December in Photos

December has been a whirlwind month, but I guess it always is. This December was a little different for me because I was lucky to be on sabbatical and able to work on my project at home. The time at home made me realize how busy December is, but I got to have rest days between all the holiday commitments and that was awesome! Made me want to win the lottery and not have to work all over again....

Looking back at my iPhone I found some great photos of the month. It started with Pomegranate Jelly making with my Mom and sisters. Last year the tree was pruned so we did not make jelly and this year the weather and drought in California limited the number of pomegranates on the tree, but we still made a few batches! And we made waffles and a big breakfast to keep us working.

Next the Little Sister organized a Cocktails and Cookies, cookie exchange party. What a crazy sugar overload that was! The Middle Sister was in charge of cocktails and had build your own Champagne cocktails (five of them) and then a peppermint white Russian and an Apple Cider cocktail with some Italian soda options as well.

We enjoyed the Huntington Harbor Boat Parade with my Dad and Jan and then I found some funny and inspirational signs at Nordstroms when having lunch with a friend.

The sisters and I went to The Nutcracker and I was given holiday cookies by lots of neighbors. I feel like this was new this season, but very nice.

Samson The Grey Cat was not too into the holiday spirt, but our friends were and we had an amazing Prime Rib dinner and spent a Girl's Day checking out MaxLove Project and Pueblo Tapas!

The sisters and I made ravioli for Christmas Eve (Spinach pasta with butternut squash and Lobster and Crab ravioli), we had Christmas breakfast with the Moms and Christmas dinner with Dad.

Then T and I headed up to Mammoth where he is skiing and there is just a bit of snow falling right now. We went to Mono Lake one afternoon and are planning on having a cozy New Year's Eve in with the Fish Whisperer.

It was a bit nastalgic to look over my photos from the month of December. Made me realize I need to take more photos of people! It might be the coming of a new year and the time spent with family and friends, but I am thankful for my life and all those in it. Here is to looking forward to a great 2015! Cheers!


Inspired: Rich Dad, Poor Dad

Year of the Horse (2014) has been a pretty inspirational year. I have found myself inspired by little and big things. Even bad things inspired me to be a better person. I guess I just started looking for the silver lining when ever I found myself in a cloud.... which wasn't too often luckily.
I can't remember who recommended I read the book Rich Dad, Poor Dad; but someone did and I picked it up at the library a month or so ago. I slowly worked my way through it (renewing a few times) and have just completed it. In a nutshell, the book is about a kid (Robert) and his friend Mike who ask Mike's Dad (Rich Dad) how to be rich and the lessons the author Robert T. Kiyosaki learns from his "Rich Dad" and his real Dad who he calls his "Poor Dad" because that dad never made any money. The book is full of stories and lessons and while some of the things Robert does to become rich are a little dated (the book was published in 1997) the overall book is inspirational and informative. So much so that I got some other books at the library about the same subject. If I had owned this book I would have underlined a lot of little sayings Robert had but the only two I wrote down were:

"Often in the real world, it's not the smart that get ahead but the bold." -Robert T. Kiyosaki

"Listening is more important than talking. If that were not true, God would not have given us two ears and only one mouth." -Robert T. Kiyosaki

He makes a good point that we are not taught how to be financially literate in our society and that really hit home for me. I had just recently started thinking about retirement (it's a long way off right now) and this book helped me realize I was not taking responsibility for that part of my life. It helped me step back and look at some of my grown up investments. It also helped me look at my own consumerism with a critical eye. Now granted, maybe that is not what everyone wants to do so this book might not be for you, but like I said, I am looking to be inspired, and this book inspired me.


December Solstice 2014

Happy December Solstice 2014!  In the Northern Hemisphere we call it the Winter Solstice and it is the day with the shortest amount of daylight.  In the Southern Hemisphere it is the Summer Solstice with the day with the most amount of daylight.  For this reason people call it the December Solstice because it is a solstice in both hemispheres.  Looks like I DID learn something in geography....

In honor of the short amount of daylight we will have today, I slept in and waited until the sun was up before getting out of bed.  This is not a usual occurrence for me. I usually am up before the sun and have seen more sunrises than sunsets in recent years.  I still deny being a "morning person" because I am not a very happy person in the morning, just someone who happens to get up early.  Like most people who work....

Now that I think about it, maybe I should have watched the sunrise today...because the pagan solstice is about the rebirth of the sun, but I think today is when they celebrate the rebirth starting tomorrow because the daylight starts to lengthen again tomorrow.  So a sunset tonight and a sunrise tomorrow should be just fine.

But T and I did celebrate life with an amazing Prime Rib feast last night with old friends and fabulous weather.  I think we should make it a tradition.

Do you have December Solstice traditions, or are the holidays tradition enough for most of us?


2 nights in Morro Bay

A few weeks ago I had the opportunity to go to Morro Bay, CA as part of a field studies trip.  I previously went to the Eastern Sierra and then Death Valley on other field study trips and it was nice to visit the central coast while doing this one.  T and I went to Cal Poly and lived in San Luis Obispo for five years.  Every time I visit that area I miss it and this was no exception.  We had fabulous weather, the students were AMAZING, and I got to learn and explore new places on the central coast.

Our first stop was Coal Oil Point in Santa Barbara where we learned about the snowy plover, grey whale migration, coal seep, water basins, and a ton of other things.  It was a truly inspiring place and one of the really cool things about it was that UCSB (who owns the land) is working on keeping the beach open to the public while also working on all these preservation efforts.

We were camping and stayed at the Morro Bay State Park group campsite.  It was separated from the other sites with the golf course on one side and a view of the Los Osos and the estuary on the other.

Day two was filled and after breakfast and packing a lunch we hiked Black Hill to get a panoramic view of the area. We learned about the physical geography, the ancient volcanic activity, and a little history of the famous smoke stacks power plant.  

Our next stop was the Elfin Forest, where all the flora has been stunted because of the growing conditions. The forest spreads over ninety acres and has eight different eco systems.  Here is a photo of the group under the stunted Coastal Live Oak grove.  The blond on the right was my driving buddy Joel.  He was rad and totally photo bombed my photo here.

Next we stopped on the Embarcadero for a little urban / cultural geography.  We found an injured seal and Mo called wildlife rescue while the students explored the cute beach shops.  It was an perfectly beautiful day.

From the Embarcadero we went to The Rock for a geography lecture and to see the Peregrine Falcons that live on The Rock and the Sea Otter Nursery.  The wind had picked up and it was cold out there! Here you can just make out the male falcon.

And here is Joel, chain walking after the geology lecture.  He is a rock climber, can you tell?  Every rope, chain, and fence post was calling his name.  As a person who trips over her own feet, I was a little jealous of his balancing techniques.

 That evening we played two truths and a lie and the next morning we packed up camp before visiting the estuary boardwalk and the harbor.

This was one of my favorite field study trips.  The students were truly fantastic.  Our weather couldn't have been better and Mo organized everything so well.  Everyone worked together to make the trip a success and I was glad I got to be part of it!  Now should I do the one this summer to Yosemite and Sequoia National Parks?