Editor’s Note: It’s graduation week, a few days before guests arrive, and tassels dance from one side of the mortar board to the other. I’m already exhausted, and not feeling 100%. (Went to see the doc, and there is nothing “wrong” with me, other than perhaps I have a severe case of “Senioritis!”) As I contemplate all that this week means, I cannot help but daydream about vacations, beaches, fancy drinks and much needed R & R – after all, this week has been 18 years in the making!

Later this summer, Sexy Hubby and I will be celebrating our 20th wedding anniversary in our favorite spot – the Gulf Coast of Florida. And I had such a hankering for sand this morning, I dug through the archives to locate this blog post.

Happy Tuesday, my gentle readers. 

Boys are off fishing this morning, which leaves me alone to walk on the beach, shop, read – all the lovely pieces and parts of vacation.

You don’t want to hear me blather, when I can show you this…


Only a few more days of paradise.

And I promise to use them to the best of my beachy ability!

Easy Kitchen Update

When I was in California a few weeks ago, a friend said, “Where’s the photo by photo update of the new house?” Damn, you people are spoiled. It takes time to organize, and purposefully and artfully decorate – not to mention time to gather the appropriate levels of expendable finances.

Aside from replacing appliances (which will be awhile down the road) here’s the updated kitchen as it stands today.


Kitchen BEFORE


kitchen after

Itemized updates:

kitchen after

kitchen after

I always carry a little bit of Petaluma magic wherever I go! (And a special thanks to RR for the little blue chick – purchased at the new B Street Mercantile in Petaluma, California.) The striped ceramic dish to the left of the chick contains the sage mixture used to “smudge” the new house = relieve the space from previous negative energy.)

Hallway Before:

hallway before

Hallway After:

Also known as my mini-gallery wall…

gallery wall


Saluting Those Who Served Us

Editor’s Note: This incredibly patriotic local treasure came as a complete to surprise to me (makes me appreciate the opportunities that arise from weak bladders and the need for constant pit stops.)

This post was written a few years ago in honor of Memorial Day, when we discovered this cemetery south of Big Timber, Montana. It was a very wet, drizzly day, yet the flags still hung by the soldiers they served. 

Happy Memorial Day weekend my gentle readers. 


A funny thing happened on the way out-of-town…

After we made a pit stop (for those in the car with the weakest of bladders!) I noticed flags in the distance. Lots of flags. I told Sexy Hubby we simply must stop and investigate.

So we did.

And I am most fortunate that we did.

Off the Interstate in the sleepy town of Big Timber, Montana, a most fitting memorial stands on proud display for the soldiers that lie at rest within the stone walls of the Sweetgrass County Cemetery.

There is something patriotically inspiring and tear-evoking about the sight of an American flag. Especially a bevel of them marking a dirt road through an old cemetery.

It was a damp and drizzling day. In fact, when I got out of the car, it was lightly raining, and as I was worried about the Rebel getting wet. Then instantly, I thought of the many soldiers stretched out before me, their grave sites marked with an American flag, in silent gratitude for their unwavering service to our country.

I cannot even begin to contemplate what those soldiers must have endured while serving our country – me – and I was selfishly complaining of a few scattered raindrops.

We take so much for granted.

We have such unrealistic expectations as Americans.

Yet, on this day, in the middle of a cemetery in rural Montana, I was humbled. And blessed. And so grateful for those soldiers, some of whom made the ultimate sacrifice.  It was the least I could do to return the favor of honoring them with a few random photos, and private prayers of thanks, along with a smattering of raindrops.

In loving memory of the untold number of brave soldiers who fought for the life, liberty and pursuit of freedom we have the privilege of enjoying each and every day – I salute you.

And I am most humbled to honor you this day – Memorial Day.

This post is in memory of you.


I asked Sexy Hubby, “What are your thoughts about Memorial Day?”

He said, “Thank you to all the soldiers. We wouldn’t be here without you.”

The Complexities of Life and Death


A heavy sigh greets me this Friday. So many thoughts swirling, suffice to say, death seems to be a recurring theme this week. So far, I’ve heard of the passing of two people with whom I have known remotely. They both lived long, productive and healthy lives, which makes their departure less shocking, but sad nonetheless.

The other death is one that is impending (aren’t they all??) It involves cancer and with someone who is much closer to me, and oh, it’s painful. I spent some time yesterday crafting a letter to this person, as I wanted him to know – while I am still able to communicate directly – that he is cared for and loved and his contributions to our family are greatly appreciated and not without notice. It was gut-wrenching and I spent a better part of the day bawling my eyes out over the impending loss and what that will mean for my family.

