How Non-Bakers Make Coffeecake

Start with easy, store-packaged  [just add an egg, etc.] coffeecake mix.
Read ingredients and instructions half way through while listening to five-year-old talk.
Start putting it together with five-year-old’s help.
Melt [last] of the stick butter – as instructed by cake box instructions
Let five-year-old pour in cake mix, milk and egg and start mixing
Read ingredients for cinnamon crumb topping
Realize there is not enough stick butter left for the “crumble”
Employ Bright Idea!
Get tablespoon to scoop out some butter and put in ice cube tray to harden again
Grab spreadable butter and add a tablespoon back to cake mix
Stop five-year-old from opening the egg over the floor
Add another tablespoon butter
Stop five-year-old from adding egg shells to cake mix
Add another tablespoon butter
Let five-year-old stir cake mix
Realize there is A LOT of butter in bowl.
Make the cinnamon crumble mix
Add frozen butter – phew!
Look at lump of dough in cake mix bowl
Read box again – “do not over mix
Knead dough into baking pan
Add cinnamon crumble
Pop into oven
Drink Coffee...
coffee cake

and bask in the glory of success!

Happy Sunday!

Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego

I remember it like yesterday...

The night I learned the names of the three men thrown into the fiery furnace and I never forgot their names again - Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, nor whom I learned them from.

Not. Once.

That night, during Easter break from college, I was playing Bible Trivia with my friend J.'s dad and her little brother and little sister. Just me. Somehow I found myself all alone with her family, whom I had just met. I was invited to spend the night; but J. had to leave for a few hours. And I... Can. Be. Shy.

"You  aren't seriously leaving me here with your family... that I. JUST. MET. ??" I pleaded.

"You'll have fun!" she declared. She is like that - always optimistic, always encouraging.

She was right. An hour later I was caught up in a game of Bible Trivia. Becoming more and more giddy with each question I COULD answer. My awkwardness had melted away and I forged relationships that night which have lasted a lifetime.

One being J.'s dad, Bob. 

Over the years I have been a happy recipient of Bob's caring, understanding smile and his intelligence and wisdom peppered every conversation we had. I sat at their dinner table often enough to hear Bob say, "Eat more, you're too skinny." He gave me advice, prayer, understanding and support. And my heart overflows with so many wonderful memories from holidays and occasions too numerous to count with the entire family over the years. 

I am blessed to call  J. a friend. I love her as much today as the day I first met her so many years ago. We stood up at each others weddings, we've carried each other through difficult times, she stood by me when my mom passed away and now it's my turn to stand by her as she grieves.

You see, we lost Bob to cancer this morning. I hate cancer and I don't mind saying that. But Bob loved God with all his heart, he had great faith. He went Home. And although I feel sad at my/her loss, I know he is happy.

He is at peace.

The familiar smile as he watches J. on her wedding day this past summer
I sat at that dinner table a few years back, Harrison was a baby. Bob smiled at me and said, "I don't need to worry about you anymore, you're no longer too skinny." He knew my journey leading to that moment - he knew I was no longer alone. God had given me a husband and a child - my own family. Always the consonant dad, Bob was...

He is survived by a wife, two sons, two daughters, three grandsons, six granddaughters, two daughter-in-laws, two son-in-laws and {not by default} one surrogate/adopted daughter, her husband and sons.

And he is greatly loved.

Like Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, Bob stood firm in a quiet faith. He trusted God as he passed through his own fiery furnace and was delivered, a good and faithful servant, into the loving arms of God.

We'll miss you on this earth, Bob, but we'll see you again in Heaven.

Wordless Wednesday | Just One Voice

Yes, I voted.
Yes, I'm concerned for our future.
Yes, I will not always agree with you.

No, we can't afford to continue down such a strained path.
No, I will not stop praying for our country, our leaders.

No, I will not say any more about politics.

A house divided against itself cannot stand.
~Abraham Lincoln

Think About It.

Crafty Tuesday | One Year, Nine Months and Twenty Six Days Later...

I finally finished the bird mobile!

Only to find that in the time that has lapsed we have moved and now I don't have a final home for it.

When I walked into my husband's office {a.k.a. Man Cave} eyeballing a preexisting hook in the ceiling with step stool in hand, and mobile soon after, his only response was a heavy sigh and a defeated, "I knew this was going to happen".

I think he would have warmed up to the little birds had they been Garnet and Gold in color.

then again, maybe not.

Well, at least I finished Ah project.

WW: Corked

Now where did I set that glass of wine...

Oh, well there's more where that came from...

Happy Wordless Wednesday!

