Monday, August 19, 2013

Cheaper by the Dozen

August 18, 2013.  Our 12th wedding anniversary.  How on earth can it be twelve (TWELVE!) years already?

For all the right reasons, it seems like we've always been together.  Still, it seems odd to think that twelve years ago we were getting ready to say our "I Do's" and commit our lives to one another.  It's a thrill to think that we've enjoyed twelve years already, and an exciting mystery to anticipate what lies ahead for the next twelve years.  And the twelve after that.

Kevin and I have always thoroughly enjoyed our anniversaries, and this year was no exception.  Kevin made reservations at Ruth's Chris Steakhouse (yumyumyum!) and had a gorgeous bouquet of flowers delivered to the restaurant to be placed on our table prior to our arrival.
Without a doubt, Kevin is the sweetest, most romantic man in the world - which makes me the luckiest girl in the world!  The meal was delicious, the wait staff quietly attentive, and the company was perfect in every way.  We truly both feel that we are more in love now than the day we got married.  Very blessed indeed.

Happy anniversary, my love.  I'd marry you again every day of the week and twice on Sunday.  Just this much more.


Is marriage really cheaper by the dozen?  Who knows.  I love that phrase, and loved even more, the original movie by the same title.  The family in the movie had twelve children and when they would ask the dad why he had so many kids, his reply would always be "Well, they're cheaper by the dozen, you know!"

Let's give it some thought - is marriage really cheaper by the dozen years?  Hmmm...

Year one you're busy setting up a household, which can be incredibly expensive.  Figuring out where to live, buying a bit of furniture that represents your new married life, and figuring out how to set up paying your bills.   By year two, you're still in the settling in phase.  You've gotten into the swing of things, but now you've decided your living arrangements could definitely use some improvement, so you begin saving for a house.  Cha-ching!  Year three you've decided that going to the laundromat is ridiculously expensive and, if you bought a washer and dryer, you'd definitely save money.  In the long run.  But...not in the short run.  Year four your beloved's car breaks down beyond repair; add a car payment to your monthly bills.  Ugh.

Years five and six, if you have children, all bets are off.  Your 'cheap' years are definitely over!  If you decide not to have kids, you're still in the process of saving for that elusive home of your own.  It would have been easier, but there was a job change this year and you need to build yourselves back up.  Year seven is looking pretty good!   ...until you're asked to be in three weddings, your cousin in another state suddenly passes away and you find out your tax returns were wrong and you owe the IRS some serious caish.  Ouch!

Year eight is a relatively good year.  No major life or lifestyle changes and you're chugging right along.  Yeah, baby!  Finally an easy, relatively cheap year!  Then...year nine comes along and you're ready to buy that house.  Oh.My.Goodness.  The piles of paperwork to complete the loan isn't nearly as worrisome as the number of zeros you see on those loan docs.  And if you happen to be buying said abode in California?  Plan on retiring at the ripe old age of 70.  Maybe even 75 if you can eek it out.

Year ten comes along and you're thinking "Wow, ten years!  I hope it's a cheap year - we are still spending like crazy on the house!"  In fact, you're not just thinking it, you're actually doing it.  Which is a good thing, because by the time year eleven rolls around, miraculously, there are no huge expenses looming.  The year comes and goes and suddenly, it's year 12.  Danged if that year isn't looking pretty darn good, too!  Things are lookin' up!

Well, there you have it - I guess it's really true.  Now that we've hit the dozen mark, while not 'cheap', it's certainly manageable.  Just a word of caution, though:  Look out for year thirteen; that fridge is starting to make some interesting noises....

Thursday, August 15, 2013

When I was a child, Christmas was the most magical time of the year.  I loved absolutely everything about it.  From going to pick out our tree (flocked again this year ... bummer), to helping hang up the outside lights (for every burned out light, dad would say "That's a no-good-nick"), to baking cookies in kitchen, to the Christmas music playing on the stereo - there was nothing I didn't like about this most festive of seasons.

