31 October 2009

10 Surefire Ways To Know It's Fall At The Beach

Many people, mostly those who hail from anywhere that it snows in autumn ask, "How do you even know when it's Fall in California? Especially when you live at the beach."  

 Ten  Surefire ways  know it's a fall evening at the cottage.

1.    You just ate a big bowl of vegetarian chili from the crock pot.

2.    There are surfboards, beach towels and (this is key to knowing it's fall) wetsuits all over the front

3.    The smell of cinnamon and cloves is wafting from the hot cider on the stove.

4.    The doorbell periodically rings and there are fairy princesses, spider man and cowboys at the door.

5.    There's a warm dog curled up on your lap.

6.    Even though the windows are open, there's a fire crackling in the fireplace.

7.    Football is on the television.   

8.    It's the end of the day and I've taken my bra off.  Oh, come on!  It's 8:30 P.M. for Pete's sake.


9.    Everything outside is green except the pumpkins and the fall leaves I bought at the craft store.

10.  The kids are fighting over the computer.  Oh wait, that's all seasons.




Love you more than the harvest moon.

Waaay up there.



28 October 2009

Dirt Rocks!

Work at the cottage has slowed down for the moment.  Slowed down is not really a phrase you want to hear when you're doing a remodel.  But sometimes, at certain points in a remodeling project, you have to be very patient.  That's when you say to yourself, "Self, what were you thinking when you were praying for patience?  Self, you know that when you ask Him for patience, He gives you something you have to be patient about just to make you practice!"  That's just the way it works.

I'm no remodel virgin, and I understand patience.  So, I am just going to wait.  And even though I can hardly wait to step over the bridge and walk 'round the corner and see progress, like wrapping, and wiring, plumbing and insulating and drywall for goodness sakes!  For now, I'm just going to practice patience.

This is David.  David of, "David Reed and Associates Landscape Architects".

Can you guess what David is doing here?  I'll give you a minute.  Okay, I'll spare you.  You won't win any prizes for this guess.  This is just a simple little family blog and I don't have any prizes to offer.

David took the big, heavy cover off the water meter.  (Do you know where your water meter is?)  Did you know that you even had a water meter?  Me either.  David is dusting off the innards of the water heater with his pen.  Yeah, landscape architects are very technical.  They dust stuff off with a pen.  Our water meter turned out to be 3/4 inch.  Now that's a big water meter!  Just kidding ya.  I have no idea if that's a big water meter.  But it's not the size that counts...

Turns out we have good dirt.  Our dirt is sandy and it compacts nicely.  There is no clay.  Apparently landscape architects like that kind of dirt.  At least David does.
I choose to be optimistic.  I choose to be optimistic.  I choose to be optimistic.  Dirt rocks!

Dirt rocks!

And what do you think about that kitty?  What do you think kitty?  Kitty?  Yeah, that's what I thought.

Love you more than all the dirt and rocks just laying about the cottage right now.


24 October 2009


Many of you would agree that wine is a good thing.  I am not much of a drinker.  Sort of a light weight when it comes to the appreciation of alcohol.  But, since visiting Italy last year I have come to appreciate wine in a much more extraordinary way.  For one thing, I can get behind what it adds to a fabulous Italian meal.  Italians take their food and wine very seriously.  It is easy to get used to the way they linger over their meal, enjoying and reveling in each others company and of course the spectacular food and wine.  My personal favorite is from the Chianti Region of Tuscany.  This is  Chianti Classico.

Did you know that drinking 1 - 2 glasses of wine per day increases you HDL (good cholesterol) by up to 10%?  Yep.  And it also reduces blood clotting.  Wine contains a very high level of antioxidants and may prevent cancer by limiting tumor growth.  Studies show that it increases life span by 80% and listen up, with cold season upon us; wine helps prevent the common cold!  See!  A good thing.

While we're speaking of good things.  Now THIS is a very good thing.  I have not just recently discovered this.  I have known this innately since I was old enough to stand in my crib and yell, "Me want a bottle of chocolate milk!"

These are organic almonds covered in dark chocolate.  My best friend Helene, who is French, turned me on to these puppies.  The French know all about wine and chocolate and if you don't think so, just ask them.