Redondo Beach Engagement Portrait Photographer | My First Time

No, not that.
A week from today I will shoot my first wedding. I wasn't looking to do wedding photography; but along this path, it found me. A friend of mine has followed my photography adventure and asked if I did weddings - or would do a wedding. Her wedding to be exact.

I've known Brittany for several years but I only had the privilege to finally meet  her fiance', Joel,  the day we met up to take some engagement photos - at the tail end of the engagement! He has just moved back from New York with only a month to spare and has been thrust into the whirlwind world of wedding detail finalizing. A task he has embraced with all the energy and zeal only a happy-in-love man will!

Brittany and Joel met in 2004 right before Joel left for New York to pursue his graduate degree and Brittany went back to school to pursue her graduate degree here on the West Coast. Thousands of phone calls, emails, video chats, text messages, late nights and frequent-flier miles later they are back in the same city on the same coast and ready to start their life together.

...And happy-in-love they are!

They both love Old Hollywood and classic movies so how perfect that Joel proposed to Brittany at the   the historic Culver Hotel in downtown Culver City on a warm September evening in 2009. It was a blast to go back to where it all happened for some engagement pictures and relive the moment in style - Old Hollywood Style.
 Brittany and Joel, thanks for a fun creative day of play! I can't wait until next Sunday! I know it will be an awesome day and I'm excited about being a part of it!

Or click here for a larger view.

Seeing the Light

Every other week or so Harrison announces that he misses or wants to move back to our old house.  I admit I miss it too - if not for the space,or the inspirational rooms - then for the light. And let me tell you, there was a lot of gorgeous light in that house.

Since moving, we have light in our new home; but not like before. We even have west facing windows ; but finding when that light gives the warm, creamy results that I love so much has been tricky. But on Saturday at 2:00 pm, after receiving a package in the mail, we pulled out the camera to (as always) document a moment.

Yup. That's the moment. 

Then Harrison wanted to take pictures and I had a thought; it's been a while since I took a self portrait [a REAL self portrait] and, HEY, this light is nice. Yes, after eight months, I finally found my "happy place" light in our new home!

Harrison took this picture. Not too bad!

Ironically, when I sat down at my computer yesterday I happened to catch an update from Me Ra Koh in my Facebook News Feed about an upcoming blog post covering how to take a good bio/head shot picture and I responded. I know, huh. - I rarely do that!

{really freaking} long story - short, Me Ra is spotlighting 10 different women on her blog tomorrow with their head shot/bio pic photo recipe and I'm one of them!


I guess good light pays off!

Team Up Thursday | Lonely.

That is what my image is feeling this week. Somehow its partner just couldn't make it here via email. Joanne was NOT getting any email love yesterday, so you're just going to have to go over there to see what she did with our pictures!

I LOVE selective focus so I was on this week's theme like a rabid dog! Harrison and I made a rock garden on the deck last on Monday - complete with found shells. And I whipped out the camera in an effort to "practice every day"

[because 365 was flushed down the toilet MONTHS ago...sigh.]

I love the opposite effects that our two images create, cool colors of summer here and warm, cozy colors of winter in Australia. You'll just have to go give her some bloggy love! The contrast in color and subject just works well this week. Love it.
Go ahead, click on the link - you know you want to.

Exposure: f2.0 1/400 ISO200 50mm
On another note, is it just me, or has Blogger been really softening images when upload. This picture is a lot sharper before uploaded to the web.

Oh well.

Check out more Team-Up Thursday hosted by Mental Inventory and Hip Momma.

EDITED to add diptych.

Team Up Thursday | Old

Imagine how excited I was when I came home this evening to find Joanne's email in my in box and opened it to find an old truck! All those lines and curves, that patina, the textures - yeah, I got happy. I've expressed my passion for certain models/years of old cars in the past.

Not much has changed. So yes, I'm having old car photographing envy right now.
I just can't help it. 

And with all the "old" crap I have hanging around here, I opted for this funny sight across the street from my house. Someone had all these monitors (and one TV) lined up on the curb. Seriously, who would have that many monitors in their house? Never mind, I don't think I want know.

I'm not sure which was funnier to see, the computer monitors all lined up on the curb or me squatting in the middle of the street taking a picture of them. (I got some looks... and one asking me if this was a school project. I should be elated! Apparently I look like a student! NOT!)

And THAT is all I have to say about this week's Team-up Thursday.

See you next week!

Just Don't Call Me Late For Dinner... (or... how I haven't had time to blog but dream of blog posts and team-up anyway)

Call me missing in action; better yet reckless blog abandoner (if that's even a word). That's what you can call me. I have so many things happening and I just seemed to have lost all ability for multi-tasking (not that multi-tasking is even a trait worthy of having to begin with). Again, piles of Blog drafts that never get published. Ideas that get half-written and then something else pulls me away.

