Sunday, March 29, 2009

Spring has Sprung!

After a semi-rainy, and oftentimes very cold, winter (okay, cold only for Sacramento), it is Spring! The hills are a beautiful green, and the air is cool with a hint of softness and warmth to come. Afternoons have been featuring bright blue skies and fluffy white clouds. I only wish I could enjoy it more. The problem? The arrival of spring inevitably causes me to feel the impending doom of another hot summer. Instead of reveling in the change of seasons, I dread the upcoming months when it will be 90, 100, even 110 degrees. I could write post after post about why I hate this valley in the summer. And please don't try to tell me it's a dry heat. Please.

However, I am trying to cultivate a mindset of embracing the moment, for whatever that moment might be. I have decided to put off thoughts of Summer, and focus on the beauty of Spring!

The turn of the seasons means new produce coming in our CSA box. Yay for asparagus! This first picking was sweet and perfect. A little salt & olive oil and I roasted it right up on the grill:

I love our front yard, it's almost completely hidden from the street and sometimes it feels like our secret. Everything is starting to wake up from the winter hibernation:

I especially love the Breath of Heaven bush. I had one outside my bedroom window growing up and now we have one beneath our front window. I have big plans for that spot (stay tuned).

We planted a second row of these little Italian Cypress last fall and they already have grown a couple of inches (look at the bright green new growth). In a year or so they'll be shading the driveway!

And of course, the Little Orange Bush That Could:

I went to pick the oranges a few days ago and discovered nearly 50 hidden among it's branches! I picked around 30 to juice, the rest should be ready in a week or so.

Jason discovered this gem last week:
On a whim we planted two artichoke plants in the garden last year, not really having any idea how to take care of them. Nothing happened all summer, then in the fall they suddenly grew really big. Our curiosity was piqued, but we still didn't see anything. Then all of a sudden -- a baby choke! It's barely bigger than a golf ball and buried way down in the core of the plant. It's absolutely adorable and we're bursting with parental pride.

Lest you think it's all sunshine and roses here at the compound, let me show you something. See this tree? It is an evil, evil tree. Oh sure, you think it looks all majestic silhouetted against the evening sky. Don't let that fool you. It is pure evil. It's not flowering yet, but soon it will be. And that is bad. Both Jason and I are super allergic to it, and it is right outside our bedroom window. So much for enjoying a spring breeze! After some sleuthing, we're pretty sure it is some sort of pecan tree. But never fear -- I have my Claritin, my Zyrtec, my Flonase, my Benadryl, my eyedrops, and even an N-95 mask should I need it. This tree will not take away my spring enjoyment this year!

Disclaimer: check back with me when the tree starts blooming.

So there you have it: a little peek of Spring at our abode. I'm truly enjoying it, thinking about new flowerpots and vegetable beds and only dreading the summer a tiny, tiny bit. Did that sound convincing? I've almost convinced myself!

We've also been doing mad reno on the house, so keep your eye out for before & after pics!!

EDIT: I decided to come back and link this post up to the Outdoor Wednesday series over at A Southern Daydreamer. Check out everyone's awesome Spring pictures!

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Just Relax & Enjoy It

I love The Nester. I love her blog, I love her decorating ideas, I especially love her window mistreatments! Her tag line says it all: "it doesn't have to be perfect to be beautiful." In today's "Bird Watching" blog round-up I was led to this wonderful gem: down to earth. It's a blog about simple living and the post was about "The secret life of a happy homemaker." Now, a homemaker is a far cry from what I consider myself. I read that title and snorted a little and almost clicked away. But for some reason I decided to read the whole post, and what an eye opener! You should read it yourself, but the basic premise was that we all have tasks that fill our day and there is no way around them. So to perform those tasks with a sense of purpose, a sense of calmness, and even a sense of gratitude can completely change the tone of our day.

I must have had an open mind when I woke up this morning, because I completely fell in love with this idea! I already had a Saturday full of errands planned, and I was NOT looking forward to it. I ride my bike to work and to the grocery store, so the idea of being in the car all day, driving through in-town traffic, does not appeal to me. I absorbed down to earth's article and decided to fully embrace my day. To take my time on my errands and to enjoy the opportunity to listen to music and run the AC in the car at full blast. The report: it truly made a difference! Nothing life-shattering, but I was definitely not miserable as I expected I was going to be.

