Saturday, December 27, 2008

Round Robin Challenge: Favorite Toys

"It is never too late to have a happy childhood."

-Tom Robbins

Karen's choice for this RR is "Favorite Toys." We don't really collect toys per se, and I was never really a part of any of the uber Toy sensations in toys, such as Beanie Babies, but we do like good old fashioned board and card games. We had some classic games that Alan had as a child, but they were lost to the hands of a thief some years back. Now we mostly have the card games and a few board games like Monopoly and Balderdash. Skip-Bo is Alan's favorite of the card games, my favorite is Quiddler. Fun. I wish I could find Masterpiece, or Stock Market at a toy store again. I should probably take a look around eBay, I know Alan would love to get one of those old games some birthday or Christmas. For now we have Skip-Bo, which we play so often, that I just got a brand new set for this Christmas, to replace the set I got last year! We play it a lot!

I love stuffed animals, as a little girl that would probably be considered my favorite toy. I had a small stuffed skunk named Stinky, and a stuffed turtle my brother brought back from Vietnam. I still have the turtle, but he is packed safe away in our storage room outside. I still love that turtle after all these years. I have a multitude of bears scattered around the house, which for some weird reason the cats have shown no particular interest in. LOL. I guess the stuffed Christmas bear was something special in their eyes. My very favorite stuffed animals is a Boyd's moose, I named him Ross, after Ross Perot. LOL. He is always on my bed or on my desk. When I have a good pout on, I have been known to drag him from room to room. LOL. He just makes me smile, so it's nice to have him around. Moose are such beautiful animals. I wish it was practical to own one. Yep, I am one of those crazy old ladies who still loves stuffed animals at the advanced age of 46!

Be sure to visit all the participating Round Robins, by clicking on the links below!

Linking List

Karen... Outpost Mavarin

Carly... Ellipsis

Connie... Far Side Of Fifty Photos

Marina... Milepebbles

Em Dy... Captured Beat

Jama... Sweet Memories

Suzanne R... SuzyQ421's Photo Blog

Marie... Photographs & Memories

Linda... Mommy's Treasure
**Welcome New Member**

Sherrie... Sherrie's Stuff

Molly... Return of the White Robin

Gattina... Keyhole Pictures

Terri... Ways I See The World

Valerie... Rosemary's Other Baby

**Don't forget to find out what our next challenge will be! Drop by the official Round Robin blog later this weekend to find out all the details! See ye next year!

Berkeley, California
December 2008

Friday, December 26, 2008

Tra La La La La La La La La

Q. What do vegetarians wish for Christmas?

A. Peas on Earth goodwill toward men!

Is that the face of a bad kitty? Yep, that is indeed the face of a bad kitty! LOL. No, actually, that is the face of a kitty who is hopelessly in love with a stuffed Christmas bear. As with all children, the Christmas tree has been an almost unstoppable temptation for my little boys. The lights, the bears, the ornaments, it's all so inviting, that I ask you, what's a kitten to do? Well, he investigates! LOL. Their mommy could have avoided the trouble by not putting up a tree, but why do that? It came as a wonderful lesson in boundaries, that I am proud to say has taught Hendrix the word NO! He now knows the word, and Dylan, who you see in the picture, responds best to hearing his name, said in a very disappointed tone. They are great kittens, and for the most part, the Christmas season has been smooth sailing, especially with the new big Santa sack we bought at Costco to hold the gifts until Christmas morning.

Santa came in the wee hours of the morning on Christmas morning, and he was a generous soul this year. I got a new bracelet, and some music, a SIMS2 expansion pack (Apartment Life), a new warm luxurious bathrobe in powder blue. A new apron, which has an original hand drawn design on it, by a local designer! It's FABULOUS! A new set of cookie sheets and a turkey roaster, and a new cookbook from The Cheeseboard Collective, here in Berkeley. I LOVE that place. Imagine, if you will, 600 kinds of cheese all in one room! LOL Don't even get me started about the bread! Oh my, there is just nothing like one of the Asiago rolls warmed slightly, and served with a big bowl of tomato soup, and a Cranberry Vinaigrette salad.

Alan got some new music from Santa as well. The Best of Bob Dylan and the best of Jimi Hendrix. There is going to be a lot of music playing in our house this year. Hendrix is crazy for Three Dog Night, and Steppenwolf. Whenever I put their music on, he just cuddles right into me, and cuddles. Dylan is more of a Harry Connick Jr. fan me thinks. I listen to his music often, and when I do, it is usually Dylan's turn to snuggle in. Alan also got a new brown sweater, and a pair of slippers, from Hendrix. Hendrix likes to bite his daddy's feet, so Santa, and Hendrix, thought that new brown slippers would be the perfect solution. :) Cozy.

