Cucina, Family Friday, Galleria, Happiness Project, Photography

Growing Up…

My baby is a senior in high school. I went to the first of many parent/student functions, and I didn’t cry. Usually, I am the mom that is crying. Oh, it is so emotional for me. UGH! Just a few weeks ago, I had to put together the senior page for my son. After I wrote the paragraph, and really, they only give you room for a paragraph! I was a blubbering mess.

How can it already be time for him to graduate? Remembering how he was such a great baby. The kid slept through the night. We had a little ritual, I fed him his bottle, and my husband gave him a bath. Then, as I got him all dressed for bed, my husband would get him little womb bear ready, and use a special heating pad to get his little crib warm. We had the lights down low, and would sing him a little song. He would sleep from 11 until 6 am.

He was helpful to other kids that felt alone. When we would go to the park, he would always gravitate to the kid that was playing alone. I would meet other moms that also did not have their children enrolled in preschool. We would meet at various parks throughout  the SF Bay Area. He didn’t attend preschool, instead we did Montessori at home. There were days that we went to the park, usually on Thursday, and every Friday we attended the zoo. We would work on a different letter of the week, and make a dish of food that began with the letter, work on the words in sign language that began with the letter, and study an animal that began with the letter.  We not only made food together, gardened, crafts, but also our own homemade play dough. I love every minute that I had with them at home. I was so grateful that that time was our time to share.

He was always so brilliant at talking to me while I was cooking. He would talk to me about how much love went into my food, and ask what exactly I put into the dish I was making. He would tell me about his day at school, all while standing on a chair as I was stirring or cutting, or doing some prep work. I would remember that he was supposed to be doing homework. He would go back to doing his homework, and in no time he was back over by me making conversation. Oh, the explaining I had to do to teachers throughout the years. LOL! He just had me beat….

We always did everything as a family. We did not leave our children with other people. When I needed some time and space. My husband would even tell me…go do something with your friends. I would go see a movie or go to dinner, just a few hours away was like a min vacation. I also had my writing. My husband and I had long conversations about how we wanted to raise our children, and we followed though with that plan. We believe that our family is tighter because of it. We never forced them to play any sport they didn’t want to play. Our son tried so many things, he loved fencing, like karate, thought soccer was ok. Attended art camp, science camp, horse camp, residential camp and soccer camp. I believe  he had a rich experience, and I hope he believes he did.

Once we moved from the Bay Area to the Central Coast, he really got to spread his wings. he got an internship, learned some great things, met some wonderful people. He has loved high school, and has already passed his real estate exam, notary exam, and is the public relations director for the chamber of commerce. My baby wants to change the world, and I believe he can. If he believes he can do it, no one can stop him!

I couldn’t ask for a better son! I am eternally grateful for being allowed to be his mom, and I will continue to be humble and grateful to be given such a treasure to help mold before he  is on his own. What a gift to have been given for so many years to have in my presence everyday. It’s going to be hard not to see his face everyday, and hear his laugh, but I know he will be doing something to make the lives of other people better. What more could I ask of him? img_8738



country, Cucina, farming, Fountain of Youth, Fruit, Galleria, Happiness Project, orchard, Therapy Thursday, Throwback Thursday

Finding Time

Lately, everything has been a blur. I finished decorating the villa, and opening it for guests to stay. We also had harvest…what a busy season that is…

We had music at our venue Robbie Duganne. We loved his and his other players. They even played some original music, it was very cool. We served pesto chicken sandwiches, and offered salad as well as other hour d’oeuvres. We were pretty crowded, and we even had people on the patio.

Last weekend, we were pretty sure we would not be busy at all, but more and more people were coming into the winery. Those are things we can’t complain about, it’s great business.

We love working at the winery because there are so many different things to do. Ok, the mundane things that have to be done are not FUN. Cleaning the bathroom, emptying the trash, washing the dishes, sweeping the sidewalk…alright, I’ll admit they are not fun. In those tasks, I do find a little solitude.

We are awaiting the birth of our calf on the farm. Luna is due any day now.  The other farm animals are doing alright. Since we need another fence before we obtain any more chickens, we are being patient. Once Luna has her calf, we are going to have to move the female goats to the pasture with Luna so that Willie (sire goat) doesn’t get attacked by Luna. Willie Nelson and Luna are best of friends right now, but once Luna has her baby…she won’t be a bestie any longer.

It hasn’t been easy finding time lately to write. I love to write, and take photos but business is consuming all my time. My usual time that I allow myself to write has been consumed by shopping for property.

We sold our last apartment building. We owned 5 complexes, and have traded them for other properties. Our last trade has resulted in purchasing an olive orchard. I still have to find a few more properties to trade into, so until that is all done. I am going to be limited on time dedicated to writing.

I did buy myself a crock pot recently, because my children complained that they missed spending time gathering around the table with us. I felt so bad! I purchased a crock pot, and we have been spending our quality dinner time together again.