The truth is, unless you have a live-in maid and cook, home duties never end. Instead of dreading every load of laundry and putting it off and then trying to cram through it quickly just to get it done, I can savor the moment to do something relaxing that will eventually please myself and my family. Although I am a natural mess, I feel so much calmer when the house is straightened and put away. Clothes will always need to be rewashed, food will always need to be prepared, cats will continually shed fur. But I will never have back the moments of my day, and how much better to pass them with a sense of purpose, then a sense of drudgery?

Trust me, I'm not going all Duggar on you here. But why not have a sense of mindfulness instead of fighting against all the things that need to happen in your day? Whether it's washing dishes, or filing paperwork, or changing diapers, be present in the moment! Being zen, meditating, centering, daydreaming, whatever you want to call it -- try it. Remember that all the tiny things you do throughout your day, make someone else's day a tiny bit better. And with that, I leave you with some wise words, from someone who spent her very short life doing insignificant, mundane tasks, yet managed to inspire greatness:

“Remember that nothing is small in the eyes of God. Do all that you do with love.” -Saint Therese (she's my homegirl)

Friday, March 27, 2009

I've Been Tagged!!

Sweet, my sister Mara just tagged me on her blog! Apparently that means I have to take a picture of myself RIGHT NOW and post it here. Fortunately, it was just the kick I needed to get my bloggy butt in gear and get posting again. So without further's how hot I'm looking on a Friday night:

Try not to be jealous. I live a life of glamour and excitement. And poor self-portrait-taking skills. My hair is still wet from when I put it up in a clip after my shower for an impromptu trip to IKEA. Which yielded many, many finds for home improvement. Which reminds me, I really need to do some before and after pictures on here of the rooms we've finished so far.

The IKEA trip also gave me an opportunity to be reminded of how similar Jason and my dear Dad are. They never met each other, but at least once a day Jason does something that makes me laugh because it reminds me of my Dad, and then I get a little creeped out because I can't believe I pulled a Freud and completely "married my father." I could list the ways they are similar, but I only need to illustrate with this story, and I think you will understand.

As Jason was having a slight stroke tonight after paying at IKEA, we parked the carts and I told him to wait and I went to the snack bar. Feeling like a big spender, and so grateful he had just bought me some new house doo-hickeys, I pulled out a couple bills and 2 quarters and ordered up some hot dogs (okay, I also got myself a cinnamon roll, they're really good and only $1!).

When I returned with the hot dogs, Jason's eyes lit up and he declared me a wonderful wife.

And this my friends, is quite similar to what would have happened had my Dad been here with us. Except the calling me a wonderful wife part (knock it off creepy Freudites!). After checking out, Dad would have snuck away to the snack bar, ever so happy with a 50 cent hot dog. The man never met a hot dog, or a sausage-type meat product, that he did not like. I think it was his German heritage. After telling Jason this for what I'm sure is the 400th time (with him listening indulgently), he finished his hot dog, wiped his mouth, and declared "He was obviously a man of taste."

And this is why I love my husband *sigh* I miss my Dad ever so much, but I see a little bit of him in Jason every single day, and that makes me so happy. And it's not creepy, right?? Right?? Seriously, it's not, right??

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

The Dentist & Other Things

I currently have so much Novocaine in my face that my eyeball is numb. I'm not kidding, it is a very bizarre feeling. Much as I'd rather spend my morning doing something other than getting 3 old fillings redrilled and refilled, I love my dentist. He wears flip-flops with his scrubs, which I find refreshing, but also has those really bad cheesey posters on the ceilings of his exam rooms, which I find reassuringly old-school. I think he loves me too, cause I've probably bought him a new BMW or three in all the years I've been seeing him. If you are reading this blog, please say prayers that my future children will inherit Jason's teeth and not mine. I love my Mom and Dad, but their dental DNA sucks.

In far brighter news, we got back this weekend from Costa Rica and I have many pictures to share. Until I get them all downloaded and sorted, please enjoy this preview: