Saturday, November 17, 2012

State Your Beauty

My daughter started a blog...I think it's gonna be a great read and a lot of fun. Check it out here: State Your Beauty.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Carmen's 50, 50, 50


Doing this over the next few days. 

As if I don't have anything else to do. 

I'm a firm believer, though, that a good clear out of the house means a good clear out of the head which means more productivity. 

I'll keep you posted. 

(Click the link and you will know what I'm talking about. It will take you to a great blog written by someone I wish I knew in real life.)

Friday, August 24, 2012

On Blueberry Bagels and Abraham

"Would Abraham have eaten this?"
"I don't know but if you don't, I will."
My daughter is getting married in a couple of months. In the interest of fitting into the size wedding dress of her choice she has decided to tone up and lose a few pounds. This, by the way, is the ONLY thing she is doing that is typically bride-y. She is the most organized, level headed, stress free, un-bridezilla I've ever met. At least long distance from this mother's perspective. Her friends may disagree, but I digress. Not that I've heard anything because I haven't!

To lose those pounds she has set a standard for herself of eating only the food Abraham would eat. This  is a mind set that easily eliminates processed foods and focuses on whole, healthy, fresh foods. Very sensible. I've been trying to adopt this attitude toward my own eating because helloo???? I have a dress to fit into for her wedding that is currently one size too small.

Will I do it? I have seven weeks. Stay tuned to find out. Riveting, I know. Of course, you may prefer to clean your toenails and I completely understand.

Anyway, this morning I was wondering if Abraham would have eaten a blueberry bagel with butter.

Let's follow my train of thought, shall we? Abraham was Jewish, right? Bagels are Kosher. How about butter? Not being Jewish myself, I'm not sure about that. But butter is a derivative of milk and Abraham was OK with milk. Cow's milk? Not sure about that either, but hey, milk is milk. Blueberries are something that for sure he would have eaten. If they could grow them there. Which I doubt, but he would have if he could have. We will conveniently ignore all the other crap ingredients in these particular bagels. So, yes. Yes, I think Abraham would have eaten a blueberry bagel with butter. In fact, I think he would have eaten both halves.

It was delicious.

Of course, that means I've blown most of my calorie requirements for the day and I'm not sure it was worth it in retrospect.

That dress is shaking it's finger at me right this minute.

Image credit

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

The Run

My senses alive: the cool breeze off the water; the sun dazzling, sparking on the water and warming my bare arms and legs; my stride even and consistent; my thoughts on nothing but my breathing, "In, 2, 3, 4, out, 2, 3, 4," keeping time with my stride. 

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Saturdays Are For Nothing in Particular

Well. That's not entirely true. Usually Saturdays are pretty busy and I love that, but this Saturday my hot husband is at a men's discipleship meeting in another city, with the car, which means this Saturday is for nothing in particular. My day is off to a great start. I'm not being facetious or sarcastic. I've been up for two hours and I've done exactly what I wanted to do. 

1. Slept in until 8am. May not seem like sleeping in to some, but during the week I'm almost always up at o'dark thirty, so 8am means the morning is practically over! 

2. Ate a singularly unhealthy breakfast. Yes, Brittney. I do remember our convo yesterday. Meh.

3. Surfed. 

4. Pinned some stuff.

5. Drank some coffee. Why, yes, I am addicted. Again. Thanks for asking. 

6. Contemplated going for a run. See number 2 above. I love my KSO's, by the way. And Vibram has not asked for my endorsement, they have no idea who I am, and they don't care, but I will never run in anything other than my five fingers again. Unless it's my bare feet, but hello? I can't afford a pedicure every time I run and tear up my feet because they are bare. This warrants a whole post at some point, but not now. It's a nothing-in-particular-day, remember? Anyway, I love running. Just not sure if I love it right this minute. I'll contemplate it a bit more and get back to you on that. 

All in all, I'd say it's been a very productive Saturday morning. 

What are you doing today? 

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Part Two. You Didn't Even Know There Was a Part One!

Part 2 to my last post is this (and not nearly so lengthy): Much as I would love to be involved in the travel industry, I don't think it's the right option for me. I've sort of come to a balance in my mind over all this and I think for now I need to concentrate some things coming up on my plate this fall (weddings of two of my kids and a minor surgery that I need but is not yet scheduled, among other loose ends).