One of these days I'm going to bombard my blog with random posts that seem to come out of nowhere and you, my friends, will probably furrow your brow and twist your head sideways [like a small dog confused by a peculiar, new sound] and ...un-friend me on Facebook.

Then again, maybe not.
But be warned - randomness may just happen.

So this evening before I retire, I leave you with some diptych love. I have a great team-up partner who is so gracious with my crazy life as of late - each week she's halfway around the world getting ready to say goodbye to Thursday just as I get ready to say "hello". She hasn't fired me yet. Thank goodness. And once back from vacation with computer issues temporarily put to rest and deadlines held off for one more week, I wanted to post some backlogged images.

Because,even late,  I love diptychs.

Last week, August 19 was "BIG"  As Joanne's youngest child is heading to the University of Adelaide in Australia (on left) - it's big both physically and emotionally for both of them. The Sunday after returning from South Dakota, we had a family outing day that took us to a small local marine aquarium, tide pools and the Friendship Bell in San Pedro, CA (on right).

I was slow at getting the August 12 theme to Joanne and threw in the towel for that week. I had a work deadline that took priority over everything as soon as I returned to work the Monday after our vacation. But I love the theme, MORNING, I'm just NOT a morning-person. Hence the simplicity of my breakfast (bottom) as opposed to those yummy looking pancakes of Joanne's. (top) I want to go to her house for breakfast!
We obviously both think of food in the mornings.

The theme for August 5 was UP. I could do that! But I was [literally UP] in-air on Thursday and didn't get the images to Joanne until Saturday (during which time I was already starting the work catch up and didn't blog). I gave her the pick of Mt Rushmore (right - obviously) or an out the airplane window shot to choose from. How cool is the inside of Melbourne Central Shopping Center, Australia (left)! What a great shot. (it also sits well next to the Bell of Friendship, as I initially dyp'd the wrong two pictures together (not that "dyp'd" is a word either).

I was on it! I had the picture for the week of July 29's theme, DOORS, I tried emailing it to Joanne from South Dakota; but it didn't work. Bummer. Joanne is on the left and the view out of my Aunt's covered patio is on the right.

And just for the record, I sent my picture for this week's theme to Joanne on {oh yeah!} Saturday! (doing the white-man's overbite dance! Oh yeah.)

So I'll see you sometime tomorrow {or maybe Saturday} with this week's team-up Thursday theme!
I'll give you a's OLD.

Now go check our lovely host of Team-Up Thursday, Megan @ Mental Inventory.
Oh Yeah! [insert more bad dancing]...Oh Yeah! (and this, my friends, is why I haven't been blogging...)

Best Shot Monday | Silence

When I saw this cabin that we spent three of our days in, I went all Haley Mills giddy. Harrison was pretty  excited as well he immediately picked walked in, checked out the bunk beds and claimed a top bunk for himself.

This little campground took me as close to possible to what it was like at grandparents house deep in the Black Hills. It was a little piece of heaven in my hectic life and I'm so thankful for the days and nights Harrison and I got to spend out there this summer. How lovely to look up after dark and see a swell of stars peppering jet black sky, high above the tips of pines stretching up from the earth. How lovely - the only bit of light is a bright, full moon illuminating the rocky walls and trees of our little valley; casting long, dancing shadows across the silent meadow. How lovely to wake in the morning hours before the sun rises and listen to the sound of the creek babbling beyond the darkness. How lovely to smell the fresh, clean air flavored with pines, wild flowers, and dew.

Living in the city, we just don't get this experience. We don't get to hear the many other sounds that flooded our senses while away from the city...

...the non-ceasing chirping of grasshoppers

Gurgling of the ice-cold water as it cascaded over creek rocks.

The whisper of the warm breeze pushing through pine and aspen trees. 

a constant songs of birds as they go about their work

Then...when the sun goes down, the crunch of grass under the deer hooves,
the call of owls through the dark and crickets taking over where their cousin-grasshopper left off

And silence.

It's truly amazing how loud the void of noise can be.
It pierces and echos in your soul before you realize that you hear NOTHING at all.

We experienced it deep in an underground cavern and again deep in the Black Hills.
Each time I soaked it in as much as possible, wishing I could bottle it. 

I absorbed the sounds and felt a peaceful calm during my stay in the "woods". Harrison spent most of his days "tubing" in the icy water of the stream - not unlike his mom at that age. 

Even he noticed the sweet {very real} sound of silence and was awed by it. 

