Hello dear friend! Are you settled in? Perhaps with a big mug of steaming Irish coffee? I hope you’ve all been well, had a lovely holiday season, and are now surviving the frigid cold (my Nana says it’s cold in California when it’s 60 degrees so cold is a relevant term wherever you are). You know, although I’m alone in an old quiet house writing this, I still feel like I’m actually having a conversation with you (one-sided mostly since I’m doing a lot of the talking). I can put together a rough picture of you reading my blog, I imagine you’re a kindred spirit, and if you ever feel like saying hi back, please do! Leave a comment after or send me an email – I promise I’ll write back. This behind-the-scenes life can be a bit lonely and meeting new people online, like I have on Instagram, has been absolutely wonderful. (I’m sure I can’t be the only one who feels this way, right?)
Fair warning, this is going to be a long post. I’ve been sitting on a few in my draft folder and I keep putting them off so I decided I’ll just combine them all. It’s been awhile since I’ve been on here and I wanted to tell you all about Thanksgiving, San Diego, Christmas, what’s been going on in the New Year, and all the snippets in between. So, that’s what I’m going to do in one whole sitting. Are you ready? Shall we begin?
The last we chatted I was telling you how nervous I was about preparing our first Thanksgiving dinner. Oh boy, we had such a wonderful time. Paul and I spent the entire morning and early afternoon just the two of us, me making the gravy, him mashing the potatoes, both of us tackling the turkey and cleaning the house. We had Frank, Bing, and Dean on the record player, we sipped wine and beer, Rusty dozed off in front of the heater, and it was all around a very Dear Diary type of day with him.
(I would never throw a potato out the window.)
My family arrived in the afternoon just as the sun was sinking behind the neighbors’ houses across the street: Dad, Mom, and my sister and her boyfriend. (Two darling nephews were at their other family’s side, and my sister-in-law, brother, and other darling nephews were in Virginia for the holidays – we missed them all so much.) Mom and Dad helped in the kitchen, everyone helped put the dishes on the table and pour drinks, and we spent the evening with candles lit, records on, and good food in our bellies. I’d say it was a success. The only thing that needed a lot of improvement was my stuffing. I will not be deterred, however.
In between the holidays we had concerts to attend, family loss to deal with, weekend getaways, sleepovers with little peanuts, and a lovely last-minute trip to visit my Nana and Gramps in San Diego. It was much-needed and so appreciated.
We’ve been out there a few times in the last five years and this was the first time I had gotten to “celebrate” Christmas with them in California. We arrived just a few days before Christmas and were home in time for Christmas Eve at my mom and dad’s. Nana and Gramps always know how to take care of us when we come out. We’re pampered to the nine, had a fully stocked fridge of all good things, listened to Christmas carols, laughed at their stories, drove all over San Diego seeking out the best spots, visited my darling great-uncle, and even had a tiny version of a picnic while watching the sun go down behind the ocean. Nothing but Dear Diary moments the whole time we were there.
(If you don’t feel like looking through a ton of pictures of sunshine and ocean, feel free to scroll down.)
(These were all taken with my phone. I love my phone’s camera.)
The Hotel del Coronado – we could have spent the whole day there.
Old photographs of celebrities and presidents that have stayed in the hotel. Christmas trees. We loved it.
Just people relaxing and lying on the grass, looking up at the clouds.
The waves were so fun to watch (and listen to).
Just a couple of gals with our toes in the sand.
Poor Gramps! We all took our shoes and socks off to walk in the water, except him, and we were not expecting the tide to come in as far as it did. We all got soaked up to our knees, including Gramps!! He was a good sport. :)
Whiling away the time sitting in the sun, listening to the waves crash in, and people watching.
Nana loves these flowers. :)
Into Old Town for dinner and shopping. (I bought that bunting (papel picado) for myself and Momma. Love the colors (also inspiration for the October page in your calendar, wink wink. :))
Walked through the first cemetery in San Diego…
Ended up having dinner at one of Grandpa’s favorite spots in Old Town. So good. The next day we went to visit my Uncle Buck, Nana’s older brother. :) :) He’s the sweetest. Look at that smile!
She visits him every week. Love listening to them “bicker” and laugh with each other.
Earlier that day I had picked up Apple Cider Sparkling juice (almost like champagne) and cups so we could cheers as the sun went down at Sunset Cliffs.
The blues! :) :)
We clapped, people cheered, we finished our “champagne” and then headed out to get Chinese food for our Christmas dinner. We ended our last night with them by opening gifts and watching It’s A Wonderful Life. A perfect ending with these two.
If you scrolled past the San Diego trip and I’m just catching up to you, HI! If you’re still hanging in and reading, HELLO!
Let’s keep going, shall we?