I would like to also focus some time on getting my Spanish back up and running, and progress. I've worked out sort of a schedule for myself to loosely follow for my weekdays that involves prayer, exercise, study, and some work on various projects I have going on related to the weddings and also some other stuff I've been putting off. One of these projects may or may not involve categorizing and filing ten years worth of digital pictures. Ahem. Organization is actually one of my strong suits.

Apparently so is procrastination.

January will see me jetting to a tropical paradise for another wedding. I know. It's a real sacrifice.

My plan is this, for those who are interested (and for those who are not, feel free to click the "x" ;-) ): Have the surgery whenever it gets scheduled, spend the summer working diligently on my fitness level and nutrition and also enjoying my patio with friends and family from near and far. By the way, I recently finished my patio with some seating, flowers, lighting for the evening, and generally making it summer-y and nice (no, that picture isn't from my patio. It's my inspiration, though!). Weddings will come up in the fall, then Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year, trip to Fiji, and then...we'll see. I'll be structuring my days a little more closely and stepping up my involvement with outreach and all that is involved with that at my church. I might look into taking some classes in nutrition with an eye to move in that direction professionally in the Spring semester of 2013, but that's up in the air.

All in all I will be taking the advice of a good friend:

 ".... just begin to praise God for what He is about to do your life. Something is definitely brewing deep inside and soon all will unfold."

Sounds like a good solid plan of action to me! No more stressing about squandering time. Time and life are gifts, and stressing out about not appreciating what God has given me isn't doing me or anyone else any good!

Friday, July 6, 2012

In Which I Think Again About Wearing Hats.

I can't call myself a blogger if I don't actually, you know, blog.

So I'm not wearing my blogger hat much these days.

I'm not really wearing any hats these days.

Ok. So I'm a wife. I'm a mom. I'm a lot of things, but I'm experiencing a strange mentality lately. My kids are all off on their own, and I'm absolutely loving the empty nest thing because the kids are all happy and successful and getting on with their own lives...and we see them and talk to them all the time and still have a very close relationship. My husband and I have a great marriage and we love being together. He works from home so we are almost always together which is awesome and I love it. But even so, I am finding myself with lots of large blocks of time on my hands.

I've been trying to find some kind of productive way to fill that time. I dabbled in several jobs over the last couple of years, and nothing has challenged me or been something I felt was what I wanted to do long term. Either I was totally unchallenged (retail), and thus, bored, or the field was something that just wan't up my alley (banking. Challenging, but hello? I'm not really into explaining for the zillionth time that if you spend more money than is actually in your account, you will be overdrawn and it's not the bank's fault. It's yours. Again).

 I still cook and clean and take care of the house just like I've always done, but with only two of us at home now (three if I include my aged but still undemanding and low-maintenance cat), I'm not exactly a busy person. I am feeling super duper unproductive and I'm finding it easy to be lazy. I sew. I grow flowers and stuff in pots on the patio. I refinished some furniture for my guest room and I'm getting ready to do a table to go outside on my patio.

Shall we talk about that challenge thing again?

I'm also super involved with my church in the area of outreach and I do the book work and keep the financial records accurate and up to date. (The record keeping takes me a total of about two hours a month. Not exactly demanding.)  I work out at least three days a week. I write regular letters and emails to a few people I know who are in situations that are...well, let's just say they are less than a means to encourage them and let them now there's someone out there who cares about them and prays for them. These are all good things, but I still have huge chunks of time on my hands.

Which led me to this. And then this. I wrote those posts more in jest than anything else, but there was a seed of truth, a seed of longing, in the back of my mind when I pushed "publish." Feel free to click the links now and then hit your back button to come back and finish reading this post.

So. Here's the deal. I believe that we are created with the need and the drive to be productive. We are created in the image of God and He has placed within us the same drive that is within Himself...the drive to succeed and excel and produce and contribute. It goes against our hard wiring as human beings to be unproductive and lazy. We were never created to be couch potatoes. At the moment, I feel like a non-contributing-zero and I hate that. No self pity here. Really. I've moved past that. (I had a long weekend visit with a good friend a few years ago when I had a good cry over this and pretty much dealt with the self pity aspect of it then. Hi Carolina!! I'm still thanking you for that!) I'm just looking at the reality that I'm stuck in a rut and it's (way past!) time to get out of that rut and do something with my life. I'm not even fifty yet! I have only lived half my life. Ok. Maybe a bit more than half, but still! I'm reasonably physically fit and I think the same way I did at 25. I can reasonably expect a lot more years of potential productivity, unless I come to an early and untimely end. Or the rapture happens, but I'm not going to sit around and do nothing since I have no idea what the future holds. I prefer to be proactive and enjoy life!

