So just sit back, relax and enjoy the ride!

Laurel.  Happy traveling!

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Shops I Adore - Part 2

There are days when I like to take a break from creating, volunteering and house cleaning and the myriad of other things that occupy my retired life.  When I need a "pretty" fix I go shopping.  I don't usually go to buy anything (I AM on a fixed income, LOL!), I just like to get out and about to see what I can find....sort of an inspiration search.  My ritual usually includes driving to some area where I know there's a coffee shop nearby, maybe an art gallery and hopefully a small boutique or two.

This week I ended up at Pavillions in East Sacramento where Bella Bru Cafe serves the most delicious cappuccino.  It was a gloriously sunny day. After hitting the usual haunts, I happened upon a little mecca for stampers and other paper enthusiasts.  I love paper, note cards, writing instruments and all things connected to paper, even though I have given up on the fine art of hand written letters and note cards. But this shop makes me want to get out the rubber stamps and send someone I love a note or two.

The Paper Garden...overflowing with all things paper,
but especially for the Stampers and Scrapbookers.

I love a shop with a nice friendly atmosphere where browsing is encouraged. 
And there is so much to see and enjoy!

Beautiful papers...I wanted one of each...and they have card stock in so many colors.

Japanese Washi papers...aah, to give a gift wrapped in this:)

The selection of paper punches is huge...are these not adorable?

Hundreds and hundreds of rubber stamps and inks...

A substantial selection of the cutest ribbons and other embellishments!

Nosh on some candy from the front counter.

Naturally, The Paper Garden also has adorable gifts too!

The Paper Garden boutique is a joy to visit and very inspiring for the creative at heart.  And like all things creative, I can see how one would immediately want to start a "stash" of paper, stamps, inks, and punches.  You can sign up for classes as well.

If you can't make it to their shop, at least check out their blog. Like I say, I adore this shop! Maybe I'll start stamping again or drag out that half finished scrap book...

Laurel.  Send a pretty note to someone you love!

Monday, March 26, 2012

Lazy Monday

I have added a new blog... PHOTO NOT INCLUDED.  I wanted a place where bloggers could just post a photo when they didn't really have anything inspiring to today for me.  We bloggers all have oodles of photos that we love, but that never really get posted because we can't think of anything to write to go with them. 

Today is my first link-up post on PHOTO NOT INCLUDED .  Won't you join me by posting a picture from your files?  And thanks for visiting Laurel's Quill.  I hope my new Link-up blog will be fun for you.


From the Louvre

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Sunday's Child

Magpie Tales Photo prompt #110

Sunday's Child

image: Duane Michals

She lay there quietly chastening herself for yesterday's failure:
Over and over again, every day is the same. If I eat, I die. If I don't eat, I die. I speak, but the words are bitter in my mouth. I resolve, but my mind retreats to the dark places. I rise, confined in this straight jacket of fleshy flesh, unable to control its wanton wanderings.  Everyday I begin, everyday I fail. I am dead, I am alive. I am like Elvis...reappearing again and again. Who will deliver ME???

For other inspirations from this photo, visit my friends at THE MAG

Friday, March 23, 2012

Top 10 Anniversary Confessions

I love how other bloggers inspire me...I read the funniest post this morning by my friend Mr. Chatterbox about his foray into the world of romance novels. His dreams are shattered by the well-meaning editing of his English teacher wife when...well, I won't spoil the read for you:)

But Mr. C. inspired me to post some thoughts on love, particularly those that I had on a wedding anniversary with my Man...and of course, interspersed with a few images of romance...

Top 10 Anniversary Confessions

We have not changedwe have just reverted back to who we were before we tried to impress each other.

Juliet's House

We have not obeyed…we are still trying to figure out who is the Boss.

We have not cherished…unless of course you count the new car, the diamond necklace, the sailboat and all the other tangible, but useless stuff.

We have lied…we never really liked yard work, football, live jazz, liver pate, Speedos or potpourri.

Ahhh, Venice...

We rarely converse…if we really talked about anything serious, we would have to make stuff up, because we are too busy “doing” to talk about it.

We are too busy…if we slow down, we may actually have to relax, which may lead to enjoyment, which may lead to less stress, and we won’t know how to behave.

My hubby's morning present from the garden...

We are not patient…we have not perfected the long-fuse theory, opting for the more conventional “I want it and I want it now” technique.

We have judged… neither of us is as righteous as the other one thinks they are.

We have not loved…we spend our energy worrying about whether we are following the greatest commandment, but forget that among our neighbors and ourselves is our spouse.

