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Bradbury and Bradbury Ceiling Paper

“Family love is messy, clinging, and of an annoying and repetitive pattern, like bad wallpaper.”  P. J. O’Rourke.

The other day, my daughter and I had a wonderful day together. She’s a senior in high school. It was a special day at school when the parents go to Liturgy, then the seniors are dismissed to spend the rest of the day with their parents. My husband couldn’t attend, since we are harvesting our grapes. She and I went to Barnes and Nobel, we are avid readers, and then went to eat. When we were eating she asked me “Do you miss our house in Oakland?” I answered…I miss the memories that we created. She told me that she missed the way the sun came into the front room, and the time we would spend in that room just reading together. We then remembered the Bradbury and Bradbury ceiling paper story that always makes us laugh. I believe it would make anyone laugh.

It took us years to get our house to be the gem that it was before we sold it. We had reconstruction done to our house, and that was so labor intensive for all of us. Then after the contractors went away, it was time for us to do all the finish work, and one of those projects was the ceiling paper for our living room. This would be the room where the family would gather for conversations and reading.

We ordered our Bradbury and Bradbury paper, and it doesn’t come precut, or at least at the time, it didn’t. You have to do all the trimming for the paper yourself or hire a professional. It is also paper that is hung using a clay. The paper sat in the large tubes until it was time for Roberto to take his winter vacation. The anticipation of the paper going on the ceiling was intense.

Roberto broke out several saw horses, and made himself a cutting space. After all that was done, he was ready for me to help him. He had two ladders, one for me at the back of the room, and his ladder was near the clay. The paper was folded according style as we gently put up section by section. I was in charge of holding it while he made sure all the bubbles were out of the paper. Success! We had the first section up, only 12 more to go. The first section took so long, and the kids were young, so they had questions to ask…which made the whole process seem longer.

We were on section 2, and I was holding the accordion piece with one hand and holding the paper with the other. Sabrina came into the living room, and told me something that was funny, but Roberto told me “Stop moving, you’re going to rip the expensive paper.” I told Sabrina, I would be in the family room once we finished this section. My arms were shaking from keeping them up in the air for so long. All the sudden, almost the whole part that we just put up on the ceiling peeled away, and drooped to the floor. Roberto was pissed. He walked over to the five gallon buck and picked it up, then slammed in on the floor in frustration. At the same time his glasses slipped off his face, and fell into the bucket of mud. I just busted out laughing so hard. I couldn’t stop laughing. He grabbed his glasses and took off to the kitchen where I could hear him laughing too. Then the kids came into the kitchen saw his glasses and laughter filled the house.

I got down from the ladder, and he told me; “We need to figure out a better way of getting the paper on the ceiling.” We all took a break together, and then he told me to stay out of the living room. He had an idea…I was replaced by a ladder and a cardboard box! LOL!!

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Ode to My Husband

“For it was not into my ear you whispered, but into my heart. It was not my lips you kissed, but my soul.” Judy Garland

As we approach 20 years of marriage I want to tell you all how wonderful my husband is…First, I can’t believe it has been almost 20 years. We met on Yahoo, while I was working in the Museum and he worked at the Lab. We chatted in a chat room often, and ironically enough we basically were doing what young people do now, typing to each other everyday…kind of recapping our day to each other. We then moved on to emailing, and finally started talking on the phone. By the time we were talking on the phone, I was living in San Francisco. We finally met at the clipper ships, and each of us had a gift for each other. I had a wizard for him, since his name online was “Merlin” (the wizard in Camelot). My online name was Contessa Grigia, which just mean Countess Gray. He purchased a giant black teddy bear that was in a giant red gift bag.

We met at 10am, because we wanted to make sure we would get the most out of our day, and just in case we didn’t like each other, we wouldn’t waste our day. We had a great time, we not only laughed, but we talked, about everything and anything. We even went to the grocery store and made spaghetti together. I never had so much fun on my first date!

We met in person in the month of March, and we were married in September. We were married at my church in San Francisco, and I moved to Oakland. We always loved taking long country rides in the Toyota. Sometimes we were quiet during the ride, and sometimes we would not stop talking there was never a point when we forced each other to talk or be quiet, we just let it happen. We rode our bikes all over Berkeley, and took long walks through the Oakland hills. We got our geek on when we created websites together, and we even had web rings, which really geeky people will remember.  We won all kinds of awards for our websites too. We purchased codes that we had on our website, available for people. We worked on 3D puzzles together that would take up our whole dining room table.  The whole time we would go in and out of talking and being quiet, just concentrating.

Since his parents lived right across the street we would go to their house every Sunday for dinner. We would all watch “Funny Videos”, and when 9PM would roll around we would go home, and the perfume of faux orange would be hang in the air. To this day the smell of that flower reminds me of walking home from across the street. We had so many wonderful dinners and conversations at that old house.

We had our first child, Sergio. His name was the one that Roberto always longed for, and Sergio was the name of the nemesis of Cesarina when she worked with the Ferrari family. He was the meaner kid that always gave Cesarina a hard time. After she waxed the floor, he slide through the fresh wax and screwed up the whole hallway. She had to start all over again. Roberto and I had a two reference books that we called “owners manuals”, when something was questionable we would ask “Where is the owners manual?” We would take our giant stroller down to College Avenue and collect beanie babies for Sergio. We went a little crazy with that whole collection. I mean really, it’s almost embarrassing. It was just so much fun at the time.

Roberto lost his father, and it was the first time he ever lost someone so close to him. I had to make the phone call to him to come home from work. It was a tough time for him and his mother, but they handled it was dignity and grace.

Roberto and I renovated our house in anticipation for our second child, we hired an architect, and interviewed several construction people. We finally got all the permits and finalized our decisions for the house, and then I was too pregnant for renovation. We had to wait until Sabrina was a little older. We decided it would have been too much dust for a little baby. Finally, it came time to start the house, and it was a HUGE deal. Not only were we building on, but also digging out the basement to make it larger. We were going from 1100 to 3500 square feet. Everyday, we had to clean up with the kids, and get ready for the next day. It was exhausting for both of us. Roberto was the finisher for the house. He built all the crown molding in the house. He had the tool made, and then he milled each and every piece of molding that went into the house. He cut every sheet of hand painted paper for the ceiling, and even fired me when I couldn’t hold still while holding the paper. He replaced me with a cardboard box on top of a ladder. LOL! True story!

Those country drives were marriage savers, and Roberto would encourage me to go to the movies with my girlfriends. He would stop at antique stores that were on our way to obscure places. We would take our chances, and take our time. He would be outside sometime pushing the stroller, and I would go in the stores.

We have had tough times too, just like everyone else. Cesarina was never easy to get along with, and would often try to start problems between the two of us. She got cancer, and we took care of her. Then we had my dad come live with us for 10 months, and he was an instigator too. I mean with parents, reconstruction, and everything else…we are married for life!

Marriage is hard work, it’s compromise when you want your own way. It is understanding when the other needs your compassion. Everyday, he kissed me before we say “good night”, every morning for the last 20 years we kiss before someone leaves. Even when we have been pissed off with each other, we always end our evening with a kiss. It was part of our contract that we had with each other before we ever got married. Part of our contract was never ever say “I will divorce you.” Neither of us have ever said the word to each other. Part of our agreement was Never say the word unless we are really going to end our marriage.

My husband is the hardest working man I have ever known. Willing to do whatever it takes to get things done. It may be loud at times, but after he it’s off his chest he doesn’t bring it up again. We never hold our past against each other either. What has happened, has happened, we can’t change it, why linger over something that can’t be changed? It’s been a wonderful 20 years, and I hope we have another 20 years together. A destination winery, with all of our other dreams unfolding as well. We have one child that is in college, and one is a senior in high school. Our children are wonderful human beings, and I am ever so grateful that we found each other and created such loving children.

Thank you Roberto for making my life so much better with you being a part of it! I love you, and am so gad we stated “talking” to each other so long ago! We’ve been through so much…2 children, 2 renovations, 6 dogs, 25 goats, 100 chickens, 27 ducks, 3 miniature donkeys, 2 cows, 30 scooters, 3 trains,  7 apartment complexes, 5 websites, 100’s of pieces of art, and one giant ass move! Plus, all our new adventures and a destination winery.

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Musical Craft…

“Music education opens doors that help children pass from school to the world around them – a world of work, culture, intellectual activity, and human involvement. The future of our nation depends on providing our children with a complete education that includes music.” Gerald R. Ford

During our days at home with preschool at home we did so many crafts. One of the ones the kids liked were the ones that were super simple.

What are you going to need?

Paper plates (the deeper ones are the best)

Elmers glue (might want to cover the table before you begin)

Crayons and/or markers

Beans or seeds, or it could be a sound experiment. Do several of them, and fill them with different items. You will want to make it age appropriate and child appropriate. If Johnny has a tendency to put items in his mouth, you’re not going to want to do lots of little bells…we don’t want anyone to choke!

We did this one a variety of times, the bean and seeds are pretty simple, but if you’re going to the grocery store make it an opportunity to ask the kids what they think would sound neat in a rattle.