So all this is to say that I am on the lookout for...I don't know what. I'm am very blessed and fortunate in that I have the luxury of not having to earn money to support myself. I am grateful for that every single day. I have the luxury to do pretty much whatever I want. The fact that not many people have the luxury is not lost on me. It's rare and priceless and a gift from God.

All that is to say this:  I'm squandering this gift that has been given to me.

So is it finally time to find a job that is something that will allow me to be part of the community and interact with other people while challenging myself and learning new things? Is it selfish to want to do that in an area I enjoy? Or how about volunteer work?

Travel has always thrilled me. I love other cultures, people, and the very act of traveling is, though exhausting when dealing with long haul flights and time zones, fascinating. I experience a thrill that I can't explain at airports. Maybe I'm weird, but it is what it is! I love airplanes! They hold an unreasonable thrill for me. And I've met some very interesting people waiting at gates to board planes.

There is an airline with openings for ground crew (ticketing and etc) based in my city. I'm strongly considering applying. It's a part time position. It would get me out of the house, off my butt, and into the community. Granted, not into the air, and I'd still like to be a flight attendant, but I'm not willing to relocate and that is usually a requirement for the job. But ground crew? I can do that.

Or maybe there is something else I can do in the travel industry. I've toyed with teaching, photography, and admin, among other things, but nothing thrills me like the travel industry.

So the big question is this? Now what?

Also...and I'll toss this into the mix...I love to write. L.O.V.E. to write. So what's out there in the way of combining travel and writing? Or travel and photography and writing? And are there opportunities for "women of a certain age?" I'm probably being very naive. I don't know of anybody who will hire a middle aged woman with no experience or education to speak of and only amateur photography skills as a travel writer right off the bat. I mean, I have life experience, but so does everyone else. So where to start?

Time for prayer because above all else, I want to remain within God's will and purpose for me life. I do feel it's a new season for me; a God-given one. I'm looking down the barrel of fifty in a couple of years and this seems to be a time of Jubilee, of freedom, of celebration in my life. It has been for a while, but I've been faffing around. The window of opportunity is still open though, and I intend to go through it before it closes. Just not sure how!

Please comment and leave your thoughts, or email me! I'm wide open for feedback, whether I know you in "real life" or not!

Image credit

Friday, March 2, 2012

Twenty Six Happiest Animals in the World

Ok. Well. I haven't yet made my big move, and it may end up being more trouble than it's worth. While I'm in cyber-limbo, I have posted the following for your viewing pleasure. Number 24 is from a blog I occasionally read. Number 10 made me actually laugh out loud. Not just LOL.

The 26 Happiest Animals In The World

Friday, February 10, 2012

In Which I Think About Putting A Wild Hare on a Plane and Flying Somewhere, Part 2


So...where was I? You can read Part 1 of this post here. Either click on the link or just scroll down. The post is right below this one.

Oh yes. I was toying with the idea of jetting off into the  clouds on a DC-10. Or maybe a 737 Airbus. (Have you seen of those babies close up? We are talking about a very large airplane.)



Am I going to look into it?

No, if I follow my usual pattern. I want to live the rest of my life following my usual pattern? I think not. My usual pattern tends to keep me where it's safe and familiar. There's comfort in that, but I'm not sure I want to stay "safe and familiar" for the rest of my life. Call it a female mid-life crisis. Call it what you want, but in remaining "safe and familiar" there's no achievement, nothing to be proud of, no long term fulfillment, and very little need to grow and change and become a better, bigger, more productive person.

I quit a job a while back because, among other reasons, I felt like I was never home. (I've kicked myself over and over since, but hindsight is 20/20 and I learned a lot from that mistake. I should have stuck with the job for a while longer...but, well, it is what it is.)  I understand that my first responsibility is to my home and husband. He is, however, perfectly capable of preparing his own meals on occasion and even knows how to use the washing machine if he has to. He can take out the trash and he knows how to iron. He can even feed the cat and prune the roses! And he doesn't mind doing those things if I'm busy or not around for some reason.