But the Best Anniversary Confession:

We have not forgotten why we married…

Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous and is not arrogant, does not act unbecomingly;  It does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account wrongs suffered, does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices in the truth; (love) bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.  Love never fails.  I Cor. 13: 4-8

Laurel.  Love Well.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Cab for the Cure....

My daughter-in-law is a staunch supporter and fundraiser for breast cancer awareness. It started with her participation in the annual 5K walk for Susan G. Komen in May.  Rather than continuing to participate on other teams that she had no real connection with, she decided to form her own team and recruit walkers and supporters for the annual event. She has a knack for fundraising, and soon her team (5309 Park Patrol) rose to one of the larger team contributors at the individual level for the Sacramento region, largely because of her innovative fundraising ideas.

This May, the Park Patrol will be hosting the 3rd Annual Cab for the Cure event in the El Dorado wine country, here in the Gold Country foothills of California. Seven wineries in the region will be participating by agreeing to donate a percentage of wine sales for the day.  Event participators buy a special t-shirt and visit the various wineries, hopefully making a few purchases. It's a fun event that includes wine tasting and a BBQ at the end of the day.

This year, I thought it might be fun to make some wine charms to sell at the wineries the day of the event. Holly and I spent the day today beading and wire wrapping these little gems:

Simple to make:  A little pink wire, some "Komen pink" beads, a few
 purple beads wired with olive green wire for the grape bunches...and voila!

Who wouldn't want one of these for, say, a $3.00 donation to a worthy cause? 

It was a great day with my daughter-in-law!  Best wishes for a successful fundraiser, Holly!

Laurel, with sore fingers

Monday, March 19, 2012

Three Broken Needles later...

Happiness is....a new purse! Thursday Blog hop, sponsored by Becky's Rub Some Dirt On It. See all the posts at:

Rainy Sundays leave nothing to do but read, watch March Madness (groan), cook or make something. You know me, I'm going to make something. I beaded yesterday, so I thought I might work on another handbag. I am still perfecting my handbag pattern, and each one is more servicable than the last.

For instance I got tired of fighting the little closure tab (cute as it is!) on the pink polka dot bag,

and it's a little big, even though it's smaller than the black vinyl below. This bag is too big for me and it flops over when I lay it down.

And I needed my purse to have a little more bulk/substance to it than either of these two above. 

The beauty of this "box" style is that there are no zippers, closures no middle compartments.  It's light and the straps fit over the shoulder and yet, short enough so that the bag isn't flopping around on your hip.  It tucks under your arm, close to your body. (For basic how-to, see my post on making a box style purse.)

I found some quilted fabric in JoAnn's that had the turquoise color that I wanted for my next bag. It was a little pricey, but you only need a half of a yard.  Even though the fabric was reversible, I still wanted a separate lining. I chose a cotton in a coordinating color. The overall dimensions of the finished purse are roughly 10" X 12".  The straps are about 22" long.
Check it out!

The fabric has little gold threads in the striping.  I interfaced the cotton lining with felt, so the purse really holds it's box shape very nicely.

I added a little pocket to the front to slip my car keys into as I dash into the store. It drives me nuts to go searching for my keys, and they can easily get lost in the bottom of this bag.

The embellishment is off a pair of flip-flops that I never wore because they fell off my feet all the time.  Re-purposing is my mantra!!!

Three broken needles later, this puppy is ready to go shopping!!!

Laurel. Use the correct needles in your machine!

Sunday, March 18, 2012

The Garden

Magpie Photo Prompt #109 - Robert and Shana ParkeHarrison

He tried in vain to regain a slice of sanity. She was gone. He thought of her in her plastic clogs, rusty shovel in loamy hand, poking at the empty rows that were once her garden. He wondered how nature could be so cruel to her, innocent and mercurial, her knarled fingers unable to stave off the inevitable. The weeds and upstarts had conspired against her in an all-out attempt to rid her of their space. Her faded beauty had perished with her and the earth lay fallow before him. He hated the garden. He loathed nature. He despised the ticking of time. He relented for one moment and the madness swallowed him again.

Visit my friends at Magpie Tales to see other prose and poetry for this photo:

Laurel. Cultivate Happiness!

Friday, March 16, 2012

What bird? What are you talking about?

You have seen my cat before. 

Miss Bella is rather common looking and has a typical cat-like personality.

She kneads the down comforter on my bed just when I am trying to go back to sleep in the wee hours of the morning. 

She body-blows herself into my ankles on the way to her morning breakfast. 

She sleeps on the floor registers in the winter, blocking the flow of heat into the room. She sprawls out on the carpet like a cheap date right in the the path of travel and she attacks my legs as I pass by.  But I'm thinking she's a pretty normal cat.