If only we could click our ruby-red slippers and return for just a little bit longer...

Team Up Thursday | Where You Live

Joanne and I are literally a world apart separated by a great body of water. But we both have one thing in common, that vast ocean so near to where we live. For me, the best thing about coming home is getting to the rise of the hill and seeing the ocean spread out before me. It has a calming effect on me and I am at peace once more.

I love the pod of dolphins in Joanne's photos, it's amazing to be on the ocean whale watching and become the "watched" when dolphins arrive on the scene. Such playful creatures.
My picture is from the International Boardwalk at the local pier. we used to walk down there quite regularly, but now that it's a bit further with our move, we haven't made the walk so much. The boardwalk area was once part of a casino/auditorium and bath house/saltwater plunge in the early 20th Century. Similar to the famous Sutro Baths in San Francisco. People would ride the Red Cars down from downtown Los Angeles for a vacation or to just stay for the weekend.  You wouldn't know the history of our small city today just by looking at it. It has changed drastically in the last 40 years.

We've been under a marine layer for the past month with 60 degree weather. Yesterday we finally woke up to sunshine! We are all feeling the lightness of the sunshine in our spirits - we've been waiting for summer to arrive on our sandy shore. Time to hit the beach!

Visit Megan and Melody to see more Team Up diptychs!

Team Up Thursday | Celebration

We were invited to a party that my husband works every Fourth of July. Really nice people.

Really nice house!

REALLY nice back yard with pool AND water slide. Water. slide. Like - water park water slide.

A really nice day.

This week's Team Up Thursday diptych. Joanne on top mine on the bottom. I love Joanne's picture with the confetti shooting out - perfect timing.

Happy Friday!

Crafty Tuesday | Inspiration Chair

I came home this afternoon and found this on my front lawn...waiting for garbage day to arrive. It's not much to look at - at first glance...

But it quickly called out to me with visions of what could be, bright fabric, maybe new paint, a big field to plop it in for a photo shoot or maybe just a day at the beach.  I envisioned it all and walked inside, frustrated that we no longer have the room to add "found" treasures like this. (I had looked long and hard for a chair similar to this for the guest room in our old house.)

Seriously, how could I possibly leave it for such doom? (better yet - for someone else to grab up and give new life to it. For. FREE.)

You just can't find chairs like this For. FREE! I went in the house to start dinner then grabbed Harrison to go test it out. I just HAD to take a picture of it, test it, you know. It's the thrifter/photographer in me.

 Oh my gosh, don't you just love it!?
Harrison loved it. (he's acting in this picture)
He immediately wanted to keep it; but really, we don't have room!

Then I started fantasizing again. I couldn't stop myself...worse case scenario - I still give it away.
Best case scenario - I eventually do something like this to it:

Look at all that Anthropologie loveliness. Oh, the possibilities!

It was time to go back inside to finish making dinner, I needed to let it go.
"But what about the chair, mommy?"

"We leave it where we found it, someone will probably pick it up."

"But I want to keep it!" Harrison was adamant {I secretly agreed}, "We can put it on our grass rug in our patio!". He sat on it in the front yard to "protect" it.

The G.I.D. went outside to get Harrison and came back in with the chair. {secretly did the happy dance; but still not sure where to put large chair}

So now we have this too-big chair in our too-small home... and I feel so inspired by it!

Time to get crafty.


Along with finishing the bunting banner for Harrison, I have also wanted to make a felt pencil roll.
[the pencil rolls are inspired by Soule Mama's book the Creative Family]

First we made one for a friend because his birthday was rapidly approaching. I decided to sew his name on with felt. It came out great (no pictures though)! Then we made Harrison's; he decorated it with some shapes and insisted on his name, too.

Only his name has eight letters and his friend's name only has four. But I obliged because frankly, I LOVE personalized and monogrammed things. He helped with sewing the first two.

 I loved these so much that I decided to make a couple more for a set of twins Harrison is friends with at school. Harrison insisted that the pencil roll for the girl had to have pink flowers because she likes pink, so he picked out a fabric and I proceeded to cut her name out and sew on the roll - that wasn't as easy as it seemed. I'm not a seamstress and it's not like sewing felt; but with a few more gray hairs and a breathing break - I got the job done! (hopefully they liked them...)

 Harrison took his pencil roll out for a test run on Fathers Day when we went out to dinner. Yup, it was perfect to have at the table while waiting for food to arrive. I'll be packing it for our trip to South Dakota later this summer.

And if that isn't enough, I whipped out one more bunting flag banner this week for a birthday party Harrison has on Saturday, I admit - I like this one better than Harrison's! I planned to personalize it but got so excited about getting the flags all cut out that I sewed them right away! Luckily, I didn't sew the tops and I could get my hand in there.