My kids will find that hard to believe...the part about him not minding, but he honestly doesn't. Don't get me wrong...I'm very aware of priorities and what my role is and is not, and I happily do all those things for him. If I didn't I'd probably hang out on Pinterest all day or something. It's not like I have regular commitments that need to be met, but he does. He works full time. He's at home, granted, but he's still working. The man writes three amazing sermons a week that take 10-12 hours of study each. He also runs a weekly men's discipleship class, and takes care of countless other church related things, offers pastoral counsel to people in person and over the phone, not to mention maintaining the house in good repair, taking care of the car and making sure all the bills are paid on time. He also works out twice a day (we both do) to stay healthy. He's a very busy man so the least I can do if I'm not working is take care of all the home stuff so he doesn't have to think about it. What else am I going to do with my time anyway? Blog?


But...roles change in life as circumstances change. Our lives are in a new season (hello empty nest!). I can stay in my old patterns of thinking and living, or I can step out in faith and pursue new or renewed interests.

Most flight attendants work 75-80 hours a month. That's right. A month. That's the equivalent of two weeks out of four. Less time than I was working before, but for days at at time, which would feel, again, like I was never home. Sometimes they have to crash for a few hours of sleep in between flights wherever they can find a place to lay their heads. Without seniority the schedules usually pretty much suck. And, really, is this realistic for me? If you know me, you know how much I like my my own bed...with my own fluffy duvet! But all that aside, am I just entertaining pointless ideas or is this a dream that doesn't yet have feet? Sometimes I get tired of having big ideas and then giving them up for what's "practical." It's that old mode of thinking thing.

A few things I know for sure: I need to pray. I'm feeling a bit restless and I think working outside my home in some capacity would be good. I need to find the right job, and the right balance, and the mind of God! But regardless of what I do on the outward, the main thing is learning to break out of my usual pattern of thinking. Those old ways aren't wrong, per say, but they are no longer current or relevant to my life. Time to grow, to change, to learn, to find out how I can be a productive and contributing member of my family, my marriage, my church, and my community in this new season of life. Time to not be a "non-contributing zero." (Click the link. It's a four minute video. Hilarious.)

Time to pray.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

In Which I Think About Putting A Wild Hare on a Plane and Flying Somewhere, Part 1

When I was little I desperately wanted to be a flight attendant.

After I graduated from high school but before I became a Christian I thought about it again and decided against it. I would have (very much!) liked to do it but I didn't have the confidence. I felt at the time that the process was bigger and scarier and more intimidating than trying out for cheer leading had been when I was a freshman. That whole experience was awful. The comparison, the peer pressure, the cattiness of the girls, the feeling that I didn't measure up and never would and the fact that I wasn't "popular," and therefore someone to be looked down on, was too much for me as a freshman at age 14. It actually affected me deeply for a long time. I shouldn't have let it do so, but what can I say? Fourteen is a pretty impressionable and important age. My high school years where fraught with insecurity and my motto was "I'm in search of myself. Have you seen me anywhere?"

After graduation I felt like applying as a flight attendant would bring up all those old feelings of inadequacy.

So I didn't go there.

I went to California instead and lived in a near constant state of inebriation on Malibu beach and squandered my parents' very generous investment in my education.

Yeah, I really had it goin' on.

But that's another story for another time. Or maybe it's all better to stay forgotten!

Fast forward to a couple of years ago when I was thinking about going (back) to work. The thought of applying to airlines crossed my mind and I started to look into it but things took a different turn, one reason being that my son was still living at home and I felt a need to be home more than be flying the friendly skies regularly. So I went to work as a bank teller. That was a mistake, but that's also another story for another time. (I'm just full of stories!) I thought of the flight attendant thing as a wild hare anyway.

Fast forward to a few days ago. One of my neighbors came over with a gift for me. (So nice!) She picked up a calendar with beautiful pictures of Hawaiian flowers the last time she was in Honolulu. She is a flight attendant for United Airlines and flies the SFO-Hawaii route regularly. I didn't know that until she brought the calendar over. I had noticed she was out of town for a couple of days every two weeks or so, but I had no idea she was doing the exact job I had dreamed about as a child and again as a teenager.

We ended up spending all day with her getting to know each other. It was totally spontaneous and a lot of fun. When she brought the calendar over she asked about our church and what we believe and the three of us (my hubby, she, and I) hung out on our doorstep talking for about half an hour. I invited her in but she wanted to stay within sight of her own front door because she was expecting some sort of appliance repair man. We ended up going over to her place so we could all sit down and be more comfortable and she wouldn't miss the repair guy. We stayed for three hours drinking coffee and just chatting and talking. She is very interested in our church and we talked a lot about that but we also talked about everything under the sun.