You have only to go to a store that carries organic foods.  There they have these bulk bins where you can buy, well, you can buy things - in bulk.  First off, let me tell you this.  You've probably heard it before but, it merits being said agin.  "There are four basic food groups:  milk chocolate, dark chocolate, white chocolate, and chocolate truffles." Here I will tell you why you should indulge in  dark chocolate.  Besides being my personal favorite, it has amazing health benefits and it's the right thing to do.

You can buy almost anything covered in chocolate here, such as a variety of nuts or fruit.  Now personally, if I'm going to eat fruit I don't want anyone to mess with it.  Not even for the sake of chocolate.  I like my fruit organic, ripe but firm, and fresh.  Very, very, fresh.

Just like this.  Mmmm.  Sweet.
But now,  back to chocolate.

There is a protocol for buying organic, bulk bin chocolate.  It is a little tricky,  if I may warn you.  First you find the bin which says, Organic Chocolate Covered Almonds.  You then tear off a clear sack and place it firmly under the opening of the bin.  You carefully and slowly pull the black lever down and a distribution of chocolate almonds will drop into your bag.  The tricky part is that if you get all over-excited the almonds will fly in an ecstatic explosion into your bag and you will have 10 pounds of those things in under 2 seconds flat.  Now, I'm not saying that wouldn't be  a good thing,  however at $11.95 per pound it could get you in big trouble.  So to repeat:  slowly and carefully, and don't say I didn't warn you.    

Whoops!  Notice that although my daughter got a bit heavy handed with the lever pulling, she is still smiling.  By the by, at Jimbo's in San Diego, the bin number is 347.  Just take the pen provided, mark the little white twisty tie label with the bin number and you are good to go!

While you are at the health food store keep one thing in mind.  My daughter found this out the hard way.  She was reminded of this while we were doing our shopping and revisited it in a most classic fashion in the photo below.  Buyer Beware.  If you try to buy classic junk food at a health food store, with the exception of chocolate covered almonds, which I consider a staple and not a snack food anyway,  I suggest you steer clear of  foods which you may previously have considered treats, such as the Rice Crispy Treat below. These treats are also all natural just like it says on the package.  They have no artificial sweeteners and are low-fat.  I'm not sure what is in them but, they taste like cardboard.  So for those of you looking for a snack that you previously enjoyed, don't get it at a health food store.  Stick to your local Chevron or AM PM.

(Mother to daughter,  "You shoulda just had fruit!")

Now back to wine.

You may be asking yourself, "Self, what do wine and chocolate have to do with each other?"
Well, let me tell you.  Red wine is an antioxidant which has free radicals. It has 8 times more antioxidants than strawberries.  Antioxidants protect the body from aging.  Dark chocolate also has antioxidants.  It stimulates endorphin production which gives you a feeling of pleasure.  It also stimulates serotonin which is an anti depressant.  It is made from plants so has all the healthy benefits of dark veggies.  Now you know and it was my pleasure to inform you.

And here we have what you would see in a perfect world.  These are two of the best things. This is how it should be.  These are Junior Mints.  Junior Mints are my favorite. They are not only a good thing,  they are a good idea. You cannot even get these at a health food store yet but, I am campaigning heavily to get them to carry this particular brand of dark chocolate with peppermint filling.  These are not only delectable but some experts refer to peppermint as brain food.  It actually increases the flow of blood to your brain.  When my children have a big test coming up I always say to them as they exit the car in nervous anticipation of said test, "Don't worry baby, just keep eating those Jr. Mints I packed in your lunch and you will excel on that test."  That's just the kind of mom I am.

Peppermint Junior Mints have been around since 1949.  They are manufactured in Cambridge,  Massachusetts at the Tootsie Factory.  The Tootsie Factory ranks high on my list of places to see on my bucket list.  Did you see the Sinefeld episode where a Junior Mint was dropped into the abdominal cavity of a patient who was having surgery?  It was not I believe, a coincidence that he survived. Overall, this is my favorite food.  If I was to be lost on a deserted island the one thing I would have to take with me is Junior Mints.  And, with God as my witness,  if it takes me the rest of my life, I am going to get health food grocers around the world to carry them.