Collections and Obsessions, country, farming, Fountain of Youth, Fruit, Happiness Project, Photography, Wine Wednesday, Winery

Harvest Festival Time


It’s that time of the year again. This year we are having chicken pesto sliders with a side of chips, and some favorite dips with assorted yummies (to be determined). Our beautiful cow is new, and so is Casa Dell Arte. We will have an open studio on Friday, and on Saturday we will have two classes. One class will be for anyone 8 to 108, and the adult class is for 21 and over.


We are excited to see some of our old friends, and make some new ones too.

Collections and Obsessions, Design, Fountain of Youth, Galleria, Happiness Project, Museum Monday

Eugene Schmidt


The Missions of California are steeped in such rich history. Something about  each of them is just touch the core of my being. I did not grow up Catholic, and did not become Catholic until I was 21. My father was not supportive in my decision to become Catholic. I am not even sure if he knew why he did not want that for me. While researching my family I found that our family was involved in the Hugeonaught movement. Is it that my dad had some subconscious awareness of this fact? I don’t know…I do know, he told us to research a variety of religions before making a choice. I listened to that advice, and I loved learning about various religions, and spiritual movements.

The painting above is a painting of San Juan Capistrano. It is the only Mission in Orange County, and founded in 1776. There are 21 Missions in California, and they are where each of the cities started. Some of the most beautiful places to visit in California.

This painting has a very painterly feel, he added paint with a heavy hand. Which lends to the texture that is felt at the Missions. The flowers almost leap of the painting. The pedals on the Bougainvillea float around on the wind like loose pieces of paper.

The cloister, or inner gardens of the Missions served many different functions. Many of the garden veggies and herbs were grown in this area. The arches also served as a way for people to get out of the sun. The temperature is usually ten degrees cooler than the sunny area.

Eugene Schmidt was an artist from Santa Barbara, and pasted away in 2007. He was often out painting plein air, and has some other pretty remarkable paintings.

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Four Sisters Winery


Located in the Paso Robles area of the Central Coast of California, the Four

Sisters Ranch has been growing grapes and producing world class, award winning,

wine for over 28 years.  Over 8 varieties of grapes are planted on over 430 acres.

The terrain is variable, from Limestone rich sandy-loom soil on hills adjacent to
the dry Estrella River bank to oak trees on hills overlooking a little and big “Grand Canyon”.
They more recently acquired their new winery and Tasting Room/Event Venue facility
where they also produce Limited Edition wines, and have room for large weddings
and celebrations. The New York Times has called their location the “best view of any
vineyard in the Central Coast” up on top of a hill with vistas of vineyards 360 degrees.
Tasting and Touring Magazine listed the Four Sisters Ranch in their 2016 Platinum Issue
as one of the 6 “Most Scenic” wineries in the Paso Robles area.  They take great pride in
being a friendly fun scenic Tasting Room with fine wines.

Four Sisters Ranch is owned and operated by a husband and wife team of two retired medical doctors: Dr. Michael Drucker and Dr. Serena Friedman. It is named after their four daughters; Sacheen, Elan, Toccara, and Sierra, who each contribute. Michael and Serena fell in love with Paso Robles in 1989, when they bought their first vineyard, and have now expanded to 433 planted acres! The first 16 years of Four Sisters Ranch involved intense, hands-on learning, experimenting, and getting down and dirty with the grapes, which were sold privately to world renowned wineries in the Napa Valley, Sonoma, Texas, Paso Robles, and beyond. Finally, in 2005, the first vintages of Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah were released under the Four Sisters Ranch label – and the rest is history! They now have have an impressive portfolio of award-winning Paso Robles wines and are thrilled to share their pride and passion with wine enthusiasts in the U.S. and internationally! In 2015, Four Sisters Ranch Vineyards & Winery expanded to a gorgeous new tasting room, winery, lab, barrel room, and event center in the northern

Paso Robles AVA


 They are passionate about the fine wines they produce from the unique microclimates and mineral rich soils of Paso Robles.The Central Coast terroir has a long growing season with warm days and cool nights that produces uniquely ripened fruit, translating into a balanced wine of world class exception. Enjoy their Rhone and Bordeaux varieties.  Many of the wines are characterized as fruit forward, long lingering, and sure to tantalize the palate. They recently added Sparkling wines, Albarino,red blends, Petite Sirah,Orange Muscat, and  desert Port Style wine to our Merlot, Malbec, 91 point Zinfandel and our Flagship wines:  Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah.

They use special canopy management to allow just the right amount of sunlight and ocean-infused afternoon breeze to mingle with the fruit and allow it to to mature it to its full flavor potential. For the elegant 89 points Syrah you will taste a balanced, dry and subtle fruit palate of blackberry, boysenberry and plum. This delicious food friendly wine goes well with hearty foods like pasta, wild game, duck, and flavorful soft cheeses.

The award winning “River Cab,” grown on the banks of the dry Estrella River, has a bright raspberry and dry cranberry nose, with hints of dark cherry and currant. This wine is long on the palate with balanced tannins, and pairs well with lamb, steak, veal, pasta, rice, and spirited conversation.

Their youngest wine is a Grenache/Tempranillo blend, light and easy to drink.

