Category Archives: Things that Make You Go 'YES!!!'

One Community: April!

 

One Community is a monthly photoblogging project where participants take pictures of their homes and communities with a theme in mind. The goal is to showcase similarities and differences in our communities worldwide.

Our cues this month come from Rebekah at Honeysuckle Life, and they are:  Flowers, Spring, Purple and Rise

Spring! What better way to celebrate than to go for a walk this past Saturday to our local Farmers Market with this guy. Maceo’s job was to sit back, chill and eat strawberries. He’s very good at it.

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Flowers. There is a stall at our market that sells proteas, which just happen to be the national flower of South Africa. Obviously. Would you expect anything less of South Africa? I mean, come on!

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Spring. The market positively hums with new growth — succulents, fresh flowers, organic eggs, every variety of cheese … you name it!

I bought two skeins of handmade pasta, one of which came with a recipe for creamy lemon-garlic fettuccine with asparagus. So I had to buy asparagus, right? 

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Purple. The beets and their shocking purple! Beetroot always reminds me of my mom, would would steam and pickle large batches of it, and savor eating every slice. I’m not the biggest fan of beets, but they make me smile whenever I see them.

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Rise. There is a woman at the market who specializes in French breads and pastries. There is always a swarm of customers around her stall, waiting to buy.

And oy! The BUTTER! And the CUSTARD! And the SUGAR! All of it, light and poufy fresh, fresh, fresh!

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Maceo and I came home, stroller laden with goodies. All good!

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Click the link below to read more One Community posts and join us!

The Rules: Post one or more photos interpreting the words for the month, and add your blog post to the link-up. Please include a link back to the link-up post on your One Community post, and take a look at some of the other links and comment on them. This link-up is all about building community!

Forty Days of Lent: Fifteen Minute Project – 15 and Quit!

 

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Not sure if this falls into the 15 minutes Surface project or the Spend fifteen minutes and then quit one!

One of the joys of living in Southern California, is that your washer and dryer are often located in a closet outside the house. And no one likes to talk about it, but when it rains or the weather gets cooler, all kinds of critters make their way where it is warm and dry. Hence, rat poop on the shelves in my laundry closet. I know.

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I had a 45-minute gap between work and picking up Tau for karate. So I donned disposable gloves, a face mask, and went at those shelves with my vacuum cleaner and disinfectant.

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I also purged the piles of old towels and assorted pool toys that we store in that closet, and will wash (in hot water) the remaining pile before putting it back. I stopped with three minutes to spare, and just enough time to change my tee, wash my face and hands, and head out to karate!

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Forty Days of Lent: Fifteen Minute Project – A Kitchen Cupboard

Catching up on a couple of 15-minute de-clutterings. You can find out more and play along here.

For my birthday in late February friends gave me a set of beautiful new Crate ‘n Barrel champagne flutes. Other friends gave me a new set of martini glasses.

Either my friends think I don’t drink enough or they know the new glasses will be well used!

Anyhow, this led to me purging our glassware cupboard last week. Out with all the nasty plastic kidware — keeping only what we USE — and the Mexican glass goblets we probably haven’t used in a decade, and in with my pretty new glasses.

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Turns out the beautiful new flutes are too tall for our shelves, so I’m displaying them on top of the cupboard.

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Forty Days of Lent: Fifteen Minute Project – A Corner

 

The second in my series of 15-minute declutterings. You can find out more and play along here.

This is the spot in Tau’s room where toys that are not played with go to die get tossed aside. But he had a friend coming to sleep over and so we tackled his bedroom together.

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I know the before picture doesn’t look that bad — a plastic bag containing small gifts and stocking stuffers from Christmas (!), his stuffed animals in their pet bed (yes, we had to buy them a real pet bed from the store), and a pirate’s treasure chest, which contains at least five years’ worth of plastic birthday-party and fast-food crappy giveaways.