It's been a great Christmas this year. There was a moment or two of sadness as we remembered those who couldn't be with us. Alan's brother Darryl, our friend and landlord P. and of course, Elvis. I will miss all of them forever. It has been such a difficult year, losing all three, but they were here in spirit. Darryl is a constant presence in our hearts, as we think about all the fun we had once upon a time. And I couldn't help but think of "P" as I cooked our Christmas dinner. He got me a new stove just a couple years ago, 3 days before Christmas. Thanks again "P." And I already told you about all the little happy surprises concerning my Elvis this Christmas. He was THE WORLDS BEST KITTY. Now he is HEAVEN'S best kitty. Be sure to ask for him when you get there. He will be the one in the tuxedo. Meow. :)

"Bad Kitty"
Berkeley, California
December 24th, 2008
Late Evening

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

All Is Calm, All Is Bright

"It came without ribbons, it came without tags, it came without packages, boxes or bags. Christmas can't be bought from a store... Maybe Christmas means a little bit more."

-Dr. Seuss

We have had a magical day today. It started out with a wonderful good morning kiss from Hendrix. I had been feeling a bit sad last night, because I knew I wouldn't be getting my Christmas Eve morning paw pads and kisses. In the 11 years that Elvis was my boy, he always woke me that way on Christmas Eve. But this morning, as if by magic, Hendrix filled in for Elvis and kept the tradition going, by purring softly in my ears, and giving me a gentle little kiss. It was a perfect way to start my Christmas Eve. Happiness. :)

Around noon, I picked up a box at the Post Office, it was from my friend Martha. Inside was a wonderful garden stone, in the shape of a paw pad, and when I turned it over, it had Elvis's name on the bottom. He loved my garden, so of course, it was such a sweet surprise that it moved me to tears. Thank you Martha! I immediately placed it next to a new rose that bloomed this week, and opened fully this morning. A Green Ice rose, one of his favorite in the garden. It has a sweet/spicy scent, and he loved to sit next to them. He just loved flowers. Elvis is definitely here in spirit. I feel him with me even as I type this. :) Martha, you were a part of the magic today, I will always remember you for that! :)

Later in the day, after delivering some Christmas good wishes, we came home and Alan and I gave each other a special ornament. We have been doing that each year on Christmas Eve, since we discovered the Christmas Fantasy in Tilden. They have some really gorgeous ornaments, and it becomes our official first gift to each other every year. One new ornament. Later in the day, we played some serious reindeer games with the kittens, which is always fun. The boys are all tucked in now, and Alan have the rest of the evening to just enjoy ourselves. They are going to be so much fun tomorrow, when they open their presents and socks! I am sure I will have more pictures, so keep checking back!

A Christmas Story is playing on TBS for the next 24 hours, and we will probably watch at least one showing of it. It's our favorite holiday movie, but I have Miracle on 34th Street, the Sebastian Cabot version, saved in the DVR, and I enjoy that one too, and yet, It's A Wonderful Life is also on tonight, so I am not really sure which one will get our attention. LOL. Too many good choices. No matter what we end up watching, I am already so happy this Christmas that I suppose it really doesn't matter much. :)

Well, Alan is almost done making the Latkes, so I am off to dinner. Yep, he is making dinner! Life is good.

From Our House To Yours...


EMPS #17: Holiday Greetings

"There are no rules for good photographs, there are only good photographs."

-Ansel Adams

I thought it would be fun to play along with everyone else this week, so, here is my entry for the EMPS. This is a photo gone way wrong. LOL. But it has a fun quality to it that I am proud of in a weird way. I find it visually appealing, so I thought I would post it and see what all of you think. :) Feel free to play art critic, tell me what you think. Good photo? Bad photo?

And now my Holiday Haiku...

A Prayer Before Christmas (Haiku)
By Me :)

Lights Dancing Like Stars
A Prayer For Peace On Earth
Peace Begins With Love

Have you done your Monday Photo Shoot Assignment yet? If not, you have until next Sunday evening at 9:00 PM ET to play along. You can get the assignment here.

Don't forget to come by later tonight to see Dylan and Hendrix's Christmas greeting. See you later tonight!

