Sunday, December 26, 2010

Christmas and thoughts for the New Year

Since you get more joy out of giving joy to others, you should put a good deal of thought into the happiness that you are able to give.

- Eleanor Roosevelt

I hope that everyone had a Christmas that was everything they hoped for.
Mine was nice and low key,  spent with family, my parents and my girls.  On Christmas Eve I made visits during the day to my closest friends to deliver my Christmas cookies.  Later that night I hosted dinner at my house for our small family, we had a delicious dinner, and later watched A Christmas Story and White Christmas in front of the fire, it was a nice quiet evening. 

Cookies just before I started boxing them up for delivery.

Tonight I will be picking up my sister and nieces from the airport, they will be here visiting for a few days, and I am really looking forward to this, I love these girls so much.

I spent most of today raking leaves and cleaning up (again!), but also thinking of what I want out of the new year.  Most of all, is just to be happy.

I've been thinking of what really makes me happy, and without a doubt my family is first on the list.  I tried to think of the times in my life when I felt most happy, and love and financial comfort both come into play as well.  But something that really sticks out is GIVING.  Giving of my myself, through volunteerism.  One of the best weeks of my life was probably helping with the Park Playground project I got to work on that I've mentioned before. 

The table for Christmas Eve dinner.  The girls set it for me.
My challenge to myself for 2011 is to find an organization that I can feel comfortable with, to consistently find the time to volunteer.  I will have to do some research, I want to make a commitment and stick with it, and to do that, I must find something I can feel  passionate about, but that will also fit around my work schedule.  I rruly believe we all have a purpose in this life, and I feel it's important that we try to figure what that purpose is.

What are you hoping for in 2011?

Happy New Year & Happy Thoughts,

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Christmas Spirit

The best of all gifts around any Christmas tree: the presence of a happy family all wrapped up in each other.
~Burton Hillis

So I'm trying to get into the Christmas spirit...I finally got my decorating done, started playing the Christmas music last night while we finished up the tree.  Now that my daughter is home from college, it's finally feeling like the holidays.   Every year I go on the annual Christmas Home Tour in our town, it's a tradition for me and my best friends, sometimes it's the only chance we have to get together all year.

I love these pictures my friend and co-worker took for me.

Last week I made some Chocolate and Peppermint cupcakes for work and that started getting thinking about the baking I will soon be doing for friends and family.  Over the years, I have cut back on the gift-giving, so that now I only exchange with my immediate family.  Most of the gifts are bought for the 4 girls in my life, my two daughters and two sweet little nieces.  I package up little boxes and plates of cookies a few days before Christmas and deliver those to my neighbors and friends and we snack on the rest throughout Christmas Eve and after.  My cookie baking has become a tradition in our home, and my girls look forward to it, wondering what favorites I will bake each year.  Baked goods and handmade gifts are such a special, inexpensive way to show someone you are thinking of them.  

Photos by Meric Velasco, cupcakes by Me!

The past few years, especially since my girls are older and my budget smaller, I have tried to focus on feeling of Christmas spirit over the amount of gifts that are purchased.  Spending time with family, baking cookies, decorating, watching the Christmas classics, and listening to Christmas music by the fire are the things I really look forward to during my time off at the holidays.

Family traditions are so important, even if they have to change a little as time goes on and the family dynamics change, it's important we hold on to the little things that mean so much.

What are your family traditions? 

Wishing you Happy Thoughts and the magic of Christmas,

Friday, December 3, 2010

Girl Power

Remember, Ginger Rogers did everything Fred Astaire did, but backwards and in high heels.   
~Faith Whittlesey

Celebrating all the woman of the world today...
I truly believe that when it really comes down to it, every woman's true strength lies in the ability to believe in herself. 

I am constantly amazed at what women can do, will do, and even what they will allow others to do to them, yet they can overcome just about anything.  If only every woman out there in this big world really believed in herself and lived up to her true potential, can you imagine the power we could have?  It might be more than this world can handle!

There is a special place in hell for women who do not help other women. ~Madeleine K. Albright

Today I am thinking about the incredible strength and spirit women posess.  A strong mind, a soft heart, the ability to multi-task like no other, women are truly amazing.  The strength, courage, and talent that I see in women each and every day, never ceases to amaze me.