The 2011 Zinfandel, rated 91 points by Wine Enthusiast Magazine, was aged in Hungarian Oak barrels to balance the cool 2011 vintage. The Petite Sirah is a bold new Limited Edition Wine nick-named “3 Sips Titanic” because it cannot be judged until “after the third sip, when the tannins sink into the back of the palate and tongue.

Their  Port style desert wine is 95% Cabernet and 5% Negrette, with a unique flavor but easy drinking.

The Crew & The Wine
Their new winemaker, Craig Reed, is working tirelessly to continue to expand the portfolio with new releases of carefully handcrafted, limited-release wines. They are focusing on estate-grown red blends and small-batch varietal wines, including varietals like

Grenache, Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon, Petit Verdot, Zinfandel, Malbec, and Tempranillo. The Estate Director & Brand Manager, Shauna Burke, oversees our three wine brands: Four Sisters Ranch, Serena’s Vineyard, and Red Hat Vineyards.She is also a Certified Sommelier and chef who lends her expertise in food and wine pairing and global wine education.

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Cow Parade SLO Moojolais

We met the artists, and loved them! We hung out at the VIP party in San Luis Obispo, it was like we were long lost friends. Sandy used to live in Indianapolis, Indiana. We were both astonished when we both revealed that we were public high school attendees. The next day, the ladies all came over to the winey, and we had fun for the second day. They tasted wine, and I gave them the BIG tour of the all the buildings on the campus. We laughed and talked for so long. When it was time to say good bye, it was like seeing some of your favorite relatives leave.

Here is our beautiful cow at the winey…



Here are the bio’s of the ladies…

Julie Dickey: Im not sure where my love for art started, or how it evolved, but the quote by Dorothea Tanning,  “Art has always been the raft onto which we climb to save our sanity.” resonates with me. Since a young age, art was the easiest way for me to express happiness, fear, anger, sadness, or merely for the sake of sharing creativity.  As I became older I discovered it was a comforting way for me to have a voice and work through life situations, without having to lie down and let someone get in my head. Instead I put what was in my head out for the world to see, or at least a form of it. No particular medium – paint, tile, beads, sewing, clay – if I could shape it, control the outcome and see it through from start to finish, it made me feel better. Enter big jobs, marriage, children…and without realizing how much it contributed to my “ voice”, I found less and less time for it.  Fast forward to an ugly divorce, the death of my mom and bonus mom, both from cancer, and raising 6 kids (we are a blended family), I realized I need to find my “voice” again and more than that a way to be heard.

Enter Sandy, my partner in crime and art.  She is a phenomenal mosaic/beading artist, who has found that art has gotten her through some rough spots as well. We were a match made in Heaven as the saying goes – we have become each others muses, Yin to Yang….and she loves my crazy family – husband and all 6 kids. We have expanded our horizon to include some assemblage art (stay tuned for pics in the near future) made up of trinkets and instruments we have found in flea markets, shops and garages in various parts of the country.

We aren’t sure where this journey will lead us but thanks for coming along.

 Sandy Stevens: I am quite certain that I was a famous mosaic artist in a past life. Famous because that just sounds cool and a mosaic artist because of my intense interest and passion for the craft. For as long as I can remember I have been drawn to the art of taking beautiful plates of glass, shattering and breaking them to create amazing works of art. Whether it’s a community memorial mural, a colorful bench at Disneyland or a whimsical piece of garden art (my favorite)…I felt a sense of connection.

While I always enjoyed mosaics, I never practiced the art until about 8 years ago while recovering from breast cancer reconstruction which was physically and mentally challenging. I needed an escape during this crazy journey so why not reach for my passion? I took some classes to learn the basics and the rest in history.

When the minute your walk through your front door, drop everything (after acknowledging, petting and loving critters…2 dogs and a cat…all rescues) and head right to the art studio to start creating, then you have found your passion!

Up until recently, I have produced pieces for personal enjoyment and to share with friends.

 Then God sent me an angel, Julie, who shared my love of life and the creative arts. Our friendship has spiraled off the charts and I knew I had to jump on her band wagon full of fun and positive energy. It was through this vision that “the passionate heARTS” has evolved. Our vision is vast and open. Please stay tuned to see what lies beyond the horizon. We guarantee it will be full of enormous frolicking growth and whimsical inspiration and fun that will leave you beckoning for more!

Collections and Obsessions, Design, Fountain of Youth, Galleria, Happiness Project, Museum Monday

Dante and Beatrice

This is a hand painted rendition of Dante and Beatrice on Vellum, which is believed to be from the 1700’s. Note the colors, and I have included some detailed photos.

Dante (in red) approaches Beatrice and her maidens. Dante, is a poet, and is often portrayed with a book. Notice the detail of his finger inside the book to hold his place. The maidens protect Beatrice, as she is not allowed on the common streets alone without a chaperone. Her virginity must be proceed, and to protect her honor is to protect the family from scandal.

The detail in the folds of the garments is just incredible, and the details of the buildings. The lions flanking the staircase in the background…just beautiful! The diaphanous veil that she is about to pull over her face to show that she is a modest lady. Ahh, so much to love about this small painting.