I mentioned that if I ever went to work seriously, on a permanent basis, I thought being a flight attendant would be fantastic. I'd rather do something interesting other than little retail jobs or house cleaning or something--not that I'm knocking those things. They all have their place, and I've done them all. (I am thinking of starting a house cleaning business again...I could set my own hours!)

This lady worked on the ground for United Airlines for years and then started flying. I mentioned that at 48 years old, I think I'm too old to be hired to fly but she said, no way. She said she herself started flying in her 40's (and has been doing for at least 20 years) but I pointed out that she had already been working for the same airline, just in a different capacity, for over a decade. She said the airlines prefer these days to hire older people, even in their 50's, instead of younger. Lots of reasons, none of which are important here. She strongly encouraged me to look into it, and even mentioned a specific airline that would be good to work for, should I decide to apply.

I get these ideas in my head and then I realize they are a total wild hare and I go back into my well traveled mode of thinking and settle down. My well traveled mode of thinking it what is "comfortable" to the people who know me well. They know I get these wild ideas and half way entertain them for a minute but then they go by the wayside. (The ideas go by the wayside, not the people who know me!)

Here's the thing, though. When my neighbor was encouraging me my husband said...

get this...

"Hey! Well, there ya' go!"

Let me translate: "That's not actually a bad idea. Are you going to look into it?"




...blank...   (not a typo. I was seriously totally blank in my mind, aghast at his response)

 Did he just say that?

So there's the question: Am I going to look into it?

This post is getting too long, so check back tomorrow to find out if I'm looking into becoming a flight attendant or if it's just another wild hare of mine that will go away and then I'll calm down.

Note to my family and friends: No need to panic. No need to call your father (Brittney, I'm talking to you) to find out if I've lost my mind. It will all come clear tomorrow.

Friday, February 3, 2012

What Are You Listening To?

So I'm sitting here at my kitchen table, surfing the net. What I'm actually doing is putting off getting going for the day. It's just housework, a couple of errands, and a work out that's ahead of me today, but I'm feeling particularly lazy and not motivated to get moving.

So I surf.

And read email.

I subscribe to a couple of minimalist writers who "write to the inbox." This seems to be a new way of communicating with readers, as opposed to blogging. Interesting, and I'm not sure how that works exactly, but whatever.

In one of those inbox messages the writer talks about the need sometimes to just be still and listen. That's the extent of her idea of being refreshed and recharged, while my idea of doing that tends more toward prayer and listening specifically for direction from the Holy Ghost, but I like her idea of stopping the busy-ness for a while and literally just hearing your surroundings. So in the interest of playing along, I will do just that.

With my eyes closed, three things that I can hear this morning are:

1. Strains of jazz (Spyro Gyra? I think so). We have music on almost all the time these days. Nice.
2. The tap of my husband's fingers across his computer keyboard. Another sound that can be heard almost all the time around here! Love that.
3. The whir of the fan upstairs that blows the heat down into the living room instead of letting it collect at the top of the stairs and at the ceiling level.

If you stop and close your eyes for a minute and just listen what do you hear?

More importantly, what are you listening to?

There is a difference.

One is a physiological sensory function. The other shapes your life.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Road Kill

Excuse the bad quality phone photo, but I need to ask a question. Answer honestly. Seriously, I can take it and I need to know.

Does it look like I'm wearing a dead animal around my neck? ...'Cause I'm not into wearing, you know, road kill.

Fur coats and leather jackets, fine. Road kill? Ummm. No.

So what do you think? Lose the road kill?

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

And Now, For the Moment You've All Been Waiting For...

...but first, thank you to everyone who commented or otherwise entered this giveaway. It's been super fun for me to read your comments!

We, my studio assistants and I, have chosen a winner. You can see all the little pieces of paper in the bowl. There is a name on each one. I couldn't figure out a better way to do it. My comments aren't numbered so I couldn't use some kind of online number generator.

My assistant was very busy this morning, as you can see. Someone has to take the naps around here and she is the self appointed nap-taker in this family. When my daughters moved out someone had step up and take on the job! Besides, she didn't think she'd be able to choose the name out of the hat bowl without opposable thumbs. She has a point there, so I let her off.