The thing women have yet to learn is nobody gives you power. You just take it. ~Roseanne Barr

Mothers, teachers, doctors, housekeepers, enteprenuers, whatever occupation, religion, sexual orientation, nationality, I can't help but feel that women are the most interesting and complex creatures that walk this planet. 

If you think about it, it's usually the support and words of encouragement from a fellow woman that can really bring us through the most difficult times in our lives.  Be it your mother, sister, grandmother, best friend, or daughter, only a woman truly understands who we are and how we think.

No woman is required to build the world by destroying herself. ~Rabbi Sofer

Girl Power, such a cliche phrase, really sums it all up though. 

Stand tall, be proud and celebrate the gift of being born a woman, because we are AWESOME!

Happy Thoughts,

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Weekend's over and my bathroom...

"There must be quite a few things a hot bath won't cure, but I don't know many of them."
 -Silvia Plath

So, the Thanksgiving Holiday weekend is just about over, and back to work tomorrow.  Being pretty broke right now, we mostly stayed in and watched TV, sat by the fire and did chores around the house and yard.  I was determined to get a few things done while I was off.  I managed to get the inside of my truck cleaned, mowed the lawn, did some trimming, put away the few Fall decorations I had out and today I'll start pulling out the Christmas boxes.  I also got a little online shopping done for my girls.  I save all year so that I will have a little money for my Christmas shopping, this is the only way I'd be able to manage it.

My plan of attack this year is to decorate gradually, so I am not overwhelmed with it all.  We have some family commitments the next couple weekends, so I'll have to manage my time well.  I usually don't accomplish much in the evenings during the week by the time I get home from work and fix dinner. I want to have the tree up and ready for when my daughter comes home so we can decorate it together. 

There's been so much drama this year, I am just trying to enjoy the holidays, I mean after all, the problems will still be here waiting in January, right?!?

I love looking at pictures of other people's houses, so today since I have no new photos to share, I thought I'd share pictures of one of my favorite rooms in my house, the bathroom. 
I saved a lot of money by shopping around for all
the fixtures and plumbing supplies myself.

I found a guy in a another state who re-mirrored old mirrors, so I was able to keep the original details of beveling and etching on the old medicine cabinets.  I mailed him the mirrors and it was still cheaper than replacing the mirrors w/ plain mirrored glass.

This is the original cabinet, I just removed the doors and had the top tiled.

 I purchased the old claw-foot tub right after we bought the house, but it sat in my garage for 9 years before it actually made it to the bathroom(I may have talked about this before, so I apologize if you've heard this already!)  These pictures are not new, but nothing has changed, I'm pretty content with it just as it is.  Eventually I'll have to replace the shower curtain, but otherwise I like the white w/ just a touch of green. 

The bathroom was an unusable mess when we bought the house.  The toilet was actually wall mounted!  Eww, like in a public restroom.  When we started pulling up the old tile floor (redone in the 60's, so very ugly) there was a hole in the floor from where the original toilet had been.  The door to this bathroom stayed closed for 9 years, really, I mean it, it was really gross!

I had a friend who did tile work and he kind of became my "general contractor".  He found me different guys to do the work that needed to be done, such as electrical, plumbling, drywall, wood work, etc.  He did the tile work and some of the shower rebuilding, it was all rotted out from water leakage.  He was amazing and I saved a lot of money with his help. 

I know the photos are lousy, but I didn't feel like retaking them, and my camera is so old, I don't know how much better I can get them.  You get the idea though.
When it was finally time to put the tub in, I breathed a sigh of relief that my measuring had been correct and it was really going to fit!

There is nothing like a good soak in a hot bath with a good book for a little R & R.  For now though, it's time to haul up those Christmas decorations, the bath will have to wait for later...
Happy Decorating and Happy Thoughts,

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Changing Traditions

“If we fill our hours with regrets over the failures of yesterday, and with worries over the problems of tomorrow, we have no today in which to be thankful”


This year, Thanksgiving will be a little different than it has been for our family in the past.   My father has to work on Thanksgiving, and my grandparents on  his side who usually have Thanksgiving with us, are getting older and it has become increasingly difficult for them to travel.   So, as it turns out, it is going to be just me, my mom and youngest daughter on Thanksgiving day. 