But consider that this project also involved purging and reorganizing the books and toys on the THREE bottom shelves, and making the floor so that you could walk on it again … at least until Tau’s friend arrived, and then 30 minutes later, it was covered in Beyblades and Lego all over again.

It was clear for those few moments — I have the picture to prove it!

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Forty Days of Lent: Fifteen Minute Project – A Table

 

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I decided to play along with Beth Woolsey’s 40 Days of Lent: 15 Minute Projects. My intention is to do at least five of these 15-minute purges throughout Lent, in the hopes that our home will be less messy and my mind feel less cluttered!

Maceo’s room doubles as my craft area — he’s too young to care! And the craft table and shelves, of course, become the dumping ground for anything that doesn’t fit in his closet or that I don’t know what to do with just right at that moment.

Before

Truth told, this was more of a 25-minute project than a 15-minute one. The purging and neatening took a wee bit longer than 15 minutes. I then spent another 15 minutes after the tidy up framing those four little pictures you see on the wall below — the frames have been sitting on said craft table for at least two years, waiting! It feels SO good to get this done!

After

One Community: March!

 

One Community is a monthly photoblogging project where participants take pictures of their homes and communities with a theme in mind. The theme varies by month. The goal is to showcase similarities and differences in our communities worldwide.

Our cues this month come from Sarah at Beauty School Dropout, and they are:  Shower, Calm, Green and Friendship

Here goes!

Shower. We haven’t had rain in San Diego in — pfft! — 300 days or something crazy?! Then this past week, it rained on and off for four days. It may as well have stormed for a month, punctuated by tornadoes, an avalanche and perhaps an earthquake or two.

San Diegans have a hard time with weather and with rain in particular for some reason. Local TV stations refer to coming showers as thunderstorms, even when there is no thunder, and a friend told me last week that we were due to have the worst weather in recent history for the region.

I got nervous for a moment until I remembered the night of torrential downpour, thunder and lightning that Dave, three-month-old Tau and I survived in Africa — a storm so fierce and unrelenting that rangers at the game lodge we were visiting had to drive us back to our rondawel through the mud in a big-wheel jeep, and even then it was touch and go.  I decided that the killer storm of San Diego 2014 probably wouldn’t be that bad.

This picture was taken through our dining room window Sunday. A steady but light rain, three days of it and, ahem, we survived!

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Calm. Meet my new friend Shimi, that’s short for Sashimi. He sits on my desk at work and is charged with keeping me chilled and focused on the bigger things in life.

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Green. Here is my little one, Maceo, watching the rain make puddles Sunday morning outside our bedroom window. He took every opportunity to slip outside and ride his push bike through the wet on our patio. He also took great pleasure in putting on his swim goggles and dunking his face in the deepest puddles.

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Friendship. This past weekend was my birthday! And throughout the week I got small parcels from friends. Lovely books and fabric from Kelli, and this fun naked mail from my friend Joslin. She knows I love me some Dark Chocolate Raisinets!

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Click the link below to read more One Community posts and join us!

The Rules: Post one or more photos interpreting the words for the month, and add your blog post to the link-up. Please include a link back to the link-up post on your One Community post, and take a look at some of the other links and comment on them. This link-up is all about building community!

One Community: November!

A quick post this month for our One Community roundup!

Gratitude. This  summer, old friends of ours moved to San Diego. Steve and Vicki were grad students in Dave’s lab some fifteen years ago when we lived in  British Columbia, Canada. Since then, they have lived all over the United States and had three great kids! Not only have they moved to our city this year — they moved right into our neighborhood! Our kids get on extremely well and for the adults, it’s as if no time has passed at all. That kind of friendship is rare, and I am grateful for this unexpected gift!

Below, Halloween treats for our boys from Steve and Vicki’s three.

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Fun.  The long-awaited taekwondo party for Tau’s birthday was a huge success! The Plants Versus Zombies cake turned out well, and the kids had a blast. Best part of the party, I think, was the Chicken Grab, where each contestant has a rubber chicken tucked into the back of his or her belt. The object of the game is to spar and wrestle on the mat, and the first person to liberate the chicken from their opponent is the winner. Much fun had by all!

