October Spiders

I noticed the change in the air last week. A few mornings ago it seemed much darker when I got up to run. Then my neightbor found one, an October Spider, or at least that is what we call them here. By the time October comes around they are HUGE and many morings I avoid walkways and their webs. I guess we are not the only ones who call them October Spiders. When I see them I know; it's time for fall.

I think every season is my favorite season in Southern California. The climate is mild, but we do have seasonal changes. And every time we do I think the new season is my favorite. So I guess they all are. I do prefer the fashions of fall and winter, but each time I feel the new season coming on I get excited for all the things it will bring.

This fall is no different. The kids are going back to school and I started thinking about my sweaters and boots that are packed away. All of a sudden roasted pumpkin seeds sounded good and I started looking at soup recipes. Some weekend trips have been planned and my mind jumped to the weather changes and what will be at local restaurants.

It was so subtle that change in the air, but it is almost here. Fall. I can't wait!


Oahu Change of Command Ceremony

This past week T and I flew to Oahu, Hawaii for a Change of Command Ceremony. His brother was becoming a Commander of a Squadron in the Navy and we were invited to celebrate with him. I would not call it a "vacation" but we had a great time and it was fun to see the family.

Photo by Stormy Solis Photography

The ceremony was moving and I was teary-eyed a few times. The ceremony took place in an aircraft hanger and there were a few social events we attended as part of the festivities.

Photo by T

There was a HUGE flag across the hanger and we had fun taking pictures in front of it after the ceremony.

Me and the sister-in-laws.

T, Jay, and Amaryllis.

Photo by Brandon.

There was a reception after the ceremony and T got some fun photos.

And we had a nice time meeting people in the squadron and chatting with the family.

They also had a party on the night after the ceremony and it had delicious food and a beautiful ocean backdrop.

Photo by Jay

After all the events we relaxed a bit and did the Pill Box hike at sunrise.

I had a spa day at Aloha Spa and Sauna and afternoon tea at the Moana-surfrider with the sister-in-laws. It was FABULOUS and the spa was a crazy experience for me. I linked to some reviews on Yelp if you want to read about it. It was my first Korean Massage and I LOVED IT! Self-consciousness be gone!

We hiked to some waterfalls,

And visited a botanical garden during the rain. T's 89 year old Grandfather hiked the botanical garden with us. Pretty impressive.

We went canoeing on the Outrigger twice with Siska. And got to snorkel off Coconut Island.

Photo by Cindy

And took a pontoon boat out to a sandbar in the middle of the ocean. It was cool to be able to anchor on the sandbar and walk around or snorkel the reefs near by. Kind of surreal.

We stayed with the brother but the rest of the family got to stay in a "beach cottage" on the base. It was a two story, three bedroom house right on the water! We had many meals on the deck of that "cottage".

Photo by T

The day we left the brother wanted to show off his sandcastle skills and we watched our last sunset in Hawaii.

Photo by Kanan.

All in all it was a great trip and I had fun spending time with in-laws most of the time =).



OC Fair 2014

I love county fairs. As a kid we would go to the LA County Fair every year and my favorite thing was riding the ponies. That was all I wanted to do. My parents indulged me and my horse crazed youth. I remember my Mom was into the "home arts" section and being dragged in to buildings with art and quilts. In high school I went to the county fair with friends but in college I really started to love them.

The Orange County Fair is / was close to where I was living at the time and because I was into photography those art buildings became more interesting. Now a days I still look at all the art but have found I like looking at the "home arts" section that deals with canning and beer making. I also love the food and indulge in when I go.

This year T and I went three times for a few hours each time we went. Here are a few of my favorite photos from the 2014 OC Fair:

The "home arts" section of the fair is the best designed exhibit by far. It is technically outside and under a tin roof between two buildings. They do great things with signs and lights and chairs. The designers of this section have done an amazing job year after year. I get some of my favorite photos there.

Of course I love the fair food and had some staples as well as a new item.

The stuffed bacon wrapped jalapeƱos that started T on his journey to perfect this (which he did)!

The tiny piece of the maple bacon donut I remembered to photograph right before finishing it. This donut is the size of a paper plate and I convinced strangers to split it with us. I think we could of eaten the whole thing, but better that we didn't.

The Chili Relleno Cheeseburger that won Best of Fair. It was amazing.

Then we have some fun photos from around the fair. The flowers at the farm were looking exceptionally beautiful this year.

T had some fun with the giant camera outside the photo exhibit.

And I was busy taking selfies with Allie the urban chicken.

The weather was amazing at the fair this year and staying through sunset was fun too. For some reason the County Fair just feels like summer to me. It holds a piece of my heart and I am excited for next year already.


Inspired: Painted Pots

Let's start with the finished project. My old terracotta pots are now these modern planters. I added lemongrass and some ducting for heaters and came up with this. I am pretty happy with the outcome. That chair is one of a set that I got for $30 at a garage sale. I LOVE chairs and currently have two too many in our house. That is why these get to live on the patio with my "new" pots.

This project was inspired by Pinterest and a few blogs. YoungHouseLove had THIS tutorial on painting pots and CasaCullen had THIS one. I kind of merged them together and spent all day painting some pots. I emptied all my plants out, cleaned the pots, and got to work.