My oldest daughter is away at college and I wasn't able to fly her home this year for Thanksgiving.  She will be home soon for her Winter Break, so we decided to postpone Thanksgiving until then.  My mother is an amazing cook, and her Thanksgiving dinner is anticipated for weeks ahead.  Changing a long standing tradition this year has been a little depressing.  Not having our little family together on this special day is not something we would have ever chosen.  My youngest daughter is having a hard time with the idea.  I've explained that we must be positive and it won't always be like this.  Some years are just harder than others. 

My mom is going to treat us to see Harry Potter on Thanksgiving, so the three of us will spend the day seeing a movie together.  The night before Thanksgiving, we will have a nice family dinner together with my parents, but the traditional Thanksgiving menu will be saved for when my oldest can be home to share it with us.  She will be with my sister and her girls on Thanksgiving day, so even though we won't all be together, we will all have family to share the day with.

I received a package in the mail yesterday that put it all in perspective.  A friend I have "met" on flickr and through the blogging world sent me a beautiful little sign.  I have a  love of words, and these reminded me to always focus on the positive-
She wrote in a card to me that when she saw this, it reminded her of me, because I always try to be positive.  Her words alone meant so much to me, and her gift was so very kind.  Thank you so much Val!  Someday maybe we will actually get to meet in person.  Val is getting married next year, so please join me in wishing her and her future husband a lifetime together filled with love and happiness.

Wishing you a very Happy and "Thankful" Thanksgiving and Happy Thoughts,
Give Thanks  is hung in our kitchen to remind us to always be thankful.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

It's the little things in life...

I am beginning to learn that it is the sweet, simple things of life which are the real ones after all.
-Laura Ingalls Wilder

More and more I stop and cherish the little things in life, the day to day treasures, whether they be kind words or simple pleasures.

A phone call from a friend you haven't seen in a while, a compliment when you need it most, a card in the mail, hearing your favorite song on the radio at just the right time, or just a few hours of quiet alone time with a cup of coffee and a good book or your favorite magazine.  These small, but important moments in our lives, are the ones that help us stay sane, in a world that sometimes feels like it's falling apart.

Homemade cookies are a little thing that can put a smile on anyone's face.

Watch the news on any given day, and you will undoubtably be depressed after hearing about the all the turmoil and violence going on in our world.  As much as I want to stay connected to what's going on around me, sometimes I want to hide from it.  There is so much hardship and pain, it really makes me stop and think, are my problems that important?  Well, of course we all have our own personal struggles,  but looking at the big picture, our problems can seem so small in comparison to what some people face in their lives on any give day. 

It's the little things that keep us from sinking into a perpetual state of despair when it seems like we have no control over what's happening to us.  Sometimes, it's just as simple as taking the time to stop and look at the beauty and nature that is around us.  In our busy lives, it's easy to forget how beautiful this world we live in really can be.  For as much as there is pain and heartache, there is beauty and kindness.  Whether it's a the magical beauty of a full moon, the wonder of a rainbow, spending time with your children, whatever is beautiful to YOU, it's really a personal thing. 

Time spent with our friends and family, in our very busy lives, is one of the most important of the little things in our lives.  The little moments, the day to day acts of kindness, these are so important, and must not be forgotten. 

Keeping a picture of your loved ones at your desk at work, making your family's favorite dinner, baking a cake or treat for someone's birthday, taking the time to stop and talk to someone when you are rushing through your day,  or sitting by a cozy fire with your family on a cold night, these are the little things that help us and those we love and care about get through the day, yet they are really the  important things that keep us all connected.

My wish for you is that you treasure all the little things in life and that you remember one small act of kindness can mean the world to someones else.