We are a society that does not deal well with death – on any level – even though it’s the one known inevitable outcome for every single living soul on the planet. I was visiting with some girlfriends last evening who were lamenting about attending an upcoming event for a colleague with cancer. They wondered “how” they would approach it. Based on the week that I’ve had, I offered this piece of advise: go in with the positive outlook that you are privileged to share their life, and recall happy times WITH THEM, versus waiting until they have passed to share memories at a funeral or other life-reviewing event.

Shouldn’t we all have a life-celebrating party while we are still able to comprehend the value and enjoy the people in attendance?

I remember a time, years ago, when my father – who continues to read an actual physical newspaper cover to cover each and every single day – shared an article with me. I remember staring at the black and white newspaper photo of an elderly woman, popped out of the top of a limo, in wild celebration. She had a huge smile on her face, and in her aged hand extended skyward was a champagne flute filled with a bubbly concoction.

It was her husband’s funeral – and she was celebrating his life. There were no tears – just joy. I remember marveling at that photo, wondering silently if I would be able to do the same thing? It was an odd concept – showing happiness in the face of death – who does that??

My dad looked at me and said, “When I die, I don’t want anyone crying. I want you all to have a party and celebrate the fact that the old bastard is finally dead.”

We laughed, of course. And now, all these years later those words still permeate in my brain.

“When I die, I don’t want anyone crying. I want you all to have a party and celebrate the fact that the old bastard is finally dead.”

In fact, I’ve envisioned myself speaking at his funeral, without tears, sharing funny stories about him. Yet it doesn’t matter, the thought still brings tears.

Death brings tears. And joyful memories. And if we’re lucky, an overwhelming feeling of love. I will carry those thoughts with me as I continue to walk in this journey. Especially with what’s on the horizon.

Go in love, my friends, for in the end, it’s the only thing that lasts beyond this realm of existence.




Forty-Something Candles

Gloria Ferrer Champagne Bottle


On the eve of the 17th revision of my 29th birthday, I am many things, but mostly, I am peaceful. {I suppose the wine and chocolate doesn’t hurt the mood.}

I am grateful for simple things (my health, a new roof over my head, a steady income, family, friends, and of course, Rocco-puppy!)

I am accepting of the choices I have made – and perhaps those I haven’t made so far? One thing I’ve learned, you can’t worry about the choices made, but rather, focus on the lessons said choices have provided. Good, bad and otherwise.

Life offers us so many options – much like a trip to your local Baskin Robbins – with 31 flavors from which to choose. And don’t we typically choose the same two or three over and over and over again? But, at any moment, without instigation we can make NEW choices. We can pick flavors we’ve never tried before. We can explore, be edgy, take a walk into the unknown.

As the half century number (and not one that I love the sound of to be brutally honest) begins to crest the horizon, I believe there are also choices to approaching a birthday.

You can (attempt) to run and hide (not very “authentic!”) – OR – you can face it head-on, breath into it, and give it a giant appreciative hug.

I am thankful for the endless love, support, humor and shelter of my darling Sexy Hubby. I would not be half the person I am today without him offering me a shoulder to lean on.

And cake. I am most thankful for the traditional birthday cake. It’s not a true birthday celebration without it. (And, oh, I simply adore cake!) First order of business tomorrow, head to my local gourmet market in search of the perfect piece of forty-something German chocolate birthday cake.

Oh, aging is a beautiful thing. Especially when compared to the options…which brings me to my mother-in-law.

A birthday no longer passes without a special nod to my dear mother-in-law, as my birthday is also the celebration of the anniversary of her passing. It’s been 5 years without her infectious laughter. I hope she knows how much she is missed.

…and as my dear friend KSP always says, “onward and upward.”



New House Guest Bath Revealed

Considering moving sucks and considering it takes for.ever and a day to get everything together after said move, the only room I’m even remotely prepared to share is the guest bath.

The guest bath.

The smallest – yet perhaps most used – room in the house.

Here is the room before (when I first viewed the house)….

Guest Bath BEFORE:

Guest Bath BEFORE

Guest Bath AFTER:


Guest Bath After

Paint color: Benjamin Moore Willow Creek

Shower curtain: Target, clearance = $17.00

Wall art: Ross, clearance = $5.49 each

Towels: Target

guest bath after

Guest Bath After

Guest bath AFTER

That’s it.