After both sides are decorated, you’re going to glue the rims together. The glue will need to set all night, so have another project ready for them so the rattle has time to dry.

The next day, you have a homemade rattle.

Other items you can use to make a rattle is an oatmeal container, plastic milk jugs, water bottles. Just glue the lid down so the children won’t be tempted to eat the items inside the  containers! Also, be prepared to listen to the rattle for a couple of weeks. Sometimes their little works of art are such a joy they don’t want to part with them.

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Alphabet Fun

“New friends may be poems, but old friends are alphabets. Don’t forget the alphabets because you will need them to read the poems.” William Shakespeare

When my children were young every week we worked on a different letter of the week. The letter would be the focus for all our subjects. Cooking, Crafts, Botany, Zoology, Arts, Language and Fun were all center around one letter for each week. I started making plans for 3 years, so this would give us flexibility and would allow each week to be different.

Here is the alphabet cookie cutters we used…   These are stainless steel, and can be used for cooking and crafts. A great pleasure is they come in a canister, and then you can put them away! I love that!

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Raising Montessori Kids

“Free the child’s potential, and you will transform him into the world” Maria Montessori

My children are grown up now, but I stayed home with them when they were young. We had Homeschool Preschool, and I had lesson plans for everyday of the month. We had art classes, botany, science, zoology, art history, cooking, and we went on outings.

I joined a group on line with other moms and we would meet at a different park each week and take the kids on hikes or let them play. My son would often clean the slide before he would go down the slide, he was never keen on sliding.

Some of my favorite memories of the kids being young were the times we were doing projects. I know the kids feel the same way. Making their own version of play dough, doing science experiments, making crafts, making our own ice cream. They had their own stools and aprons for cooking, and cleaned up after they were done. Oh, how I love those memories. I used to even make little movies I would send from my “Logitech” camera to my family members that lived on the other side of the country.

I am grateful that my husband and I made the decision to keep our kids home during their preschool years. Giving them a treasure chest of memories of us doing and learning together. My belief is the children have strong family ties because of raising them with a family first ethics. We have always taught them family, friends, community, country, world. They were taught to give back to their community, and they are still givers.

Here is my recent graduate…IMG_9565

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If man owns land,

If man owns land, the land owns him. Ralph Waldo Emerson

This is resounding to me! Owning property is work, and owning rental property is even more work and responsibility. My husband and I have owned and sold many pieces of property. It is a big job.

When you have renters you are responsible for the safety and comfort of your tenant. When they call at 3AM, and the air conditioner isn’t working, you have to answer the phone. It’s not easy, plus you are going to have to pay bills, repairs, and property taxes. As much as people want the rent to be cheap, you are going to have to figure out a profit margin that makes you happy. You’ll have to have money for an emergency, like a leaky roof, heater, or goddess forbid anything more serious.

Flipping each apartment complex was something that I never really imagined doing. I really enjoyed refurbishing the units. Finding the right tiles, carpet, appliances, light fixtures, and paint for each room was fun for me. I also liked interviewing the possible tenants.

One time, when we owned our complex in Oakland, a guy came in right before I had to pick up the kids. I was happy that he showed up for his appointment, but he was bananas. He told me that he was an ambassador of another country, and he even showed me his identification. He told me he loved the place and wanted to offer me cash above the asking rent. Are you kidding me? No, I told him, I have to check your references. He proceeded to get down on the carpet, and started making carpet angels. I asked him, What are you doing? He said…I love this place, I am not leaving. I told him…Sir, I am going to have to ask you to leave. I have an appointment that I need to get to really soon. If you don’t get up off the carpet, I am going to have to call the police. He finally got his butt up off the carpet, and headed out the door.

I have so many stories of from my property rental days. My advice to anyone that is wanting to start buying rental property is “Do your research, and understand that you are not operating a charity, there is a small profit margin if you do it right.”

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Believing In Signs

One Big Sign

Before we found our farm, we looked for 7 years. It was a long seven years too. One gentleman promised we would have a house, and we stayed in escrow for 9 months. My husband was heartbroken. One day, on our way home from Santa Barbara we stopped to drive by the property in escrow. We saw the photo below, and I knew it was done. We were not going to get this property that was in escrow for 9 long months.

When I pray, I ask for big signs that I can’t ignore. I have even said out loud in my prayers…You know I don’t do subtle, so show me something unmistakable. I would say this sign was pretty clear. It looks like a giant foot to me. What do you think? On our drive home, I already started the mourning process for the property. IMG_3613