Happy Thoughts,

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Keeping the Faith

Faith is courage; it is creative while despair is always destructive. ~David S. Muzzey
This morning I spent a few hours at the park across the street, doing repairs on the community built playground that I got to be a part of 3 years ago.  It was one of the most amazing 5 days of my life.  I met some incredibly nice and giving people and got to be reminded of how a community can pull together and do amazing things.  The park across the street from my house was nothing more than a large campground for homeless transients, who used the park to drink and do drugs in.  This city park has been around for many years and has beautiful established trees throughout, but because it had been taken over by less than savory people, it never got used by the children it once attracted.

The crew of volunteers getting the playground done in an amazing 5 days!

The city finally listened and there was some available grant money to fix up the park itself, then some wonderful community members got together and formed a committee to build a fabulous new playground.  I could go on and on about the build and all the meetings and organizing that led up to it, but I will just tell you that the playground is now the best in the city.  Everyday, this park that hadn't entertained kids for years, is now full of them all day long.  I have never been so proud of something I have worked on.  I have a vested interest in this park, because it's so close to my house.  Even though my girls were grown by the time the park finally got cleaned up, my nieces can  play there when they come to visit me.  They love to play at "the park across the street", it even has a tire swing :)

Spending the morning sprucing things up, really helped to put my mind in a good place.  With all the stress I'm dealing with over the trial that is coming up this next week, I really needed some positive perspective.

One of the food tables, our  job (the food committee, all 2 of us!!) during the build was to feed all the volunteers.

I am trying to stay strong, but I worry everynight as I try to fall sleep, how will I pay my bills if my ex gets his way? How will we have enough money for groceries?  Will I have to work two jobs to keep us afloat, and how will that affect my daughter who will be home alone so much?  I have never felt so unsure and anxious before, and it's hard not to let it all get to me. 

Faith, Love,  and Courage, that is what I am focusing on.  The faith that things will turn out how I need them to, and the courage to figure it all out if it doesn't. And most importantly, the love I have from my daughters, who know exactly where my heart is.

Last week, my oldest daughter posted what she likes about me on my FB page.  You can't imagine how good I felt when I read her beautiful words:

i like you because you're an amazing mom who is a positive, strong, selfless and beautiful woman and perfect role model. you don't care about material things or money, you would rather devote your life to making sure your daughters have a good education & life & it's sad that some people choose not to see that. you know what's important in life and have taught me & lissy that we can do anything we set our mind to & to never give up on our dreams. :)"

My wish for you is that you will always have Faith, Love, and Courage in your heart, to see you through the good and bad times.

Happy Thoughts,

Sunday, October 24, 2010

A slight detour...

“Anyone can give up, it's the easiest thing in the world to do. But to hold it together when everyone else would understand if you fell apart, that's true strength.” -unkown

Today I am blogging about something that I wish I wasn't.  I decided to address something publicly that I am dealing with personally.

As I've mentioned before, I am a divorced mother of two beautiful daughters.  My family and my home are the two most important things in the world to me, if you know me personally, you already know that.

I decided to keep our family home when my ex-husband and I separated, and bought him out of it by refinancing the mortgage.  

I've talked about my house before, and how hard I've worked on it over the years, especially the last 7 that I've been living alone with my daughters. 

The house was in bad shape, still needing major work done when he moved out.  I pride myself in knowing how to make something out of nothing. I am a true DIY person.   I have improved my house by my willingness to work hard and my passion for crafting, sewing, painting, and gardening, whatever it takes to make my home warm, comfortable, and welcoming.  I live on a shoestring budget, but I was lucky enough several years ago to inherit some money from my grandfather, so that I was able to finish up most of the major rennovations and buy a few new pieces of furniture.    I finally put in the picket fence that I had dreamed about for years.  We don't have the latest technology, no large flat screen or surround sound, no fancy stereo equipment, laptops, cameras, or luxury cars.  My yard was not professionally landscaped, I did most of the work myself, after I had the lawn put in, I planted everything else and finished the sprinklers on my own.

I am now being questioned about everything I have done.  My ex-husband has decided he no longer wants to pay the spousal support he agreed to when we divorced.  We were married over 16 years and we both made concessions when we came to our final settlement agreement.  He had an affair, and chose to leave our marriage.  I was devastated at the time, but over the years I have come to be comfortable with my new life and cherish it. 