Nothing else to show. Yet!

(Sexy Hubby needs to get home to hang the curtains, chandelier, and mirror in the master, THEN that room will be ready for the big reveal.)


Prom Night 2013

I’ve dreamt of this day. For years and years.

The day when the first male in our family would step into history.

The history of attending his Senior Prom. (Quick back story for the few who may not know: Sexy Hubby did not attend his prom, and my older step-son did not attend his prom. If I could help it, the last little birdy in the nest was going to break this trend.)

In all honesty, I wasn’t certain it would happen. As of a few months ago, there were no prospects on the horizon.

I suppose the universe finds ways to continually surprise us. And I was very happily surprised, so much so, I didn’t squawk about the tuxedo choice (although, “The Senior” claimed “everyone loved it”) nor the choice of the black rose for his boutonnière. I acted like a good mom, and kept my mouth shut and my pocket book open.

The fashionista in me wishes the credit was mine, but the choices all belonged to my son. And he looked quite smashing!

As his father was helping affix the red bow tie, and I was snapping photos, the first tears began to crest. I tried to hide it, but when he saw me, he shook his head and said, “Mom, it’s no big deal.”

But it was a big deal for me.

Life is about the big moments and the little ones we tuck away for safe keeping. My favorite part of this night – as my son left to pick up his date, he turned and kissed me on the cheek and hugged me a little, adding, “Love you, mom.”

He realized this moment was perhaps much more important for me, and he shared it with me openly.

Cam Prom Red Tuxedo

Red tuxedo, black rose

Prom attire, red tuxedo, red vans

prom attire

I asked that my son bring his date over for a photo session.

I forgot about the puppy. (How could I forget about the puppy??) But the puppy loves company (assuming everyone that visits is coming to see him!)  and turns out, he loves pretty girls. He sure LOVED the prom attendee’s date! In fact, he didn’t leave her alone the entire time she was visiting.

cute prom couple and yorkie puppy

yorkie love

I adore this photo.

Doesn’t Rocco look as though he’s bashful in the presence of a young beauty?

modern corsage with black accents

Flowers courtesy of Labellum in Bozeman. They did a wonderful job meeting the “black rose” request and meeting the needs of the “modern” corsage.

Of course, I wouldn’t let the prom couple out the door without a photo of the shoes. Isn’t that what it’s REALLY all about??

red shoes, black heels

prom couple, red tuxedo

cute young girl

…and off they went.

Out of my heart and into the family history books.

fancy couple walking away


The New (Not-so) Normal

One year ago today, we experienced a loss so deep, so tragic, and so jolting, I’m not sure we thought we would ever move beyond the shock, pain and lingering question of “how could this possibly happen?”  In the twelve months since this tragic day, I believe we’ve learned a few things.

We’ve learned life is short and never guaranteed.

We’ve learned that no matter how devastating a loss, we can find a way to move one foot forward, if ever so slowly.

And, above all, we’ve learned to support one another – especially those experiencing despair. I’d like to believe we are better equipped to notice warning signs of couples on the edge, and are willing to step in and offer love, support and guidance when we can. The following post was written one year ago, but perhaps still has some value and insight.

In loving memory of Kim and Kevin. I hope they are watching from above and learning and growing right along with us.

Death, regardless of circumstances, opens nearly as many doors as it closes. And honestly, I’m not sure which one is more challenging. The opening or the closing.

The doors that close are painfully obvious. Our loved ones are no longer available to us. We can’t call them, or hug them or share holidays together, but we still see their smile, remember their quirks, and most importantly we remember how they made us feel.

The doors that open are akin to The Black Hole – dark, engulfing and without end. Doors called Sadness, Denial, and Disbelief open wide. The biggest door that opens is the also the toughest door and the one in which I am not able to open let along walk though. It’s the door labeled, “Why?”

Why did this happen?

Why did my loved one have to experience this?

Why are we left without them?

Why? Why? Why?

Sadly, this is not the first time I’ve found myself outside the door called “Why?” Yet, this is by far the most unnerving and unsettling why I’ve ever faced in my entire life. (Admittedly, I am on the periphery of this tragedy. Yet, I knew both the victim and the aggressor, and they were both someone I considered a friend. I also know both the families, which only adds to my personal swirling and spinning questions of why?)

When our best man died, I was plagued with why for years. Ultimately, we came to accept the fact Dominic died racing dwarf cars, which was his passion and hobby. The why still stung, but since racing was his choice, it was easier to accept. I recognize that now – eleven years later – as it’s taken me this long to come to that summation.