 Let me tell you - I am NOT a hand-sewer. No way, no how! It didn't relax me one bit. But I love the outcome all the same! (Too bad I don't have the light and yard of the old house to show these off in!)

Now I'll head over to Carrie's to see what craftiness she was up to this week!

Team Up Thursday | Chaos.

I came home to find a tornado had apparently gone through his room today. I caught him on camera just as he was jumping on the bed (from that dresser???). He has permission to jump on his bed (when company isn't over) but not from the dresser to the bed! He also hasn't watched any TV in over a week. Why?

He doesn't want to clean up the toys in his room. And now there is only more...

All I said was, "when you clean up this pile, you can watch a show." That was last Tuesday.
Mine on the left, Joanne on the right.

So the floor is a bit messy; but it had been so peaceful here, we've listened to lots of different music and he has spent a lot of time playing, reading and creating. He hasn't asked once to watch a show.

That's how it should be.

Crafty Tuesday | Revving Up for Summer

So we downsized and we no longer have a quaint backyard with Adirondack Chairs that we can cozy up in on warm summer evenings as we sip warm tea or cool beers.

Then again, we didn't do that often because spiders liked to congregate in our backyard. (including the Black Widow that hitched a ride to our new home via sand toy - bad idea for that gal!) I am SO done with Orb spider season! I think we've all been traumatized enough by the little buggers!)

But we make due with change and I quite like our cozy deck. So to celebrate summer I finally got around to making the hanging tea lights out of baby food jars that I've wanted to do from some time.

 Instead of hanging in the lemon tree (with the thorns and spiders) they hang from the deck above.

 I can't wait to light them in the evenings when the sun has set and it's still warm outside.

We embellished them with beads and little bells that I had in my craft supplies and then curled the wires.

I also made candle holders out of Mason and jelly jars for the table, Harrison helped me put pebbles and sand inside and then I put colorful citronella candles in them. Again, I can't wait for the right evening to light them up.

I just feel more relaxed thinking of our deck as it has already become an extension of our home. It may be a deck but we have already had meals out there and watched the sun go down and planted and painted and played.

Bring on Summer!

Now go check out the awesome crafting my girl Carrie has done this week. I'll give you a hint... I love me some chalkboard paint!

I'm so COOL

There I was, at an annual Gala seated with an array of people, taking pictures, enjoying the evening, and listening to the honorees speeches when I glance around my table and observe the guests tapping away at their phones. Not just my table,  people at others tables were also tapping away as each honoree stepped up to the podium and poured out their hearts in appreciation.


Welcome to the age of social media.

At the time my little Samsung, [no blue tooth, no speaker phone, "no app for that"] flip-phone just couldn't contend with these "big boys"; but last weekend that all changed when I upgraded to a new phone (mainly so people could actually hear me when I was talking).

No, not a Blackberry, or Droid, or even an iPhone.

Just another Samsung - a touch screen model with Internet capability, camera and video, blue-tooth and a keyboard that I can actually text with!

I call it my little "iPhone wannabe".

I can TEXT, folks!


And so I did. And then I could check my emails on my phone; and Facebook; and update my Twitter account! and then...and then... I STOPPED!

Oh. My. Gosh, I got sucked in! I mean really, I have been in it for some time - buying on line, finding the latest, greatest fads for consumers, building community, researching, learning, discovering new music, movies, people; but the reality and speed of where we are heading in this age is... unbelievable.

Check this out.  Maybe you've seen it, maybe not, but it's worth the view. 

(keep in mind that this video is already a year old.) 

Crazy, eh?

Honestly, I'm just giddy to no longer be "text challenged".
I've got enough challenges!

PhotoStory Friday
Hosted by Cecily and Lolli

Mirror, mirror Against the Wall

That's not how it goes? close enough for me.

I've missed my blogging windows each week with other things on my mind. AND...I pulled from the archives. I love this image of Harrison in the mirror. You can see another version here.  I love Joanne's picture - it leaves me wanting more!
You could say my blog is mirroring my life right now. The signs show me that I'm a little out of focus right now. I think I'm ready for a break.

Here are diptychs from the last two weeks.

Left - last week's theme was "signs" (mine on top Joanne bottom) I love the words in her picture - a good reminder! And right the previous week was "out of focus". (Joanne top, mine on bottom) the thing about Chess is that you have to stay focused. Not so easy sometimes.

Ironically, next week's Team Up Thursday theme is "Chaos". Oh yeah, I'm feeling that one all right!
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