Happy Birthday To Me

The Ultimate Espresso MachineNo, it’s not my birthday yet. It’s about two weeks away. Before we went to bed last night my husband said, “What if someone got you a birthday present that was so cool that you wish they had given it to you earlier, rather than make you wait for your birthday.” Suffice it to say, I gave him permission to give me his gift early and he told me he’d have it ready the next morning.

Sitting on the counter waiting for me today was the Gaggia Accademia espresso machine. I about peed my pants. This thing does everything but wipe the drool off your face when you’re standing there completely overcome by its awesomeness.

Gaggia Accademia coffeemaker

Can you even stand its awesomeness?!

To say that my little family likes coffee is a huge understatement. We’ve been through way too many machines over the years, looking for the perfect maker. I think the real problem is that my husband and I have both spent a considerable amount of time in Italy which caused us to be seriously disappointed in every cup we’ve had in America since then. Even my daughter who has traveled quite a bit can tell you that the best cappuccino she ever had was at a flea market in Paris. Totally spoiled, I know, but she really is a very nice girl, and if it makes you feel better, she is short, which I’m sure is payback for that perfect cappuccino when she was 13.

So here I sit, with a big stupid grin on my face, an empty cup beside me, trying to type with hands that are so jittery that my spellcheck feature has abandoned me, and all I can think about is that even in this day and age, it’s so important for girls to marry well. (thanks, Hon, you’re the best!)

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2014-Looking Forward To It

mammoth sunflower

I didn’t want to be like all the other bloggers out there; oozing hope and sunshine, bright and early on New Year’s Day. I wanted to catch you a few days into the new year, after the gloss had worn off just a bit. (Okay, so truthfully, I got blown off course by a family crisis on Christmas Eve and am just now getting back on track)

2014 is going to be a year full of changes with my daughter graduating from high school in June, putting our house up for sale in the summer and all of us moving from the suburbs of Chula Vista to city life in San Diego.

This blog began 18 months ago with a self-imposed challenge to get rid of my paint stash before we move this coming summer. So as of right now, I have about 6 1/2 months to get rid of the rest of my stash. I’ve looked at the the projects left to do around my house and have come to realize that I’m never going to use up all these products. The challenge – as I wrote it – allows for four ways to reduce my stash. I can use it up, trade it, sell it or donate it. Right now I’m keen on donating it, however, the products that are taking up the most space are specialty, faux finishing products that the general public doesn’t know how to use. So I’ve decided to host a paint-and-play day for my painter friends. We’ll open everything up and see if they can lighten my load, and have a little fun getting messy.

Even though I’m planning on giving away the majority of my paint, I’ll still have plenty of paint projects to post, I promise. I’ll be trying to destash the other materials in my studio as well, so there will also by fabric and crafting posts just to keep it interesting.

Salvaged Sanity did well over the holidays and as a result, the shop is looking kind of empty. I’ve got some new ideas for creative storage products using secondhand stuff that I just can’t wait to make. Of course that will involve a few treasure hunts through estate sales and flea markets and I hope you’ll come along for the ride.

The Hardest People to Shop For – aka, my family

My immediate family is very small, so leaving home yesterday with the intention of doing all my Christmas shopping in one day was not outside the realm of possibility. I got my Starbucks on and good music in my car and shuttled myself up to one of San Diego’s major malls. (For all you people who like to guilt people for shopping in malls: I already did my small business and Etsy shopping last week and have made 50% of my gifts, so back off)

I’ll let you know ahead of time that I did achieve my goal, but about two thirds of the way through my day I started to get the panic that only comes from shopping for my family. I’ve put off telling you my family’s ugly little secret, but I think I need a little support from all the normal people out there so here goes…….

Two out of the three people in my family suffer from Urticaria….there, I said it. Wikipedia defines it this way:

Urticaria (from the Latin urtica, nettle,[1]) commonly referred to as hives, is a kind of skin rash notable for pale red, raised, itchy bumps. Hives might also cause a burning or stinging sensation. Chronic urticaria (hives lasting longer than six weeks) is rarely due to an allergy. Less common causes of hives include friction, pressure, temperature extremes, exercise, and sunlight.

Okay, so now you’re sitting there saying, “What do you mean they get hives from pressure and friction?” To state it simply, they break out from seams in clothing, uneven fabric, carved details, ridges, bumps, dirt, sand, dust, basically from being alive. My husband has had it all his life and I had high hopes that my daughter wouldn’t develop it, but this year she went from sensitive skin to insane requirements for anything that may touch her. Awesome.

