Big life changes….

I’ve had some huge life changes lately and took the time to step back and analyze my life a bit, thus the gap in my posts… I closed a chapter of my life and finalized my divorce. Its been a long process, almost 7 years! I moved from the community I was raised in and lost a lot of friends and family in the process. I changed my photographic specialty to follow my dreams, and in doing so sacrificed a regular income and the comfort of doing what people expected of me.  Being a single mom with 5 kids at home has been a hell of a ride.  I have grown and changed a lot during the past 7 years. I like the person I’ve become and I love the growth and freedom. My kids and I have grown into a TEAM… we make things work and we are closer and stronger than ever. I am so blessed!

I’m so grateful to work with so many amazing, creative people who have pushed me and helped me along the way.

I hope to continue the change and growth and I am determined to continue with my creative pursuits wherever they lead me.

Here’s to a happy journey… 🙂

What did you do for spring break in southern Utah?

We spent our spring break building a fence for the final 1/3 of the front of our property. It ended up being about 100 feet of fencing. My children and I build the entire thing ourselves. It was a pain… digging in rocky, gravelly soil was difficult. Figuring out how to make it somewhat level was a challenge for us. My son proved to be very good at “sighting” things in while I held the posts level and the girls mixed and poured concrete in the holes. We let the posts cure for a couple of days then we cut and put on the 2×6 rails. My son measured and cut and we all helped screw them in place. Last came the painting. We all helped with that.  We still need to do a second coat… which we will probably do in another week or so.  We installed a drip system and planted some cherry and pecan trees and some blackberry bushes along the fence. It looks better already. I’m very proud of my children for their hard work and I think we make a pretty good team. 👍🏻 Each time I drive in or out of the driveway and see the new fence it makes me feel happy and blessed to have such a great family!


Children painting a fence

Day 6 of our California coast road trip

Today was an early day for myself and my daughter/assistant, Kira. We had a 7:30 meeting with one of the guys who run the ECO farm. It had been raining all night and we were concerned about working in the rain but due to our tight schedule we pushed on through. (I’m glad we pack umbrellas in our photography equipment.) We had a tour of the garden and the farm in the rain. The rain slowed up for a bit so we took advantage of that and quickly got our photos of the gardens and composting system on the farm. It was cold, wet and heavily overcast which isn’t great for photography, but it ended up working out well. I was also fun learning about the plants and how they are doing research and to change how the land is handled to grow our food. I love to see the diverse things people do and how a lot of small businesses are innovative and pushing to make the world a better place. I love to work with people who are passionate about a cause. I also got a lot of good ideas I’d like to implement in my own gardening practices at home.

We were finished and back to the farmhouse in time to wake up the rest of the crew and get on the road…. it’s a long way home!


Day 5 of our California coast road trip

When I woke up this morning I could see why there were no curtains on the windows. The views were amazing! I laid in bed and watched the fog slowly lift from the valley floor, exposing a view of beautiful vineyards drenched with moisture and saturated with color. It was breathtaking. I had to share what I was seeing so I woke everyone up. From the farmhouse, we could only see one other house, a farmhouse nestled near the bottom of the hill that we were on. There was also a large pond near at the bottom of the hill. There is a road that runs up the middle of Potter Valley but there was very little traffic, making it feel quite isolated.


We had coffee at the house but drove to Ukiah for a late breakfast. We went to a local coffee shop that roasts its’ own beans. The coffee was good. I had a latte with no sweetener. The food selection was very limited but it was good also. We ate on the patio to get a sense of the local vibe.

After our late breakfast, we drove north to Redwood Valley. A week ago I called and arranged for us to have a Saturday wine tasting at Frey Vineyards. We have been drinking Frey wines for the past 15+ years. They are one of the very few vineyards that make their wines with no added sulfites, which is important to me because several people in my family have bad reactions to sulfites.