I sprayed a few coats of Thompson's WaterSeal letting them dry between coats, and then painted each pot with external Wrought Iron paint from Benjamin Moore. Our kitchen door is painted this color and it looks almost black inside our house, but outside on these pots it looks dark grey.

Each pot got two coats of paint and the 24 hours to dry before I planted anything in them. I painted the numbers on our gate the same color so we are matchy-matchy! They were originally going to go outside our back gate where our plumeria tree (also in a painted pot!) lives, but some strange weather has brought out a few mosquitoes so we have been keeping the lemongrass on our patio. Overall, I am pretty happy with the results and grateful for the inspiration!


Take Away Italy 2014

Well hello!

It is a beautiful day here in Southern California.  The ocean breeze is drifting in and I can tell it is going to be HOT, with a breeze.  Yep, it's the middle of summer.  I love this time of year.

Now that I am back I thought it was time to talk about the "Take Aways" from the Italy 2014 trip.  This is usually the list of what was right and what can be improved in future trips.  More of notes to myself.  You can see some of my other "Take Away" notes HERE.

Let's get started.

1. Travel Dates.

The sisters and I usually travel at the beginning of June to avoid the bigger summer crowds.  This year we traveled during mid-June and that increased our airfare costs and we were with some pretty big crowds in Florence.  It was also "Male Fashion Week" in Florence so that might have been another reason the crowds were big.  So if we can, I think traveling at the beginning of June is a better idea.  It is also a little cooler then and we like that.

2. Lucky Dozen Italy.  Or, notes about what I wore.

All of my clothes fit in carry-on luggage and I was going for a "Lucky Dozen" or "Capsule Wardrobe" for this trip.  You can read more about my Italy Lucky Dozen HERE.  So my Take Away notes.  Don't bring just black, especially during summer.  It sounds strange to me because I always wear black, but I was wishing for a little bit of color or change when I was in Italy.  One of those chambray shirts like this would have been nice.
But I did buy a lot of scarves, so I was able to kind of use those to spice up my outfits until it got hot at the beach.  Also,  I wore my pink tennis shoes a lot because of my foot injury and that bummed out my "look" a little.  But, better than getting injured again (plantar fascliitis).  My messenger bag purse was great (black and understated) and could hold all my needed things securely. 

I kept thinking about having a hat and might add that to my list next time.  I wore one of A's one day and it was nice to have a little built in shade. And, I brought too many necklaces.  I think I only wore one of the big ones once.  I need to stick with classic jewelry when I travel.  I wore my small "e" necklace and silver hoop earrings most of the trip.

Other than that I was happy with my wardrobe choices and will look for ways to bring less with me next time.  My carry-on weighed 35 pounds on the way home!  I might of purchased some shoes.....

3. Flights, trains, and shuttles.

We flew LAX-JFK; Virgin America.  JFK-Milan, Milan-JFK; Emirates.  JFK-LAX; American Airlines.  They were okay.  Virgin America was FUN and I would fly them again in a heart beat.  Emirates was medium.  Slept on the way there and watched four movies on the way back.  The only bummer was that they made us check our luggage on the trip back.  American was delayed over 2 hours and  there was a screaming child in the row ahead of us for 4 of the 5 hours.  That was not a good flight.

Trains.  We used trains a lot in Italy and purchased tickets ahead of time if possible.  The train from Milan to Florence was an express train with assigned seats.  Our train to Varenna from Milan was a local train with no assigned seating.  When we left it was pretty full.  Our train from Milan to Bordighera had assigned seats and we ended up having our own car together.  The trains were a great way to get around!

When we arrived at LAX on our return (2 hours late) at 3am, we were happy with the Supper Shuttle service we had and got home in about an hour.  Would use a shuttle again after the return flight.  A little nervous about taking one for the departing flight because of all the stops.  

4. Accommodations

The apartments and villa we had in Italy were great.  They worked really well for our group.  All the "mangers" we worked with were very helpful.  I was happy with all of them.  Going with a group our size let us stay in places we never would have considered before, like the VILLA, and that was kind of cool.

So a few Take Away notes.  

We really scheduled our time in Florence and in hind sight, we should of scheduled a few things in the other towns too.  I was feeling a little "bossy" (to use a negative word applied to women) already with being the final say on accommodations and airfare and I didn't want to over schedule everyone.  With that said, I wish there had been a little more organization or exploration of other options when it came to things to do in Lake Como and Bordighera.  The truth is I was a little burned out when it came to organizing things at that point, but in the future I think I will have a few things in mind that I want to do in the places I travel.  That way I will have them as options if I need them.

About three weeks seemed like a good amount of time to be away.  We left each place wanting to return and enjoying our time there.  

Always plan to exercise.  I was injured on this trip and couldn't run in the mornings like I usually do.  I noticed this really bugged me on this trip.  I like getting up and seeing a place.  In the future, I will still get up and walk if that is all I can do.  It is nice to get in some exercise and to start the day with the city.

I think at times our group might of gotten too big, but we were able to roll with it.  I am not sure what the ideal number is when traveling and living so closely together, but I think we will find it eventually.

Overall it was a pretty good trip and I look forward to going back!