So, make a list of important things to do today.   At the top of your list write  eat chocolate.  Now you will get at least one thing done today.  You're welcome.

Love you more than all the red wine,  the dark chocolate and the Junior Mints, in the world,


P.S.  Disclaimer.  The statistics and facts contained herin may or may not be completely accurate and were written with the discretion of the author.  Mostly.  But not in every case.  Pretty much, but take my word for it, if you indulge in any of the above, it will be good for your soul.

21 October 2009


Bella Grace

As amazing as it is to watch your dreams come to frutitation, there are always ups and downs.  The cottage has been in the destruction stage for several weeks now.  Who knew it took so long to take down one little cottage?  It was practically no bigger than a chicken coop.  And now it looks like a chicken coop.  And I should know because I've had a few of those things.  I haven't always lived at the beach you know.  I was once a country girl with chickens, and goats and a monkey.  But that is a story for another time.  I promise I'll get back to you on that one.

I have three, soft, fluffy, sweet, loving, loyal dogs.  Dog doesn't come close to a word which can describe the animals who are just like kids to me.  Usually, as a matter of fact, I call my dogs my "kids".  YES, I am ONE OF THOSE people.  I will herein refer to my dogs as my "kids".   My human kids completely understand this because, they are at the butt-head stage (teenagers) and they really don't care how I refer  defer  to them as long as I  stay out of their way.

Who else sits by the door waiting expectantly for it to open; and you appearing on the other side makes their day complete? Who else bounds through the door in the morning and jumps on the bed covering you with puppy kisses and then snuggles-in to sleep until you're ready to get your day started for real?  Well, maybe on the days your husband doesn't leave at 4:00 AM for work he might do that but, seriously, on a day to day basis.  Yep, only "the kids" do that.

When you do a remodel the size and scope of what we are doing, and you have to move your family, and all your worldly possessions, to an alternate location so you don't get bulldozed by the Barbarians,  sometimes, sadly, regrettably, you have to make compensations.  They may break your heart a bit, though they are filled with good intentions. They are necessary to go forward but,  thank you God,  are only temporary casualties.

After searching for over a month for a place to live while we remodel the cottage, we found (much to our disbelief dismay) that, a family with two teens, three dogs, and one cat with six toes and no tail, were not a landlords' dream. Go figure. The fact that we only wanted a four month lease only enhanced the hilarity of renting to us.  So in our desperation, we had to come up with an alternate plan for part of our family. We tried to get someone to take the teenagers instead but, nobody wanted even temporarily to volunteer for that job. Imagine. No Body.

Long, late night sessions of tears  debate, and decisions were made.  In the end, the Cock-a-Poo's (at a price) got to come with us.  A hefty, non refundable damage deposit later,  they are even now, beside me, looking up with the grateful eyes of someone who made the cut.

 Our miracle kitty with nine lives, resides still, at the cottage such as it is

Meet, "Scout"
 He prowls about keeping would be bandits at bay.  He sleeps with the raccoons who have invaded the premises, and taken up residence outside the door of the only room still intact, (where this guy is living).

Meet, AP

This may be the sweetest, cutest, hardest working guy you'll ever know.
He does it all and he does it with a smile on his face.  Well, usually.  Right here in  this picture he looks kinda surprised.  That's because I keep sneaking up on him with my camera.  But I've never known him to be anything but happy and jovial.  Of course he isn't really my kid.  And I'd adopt him, really I would but, then he'd just act like a butt-head.

 We get to see him and pet him and feed and water him, every day. No, not that guy;  the kitty.  Okay, yes, both of them.  Anyway, Scout has lots of company and gets in on all the action which, is just as he prefers it.  You can't feel too sorry for him.  He's a cat and he does what he wants anyway.  Kind of like teenagers but, quietly and with less protesting.

But, then there's this one.  This one, the sweetest of all sweets.