Regarding my hometown tragedy, there is no answer.

As we collectively move through the internal process of why, I’ve come to understand one major development. In this awful situation, there will never be an answer for why, but only a sad realization that it really happened, placing us squarely outside the door labeled “As Is.”

The O.C.D part of my brain grapples with “As Is.” I like things to fit into neat, little justified boxes. There is no neat, little justified box for this tragedy, but rather a reason wind-chime – dangling, wobbling and blowing with the wind.

So, instead of trying to open the why door, we are forced to open the “As Is” door and see what’s inside. It’s going to look different through that door. Nothing will be the same.

Only “As Is.”

Maybe someday “As Is” will come to feel normal.

The new not-so normal, yet, the only choice that unfortunately remains…



Another Epiphany? No Fooling

Oak Tree Reflection in Pool

Isn’t it ironic that after not crafting a blog post for nearly 45 days, that a new post should appear on national All Fools Day?

I thought so, too.

Where have I been hiding for the past few months, you wonder? (Or not!) Not anywhere ultra-fantastic (although I did take respite in the desert sun for a few days, while tagging along with a Sexy Hubby work trip.)

The bigger question is what have I discovered in the past weeks?

It’s a good one. And one that I love. It was an epiphany of sorts, and I hope that by sharing this personal nugget, it will enable you to look deep within yourself to discover hidden treasures, and moments of immense clarity.

The beginning of March 2013 marked three years since our very painful and very public embarrassment.

A loss of colossal proportions.

It was the moment our mountain log cabin delved into the abyss of foreclosure, taking with it every equity penny we had earned, all savings and retirement funds, and nearly every bit of our self-worth.

Of course, I always try to find “a reason” why something happened.

What was this suppose to teach us? How were we to do better after this? What was the greater lesson hidden in the jolting loss?

Oh, did I grapple. And I ignored reason. And I defied logic.

In a word, I think I just buried my head in the sand, hoping to wake up and find it was all a crazy April Fools joke. Only no one was joking. Or laughing. And I dared not to cry for fear I’d never stop.

Fast forward to today. Three years later. And only recently did the epiphany arise from the mire. And it’s a good one. And one that I feel compelled to share, as perhaps someone who reads this (either of my two followers) will gain insight.

In a nutshell, the events from New Year’s Day to April Fools Day are as follows:

Our current rental home recently was placed for sale. We thought, what the heck, we should try and buy it, realizing of course, no bank this side of normal would consider us a worthy credit risk, but we decided to roll the dice…

And we hit Lucky 7.

Then, all of the sudden, I really decided to double-down. If the bank was willing to sell us THIS place, would they sell us something we really wanted?

Turns out they did.

Also during this time, I reconnected with our friend/realtor who began sending me daily email listings on houses within our desired price range. Something popped up that looked interesting, and on a whim, I made an appointment to see the house. But,  on the drive over to this house, I thought, “What the heck am I doing? Why are trying to buy another house? This is crazy.” Good thing I didn’t listen to myself.

I viewed the house. A bungalow on a quaint street, with a park. I walked in, and after a very brief tour, I knew it was perfect for us. Small house, small yard = completely manageable.

With the bank’s blessing, we placed an offer, got approved, and in approximately 2 weeks, we will move into our new home.

It’s akin to winning the lottery for us.

But the real epiphany is this – the bank qualified us for a much larger amount of money, yet we chose to purchase something less. Considerably less – in other words, for the first time in our adult lives, we are choosing to live BELOW our means.

And it is the best feeling of comfort I’ve ever known.

Living below our means.

Words to live by.

And a lesson that was three years (or a lifetime?) in the making.

Thank goodness the lesson finally bubbled to the surface. Not only does it allow sleep to swirl around me peacefully, rather than fitfully, but it offers great information and explanation to the aforementioned foreclosure and how we missed the warning flags as we zoomed past reason and straight into the financial danger zone – a place where I never, ever care to make a return visit.

What lessons have you learned? Do you dare to share?

(And be ready for the blogs to follow sharing the before | after shots of the new house! Oh, and we’ve got tons of DIY projects up our sleeves!!)



What Valentine’s Day Means To Me

{Editor’s note: Valentine’s day – a day filled with roses, gooey chocolate and long, passionate kisses.

Or not.

As in my case, once again, Sexy Hubby and I are apart on Valentine’s Day. I guess sloppy puppy kisses will be a close second!

