My life is to make everything around me beautiful.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Our 50th Anniversary Dinner and Vacation Part 2 for Pink Saturday

Welcome to Pink Saturday once again. I'm doing this early so you can read about our experiences this past week.

These are what we saw in our gardens when we got back home from California. The peonies are absolutely huge. But on with the story below the flower pictures. Do not stop reading here!

And 2 different colors of clematis on the same plant.

We arrived at my daughter's house in northern Calif. on Monday and on Tuesday she and her boyfriend and hubs and I traveled down 101 to Santa Barbara. The motel was booked on line. Let me say here the pictures do NOT do justice to the rooms. If they hadn't been so cheap at $189 a night we would have gone somewhere else. We were all disappointed in them, but as I've said many times before here we just laughed and giggled at how bad it was. Nothing—and I mean absolutely NOTHING—ruins my vacations.

My son and daughter had booked 5 rooms for all of our families. Hubs and I took a small room as it was just us and we aren't picky. BUT this place was sad. Most of the lights didn't work. The whole place was shabby instead of the perceived "ambiance and quaintness" visible in the photos. A nice regular room in Santa Barbara started at $400-$500 a night and since my son and daughter footed the bill for hubby and me we weren't about to complain. I mean they didn't let us pay for one thing the whole week. But as I said, it doesn't make a whole lot of difference to me where we stay as long as the bed sheets are clean. There were wicker settees outside of each room so we commandeered 5 of them and sat out there instead of in the rooms. Being right across from the beach was nice for the kids also.

This was our room and trust me when I say the actual room didn't look this good close up. The toilet in my son's room wasn't even bolted to the floor and moved whenever anyone sat down. Our toilet seat wasn't on tight either and at one "critical" point it slid sideways with me on it and I almost fell into the...well, you get my drift here. It was not pretty, let me tell ya. The phones in every single one of our rooms didn't work either. Thank goodness our rooms were next to each other. The closet is to the left of that mirror/alcove and there was padding on the concrete floor but no carpet. (Photos courtesy of the motel's website.)

A patio on the 2nd floor of the motel. We never went up there as stairs are still hard to climb with this foot, although, it is definitely getting better.

We had to fight for parking spaces in the motel lot. Parking was at a premium here with the beach across the street. There were 27 motel units but only 12 parking spots and only 2 or 3 on the street.

This was our son's room. He had 5 people in his party: him, wife, 22 yr. old son and 14 and 15 yr. old sons. The staff put a cot in the closet for our 22 yr. old son. Then my tall, skinny son sat in the one chair and fell through to the floor. They took the chair out to a vacant room and brought him another chair. It truly was laughable.

This was my daughter's room. My oldest grandson's girlfriend's little girl, 3 years old, had a fun time splashing in the jacuzzi tub. They are planning a wedding for next May. This room also looks much better here than in actuality.

This is how the skies looked all week down there. I think we saw about one hour of sun the whole 6 days.

I truly am not complaining as I'm grateful for my son and daughter and can adjust to just about everything. BUT it gets better, chicks...

An elegant dinner was planned for The Stonehouse at San Ysidro Ranch, ranked as one of the best hotels in the world. And it truly was elegant.

We had a party of 15: 2 babies, 2 teens and the rest adults. The menu was spectacular and pricey. The side salads were $13 each and the desserts were $14 each (Mine was caramel apple pie and just for the record my apple pie is better!). I had the Parmesan Encrusted Halibut, which 4 of the adults had, but 9 had the Steak Diane. I had a bite of my 22 yr. old grandson's and it just was incredible. My son had it and said it was better than Ruth's Chris Steak House steak and that was his favorite until this night. I cannot begin to tell you how wonderful it tasted. For those of you unfamiliar with Steak Diane, this is how it is prepared: The steak is seasoned by rubbing garlic and pepper into it and fried quickly in butter. A sauce is made from the pan juices using butter, shallots, cream and beef stock with worchestershire sauce, which is poured over the steak just before serving. I actually prepare this a lot because we love it but I go very easy on the cream. Mine has never tasted this good though because the steak was Premium! My kids wouldn't let me see the total cost but with the prices on the menu I figured out this had to be a $1300 to $1500 dinner. (A funny thing happened with Caroline and her mummy. One waiter —we had about 5 waiters waiting on us—asked Mandy if Caroline wanted anything and since she's only a year old she told him no, she was going to give her Spaghetti-Os. We all laughed at that, but she couldn't have eaten anything on that menu.) The below photo was on the Stonehouse's website as I didn't get any pictures and the kids haven't sent me any they took that night. As an aside: Jackie and Jack Kennedy spent their honeymoon at this resort.