 The kid who asks for the least, who loves everyone, who is just happy if you take her on her daily walk.  This one, this completely unsuspecting one -  didn't -  make - the cut.  Apparently weight DOES matter, and at 100 lb. she tipped the scale for the acceptable doggy weight limit for renters.  Alas, she is in a temporary foster home. But don't jump to the wrong conclusion.  She is with people who love her.  She is with kin.  She's with her biological doggy mom, one of her doggy brothers, and her Auntie Kim, Uncle Alan and their two daughters. Whew! They have been kind enough to share their home with her. This is only confusing or disturbing if you are not ONE OF THOSE kinds of people. All of the rest of you will completely understand this logic.

 Bella Grace, who we all refer to as Bella Beane, (who knows why, it's just one of those things you say in an unnaturally high pitched voice, when you are talking to her and want her to feel the love),  gets a big backyard, her own bed, and lots of attention and love. She's back to her roots, to her beginnings, to when her name was "Grape" for goodness sakes. Before we adopted her, she and all her siblings were given the names of fruit.  So before Bella was Bella, she was Grape.  But if you pet her nicely, and talk in that high pitched voice, she'll answer to anything.

This family of whom I speak are the family who were there on the day she was born.  They took care of her for 8 weeks until we adopted her.  She was loved and she bonded at the most vulnerable stage, which made her the dog she is today. (Can you tell that I am an advocate for adoption?)  These people were kind enough (and will surely be sainted in the next life), to take Bella Grape back into their home temporarily, adding a third dog to their pack. Where is Caesar Milan when you really need him, I ask you? We could have used a good dog whisperer in the past 2 months! "Caesar, are you listening?" He never listens when I talk to him.  He's too busy taming wild beasts.

So to you, Bella Grace Beane Grape puppy girl, we miss you every day.  We can't wait for the Cottage to be done so you can come home and we'll all be together again.  For the day when we can run on the beach once more and throw a stick which you will look down at and then up at us as if to say, "A stick". "Really people!"  "Maybe YOU want to go fetch a stick."  "But as for me, I want to go swimming".

So if you will, sit back and watch a montage of love.  A little dedication to the one who didn't make the cut. But who knows that, we will spend the rest of our lives making it up to her.  If you can, only because I am not yet computer savvy enough to actually do it for you, insert the "Lassie" theme song into your head before you look at the following pictures.

Hum now -

You know we love you more than all the doggy biscuits at Hideaway Cafe, Beane!

Sniff.  Sniff.  Blow.  Wipe.  Sniff.  Blow.

Until we are together again...



To see more posts about Bella go here - 


Living By The Sea

Living By The Sea


Always Tropical

Sometimes Classical

Often Typical

 Evermore Wonderful!

A Little Bit Funky

And A Little Bit Rock 'N Roll!
(There's that quirky chick again)

Click here and revisit her!  Black Heels, Skate Boards, and Goofy Girl

Love you more than all the amazing sunsets at Our Cottage By The Sea,


18 October 2009

And On The 7th Day He Rested

And On The 7th Day He Rested

This is what it looked like at my house today.

Everybody was just too pooped to pop.

Sunday Football was on.  Did you know that Sunday Football is also on, on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday?

This is the king of the remote.  Well, it's the hand of the king of the remote.  No one, and I mean NO ONE else is allowed to touch the remote.  Even when the king is sound asleep.  Snoring. Seemingly unconscious.  You can run around, bang pots and pans, scream, cry, yell obscenities (not that I do any of those things), but he will not wake up.  Unless, unless you try to take the remote.  Then, he gives you the souviernly stink eye and tightens his grip on the remote.  Alas, even the Queen is not allowed to touch the remote.

That's when you snuggle down deeper in your chair and look over on the other wall, at this.  Then you sigh in contentment and feel the deep, comfy, satisfaction of resting on a fall day, after a hectic work week, and you count all your blessings.  And that my friends is how you make your marriage last for 25 years.  Or more.  Hopefully more.  

So what are you all doing on this fine, fall, Sunday?

Wishing you many, many, blessings in the new week,


14 October 2009


This is the basement.

There  is  was a LOT of dirt in there.

Around 100 yards of dirt.

That's fun stuff for boys!  Look how happy they are.

And that's because

They're not the boys

Who had to hoist the buckets up from the basement, in a bucket, on a pulley

And haul them out of there.