Wishing love to all today.}


This is a simple story about a boy and a girl.

And as this blog has proven time and time again, by the grace of its name, you can trust this story is indeed, authentic.

Circa 1991

A girl, who had lived the previous five years away from her home-town, her friends, and her family, suddenly found herself plopped back into the nest. Full from a life of travel, and the vast experience of visiting exotic spots all over the globe, the girl was relieved to be home. Yet, her soul remained an empty chasm, unfulfilled.

The girl was in her mid-twenties – an age most poets claim a perfect mix of mild maturity and youth – and grappling with choices made, and those not made. She had already completed one “career,” yet wasn’t sure where the next one would take her.

Living in a small town certainly had its advantages, and the girl ran into an old friend of a friend one night, to discover her friend – a boy – had also recently moved back to their hometown.

This sparked great interest in the girl. The boy was a dear friend from high school, and with whom she kept in contact over the immediate years while he was away in the Army and she was living outside New York City. Yet, recently they had lost touch.

The boy’s friend told the boy about the encounter with the girl.

The boy was thrilled to know the girl was back home and began a frantic search through his numerous, yet dated, address books looking for the girl’s phone number. It was the same old number he had called years before, as the girl was, once again, living with her parents.

This boy was many things – dependable, reliable, staid, trustworthy – but one thing he was not – a believer in fate. Yet, after searching to no avail for the girl’s phone number, imagine his shock to have the lost phone number revealed to him in a dream that very night.

After work that day, he phoned the number that had surfaced in the recesses of his subconscious, and found himself speaking with the girl’s mother – who was delighted to hear from the boy, and told the boy where he could find the girl.

Not much later, that same afternoon, while studying at the local Library, the girl who was deep in study, received a tap on the shoulder. She looked up from her book, dazed, to find herself staring directly into the eyes of an old friend. Her friend. The boy she met as a Freshman in high school, nearly nine years ago.

She was so excited to see the boy, but since the Library is not a place to chat, they decided to go out for a drink and  catch up on the years they had lost. They chose an old favorite hang out, and after an hour or more of back and forth, rekindling their friendship, they said goodbye with every hope to remain in contact.

Several weeks went by with no phone call from the boy.

The girl decided to check on the boy, so she called his house. He was out. She left a message. He never called back.

So the girl called again. And again. And again. And again.

After the fifth phone call, the boy finally returned the girl’s call, claiming to be busy, apologized, and made a “dinner date” with the girl. She accepted, even though she was slightly miffed at his lack of response.

When the boy arrived to pick up the girl, he already had a special spot selected for dinner – a place outside Sugarloaf Ridge State Park, called The Golden Bear.

The Golden Bear was a quaint, low-key restaurant in the heart of Kenwood, one of Sonoma County’s prime wine growing regions. The boy and girl were placed at an outside table on the patio near the trickling Sonoma creek.

It was a lovely evening, and the boy and the girl found themselves lost in easy banter, local wine, fresh food, and enjoying the present company.

Up until this time, the girl viewed the boy as a friend. Someone she trusted. Someone who made her feel safe. Someone she could rely upon. That fine day, on the stone patio, in the shade of the wise, old Oak trees, next to the creek, it hit her.

The people around her faded.

The only thing in focus was the boy, who sat directly in front of her.

She was hit. In that moment, she felt as though Cupid’s arrow had struck her heart. She felt a warm, tingling sensation running through her entire body. Her head felt light.

How could she have not seen the boy – really SEEN him – before now?

He was funny. He was kind. He was handsome. And he made her feel like she was the only girl in the world.

In that moment – that one defining moment – as if the stars aligned just for her – the girl knew this boy was more than just any boy.

He was special.

And in that moment, she realized. The boy was more than a friend.

Perhaps all the feelings had saved themselves up for a single, cosmic blast. Perhaps it was the wine. Perhaps it was the romantic, creek-side table in famed wine country.

Perhaps it was fate.

Whatever it was, it was real. And in that moment, an authentic spark of love was created.

The boy and the girl never looked back.

February 14, 2011

On a bright Valentine’s morning in Montana, nearly 20 years later, the girl fondly recalls the night that became her “First-Last Date” with the boy.

The boy who is now her husband {or as he originally deemed himself, Sexy Hubby.}

Without question, she’ll tell you, that spark – what she defines as “the love-hit from Cupid’s arrow” – continues to light the corners of her heart.

The infinite spark that transformed a friend into the ultimate love of her life.

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