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Blue. This boy recently discovered the local library not only as an endless supply of books, but as a place where you can RUN without getting too lost or your mother freaking out too much. It is also the home of the FISHES. We love them FISHES!

It is in moments like this one, where I see him boost his small body up on tippy toes on the librarian’s step stool to seek out the fishes who are “hiding, Mom!” that I realize how just big he is getting. As he steps into those small blue Crocs, which used to be his older brother’s.

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Home. We had two other families over for the night of Halloween. We ordered in good pizza and served champagne with spiders in it for the adults, punch with eyeballs and witches’ fingers for the little people. And our home was suitably decorated for once!

Then we took the kids out trick or treating around the ‘hood, which because we live in a dense townhome development, makes for good candy bang for your buck. Our kids came home with loads of sweets! I told Tau the dentist would buy it all back from him for a dollar a pound, but he figured that he had about three pounds and that three bucks was not a good deal!

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See you next month, all!

One Community is a monthly photo project in which participants photograph their homes and communities with a theme in mind. The theme varies by month. The goal is to both showcase similarities and differences in our communities worldwide – and bring us all closer together in understanding through art.

Each month, one of the hosts picks four words for us to interpret through photographs of what we see around us in our daily lives. You can see my previous entries for July, August and September. Starting this month, we’re opening this project up to anyone who would like to participate! We would love to have you join us! The link-up will begin on October 5th and stay open for one week.

The Rules: Post one or more photos interpreting the words for the month, and add your blog post to the link-up. Please include a link back to the link-up post on your One Community post, and take a look at some of the other links and comment on them. This link-up is all about building community!

One Community: October!


October in San diego is a flippy-floppy month. Turning leaves, hot Santa Ana winds, barreling towards the holidays, still wearing open shoes. October has a hard time making up his mind.

October is also Tau’s birthday, which brings me to our first word for this month’s One Community post:

Plants. Versus Zombies. Even though the boy’s birthday party is at his taewkondo studio, and will entail lots of kicking, punching and shouting “Ai-yaaaaah!” he has asked, repeatedly, for a Plants vs. Zombies cake.

Plants vs. Zombies is one of Tau’s favorite games, so yes, even though it messes hugely with my obsessive need for birthday-party theme matchi-matchiness, I will be making a cake next weekend with pea-shooting plants and nasty-looking zombies on it. Below? Making sure the characters will fit on the cake pan I plan to use.

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Bake. Though, technically, these are no-bake. Last weekend, I whipped up a pan of crack. Chocolate Rice Crispie Square crack. The recipe? Here it is — you’re welcome!

Chocolate Rice Crispie Squares

  • 5-6 tablespoons of butter (a little more than half a stick)
  • 10-14 oz of mini marshmallows
  • Approximately 12-14 oz of chocolate rice crispie cereal.

Spray a 9×13 pan with cooking spray, or grease it with butter. Melt the 5-6 spoons of butter in a medium-sized saucepan on medium-low heat. When butter is melted, add the marshmallows and stir constantly until fully melted. Remove from heat and add the cereal, stirring gently until fully combined. You can tell that you need to add more cereal if it still looks gooey. When it’s the right consistency, it’ll be sticky and kind of stringy but still pliable.

Immediately spoon into the pan and gently press flat. Wait about an hour to cut, and store covered in the pan or on a plate once cut.

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Orange and Activity. This past weekend, Tau tested for his full orange belt. And the boy aced it. Booyah! Even though his arm has been in a cast throughout September, he continued going to the studio. In these pictures, you can see that he is still wearing a wristguard to protect his wrist while it strengthens. Their new goal word at taekwondo this cycle is perseverance. “That will be easy, Mom. I know about perseverance.” Yes, you do, hon.