Despite her intrinsic cuteness, I have discovered that Miss Bella has a dark side. Whether her recent behavior is normal cat behavior is irrelevant, so don't tell me that - I just know it changed my view of her.  No longer is she my adorable little feline Princess who just saunters around the house acting like she owns the joint. She's a natural born killer.

This is the floor of my guest room after her spree.  Don't ask me how she actually caught it, and don't ask me why she chose to bring it into the house.  It was apparant that the little chirper put up quite a fight, judging from the swath of feathers over the entire floor. Cat fanciers know the answers to these questions...I was just blown away.  It's not like I didn't grow up on the farm where I witnessed all manner of animal behavior, much of it very disturbing to a young child.  But my Bella? A homocidal carnivore? Say it isn't so!

Perhaps the most disturbing aspect of her malaise was that it appeared that she ate it - bones, guts, feet - the whole thing!  I couldn't get the mental picture out of my head for days.  I waited for the ripe smell of death to come wafting from my guestroom, but alas, she was tidy, as every Princess should be. There was no carcass laying under the bed or any where else in the house that I could find...just this tiny wing remained.  She must have gotten full and couldn't polish it off.

Later that day after her "meal", I found her sitting outside on the pool deck, licking herself and surveying the yard...staking out her next kill, I guess. Rambo Kitty.

Laurel. Cat lover?

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

The Quiet Beach...

As the rain poured down on the roof, she daydreamed of summers past...another wedding on the Cape, fireworks by the lake and cheap wine in plastic tumblers.

And then there was Vegas in November - how many people dreamed of that, she mused.

It was all lovely, but she yearned for the beach as she huddled by the fireplace that she was only allowed to use on low particulate days.

She remembered that it was hot on the beach that year.

A man and woman nursed a couple of Buds in the scorching sun as they watched the wannabe surfers struggle with their boards.

They had been married for quite a while, so words were no longer necessary...nor did they want to break the peaceful lapping of the surf as it edged its way toward their toes.

It was a dream vacation with no expense spared.

They contemplated dinner in silence...another evening at Joe's wouldn't be too hard to take.

Are we going to play golf tomorrow, he wondered?

Not again, she thought.

How 'bout some shopping and you could buy me an anniversary present, she shot back noiselessly.

Another surfer bit the dust as he picked up his Bud and slogged back to the luxurious condo to nap.

They ate at Joe's that night. It was fabulous.

I'll write about this in my Christmas letter and my friends will be green, she mused, as a huge wave pounded her sand chair into the beach...she didn't write a Christmas letter that year.

Laurel. A re-post from early blogging days...revamped.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Shops I Adore...Part 1

I'm not a total shopaholic, but one of my favorite de-stressers is to spend time in small shops that are filled with pretty things that stimulate my creative juices or just feed my soul.  So this post plays homage to that pastime...the first of many, hopefully.

I took my Amy out to lunch last week for her birthday.  We wanted to go someplace special so I made reservations for High-Hand Conservatory in Loomis.  It's an old fruit packing shed that has been converted to a unique collection of small shops, along with a full scale nursery and restaurant.  The restaurant is in a tree-filled glass conservatory - an ambiance perfect for a Spring lunch.

Ricotta Quesadillas...Mmmmmm.
 The nursery features a stunning Japanese Maple collection, gorgeous pottery and many unique plants.  You can just stroll along gravel paths to music floating through the air.
The selection of succulents in unique "pots" caught our attention.

Inside the huge packing shed, there are several small shopkeepers who feature everything
from pottery to oriental rugs to candles and gifts.  

These pretties have little seed strips for planting. Totally cute!

There is also a cooperative gallery and a shop where I learned Nuno felting on silk. The Tin Thimble is unique shop with gorgeous applications of this time honored felting technique
and...yippee...they offer classes. They have a stunning collection of wool yarns and soft silk fabric.

My favorite shop in this mini-complex is The Vintage Bricoleur.  It's a small shabby-chic type store loaded with the most amazing, creative treasures, many of them hand made by artists and
lovers of all thing vintage.  We learned that the owners are totally into blogging,
so they were not surprised that I wanted to feature their shop in my blog.

Oh, the ambiance and warmth of this shop:)

Bride's bouquet

They have a class to learn how to make these...I'm signing up!

And a class for this...I have loads of antique sheet music...gotta do this class too!
The Vintage Bricoleur is a must see shop in our area. Go to High-Hand, have some lunch and stop by.  Visit their blog to see all the class options and happenings.

Laurel. Happy Shopping!
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