Now back to shopping…..remember, the panic was setting in. I had ideas for what I was shopping for (which I won’t tell you because that would ruin the surprise), but having not been out in public lately, I was unaware that this year’s styles are an urticaria sufferers worst night mare.

I’m not even going to get into the zippers and the studs, which are ridiculous, what mostly caused the panic was the texture of the sweater itself. My daughter would get a rash from just looking at these…….and that’s all they’re selling this year.

About halfway through my trip I started laughing because if any security person was watching the manner in which I shopped, they would think I was blind. I manhandle every single item I consider, for way too long. Even in Sur la Table I was fondling the handles of utensils for over 20 minutes. You have no idea how many items were not purchased because they had ridges, or fibers, or were designed in such a way that it would rub a neck, a finger or wrist which could possibly result in hives.

And here’s the kicker, as much time as I spent trying to find these perfectly smooth items, they will probably end up returning half of what I bought because of a seam or ridge that I missed. Let’s just say that I put a definite dent in the box of wine when I got home, which I drank it out of my special bumpy, carved glass as a sort of F U to the Urticaria Gods. Take that!

Haunted Halloween Porch 2013

2013 Halloween PorchSeeing as we will be moving next summer, this will be our last Halloween in this house. We don’t know where we’ll end up just yet, so I don’t even know if I’ll have a place to decorate, like if we move to a condo. My daughter and I put everything up yesterday and we’re pretty pleased with the results.

creepy abandoned porchWe have two new pieces of furniture to work with on the porch; the repurposed sewing table and the garden bench. We draped the bench in white sheets and topped the sewing table with a variety of creepy decorations.

love my creepy dollI got my creepy doll last year at Matilda’s Mouse Antique Show and I still love her. Earlier this year my friend found these glass display globes and she knew they needed to be on my porch on Halloween. They came complete with years and years worth of dust accumulation from her grandparents garage. Thanks, Kate! The creepy clown bottle in the back is for my friend Jeremiah because I know he loves clowns. He’s coming for you, Jerry!

Halloween crows and pumpkinsWe love crows so they are placed throughout the porch, in bushes, on planters, etc. I go to Trader Joe’s for my pumpkins because they sell both the fantasy pumpkins and what I call, ugly pumpkins. I like the black ones and the ones unfortunately stricken with small pox.Halloween signs zombie-Halloween-decorThe signs hanging from my wine barrel rings are new and came from Target’s $1 bins. I love the zombie reference, “Eat Locals.” The back of the Stop sign says, “STOP Scaring Me.” Cracks me up.they're watching youMy daughter had a great idea for the white sheets covering the bench. We poked holes in the sheets, pushed red twinkle lights through and then drew eyes around the holes. Way cool, totally love it, she’s brilliant.

So that’s our porch for Halloween. Come by if you need candy on October 31st. We’ll be open for business.

End of Days – West Texas Infinity

(This is the last post of a series that began September 27th)

Our last fun night was spent with our good friends in San Antonio. They had enough room that we were able to sleep indoors, which was nice. Then we started the long trek home.

west TexasIf you haven’t had the joy of driving through West Texas on the I-10, this is what you’re missing.

more West TexasYou’re also missing this. Those are two completely different pictures. I’m not kidding. It all looks like this. They should have mental health facilities at either end because it takes two days to drive to the border of Texas and it all looks like this. When you’re heading to California you get the added bonus of driving straight into the sunset with nothing between you and the sun. Awesome!

Arizona rocksAfter two days of that you’re thrilled to look at stuff like this in Arizona. This seems friggin’ majestic after all that desert.

The best views were actually on the inside of the RV:

sunbathingcan you find him?Percy has a questionPercy definitely kept us entertained.

The best part of any trip is always coming home……….

finally home

I’d like to take a minute to thank the rv pilot, my husband.

pilot and copilot(He’s a security buff and didn’t want me to let anyone think our home was vacant, so I had to keep the pilot’s identity a secret)

My husband kept us safe through rain, snow, humidity and mosquitoes, not to mention hours of mind-numbing desert. We didn’t have a single bad day on this trip, except for the bad fish night, but that wasn’t his fault. This was one of the most memorable trips we’ve been on and we couldn’t have done it without him.

Love you, Russ!