And better yet...

The dinner was Thursday night and took us about 3 hours eating on the elegant patio in lush surroundings. We had valet parking and there had to be at least 5 valets because all of our cars were brought up from the wooded parking area at one time. But later on that night people started getting sick—daughter, daughter-in-law, granddaughter and her hubby, one grandson and Love Bunny. He went to bed that night and stayed in bed until Sunday morning. I'm not going into specifics but he was queasy and used the facilities A LOT. I stayed outside on the little area outside our room with some of the others who weren't sick. We don't know if it was something in one of the food dishes or just a bug going around but I didn't get sick.

Now, for the clincher. I told the kids "NO GIFTS" and had no reason to doubt they'd adhere to our wishes. But while sitting in that beautiful setting at that stunning table, they whipped out a gift bag with a jeweler's name on it. I was in shock when I opened it up and inside were 2 gold watches with our 50th anniversary date engraved on the backs of both watches and a little stone on each one. Brats!!! They never did listen to me. :-) Sigh.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Our 50th Anniversary Dinner and Vacation Part 1

I'm so tired I could lay this body down and go to sleep and it's only 6:15 pm. We got back home last night at about 9 pm. It was the longest it's ever taken us to travel down to California or return, but there's a reason for that. (Sit back because this is going to be a long post.)

Love Bunny got a ticket a few weeks ago. But what makes it truly remarkable is that I was with him and just a few minutes earlier we had been talking about speeding on the very road we were on when he got the ticket. It's near our house and it was in a school zone. HE said he didn't see the flashing lights on the school zone sign. (DUH!) Now, this is remarkable since it was on a corner, kids were everywhere, parents were picking kids up and I had just nagged him about speeding. (I've gotten 3 tickets in my entire life; he's gotten 5 in the last 3-4 years.) He was accelerating and got to 41 mph in a 20 mph zone this particular day. I saw the cop coming from the opposite direction and had just opened my mouth when he turned around and put on his roof lights to pull hubs over. I'm a nag when it comes to speeding. I just don't speed. No reason to. We're retired and not in a hurry no matter what.

To say I was angry is putting a real shine on it. I was furious, livid and if there were any other adjectives to describe my mood, they have slipped my brain at the moment. I didn't speak to him for about 18 hours, waiting for my anger to calm down. When I did, I told him I'd not drive with him again if this continues OR he can drive and I'll nag him each and every time we're on the road. He went for the latter. He knew he was screwed and didn't even offer a defense. Now, don't get me wrong, I absolutely hate nagging him about speeding but we can't afford any more tickets or rate increases in our car insurance. He's a very careful driver really. But he just has a heavy foot, and things don't stay in his head like they do mine. I'm great at compartmentalizing; he isn't. So that's the story of why he is supposed to follow speed limit signs now, which put our travel back from California at 13 hours instead of the usual 11 hours. We have made it in 10 1/2 when our son-in-law died, but the usual time is 11 to 11 1/2 hours.

There is a stretch of road in Oregon out in the middle of absolutely NOWHERE where you have to do 55 mph. He's gotten a ticket going through there and it's a speed trap. You can see the horizon from front to back and see no life whatsoever but it's still 55 mph because the citizens of Oregon see no reason to raise it on that 2 lane stretch of 95. There isn't a lot of traffic at any time but it's the only highway out of Idaho to Oregon, Nevada to California. So we did 55 mph for 120 miles with only 2 very tiny towns on that route. When we hit the Nevada state line we can go 70 but it doesn't make up for the time you lose going 55. Also, there has rarely been a time when we don't see a cop giving someone a ticket and this time was no different. We warn people who are taking that route to do the speed limit in Oregon. Oregonians are fanatic about their speed limits! The trucker we saw this time had passed us and we caught up with him when the cop had stopped him. He passed us again before we hit the Idaho line! Once we saw 4 different cop cars handing out tickets.
Some people never learn.

So this is just a tease of what's to come later. There is more, much more to tell you but I have things I've got to do tonight. I'll leave you with these photos of my daughter's yard.

Back yard showing her little storage shed and all the roses in the back. Her back yard has grass but the front doesn't. She's spread rock in the front to keep maintenance down to a minimum.