Though I loved pretty much any Christmas carol you can think of, my favorite Christmas album that we  played over and over every year was "That Holiday Feeling!" by Steve Lawrence and Eydie Gorme.  I can't pinpoint why exactly, but there was just something about those two beautiful voices filling our home with the sound of warmth and laughter that just meant Christmas to me.

The first Christmas Kevin and I were together, I told him the story of how much I loved this album and how, when I heard it, it always meant that it was truly Christmas time.  The album belonged to my parents and I explained that I'd searched for it on CD, but hadn't had any success.  For my birthday the following year, he gave me a very special gift.  In secret, he'd gone to mom and told her what he wanted to do, and she lent him the album.  He took it to a friend of ours who duplicated it on to CD - keeping all of the pops and crackles that were on the album.  They created a label for the CD that looked identical to the label on the album and then copied the cover of the album and that became the CD cover.  When my birthday arrived and he surprised me with this amazingly thoughtful gift, I cried.

That one album has had a huge impact on my life and is enormously significant to me.  The following year, Kevin and I duplicated the CD and handed out copies to family and friends.  Its legacy continues and improves with age.

Last Saturday evening when we were watching the news, they announced that Eydie Gorme had passed away at the age of 84.  Instantly I was filled with great sadness and a heavy heart.  As we listened to the news anchor give a brief overview of her life, my mind began reeling with the many years of joyful memories Edyie Gorme had given my family and I.  Her passing also brought home the fact that my mom and dad are gone now and I began waxing nostalgic.  A little switch ticks in my brain, and I begin to re-live the loss of people and things I've loved immensely who are no longer here.  While it's not something I dwell on, when it happens, it does bring on a brief but intense sadness.  Kevin, knowing exactly what I was thinking, reached for me and gave me a big hug.  It was exactly what I needed and I didn't want to let go.

The next day I got an email from a friend of mine.  She said that she was so sorry to hear of the passing of Eydie Gorme.  She'd thought of me the moment she'd heard the news.  This past Monday, another friend told me the same thing.  It makes me feel that in some small way, Eydie and I are inextricably linked.  I like that.  I said to one of my friends that Eydie is up in Heaven serenading my mom and dad; she said she could imagine it and it made a wonderful picture.  I think so too.

Goodbye, Miss Eydie.  Until we meet again.

Welcome to the Rose-atoe Patch

My dad used to be quite a gardner.  While he had quite a green thumb and could make virtually anything grow (Including some dead plants I'd thrown out when I lived at home. Later when the plants were healthy and beautiful I asked where he'd gotten them - he took great joy in explaining that those were the plants I'd thrown out!), the two things he was most proud of were his rose garden and the tomatoes he planted in pots all over the deck in the backyard.

While the roses thrive and have lived on for years, the tomato plants kind of went by the wayside several years ago.  They have to be planted every year and take a lot of management throughout the season and dad just wasn't really up to it any longer.

About a month ago, my mother in law, Vicky, noticed something growing in the rose garden.  "There's a tomato plant growing in the roses!", she exclaimed.  I'd seen it too, but thought it was a week and said as much.  She reiterated that it was definitely a tomato plant.  I went over and looked at it again and, sure enough!  She was absolutely right - it was a tomato plant!  At that point, it was pretty small and we didn't really think it would survive amongst the roses.

But.  It's survived and thrived!  Now, a month later, the tomato plant is absolutely huge.  It's branched out and has little vines growing across several of the rose bushes.  The other day when I looked at it and snapped some photos, it had a couple of small tomatoes - still green but they were definitely hanging in there.  I just went out this evening and looked and those tomatoes from the other day have more than doubled in size - and there are many more, plus lots of yellow buds that, provided they don't get knocked off, will bear tomatoes!  It looks like this one giant plant will produce a pretty healthy crop of juicy, delicious tomatoes.  YAY!  It's just this girls' humble opinion, but I think there is absolutely nothing better in this world than a home-grown tomato.  Especially one that is still warm from the sun.  Mmmmm...delish!

We definitely think that dad is looking down and having quite the chuckle that his two favorite things in the garden have combined themselves into one area.  He would love it and marvel over it every day.  Mom would just be glad that she's not on tomato picking duty ;o)

The Highs, Lows and Woes of Summer

By the first of June, we were all on a countdown around here.  School would be out soon, and that meant that both Kevin and I would be on summer break soon, too.