I enlisted my other assistant to help me. It was no problem because he has opposable thumbs. 

And the winner is...

....the winner is....


Michele! Yay! Congratulatons! (oops! I misspelled your name on that slip of sorry!)
You won with this comment: 

Michele Aguilar said...
LOVE!!! I want matching umbrella and rain boots!

Here's your prize. Kind of a Valentine's Day theme, but not over the top so you can use it all the time for make up, miscellaneous stuff in your purse, whatever. 

The outside,

the inside,
and a closeup of the embroidery.
I hope you like it, Michele! Would you please email me at catfeetstudio at gmail dot com and give me your mailing address? I don't seem to have your email anywhere. Thanks! I'll get it into the mail for you as soon as I hear from you. And thanks again to everyone for playing along.

Giveaway Is Closed!

My giveaway is now closed, and I'll announce the winner later today. Stay tuned!

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Last Chance!!

Last chance to enter my "celebrate my 100th post" giveaway! Any comments left after midnight, Pacific Time, tonight, Jan 31, 2012, will not be entered in the drawing, so what are you waiting for???

 Here's a little sneak preview of your prize, in progress. 
Studio assistant not included. 

Once again, here are the details:

Celebration of 100th post giveaway! 

Comment one time per post on any post (even old ones) between now and January 31st, 2012. 

Each comment good for one entry. 

Give me a shout out on whatever other social media you use and I'll enter your name an extra three times. (Send me the link!)

I will do a random drawing of all entries on February 1st and post the winner's name, address, birthdate, and social security  number...just kidding! I'll post your first name.

 Please make sure I can contact you by email as well, so I can let you know if you win and get your mailing address to send your prize! 

Open to all, including international. 

So set off the fireworks, start the music and let the party begin! I've done over 100 posts...yay!!!!

......What? No fireworks? 

If you aren't going to bring fireworks, at least would you bring cake? 

Monday, January 30, 2012

Happy Things on Your Monday

This is a happy thing: a dog who drinks  Starbucks.

In lieu of my regularly scheduled post, I bring you this: Happy Things. 

If you click on any of the pictures in the link you should be redirected to the original sites. 

Sunday, January 29, 2012

A Recipe That Will Make You Popular Because We All Know How Important It Is to Be Popular

The other day I posted a picture of  a Caramel Apple Cheesecake bar. Today, you are in luck because I'm giving you the recipe for this divine, delectable, delicious, deliriously decadent dessert. (Did you like all that alliteration? It's true...every word.) I get requests for this every time we have a potluck. If you take this to a potluck you will instantly become the most popular person there. 

Those of us who are "popularity challenged" need all the help we can get!

Just kidding. 

But it will make you popular!

I'll post the picture again, just to make sure you get the full view. 

The recipe I used is here, but I'll repost it for you because I like to make your life easier like that! ;-) 

Caramel Apple Cheesecake Bars

2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened 

Cheesecake Filling:
3 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, softened
3/4 cup sugar, plus 2 tablespoons, divided
3 large eggs
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

3 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and finely chopped (I use whatever apples I have on hand)
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

Streusel topping, recipe follows
1/2 cup caramel topping

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
In a medium bowl, combine flour and brown sugar. Cut in butter with a pastry blender (or 2 forks) until mixture is crumbly. Press evenly into a 9x13 baking pan lined with heavy-duty aluminum foil. Bake 15 minutes or until lightly browned.

In a large bowl, beat cream cheese with 3/4 cup sugar in an electric mixer at medium speed until smooth. Then add eggs, 1 at a time, and vanilla. Stir to combine. Pour over warm crust.

In a small bowl, stir together chopped apples, remaining 2 tablespoons sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Spoon evenly over cream cheese mixture. Sprinkle evenly with Streusel topping. Bake 40-45 minutes, or until filling is set. Drizzle with caramel topping and let cool. Serve cold and enjoy!

Streusel Topping:
1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup quick cooking oats
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, softened 

In a small bowl, combine all ingredients. I like to really combine it by using my clean hands to thoroughly combine the butter into the mixture.

I don't have a print friendly version of this recipe so if you want to copy and paste it into your own document you can print it that way. Eventually I'll figure out how to do give you a print friendly option. 

Saturday, January 28, 2012

The other morning....