Her gazebo with wisteria growing over it.

She's a shopping maniac and got this old bedstead to put out there.

Her small vegetable garden is seen in the background. She had to put screening around it to protect it from here cats and dogs.

P.S. I haven't proofed this so if there are any grammatical errors or misspellings, get over it!

I'm Back from California

We just arrived home last night after 13 hours in the car. I'm pooped but I will update you on our anniversary trip later tonight or tomorrow. I have no doubt you'll be intrigued with the stories I have to tell. It was truly very eventful! So let your interest pique but until then enjoy the picket fence and roses until I can get some laundry done, pick up our mail and get a haircut for this mop-looking head of hair.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Checking In 6/9/2011

This is Miss Caroline yesterday. We're down in Santa Barbara on the ocean for our 50th anniversary with our kids, grandkids and great granddaughter. I'll have LOTS more pix in a day or so, but tonight we're out to a swanky restaurant for the celebration.

Quirky little face in this picture but she must have had something in her mouth. We love those big blue eyes of hers.

This little tag came on a present I bought for her and it was so darling I thought I'd show you. How creative is this clothing company!

A preview of things to come next week. This is daughter's back yard. More soon.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Things Are Starting to Bloom Around Here and Random Thoughts

Miss Caroline celebrated her first birthday last week and this is what I got her. I shan't post the whole thing today, just a hint of what it is. Of course, I'll do a post with her and the gift in the next few weeks but I'm going to leave you hanging until then. I can't wait to see that chick next week!

Our peony bush is finally budding out.

And our clematis has finally taken a good "root" in the soil and produced its very first exquisite flower. I cannot tell you how thrilled we are about this.


Random Thoughts:
I've been very busy on my computer this week doing what I'm supposed to be doing for my mission, but to tell you the absolute truth, I'm in a fog and brain dead from all the stuff I'm supposed to be learning. It's a lot of work mentally to learn several new programs at once. Usually, I—and mostly everyone I know—learn only one program at a time, but it's essential to have working knowledge as rapidly as possible, somewhat like learning a new job. I can't truly relate to you how frazzled I am. So I've been taking breaks watching streaming videos from my daughter's Netflix account. I've watched more videos the last month or 6 weeks than I've watched in my entire life before the foot surgery. ;-)

Funny how spy, espionage and mysteries can somehow entertain me but they take me out of MY world into...well, the real world outside of my home. It's cozy, quiet and happy in our home. Not at all like the "real" world out there. I must say that most of the acting is atrocious and vulgarity reigns in all of them. In this house we don't take the Lord's name in vain; in the movies, it's used at an expletive. I won't be watching videos anymore. Give it a try and see how much more calm your home will be.

Women must realize that when they change their hairstyle and color, it often achieves what they want to do: look completely different to any unsuspecting male.

Famous last words:
Daaaad, I'm 13; I know what I'm doing!!! (Daughter about 35 years ago.)

I'm going to join the Marines because I'm tired of people telling me what to do!! (Oldest grandson about 9 years ago.)

Most of streaming videos I watched said they were reformatted to the screen. I wondered what "screen" they were formatted for originally. Just wondering because I have no clue what that meant.

On the credits for one video it stated that one song was performed by a band called "Garbage" and it was—garbage, I mean. Why in the world would someone name a band Garbage?

My kids AND friends kid me about not texting. I just don't want that in my life. It stifles my ability to use language properly for which I'm a staunch supporter. It's teaching our young people to "short circuit" certain proper forms of communication, trash our language and their writing skills (which I'm convinced are on the road to extinction!) and our ability to communicate effectively. I need context, nuance and the warmth and tone that can only come from a human voice.

I was leaving my massage place the other day and was behind a woman at a stop sign where a woman with a sign was begging for money. The woman in front of me quickly gave her some money, but I turned my head away when I pulled forward to cross the street. It got me to thinking who was the most charitable and I'm very ashamed for that. I vowed the next time I saw someone begging for money at a corner I would give them a bit of money. It's on my head for not helping the poor, which I truly do on a very regular basis through my church, and I'm ashamed of my thoughts on that day. But I was caught off guard the next time I came upon a person begging for money a few days later and told myself to be prepared with a few dollars sitting on the console of my car. God is so good to us and we're truly blessed with everything we need and more that I don't want the Lord withholding blessings because of my selfishness toward my brothers and sisters; for aren't we all beggars? I don't want to be an ungrateful servant.