We are now back in court.  It's a very unsettling thing to go through, not to mention an invasion of my privacy, filled with accusations that question everything I have worked so hard for and what I do that makes me happy in my life.   I truly wish I did not need this money, but living on a single income, and paying for the needs of my daughters, especially with one in college,  I do at this time.  I have struggled financially since my oldest daughter turned 18 and I not longer receive child support for her.

He has been following me my on my blog, even printing some of my posts, submitting them as exhibits, so that he can somehow try to use it against me in court.  I cannot begin to tell  you how stressful and upsetting this has all been.  He has taken something I love doing, my way of expressing who I am and what I love about life, and is now bringing it into a courtroom so he can try to show it in a negative light.  It has caused me to question whether I should even continue writing a blog.  I can't help but feel a little bit like I am being stalked.

I am not asking for sympathy,   I have put myself out there, my blog is open for anyone to read, it certainly does not detail everything going on in my life, I have tried to focus mainly on the positive.  I have struggles just like anyone else does, but my blog has been a place talk about what makes me happy and meet others with similar interests.

I don't have money for a lawyer, but my ex has one.  I am going into court alone, hopefully with the strength I need.  This week his lawyer is taking a deposition from me.  I have never done anything like this before, so of course I am nervous and don't know what to expect.  I feel like I am at a disadvantage by not having an attorney to represent me.

All the stress is taking a toll on me, I am not sleeping well, I've had to spend hours preparing paperwork and filing documents with the court.  I work full-time so I've had to take my own personal necessity time off work to take care of everything.   

I feel like I am forced to defend myself about how I live.  My daughters are behind me 100%, they know first hand how hard I've worked and the sacrifices I've willingly made so that I could give them a good childhood filled happiness and fun.  Without their love and support, I couldn't do this.  I feel a deep sadness for my ex-husband, he has lost what it is to be a father.  He refuses to speak with our girls, and I can't imagine the emptiness he must feel, not having them in his life.  I worry about them and how this will affect their future relationships with men.

I will hold my head high in the next couple weeks,  and remind myself that I cannot control the outcome.  I can only speak from my heart, and that's what I intend to do.

Happy Thoughts,

Sunday, October 17, 2010

A Girl can dream...

Someday I dream of owning and running a bed and breakfast...I think it is the perfect job for me.  I love cooking and baking, decorating, gardening, taking care of others, all things related to home and family.  I've been like this for as long as I can remember.

When my sister and I were little, we used to play restaurant.  She happily played the customer, while I was both waitress and chef.  I'd make menus and create my own dishes, pepare her food and serve it to her "resaurant style".

I have always been fascinated by bed & breakfasts, the personal service and homey atmosphere, so different from a normal hotel stay.  I have so many ideas of what I might do, special events for holidays, appetizers in the afternoon, treats set out at night for guests returning from a dinner out, a big beautiful breakfast, where I could try out all the recipes I want to make someday.  I would love to have outdoor seating as well, where guests could sit and read the local paper in the morning with their coffee, or enjoy the sun setting at dusk with glass of wine.

Doesn't it all sound so dreamy? 

Recognize this beauty from "Father of the Bride"?
I dream of buying a big, old white house and having guests who I can pamper and fuss over.  Meeting new people while they are away from the daily stresses of their normal lives really appeals to me.  

How about this charmer, one of my favorite movie houses from "Practical Magic".

I love meeting new people and hearing the stories of their lives.  Making people feel good is something I truly enjoy. 
This is actually a realBed & Breafast I found for sale in Mendicino, CA.
Who knows, maybe someday my dream will become a reality...I'm never going to give up on it.  Without our dreams, we really have nothing, at least that's true for this Dream Girl.  Maybe someday I will have you as my guest....

Happy Dreams & Happy Thoughts,

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

The Girls in my life...

"What greater thing is there for human souls than to feel that they are joined for life - to be with each other in silent unspeakable memories." 
~George Eliot

Today it is with melancholy in my heart that I write this post.  You see, I have just arrived home after driving from Southern CA to my home in Northern CA.  I had to leave behind my lovely 19-year old daughter, my beautiful sister, and my two adorable nieces, 4 of the 5 "girls in my life".