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One Community is a monthly photo project in which participants photograph their homes and communities with a theme in mind. The theme varies by month. The goal is to both showcase similarities and differences in our communities worldwide – and bring us all closer together in understanding through art.

Each month, one of the hosts picks four words for us to interpret through photographs of what we see around us in our daily lives. You can see my previous entries for July, August and September. Starting this month, we’re opening this project up to anyone who would like to participate! We would love to have you join us! The link-up will begin on October 5th and stay open for one week.

The Rules: Post one or more photos interpreting the words for the month, and add your blog post to the link-up. Please include a link back to the link-up post on your One Community post, and take a look at some of the other links and comment on them. This link-up is all about building community!

Surf Is Totally Up!


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On our recent trip up to Ojai, just north west of LA, Tau was keen to try surfing, mostly because the two older kids that we were vacationing with were very eager to take lessons.

Dave doesn’t surf and my sense of balance is dodgy at best, so we didn’t have great expectations. Instead, I was just impressed that Tau was prepared to try something so out of his comfort zone.

And whaddya know, but that boy totally surfed like a little grommet. Not quite a pro, but he certainly got up on that board and rode the waves!

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He never fails to impress me. Also, have you ever seen a kid look so cute in a wetsuit?

One Community: September!


I was at a loss this month for our One Community post. Our words to photograph were work, gold, centerpiece and balance — and I had no upcoming celebrations where I might see a centerpiece to photograph or even put one on my own table. Centerpieces are all about Thanksgiving and weddings and Christmas for me. Funny how you can get stuck on something like that.

And then I realized, girl, you have 7303 photos in your Flickrstream. You mean to tell me there isn’t at least one centerpiece among it all?

Turns out there were many, along with plenty of work and gold and balance. And so below I give you a handful of my Flickr faves that speak to my family, my community.

Work. I am fortunate enough right now to work ten minutes away from home, close enough to drop and pick up kids, to take them to doctor appointments and after-school activities, to pick up milk, bread and fruit on my way home. And my kiddos are with me all day at work, along with Yoda of course.

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Gold. Why is it that pictures never do sunrises, sunsets and moonscapes any justice? This was the view from our front door the other night and the whole sky was on fire! Golden! The person who invents an app that can capture that? Will be my hero.

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Centerpiece. Before Maceo, when we were three not four, we used to have very civilized meals. With place settings and tall candles and the good napkins. Now we have rice-n-gravy smooshed into hair and projectile sippy cups and maniacal screeching. Lots of screeching.

And before we were three, we were two, just a man and a woman. And we bought those beautiful pewter figures you see on the table, which are actually a salt and pepper set. One day our table will look like this again, and we will look back and be thankful for all the crazy and the laughter that Tau and Maceo brought with them.

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Balance. Ahem! Talking about the crazy. You are not allowed to walk on the balance beam until you are in third grade. Third day of third grade? We lost our balance and fractured both the left elbow and wrist. We had visits to Urgent Care and the ER, multiple x-rays and a CT scan, and now we’re a week into four weeks of an awesome red cast. Go us!

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One Community participants include:

Sarah is a life-long Missourian who shares her home with her husband, two sons, and an old grumpy dachshund. Like every good Midwesterner, she can (and will) talk to you at length about the weather. Sarah blogs at http://www.beautyschooldropout.net.

Colleen lives with her handsome hubster and two feisty felines in Portland, Oregon. She loves rain and sun (in that order), words and pictures, and chatting up the neighbors. She blogs at: http://www.underaredroof.com

Rebekah lives in Kilkenny, Ireland with her husband. An American by birth, she’s discovering what it means to be an expat on the Emerald Isle. She blogs at: http://www.honeysucklelife.com

Kara is a cheerful nerd living in downtown Phoenix, AZ with her law-studying husband and an anxious pound puppy. She works full time in the mental health field but in her off time enjoys sunshine, great food and the occasional craft beer. She blogs at: http://www.sunshine-cupcakes.com