When we got there, Caroline met us for a leisurely tasting. We had a great time trying some of the wines from Frey that aren’t available at home. It was nice to have a chance to taste the organic and the biodynamic lines side by side. I learned a lot about how they grow and make their wines. As a hobby gardener myself, it was fun to see the vineyards and learn more about how they grow their grapes. We tasted a lot and bought a couple of cases to take home with us. I would definitely like to return to Frey again. It’s a small family owned and operated business. The people there were very friendly and hospitable. It was a highlight of the trip for me.

Day 3 of our California coast road trip

We got up early and it was already raining lightly. We weren’t surprised because the forecast said there would be rain for the rest of the trip. We had an early tour scheduled for Alcatraz Island so we got down to the docks just before daylight. The rain let up just as we found a parking spot. We went for a stroll and looked around while we waited for our tour. I was dying for a second cup of coffee but none of the shops in the area were opened yet.


The tour to Alcatraz was interesting. It was a cold, damp, dreary and depressing place. It was so odd to see all of these tourists smiling and laughing as they took selfies behind the bars and in the cells, in this place that was filled with such pain and negative energy. It seemed so wrong, it was unsettling, it definitely bothered me to be there. It was a relief to get out of the buildings for a breath of fresh air and explore the grounds and the views of the bay. The fog was lifting and we could just get a good view of the Golden Gate Bridge as we boarded the ferry for a ride back to the city.

We walked north to Fisherman’s Wharf where we had lunch. I can’t even remember what I had to eat but I do remember the Moscow Mules 😉 . After exploring the Fisherman’s Wharf and buying some souvenirs we walked to Ghirardelli Square to check it out. We sampled some chocolate which was pretty good. Next, we walked to Lombard Street. It was a hell of a workout! The road was so steep that my calves were burning after about a block…it was a darn long walk!!!! We watched the cars winding down Lombard Street for a couple of minutes then we walked down it looking for a good vantage point for pictures. I didn’t really like what I got. I needed a higher viewpoint but my feet were so tired I wasn’t about to go find it! Besides, that photo has been taken a million times and I don’t need a duplicate. 

From there we walked all the way down to China Town and then over the hill through the financial district back to the Pier where we parked this morning. It was a fun day but my feet were sooooo tired! We drove by the “Painted Ladies” on our way back to the AirBnB we rented. After we got back to the rental, I went down the street and got the stuff for Moscow Mules and kicked back and relaxed for awhile before dinner. For dinner, we walked a couple of blocks to a local Vietnamese place. The food was really good and inexpensive. The kids decided to go find some “nightlife” but my feet were telling me I was too old for that stuff …at least I am tonight… so my daughter and I went back to the rental to kick back and watch some tv.

Day 2 of our California coast road trip

We grabbed a quick breakfast at our hotel then headed to San Simeon this morning. We did one of the tours at Hearst Castle. It was fun to see the Hearst estate in real life. Unfortunately, the big outdoor pool was closed for construction. We had really hoped to see it. It was fun learning about the architecture and all of the unique building materials they used in its construction. Although it was late in the season, many plants were in bloom and the gardens were beautiful. By the time we were done with the tour it was afternoon so we stopped for lunch before we headed up the coast.

 

We spent the entire day driving up the coast. We stopped at countless scenic outlooks and took tons of photos. We went for a short hike to the waterfall in the Limekiln State Park. It was beautiful and misty in the redwood trees. I missed the turn off to one of the beaches I really wanted to see but otherwise, it was a great day. I will say that the “1” is a very curvy road so it was pretty slow going. I wouldn’t suggest this road for someone who gets motion sickness easily.


 

We arrived at our AirBnB in San Francisco at about 8:30 pm. Parking is a challenge in San Francisco! We had to double park while we unloaded and ended up parking a block away from our house. We walked a couple of blocks to a little Korean restaurant for dinner. The food was good and not too expensive. It rained lightly on us on the way back to the rental.