Christmas was wonderful, our family was all together again and we had our traditional pasta meal. Everyone brought dishes to share, the floor was packed with presents under the tree, sparkly wine glasses tinked, lots of laughing and cookie eating and hugging.
Here’s the lot of us, Rusty included. :)
The next day we spent another day together in the kitchen, this time with a couple of friends to keep me company while I cooked the Christmas meal we’d be having later with our other friends/neighbors from the old house (including Rusty’s best friend). Kristin and Diller spent most of Christmas morning/early afternoon with us, sipping drinks, eating Christmas Tree Cake (Mom and Dad’s specialty) and leftover Christmas Eve garlic bread (my uncle’s specialty that is now also my specialty :)), and catching up on life. They’re one of the few couples we know that don’t have children and as a result we have a lot in common and there’s always something to dream about with them.
Bruce, Traci, and Harley came later that evening and we had another delicious pasta meal with lots of hugging, laughing, catching up on life, Harley and Rusty snuggling, and as always, ended the night with games and drinks. (We also missed Kraig – our other neighbor who would walk into our house like Kramer in Seinfield – but he was already spoken for.) When we went to bed that night our hearts and bellies were full.
And now it’s the New Year! We’re almost caught up, friends! (Do you need a refill? Go ahead, I’ll wait.)
I suppose life has been more or less the same over here. My calendar sales have dwindled and I did far better than I ever thought I would (thanks to YOU!). They’re officially 50% off, the price is updated on the website so no need for a discount code anymore ($7.50!) If you haven’t gotten yours yet, feel free to hop over to the shop. :)
I’ve been working on a few projects on the days I can muster enough energy. This monotonous gray weather has been sucking all creativity and happiness out of me, so on the days there’s sunshine peeking through our blinds I try to get as much accomplished as I can. Since there haven’t been many sunny days, you can imagine how much I’ve actually gotten done…
I’m stilling working on the 2020 calendar, definitely slowly but still surely. I’m just about finished with the month of May, a tribute to our trip to Seattle last spring where I finally met my kindred spirits and Paul and I explored the streets of Downtown Seattle. I began making July, a nod to our trip to NYC that we took with my brother and his family a few years back…and then I lost the motivation and moved on. I do that sometimes depending on the month but no worries, I always pick it up where I left it and will soon finish. (I started October MONTHS ago…not even close to being finished.)
When I’m not working on things for myself, I’ve been working on something pretty exciting. Paul is finally opening a business!!!! I’m so proud of him, he’s so excited – it’s been a big adventure already and it’s not even open yet! This all started in August with his friend/past co-worker; they’re opening an after-school coding school for kids!! It’s part of a franchise which has definitely helped with preparation. I’ll be working there as the director/manager when it’s all ready to go and in the meantime I’ve been helping with back-end stuff (totally out of my comfort zone but one never grows unless one exits that bubble, right?) So stay tuned, friends! If you’re in the local area I’ll be letting you all know more about it in case you’ve got little kiddos who want to learn to code (ages 7-14). :) :)
And when we’re not working on things that have to get done, we’ve been trying to just enjoy new things. Paul’s been learning the guitar and friends, he is so good. I love listening to him. There have been so many nights when we turn off the TV, Paul grabs his guitar and I grab my latest book, and we sit here with music filling the living room. I absolutely love it. Also, I’ve been trying to learn the violin that Paul bought me over three years ago. I’ve put it on the back-burner even though it’s been a long-time dream of mine, but watching Paul learn the guitar on his own and with YouTube as his guide I became inspired to try again. Although I’m still scratchy and unable to create a consistent vibrato, I just love it. I’m slowly learning the theme to Schindler’s List one step/note at a time. It’s incredibly hard but I know myself, and if I don’t love the song I won’t continue to practice.
The nights are long, friends and I’m itching for spring already. Paul and I headed to Home Depot about a week ago and purchased some little growing pots, soil, a shelf and brackets, and seeds for chives, cilantro, basil, and lavender. Paul put together a little garden shelf right on our kitchen window and now each morning I come downstairs and pretend it’s spring while talking to my little loves. Just yesterday two began to grow, the chives and basil, and I am beyond thrilled. I talk to them, they keep me company in the cold and gray…I’m dreaming in gardens.
I suppose I’ve written a book tonight, haven’t I? You’ve got things you need to do, I should probably peel myself off the couch and take care of some laundry, maybe move a little? :)
I’ll try to pop in again soon – I’m working hard this year to not work when I don’t have to (like on weeknights and weekends), and although I love this blog (and you!), sometimes it feels like work. So, until we meet again, dear friend, stay warm! And if you live somewhere with constant sunshine, feel free to shift that over my way. :) xoxoxo