This was one of the most emotional drives home yet, and I've done this trip quite a few times now in the past couple years.  For one, it was the first time I drove home by myself.  Being alone, I gave myself permission to cry, to just let the tears flow for as long as I needed. 

In the wee hours of early morning, I quietly slipped out of my sister's house, after having said my goodbyes to all the girls the night before.  The drive is much more bearable leaving very early, avoiding the traffic that is common on this route.  I like the serenity of driving in the dark too, seeing the sun come up along the way.  There was the most magical full moon this early morning, and I felt like it was there just for me, offering me a guiding light on my journey home, as I felt the overwhelming grief of leaving part of my family that I love so much.  It was bittersweet, as I also felt  the anticipation of returning home to my youngest daughter, who was not able to come along this time due to a busy school and sports schedule.

There is a certain amount of stress in my life right now, and being away for a few days immersed in the job of caring for my nieces and sister (she recently had surgery), and helping to get my daughter settled in to her new apartment, gave me little time to even think about it.  Until now, that I am home and it's time to face the reality of it all.  I needed to be away, from work and from home for a few days. 

These are my nieces, Sahara (top) and India (below).  I forgot my camera on this trip, so had to find pictures from June when we visited last. 

My daughter's on-campus apartment.  A little messy at the moment, but getting there.  I made her a little colorful banner for over her bed. I have more ideas for decorating it...those apartments are do drab!!

Even though at times my daughter drove me crazy being home for a long summer, with her "college-life" schedule and messiness, it was so hard to leave her once again.  She's a good girl, and she gives me little to worry about, but a mother never stops worrying, does she?  Being there for my sister and her girls, when I felt they really needed me, was so important.  I wish I could have stayed longer.  It's so hard living far away, I miss them all the time. 

It's always good to be home, but  a piece of my heart is definitely left with them.  I will be counting down the days until I see them all again.

Happy Thoughts,

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Life and the Pursuit of Happiness...

Happiness is excitement that has found a settling down place. But there is always a little corner that keeps flapping around.
~E.L. Konigsburg

I'm in that crazy place again, where there just isn't enough time in the day and I'm so tired every night.  The beginning of the school year at the school I work out has started with a bang and only slightly slowed down.  As I have mentioned in a previous post, we are down several teachers, so our classrooms are bursting at the seams, and it's taking it's toll on the teachers.

In the office, things seems even busier, I think in these difficult times and with changing demographics, familes are that much more needy.  I feel for them, but the types of issues we are seeing in the office now have little to do with education.  It can be very draining, but I still love my job.  Seeing all the new little kindergartners at the beginning of the year is always heartwarming.

Things at home have been hectic as well.  My youngest daughter decided to start playing tennis this year for her high school.  So, she's now playing tennis and soccer, she's also involved with Student Government, and somehow got on Yearbook a year early.  I am so proud of her, but also a little worried.  I think she might be overextending herself.  She has all these extracurricular activities on top of her heavy load at school being in AP classes.  She's so tired every night, it's hard to see her like that.  I think two sports might be a bit too much for her right now, so I'm looking forward to that easing up.

My oldest daughter turns 19 next week!  19!!! I can't believe it...I will be driving her back to La Jolla to move her in to an on-campus apartment.  It will be a quick trip, as I am trying not to take too much time off work.  It's a bittersweet time, I'm happy to see her start her second year in college, but I will miss her being home too.

Personally, I have been faced with something that is unpleasant, so I am trying to stay postive and keep upbeat.  My ex is trying to end some of the financial support he agreed to when we divorced, so he has taken me to court and now I have the burden of trying to keep the much needed support in place.  I do not have the financial means to hire a lawyer, so I am doing all the paperwork myself.  It's proving to be a very daunting job, but I'm doing my best.  With all the loss and grief in the world, I know this is very trivial, but it is still something I am struggling with.

Various little treats for the kids.

Personalized Candy Bars
I am lucky to have the support of many wonderful friends and family. Without so many people in my life that care about me, I don't know what I'd do.  I also have the love of my two daughters, which no amount of money can ever come close to.  I am sad for my ex-husband that he doesn't see this.