Teresa lives in Massachusetts with her husband, college aged daughter and two crazy cats. She is a creative spirit who tries to find the lesson, blessing and humor in everything and she blogs at http://laughteramongtears.blogspot.com/

Kelli lives in Phoenix with her dog, Willie Nelson Mandela. She is a novelist, public health advocate and United Methodist. She blogs at: http://www.africankelli.com

Stephanie is a lifelong Wyomingite with ranch girl roots. She has her own marketing and graphic design business and in her free time, she enjoys knitting, fishing with her boyfriend, and team roping. She blogs at: http://www.nowicanseethemoon.co

Eduarda is a curious, visual creature who believes all pictures tell a story. She hails from Mozambique, via Portugal and NJ, and now is desert rate living with her husband and two teenage daughters in Chandler, AZ. She blogs at: http://of-blue.blogspot.com/

One Community: August!


We’re away for a week with friends in Ojai, CA, just northwest of Los Angeles. And while I remembered to bring my good camera, I forgot my USB cable.

So we’re going to Instagram it this month for One Community, our monthly photo project in which bloggers take pictures of their homes and communities with four theme words in mind.

Today we visited close-by Santa Barbara, a city I love and that we’ve visited many times. Our friends were new to the city, so we visited the mission, ate fish tacos and walked State Street.

Anyhow, I managed to juggle my Canon (sans USB, so you’ll have to wait for those), my iPhone, the stroller and a gaggle of kids, and still got a few pics.

Our four words for August:

Ice cream. Well, really, frozen yogurt, and my favorite kind — Pinkberry. I chose chocolate thinking there would be nuts to add as a topping. But no nuts, and so I had to add strawberries and cheesecake balls. A bit much but I needed a luscious ice cream photo, right?

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Bright. A gorgeous tile mosaic in the entrance to Lululemon on State Street today. This Instagram photo? No filter. No filter, I tell you.

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Numbers. If you’ve visited Santa Barbara, you know the architecture has a heavy Spanish influence. And what’s Santa Barbara — hey, what’s Southern California — without Spanish ceramic house numbers?

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Finally, we wrapped up a long day of tourism with carne and pollo asado tortillas, and a soak under the stars and palm trees at the gorgeous house we’re renting. Dave snapped this one of Maceo and I in the hot tub — SPLASH!  Hope you’re all enjoying August friends!

 

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One Community participants include:

Sarah is a life-long Missourian who shares her home with her husband, one (soon to be 2) son(s), and an old grumpy dachshund. Like every good Midwesterner, she can (and will) talk to you at length about the weather. Sarah blogs at http://www.beautyschooldropout.net.

Colleen lives with her handsome hubster and two feisty felines in Portland, Oregon. She loves rain and sun (in that order), words and pictures, and chatting up the neighbors. She blogs at: http://www.underaredroof.com

Rebekah lives in Kilkenny, Ireland with her husband. An American by birth, she’s discovering what it means to be an expat on the Emerald Isle. She blogs at: http://www.honeysucklelife.com

Kara is a cheerful nerd living in downtown Phoenix, AZ with her law-studying husband and an anxious pound puppy. She works full time in the mental health field but in her off time enjoys sunshine, great food and the occasional craft beer. She blogs at: http://www.sunshine-cupcakes.com

Teresa lives in Massachusetts with her husband, college aged daughter and two crazy cats. She is a creative spirit who tries to find the lesson, blessing and humor in everything and she blogs at http://laughteramongtears.blogspot.com/

Kelli lives in Arizona with her dog, Willie Nelson Mandela. A native Arizonan, she is enamored by the lush landscape, and looking to build community. She is a novelist, public health advocate and United Methodist. She blogs at: http://www.africankelli.com

Stephanie is a lifelong Wyomingite with ranch girl roots. She has her own marketing and graphic design business and in her free time, she enjoys knitting, fishing with her boyfriend, and team roping. She blogs at: http://www.nowicanseethemoon.co

Eduarda is a curious, visual creature who believes all pictures tell a story. She hails from Mozambique, via Portugal and NJ, and now is desert rate living with her husband and two teenage daughters in Chandler, AZ. She blogs at: http://of-blue.blogspot.com/

Orange and White Belt

 

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This boy has been doing taekwondo for a few months now, and he’s loving it.