Day Seven – Dripping Springs, Texas

(This is the part of a series that began September 27th)

After we attended the Marburger Farm’s Antique Show on Tuesday we drove to our good friend’s home in Dripping Springs, Texas, which is West of Austin. We parked the RV in front of their horse stables and ambled down to their home for dinner, drinks and a lot of catching up. After we’d ate and drank our fill we dragged ourselves to our mobile home only to find out that now the generator wasn’t working. Whatever! Who needs electricity when you’re sleeping? We brushed our teeth and went to bed.

Thankfully our friends woke us up with fresh coffee and breakfast before we were awake enough to remember that we needed electricity to make coffee. Thank God! So again, the generator wasn’t needed. (As it turns out, the generator won’t turn on if you have less than a quarter tank of gas in the vehicle, so as soon as we filled up it was back to running smoothly)

Dianna and PattyAfter breakfast my friend Patty gave my daughter a lesson on her horse Beau. Dianna has joined an equestrian club at school and is volunteering at a rescue center, trading work hours for riding privileges. Patty is a fantastic teacher and she went over everything from grooming to tacking to basic riding. Dianna had a great time and learned a lot.

Percy is concernedPercy on the other hand was completely riveted. He has only seen one other horse and it was attached to a cart. It nearly made him poop his pants……..but he didn’t have pants. When Dianna got on Beau, he was beside himself. Again, he had no pants.

poor worn out puppyIt completely wore him out. I can understand. Watching her wore me out too.

My mother and I had horses when I was growing up, but she was a great rider with more bravery and determination than I’ve ever seen. She competed in Cross-Country Eventing shows against girls that were 40 years younger than her, and she won a fair share of ribbons. Kicking ass and taking names. What I remember most is her absolute exhilaration at the end of the jumping course. She was absolutely lit up on the inside.

my momMy mom got Dianna on horses as often as she could. I wish it had been more. Their time together was way too short. After my mom died, being around horses became really difficult for me, to say the least. My mom and I rode together nearly every day when I was in high school. Just the smell of horses makes me miss her.

trottingWhen Dianna got on Beau, I will admit, a few silent tears were shed on the side of the arena. This time it was because she looked just like my Mom on that horse. She’s so beautiful. It was pure joy to watch. Thanks, Patty. Thanks for a new memory.

Day Three – The Rockies

(this is a continuation of a series started on September 27th)

Driving from Durango, through the Rockies was one of the most memorable days of the trip. We were cruising along slowly in the morning which always puts me to sleep. I was awoken by my daughter asking, “Is that snow?” I opened my eyes to snowflakes hitting the windshield.

snow in the RockiesThe sides of the road went from having a light dusting of snow, to having several inches piling up. So exciting! The aspens had begun turning gold and the contrast between the amber leaves and the pure white snow was stunning.

It took awhile, but we found a safe place to pull off the road so we could introduce Percy to the concept of snow. Southern California dogs don’t get the chance often, so we just couldn’t ignore the opportunity, even if he’d hate us for the rest of his life.

Percy's first snowPercy doesn’t like water at all so we were going to have to be quick with the camera. I got myself ready and Dianna put Percy’s sweater on to buffer the shock. He was very curious and definitely looked like he was trying to get away from it, but at least he took a moment to catch a few snowflakes on his tongue.

snowflake catchingWhen we parked for the night in Gypsum it was 37 degrees outside. The camper has a great furnace, so we got it nice and toasty while we ate our steakhouse takeout dinner.

And then the furnace died……..

The driver spent a good hour both in and out of the vehicle trying to fix it. He’s a mechanic, so we thought it would be a quick fix. Nope. We called the rental company and they gave us a few tips, none of which worked. It was 10 o’ clock at night so there wasn’t going to be anyone able to come help. So we bundled up, put Percy’s sweater on, wrapped him in three blankets (he’s a fragile flower) and went to bed.

At 2am my daughter woke me up to inform me that her steakhouse fish n chips had decided that it would rather be in the rv septic system rather than remain in her stomach (I’m trying to be delicate). She’s telling me how sick she is and all I’m thinking is, “Jesus, it’s f*#king cold in here!” Turns out it was 30 degrees in the camper. She took some Pepto, we ran the stove for 10 minutes to take the edge off the frigidity and went back to bed.

This scene repeated again at 4am. Double Awesome!

Ouray-ColoradoTomorrow had to be better, right?