Mini water bottles for thirsty little kids.
Last weekend, I spent the better part of two days making fun little favors for my niece's 6th birthday party, which is tomorrow.  Unfortunately, I can't be there to join the party, but all my little goodies will be.  I can't wait to see pictures of her and her little friends celebrating.  My parents brought everything down this week for her, and my mom will help with putting it all out and making it a special birthday party for her.  I have mentioned before how much I adore my nieces, they are absolutely precious to me.  Crafting is a great way for me to relieve stress, so I truly enjoyed spending my time creating all the goodies I made.

Hoping you can find something that helps with the everyday pressures and stresses of life.

Happy Thoughts,

Saturday, August 21, 2010

R & R

Everything you do can be done better from a place of relaxation. - Stephen C. Paul

Recently I returned from a very relaxing mini vacation to one of my favorite places in the whole world, Lake Tahoe, CA/NV.  For those of you from California, you surely know this beautiful place, and those of you not from around here, an explanation in words just doesn't do it justice.

For the past 5 summers, I have been taking my daughters on our "all-girl" trip to Tahoe ( as we like to call it).  We are lucky that my Aunt & Uncle have a rental home there, and they let us stay whenever we want for just the cost of the cleaning fee.  It's a cute, cozy little cabin filled with hand-me-down furniture that reminds me of my grandmother, since much of it was hers when she was alive.

The cabin is just minutes to the casinos (on the Nevada side) and shops S. lake Tahoe is famous for, but also minutes from the lovely beaches that run along the lakefront.  Since we started this tradition, we have explored and experimented with the many activities that are available in the summer.  This year, we kept it low key and spent our days getting pedicures, seeing a movie we all agreed on, and lounging at the beach.  Tahoe is known more for it's Winter sports, skiing in particular, but we prefer being there in the Summer.  The weather never disappoints, usually lingering around 85 degrees, and the air is always clean and fresh.  

This year, my girls did not bring along friends as they usually do.  I let my oldest go up a few days ahead of me with a few of her friends, so they all left by the time my younger daughter and I arrived.  I was a little worried they would get bored and want to go home early, not having any of their friends with them.   Overall though, it was a great trip and I really enjoyed getting to spend some quality time with both of them, which is so hard to do now that they are teenagers, and my oldest off at college most of the year.    

I am never able to relax at home the way I do when I'm there.  It's like I become a whole different person, away from all the responsibilities, chores, and work that are part of my everyday life at home.  I enjoyed myself so much this time, it was very hard to leave.  

For the first time, since we started these annual trips, I drove completely around the entire Lake, which is about a 72mi. drive along winding roads that run parallel to the edge of the lake.  On part of the drive, there are hair-pin turns and drops on both sides of the 2-lane highway.  There are charming cabins and cottages nestled amongst the evergreens all along the way, as well as Tahoe City about half way through, which is filled with cute little shops and restaurants.  We stopped there for a leisurely lunch, dining outside, as we determined how long it would take us to get back to our cabin if we continued on and made the full circle around the lake. 

 In the end, we decided to go for it, and it was the most beautiful drive I have ever been on.    The afternoon sun made the lake literally glow and the view from the road as the light changed, was stunning.  We even got a little "tropical" weather this time, with a slight sprinkling of rain along the way, although the temperature remained in the low 80's.  

I have decided that rest and relaxation are highly underrated, and are an absolute must in order for this  busy mom to keep her sanity.  

In just a few days I will be back to work, soccer practice has already started, AP camp begins next week for my youngest and the hectic pace of Fall will soon be upon us.  My rest and relaxation is already becoming a distant memory, but a sweet one for sure!           

Our view from the table at lunch, so relaxing!
My girls on the front steps at Rosie's.
Our little table on the porch at Rosie's
Had to show a picture of this yummy Butterfinger Ice Cream pie...we did all 3 share it!
This summer, I am wishing all of you at least a few hours, if not days, of complete rest & relaxation.

Happy Thoughts,

*Note-I originally wrote this the day we came home, but I have been having computer troubles ever since.  My daughter fixed me all up, so now we are back up and running :)