Tuesday, June 16, 2009


Summer will soon be in full swing. People everywhere are traveling to fabulous vacation spots, spending a few lazy hours reading by the pool, attending outdoor get-togethers, lounging on the porch, skipping rocks by the creek banks, lazing on the docks, casting lines in the river, wading in the surf, and strolling through gardens.

In the summertime, we tend to take things more slowly, inhale more deeply, and enjoy each day more fully. Summer beckons me to get my suitcase out, pack my sunglasses, tanning lotion, map, sandals, swimwuit, shorts, sundress, and a beach tote. Can't wait to soak up the sun someplace closer to the equator. Not too picky where, just want to have a summertime escape.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Beach Dwelling

In recent years, we've enjoyed many special days at Ocean Shores at our fractional condo. It's located five miles from downtown, near the jetty. We love strolling along the water's edge trying to find seashells while waves crash onto the shore. The days are blissful indeed with the breeze blowing and gulls calling out. Somehow it all adds up to a wonderful kind of calm, especially as the sun begins to set. How relaxing! That's what summer is all about - finding ways to let go, slow down, and enjoy the world around us.

What prettier setting than the beach to gather family and friends together. Each time as we unpack and settle into our condo, work woes and everyday cares wash away like footprints in the rising tide. No busyness, no to-do lists, no "plans," just the simple life.

Over the past three years of ownership, we've invited many friends and family members to share the coastal experience with us. With the additional bedroom and the hide-away couch, not to mention the floor space, we can acccommodate quite a few. There is a journal that stays at the condo for visitors to record their stays. Of course our sons' families have stayed over many times. But others have come over for the day, a night, the weekend, or the entire week: Dale's mom, Don & Kathy, Terry & Lynne, Tony & Mason, Mike & Jane, Marvin & Sharon, Dennis, Gary & Maribeth, Sharon & Dan, and Jami & Marla. We have the belief that if God has blessed you with something, it's one's duty to share it with others. I enjoy doing some entertaining (cooking) for others. The condo has a kitchen with basic amenities. We've served many delicious flavorful meals while at our shore retreat.

Ocean Shores offers natural beauty and almost-untamed atmosphere with its sculpture-like driftwood, tide-pools, changing tides, crabs,and kelp. From grandparents to toddlers, downtown Ocean Shores offers activites galore: putt-putt golf, go-carts, mopeds, theaters, waterpark, carnival rides, horse-back rides, boat rentals, museum, library, ferry rides, shopping, restaurants, ... And of course, there's the option to do absolutely nothing, maybe soak up the sun, revel in breezes, build sand castles, beach comb, build a driftwood fort, play board games, build a bonfire, put puzzles together, watch whales, and enjoy the company of loved ones.

So what are you waiting for? Summer has begun and it's waiting for you to go explore. I hope I've shed some light on the importance of relationships with others as well as the significance of solitude.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Summer Setting

The grass is greener, the sun is brighter, and the days are longer, yes summer is upon us with all its joy and vibrancy. To me, summer means barefoot children playing tag, dashing through sprinklers, and selling lemonade. It means sunny days, blue skies, bountiful gardens, bike rides, beach trips, fresh peaches, tasty watermelon, home-made ice cream, roses, and socializing.

I love these late evenings outdoors on my new back porch deck. My husband stained and hung up our porch swing. My father bought it for me years ago as a house warming present. My parents drove across the U.S. to visit us. We had bought our first home. It had a covered back porch. It bothered him that it didn't have a porch swing. He went out and purchased one and hung it up for me. If you knew my dad, you'd know he's not free with his money. So, the porch swing has a tender place in my heart, knowing that he freely gave this gift to me.

I love looking out my front windows to our lovely garden yard. The window box is starting to mature and fill in nicely. Everything looks so gorgeous and lush right now. Dale does a wonderful job of keeping it looking pristine. He not only mows, he leaf blows the grass, power washes the paths, edges the walkways, trims the bushes, and pulls weeds. Luckily, we have a built-in sprinkler system. All we have to do is program it to come on at certain times and the lawn gets watered automatically.

I associate watermelon with summer. I love eating sweet red watermelon, juice dripping from my mouth and hands, and spitting seeds to my heart's content (only time its O.K. for a lady to spit). Summer is a cause for gatherings. Be sure to take time for friends and family, later on, you won't look back and regret it.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009


There's something peaceful about being at the beach. I love the glow of the water when the sun beams down. A stroll at sunset is so wonderful, restoring your soul and senses with the sound of the waves rolling onto the shore, the seagulls crying overhead, and the peach-colored clouds filling the sky. Some of our most precious memories revolve around the beach. When we first got married we lived south of Mobile AL. My husband owned a motorcycle. We would drive to nearby Dauphin Island for the day and find a secluded beach to enjoy by ourselves. At that time, the island was very sparsely developed, so there was almost nothing but white sugar sand for miles. Since those early days, we've continued to make beach memories throughout our marriage. It's usually our first choice when deciding where to vacation. The above picture was taken at Ocean Shores WA in 2007. The pictures below are Dauphin Island.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Finding Balance

Today's topic is balance. Balance is the feeling of being complete. It's having harmony in your life. It's essential to the quality of a person's life.

There are many aspects to life: emotion, family, finances, health, love, play, social, spirit, vocation,... If you neglect one area of life, you end up harming yourself. Sometimes, you're forced to make difficult choices and make sacrifices. At times, things collide.