....when I went out early this was the view across the parking lot where we live:

Normally it looks like this:

At least it didn't look like this! 

Fog covering the Bay with only the tip of the tower of the Golden Gate Bridge visible.

The fog is beautiful and all, and I absolutely love living here in Nor-cal and wouldn't change a thing, but really, I'm a desert rat at my root level. I guess you can take the girl out of the Arizona-Sonoran desert but you can take the Sonoran desert out of her. 

Sunrise at Saguaro National Park near Tucson.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Pursuing the Dream

(Go here for the giveaway!)



What's the difference? I've been thinking about that lately.

For example,

if I am sitting with my fork sunk into a piece of this

while I'm talking about losing weight, then I do not have a goal of weight loss. 

I have a dream

Or if I say that I am going to hike the Inca Trail to see this

while I'm sitting on the couch day in and day out, I do not have a goal to hike Machu Picchu. 

I have a dream

But if I'm doing a lot of this

and this 

Oops! Where did you come from???? You're cute but you don't really demonstrate the type of workout I'm looking for.  Looks like you need to a few more reps, dude. 

I mean this

and some of this

then I have goals

Goals to not only lose weight, but to hike the Inca Trail without having to be carried down in a body bag. 

Dreams and goals are both good, but let's understand that they are not the same thing. Dreams are thoughts and ideas. Dreams can inspire and motivate us, but to truly pursue them, to turn them into goals and make them reality, we need to put feet on them and take them beyond being merely wishes and turn them into decisions. Lay the groundwork, do the research, learn, take 
steps to actually make them happen. We need to take action, to do something, or we will wake up one morning realizing that we had lots of good intentions but no accomplishments. What's there to be proud of in that?

Thursday, January 26, 2012

In Which We Had a Minor Flood, I Go For A Run, and I Am Not A Horticulturist.

So we've had a lot of rain. A lot. In one night. Not even the whole night. On Friday evening the skies opened and dumped more rain in two hours than we had all year last year it seems. Enough to flood the entire foyer of our church. Actually, the flood could have been avoided if the storm drains on the street outside hadn't been made "environmentally friendly." Apparently the city installed filters in the drains and the filters are lame and caused the drains overflow. I was under the impression that drains are supposed to, you know, actually drain. But no. I was obviously misinformed. Fortunately we didn't really have any damage, though the carpet is still soaked. This happened on Friday night and now it's Thursday. But whatever. We (the operative "we..." I actually mean the guys) cleaned the black street dirt out of everything (glad it wasn't sewage...ewwwww!) and used a shop vac to extract as much water as possible.'s life.  It will dry eventually.

My point in telling you that is to show you this: 
The rain has turned stuff green! 
The ice plants that cover the edges of the lagoon behind my house have suddenly gone from their sickly winter look to plump, green, full of water, and blooming. 
Another view of the ice plants...I threw in some kind of water birds in the background for your viewing pleasure.

The bottle brush are also putting out blossoms. As are the dandelions....

This purple stuff (yes, that is the scientific term: Purple Stuff.) is just starting to bloom. There will be lots more purple in a few weeks. So pretty.

Even this jade is blooming. I've seen jade bloom, but not like this! 

The crowing glory, though, is this (out of focus) tree. I have no idea what it is, being that I'm such an accomplished horticulturist and all. It had nothing, and I mean nothing on it just a few days ago. 

And last, but certainly not least, is a collection, though it may be hard to see, of  naturally occurring "unwanted silk flowers that still have their labels thrown over the side of someone's balcony and left to languish in the weeds at the water's edge." A common sighting around these parts. It's nicer when they are attached to a park bench

All these are pictures I took with my phone on my jog yesterday. 

Just to round things out here are a few more shots: 
Not sure if you can tell from the picture, but the sky was brilliantly blue. 

Kayaks parking for residents along the dock.

Someone's cat enjoying the beautiful weather. I may or may not have offered to scratch his ears and I may or may not have spent too long hanging out with him. 

And lest you think things are too idyllic on my jogging route, I cross under the freeway which is a bit unnerving when the trucks rumble across. The whole things shakes. I guess it's that earthquake-proof thing going on. 

And this, people, is a picture of my lily white legs after my run. The angle shows my calf all splayed out and looking huge. They may or may not be that size in reality. Let's pretend they're not, shall we? Let's pretend they are muscular and toned and tan, hmmm? 

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is what I was up to yesterday.

Among other things.