 

 

Day 1 of our road trip to California 

I’ve been busy catching up on everything since the trip so I didn’t find time to post this…I guess better late than never. 😉

I’ve always wanted to explore the coast via Interstate 1 and I finally got the chance. Our first stop on our trip was Santa Barbara, CA. We visited the Old Mission and the Santa Barbara county courthouse. The views from the top of the courthouse were amazing. Next, we went for a stroll out on the pier  and had fish & chips for lunch. It was delicious. Usually, I can only eat a few bites of fish and chips because they are so greasy, but these weren’t greasy at all and the fish was flaky and perfect.

Next, we drove about an hour and a half to Solvang, CA. It was originally settled by people from Denmark and Holland. It was basically a tourist trap, but it was fun walking down the cute little streets with the unique looking architecture. My daughter, Kira was determined to find a certain Danish pastry so we went to every bakery in Solvang and no one had it! She was very disappointed. We stopped and tried some wine in one of the tasting rooms and found a delicious red that was very affordable so we picked some up for dinner.

 

After that, we traveled on to Cambria, CA. We checked into a nice little motel on Moonstone beach and enjoyed the sunset and had a glass of wine our patio. After we were settled, we walked down the boardwalk to dinner at the Moonstone Beach Bar & Grill. It was my daughter, Shauna’s 21st birthday so we had a nice dinner to celebrate. The food was delicious. We walked back to our rooms and some of the crew went hot tubbing while I relaxed in my room, in front of the fireplace with a glass of wine….listening to the ocean waves ….. a perfect end to the first day of our trip.

Quick trip to Death Valley 

My kiddos and I did a spur of the moment trip to see the “SUPER BLOOM” that happens in Death Valley about once a decade. It was a long day of driving but I’m glad we did it.  We left at about 4:30 am and drove, and drove…. 

  
Our first stop was Zabriski Point. It was a beautiful combination of light, shadow and texture. 

  
Next we went to the visitors center at Furnace Creek.

  
Then we went to Badwater Basin. The children were impressed with being 300 ft. below sea level. We walked quite a way out on the salt flats and examined the salt crystals. It was beautiful and amazingly loud. The crunch of the salts under your feet were a strange sensation. If you decide to go I highly suggest you remember a hat and sunglasses…and a macro lens….the reflection out on the flats is almost blinding. 

  

New Year resolutions – 

I use the first of the year to evaluate my past year and plan for the future.

Personal resolution #1 –   Better meals!

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I need to put more energy into meals. I’ve been so busy with moving and everything for the past four months that I’ve gotten lazy with cooking. I feel like an important part of my home life is sitting down and enjoying meals with my family. No tv, no phones, no distractions….everyone enjoys the meal more and the time spent visiting with each other uninterrupted is priceless.  For me preparing a special meal is an act of love.  To me cooking is creative, it’s something I enjoy (minus the cleanup 😉). Now if only I loved to do dishes 😀…….

Summer is almost gone! Trying to do it all…work and family balance.

This summer I have been trying to hit the farmer’s markets as often as possible. It’s hard to take off on a Saturday morning when I already feel guilty because I’ve been away from my children so much during the week. As a single mom I find myself struggling constantly to balance income and family! So, lately I’ve been taking turns making it a “date” with one of my children. We get up early, grab an ice chest and head to one of the farmers markets. I usually go to the Farmers Market in Ancestor Square or the Zion Canyon Farmers Market in Springdale. It’s fun to have the one on one time and also nice to have someone to help choose our purchases and plan what we are going to make. After we are done at the farmers market we go on a brunch date. I let my “guest” choose where we go to eat.. It’s been so fun for me and my children. The children look forward to “their turn”, and plan well in advance where our “next date” will be. 

I feel like it’s very important to have fresh fruits and vegetables as a large part of my family’s diet. In the past I’ve always had a large garden. Due to moving and my hectic schedule I was not able to plant a full garden this year. ( I do have tomatoes and a good assortment of herbs in pots.)  It’s such a blessing to have farmers markets to fill that void somewhat. But there’s still nothing like harvesting it at home and using it immediately! Nothing beats that fresh picked flavor.