Kevin's school was out before mine and, because he's a ten and a half month employee, he was off work before I was, too.  We have a small chalkboard on the kitchen counter and Kevin helped me countdown my last few days of work.

First, it was "Come on Summer" with the last four days noted and ready to be chalked off each day.  On the last day, we crossed off "Come on" and wrote in "Hello".  Well, we're both back at work now.  I've just finished up three weeks back (our office is closed on Fridays until school begins in late August), and Kevin will be finishing up two weeks back tomorrow.  As you can imagine we were sad to update the kitchen chalkboard, but finally had to write in "Goodbye :o("

I will say, however, that we did have a wonderful summer!  And even though the calendar says there's still a bit of summer left, it's time for us to get back into our work routine.

I need to change the chalkboard soon.  Come on fall!

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Glamping in Santa Barbara

Neither Kevin nor I are campers.  Well, other than being happy campers, that is ;o)

I've always thought that camping was rather a romantic notion, but when it comes down to the reality of it - I'll pass.  Something about sleeping on the ground (yes, an air mattress on the ground still counts as sleeping on the ground!), in a sleeping bag, in a tent, with no ... ummmm ... potty should one be needed in the middle of the night --- well, it's just not all that appealing to me.  And Kevin says his desire for camping has a closer resemblance to staying in a hotel.  Pretty much any hotel - well, save for say the Bates Motel - but you get the idea.

So.  For our summer vacation, we decided to go ... camping!  Or rather, todays version of camping which actually has the buzz word 'glamping'.  Those in the know, know this means 'glamorous camping' - if there is such a thing.  Well, there IS!  Kinda...

The location is actually quite glamorous - Santa Barbara, California.  Home to gorgeous rolling hills, charming Mediterranean-style homes with red tile roofs dotting the landscape.  It's nicknamed the 'American Riviera' - and it's definitely paradise.  The beaches are beautiful, agriculture plentiful and living graceful.  It also doesn't hurt that it's home to the best ice cream on earth (Island Coconut...mmmmm!), but that's another story.

As for the accommodations, they definitely beat sleeping on the ground in a tent with no ... potty.  Try this Air Stream trailer on for size, baby!

Kinda cool, right?!  It's a pretty amazing place.  It's called the Santa Barbara Auto Camp and it was founded in 1922.  
It currently houses 5 Air Stream trailers that have been completely upgraded and modernized.  Yes, that is a clawfoot tub you see in the bathroom, as well as a glass vessel sink.  The bed was so soft and squishy, you just sank right in - I don't think we moved once during the night.  It was appointed with a fully equipped kitchen, a small deck with a grill, patio chairs and two beach cruisers that we could use during our stay.  It was a really fun and unique place to stay!  We've decided neither of us is ready to give up and begin traveling and staying in one of these full-time, but it was definitely fun for a short time.

There's an old Italian restaurant called Aldo's right in the middle of the downtown area.  In addition to our delicious meal, we were also charmed by its architecture and old world accents

We lucked out in that the most amazingly delicious bakery was on the corner right across the street from the Auto Camp.  Breakfast at this local gem was a true delight.  Almond croissant, locally roasted strong black coffee with sweet, creamy half and half - YUM!  When we left, of course we had to bring a loaf (or three) of delicious freshly baked bread home with us. 

Santa Barbara is also known for its beautiful sunsets.  While it was a bit hazy and overcast, we were not disappointed.  In fact, it's really the clouds and haze that make the sunset more beautiful.  Just a tip: the sun sets in the west ;o) 
If you're headed to SB, wear your walking shoes.  Most things are within walking (or biking) distance and there is a lot to see!

There's also a fabulous specialty chocolatier that had some really interesting selections.  Kevin and I were good and each only had one, but, it was oh, so tempting!

Stearn's Wharf is a fun place to watch the sunset, too.  You can drive onto this pier, but it's much nicer to walk. 

Besides, miss a lot if you drive.  You just never know what you'll see along the way...

As you can see, it was no ordinary 'camping' trip!