Prioritize what matters the most to you. Be willing to say "no" when necessary. In the meantime, get organized, be flexible, and establish a routine.

Find ways to relax and relieve tension: reflect, pray, journal, and rest. Take time for self-care: eat healthy, take vitamins, drink plenty of liquids, and exercise. Don't feel guilty for incorporating a few luxuries into your life: manicures, pedicures, massages, facials, tanning,...

Build a strong support system: family, friends, neighbors, church members, co-workers,... Don't be afraid to ask for help.

Work on simplifying your life: don't overschedule or over commit. Save space for what truly matters. Know this, balance is a never ending evolving process. Allignment isn't easy.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Personal Happiness

Choose happiness, that's my message today. We tend to hunger for our own personal happiness, but somehow we often feel guilty, selfish, at the expense of our own poor hollow souls. Naturally, we want our life to be both significant and recognized.

Joy originates within. A key to personal happiness is a well-balanced life. Happiness lies in the passions we pursue and in the pressures we decline. Take time to read, write, converse with friends, contemplate, etc... For me, I'm nurtured not just by what I put in my mouth, but also what I put in my mind. That's why I read, watch television, ... to fill my mind with new inspiration and insight.

I like to think of myself as a happy person. I try to be cheerful and positive. Negativity gets you nowhere, people don't want to be around you. I notice that some people live with the curtains drawn, their home is a work trap. If that's you, please don't live like that. You must find a way to express yourself, whether it's writing, singing, dancing, painting, drawing, or whatever appeals to you.

Here are some helpful hints: Don't take yourself too seriously. You can't please everyone. Don't let others set your standards. Do the things you enjoy. Don't borrow others' troubles. Don't hold grudges. Don't brood over past mistakes. Keep busy. Help the unfortunate. Appreciate the little things in life.

I am proud of being a wife, a mother, a grandmother. But those are only roles in life, not the core of my being. I love the fact that Dale and I are absolutely a team. He has always encouraged me to live as fully and as rich a life as possible while I'm here on earth. Thanks sweetheart!

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Little House Has Potential

Back in February 2006, we purchased this 2 bedroom 1 bath 1920 derelict home in Centralia on Magnolia street for a rental property. At my first walk-through, all I could do was shake my head in its run down state. But once my husband pursuaded me that it could cash flow even with the refurbishing costs, I began to envision what the place could be. The location wasn't bad, it bordered the much-desired Edison District. It also had high ceilings and a breakfast nook which added to its historic feel. That spring of '06, we worked on this "project," our diamond in the rough.

As you can see, it was quite a transformation. We put on a new roof, blew in insullation in the attic, replaced windows, replaced cedar shingles, painted and trimmed, installed a new front door, tore down the old broken-down garage, built a new carport with storage, fenced in the back yard, paved a driveway, constucted new front porch railing, and spruced up the landscaping. That was everything for the outside.

Inside, we layed down all new floorings, painted the walls, put in new crown moulding and baseboards, set up new bathub and surround, installed a new dishwasher, and mounted new light fixtures. We tried to pay attention to every detail.

We brought the house back to life. We knew it had "great bones." It's certainly a far cry from when I saw it for the first time. I'm glad we trusted our instincts and followed our hearts. It didn't turn into a money pit. We're pleased with the results. It has character and charm. We always say that if worse comes to worse, we can sell everything and live in it. Who knows what the future holds?

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Crazy 'bout Quilts

Having homemade quilts on hand was a given. Both my grandmothers quilted. They quilted mostly "scrap" quilts. In other words, people would bring them sacks of leftover sewing scraps. They would coordinate colors and make them work. Since they were scrap quilts, they didn't have a pattern necessarily. They used "all" the scraps, so each piece could be a long triangle, a small square, a thin strip, or whatever appealed to 'em. If there were quilting rules to be followed, they threw them away.

One of my early memories of my maternal grandmother, was spending the night in the bedroom off the kitchen. Since the house didn't have forced heating, she only heated the main gathering room during the day. So at night I was drowning in a heavy load of quilts, but I did stay toasty warm. Embarassed to admit it, but I wet the bed that night. My maternal grandmother made each of her grandchildren a quilt by the time they were grown. She hardly ever sat down without a needle in her hands. I treasure my special quilt, it sits in my entry foyer. I wouldn't sell that precious quilt for love nor money! Each quilt was different, mine happens to be made with fair colors: peaches and light blues. Many in the family can point to a fabric and say they had a dress in that print.

For my paternal grandmother, if I had to pick something to go on her tombstone, it would probably be a quilt. All my paternal aunts carried on the tradition and love to quilt as well. In fact, my Aunt Florence has made me two quilts. I plan to give one to each of my granddaughters when they're old enough to appreciate and care for it. This particular aunt I mentioned makes a quilt each year to raise money for foreign missions, it is auctioned off to the highest bidder.

My mother didn't have quite the same passion for the art of quilting. She started many quilts, in fact, there are many quilt tops in storage, but she never finished any to my knowledge.
As for me, I admire the workmanship, artist quality, and handcraft skill. But, I don't care much for sewing. Who knows, in my old age I might take it up, but by then my eyesight probably would be so bad I wouldn't be able to thread a needle! Oh well, I guess I'll still be warm under my stack of quilts.