He finally accumulated enough classes and stripes (for various achievements) that he was able to test for his first colored belt, the orange and white.

And he did it!

Tau, we’re so proud of the focus and hard work you put in to reach your goal! ATA!

Orange and White Belt

Once Apouon a Time

 

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Fantasy Land – by Tau

Once apouon a time the horses saw a mean, red, and big horntail. His name was Drago. Uh oh seid the horses. Drago is go ing to eat us. Quick get in the castel said the oldest horse. So they did. We need to teach him a lesson seid most of the horses. Lets run toward him and scare him away. So they did it and Drago never came back.

The end.

 

Surfacing

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I am starting to feel like I can blog again. This past weekend, I tidied paperwork, got some exercise, went to the pool with Dave and the kids, and finished an entire sewing project. I didn’t feel the need to lie down on the closest surface and fall asleep.

Dave and I are beginning to feel optimistic. Maceo has been a horrible sleeper from the beginning, and he’s battled even more as his teeth have come in. So it feels like we haven’t slept in years. Well, we haven’t. But slowly, slowly, he is starting to sleep better. When he isn’t teething, I’d say he sleeps well. When he is teething, he whimpers and cries out, grinds his teeth audibly, and is generally only happy if he can fall back asleep with his head on top of yours.

There are only four baby molars left to go and they should come in soon. The light at the end of the tunnel is getting brighter and, this weekend, I felt a shift. As if I had the energy to get things done. That I could take moments in between tag-parenting two boys to start to tackle big things. Maceo is finally no longer a baby, and we have room to breathe. I think. Inhale. Ah! Exhale.

The Internet, She Does Not Lie!


Weekend before last, I flew to Colorado to spend a weekend with my friend Kelli.

For years we’ve read each other’s blogs, shared joys and sadnesses, recipes and sewing patterns. And I feel in our correspondence a clean connection and a kindredness of spirit. We click. Really well.

I flew into Denver and we immediately picked up Kelli’s friend Sheila and drove up to the mountains. “Ladies, you two really are so similar. I know you are going to get on REALLY WELL … no pressure!”

What a way to see the beauty and scale of Colorado first hand. Dodgy photo taken through the car window:

We were headed to Glenwood Hot Springs for some serious R ‘n R. And did we ever R ‘n R! Soaking in the springs is just so relaxing! Until Kelli suggests that the only way to improve on this experience would be for them to fill the pools with those tiny little fish that nibble the dead skin off your feet. Sheila and I were equally grossed out, and fits of giggles ensued.

Back at Kelli’s home in Golden, CO, we spent the rest of the weekend hanging out at her very comfy home, catching up, and realizing once again just why we get on so dang well. Stories about kids and dogs, friends and family, likes and dislikes, loves and losses.

The moment that I realized that the Internet doesn’t lie about what’s in a person’s soul? When we realized, while idly chatting, that the one possession we’d both wanted from our grandmother’s homes, were the biscuit colored mixing bowls they used all their lives for baking.

Kell, almost identical to your stand-in. See?

Sunday night, a bunch of friends came over for pizza and board games to celebrate Kelli’s birthday. The kind of group I’ve seen time and time again on her blog, eating a  meal together or celebrating a holiday.

Kelli and her roomie BJ:

It was a fun get together, one where we laughed so hard playing games my belly still ached when I went to bed.

Speaking of beds, the biggest treat of the weekend was the peace and quiet of a room of my own. No little feet or voices waking me, comfy cotton linens, and one of Kelli’s Mom’s intricate quilts at the foot of my bed.

Kelli, you know how to open your home and heart to guests so well. Thank you for a wonderful time!