"Peace On Earth"
Berkeley, California
December 2008

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Who Needs Rockefeller Center?

"Too bad Lassie didn't know how to ice skate, because then if she was in Holland, on vacation, in winter, and someone said, "Lassie, go skate for help," she could do it."

-Jack Handy

I have been watching movies and TV shows for years that feature skating at Rockefeller Center, in New York City, and I would daydream about how beautiful it must be to see it in person. New York City is at the top of my wish list of places to see one day, I would especially like to spend the holiday season there sometime. I would like to see the Macy*s Thanksgiving Day Parade, and then the rest of the holiday celebrations throughout the season, finally bringing it all together by seeing the New Year come in while partying in Times Square. Romantic isn't it? Well, I am beginning to think that daydream won't be happening for me, but I am not too upset, because I think I have the next best thing right here. Holiday Ice Skating at Justin Herman Plaza on the Embarcadero, in San Francisco.

I don't know how to ice skate mind you, but I love watching the folks who do. The families, the couples on dates. Grandparents with the little ones. It is a nice vibe. You can't feel bad inside while watching them have fun. Happiness is contagious. I know of what I speak. For years and years I let ghost of Christmas past bring me down, which can be absolutely miserable for yourself and those around you. Finally, I pulled the chip off my shoulder, and removed the stick from my bum, and got on with the business of living happy. A few years ago, someone I loved, left my life at Christmas. I miss them so much sometimes, but life has gone on. I think of them at the holidays, and wish them love and happiness, and I spend a couple minutes in that reflection, then I move on. What else is there to do? Yes Mr November, sometimes I still miss you, but you were right... life will move you forward...

...And into the light if you are lucky enough to have the will to embrace it. "But how can I appreciate Christmas when it has been so commercialized?" Christmas hasn't been commercialized, that is a silly thing people say when they want to feel superior. Christmas is what you decide it is. Hanukkah is a celebration that everyone can participate in, Jewish or not. It's about miracles after all. New Year's Eve really doesn't have to come with pressure filled declarations of resolutions, it can simply be about the the chance to start over, with a better attitude. I think about these things while I watch the ice skaters at the Embarcadero. After all, I got up this morning, not everyone will be that lucky today. Life, and the holidays, are what you make of it, you can't expect others to fill the void you have, you have to make your own happiness. There I said it. ;)

Now... on with the skating...

The Gorgeous Tulip sculpture at Embarcadero Center. This is one of my favorite pieces of public art in the Bay Area. :)

If you need a bit of uplifting reading, I came across a different take on the old holiday classic, It's A Wonderful Life. The new approach concerns what it would be like if George Baily had Type 1 Diabetes. Go give it a read.

"If George Baily Had Type 1 Diabetes."
By Carey Potash ) dLife

"Skating In The City"
Justin Herman Plaza
San Francisco, California
Saturday, December 20th, 2008
Late Afternoon/Early Evening

Monday, December 22, 2008

Ellipsis Monday Photo Shoot #17: Holiday Greetings!

"Wishing you the blessings of warmth and good cheer this Holiday Season."


This photo shoot assignment is now closed!

Here is your chance to play greeting card designer! With all the holidays happening in December, the Solstice, Christmas and Hanukkah happening this week in particular, I thought it would be nice to create a HOLIDAY GREETING for our readers! Simply use your camera's editing software to create a holiday hello on one of your original photographs. You can pick any holiday, or observance in December, including New Year's Eve. If you don't happen to celebrate the Solstice, Hanukkah, Christmas or Kwanzaa, then create a more general greeting card design, but if possible, I would like to see greetings that fit the holidays celebrated in December. Lets see some HOLIDAY GREETINGS!

Extra Credit: Write a Haiku to accompany the photographic greeting!

If you are unsure how to write a Haiku, you can find some simple instructions by clicking here. If you are still having difficulties, feel free to email me any questions and I will try to assist.

As always, you have until 9:00 PM ET next Sunday to complete your photography assignment, post it to your blog or journal, and comeback here with the direct link. Please, NO HYPERLINKS. You must submit the full direct link to be added to the Linking List, which will be posted the following Monday. Be sure to add a link to your entry back here, so others can find the photo shoot and play along!

Linking List for EMPS #16: Autumn Meets Winter. 12/15/08


Julie..."As winter creeps closer and closer the free water slowly gives way to the ice."

Karen did both assignments and brings us a bow in a box, and a bear with a bell.

Sherrie shows us a first dusting of snow, and a beautiful bell that hangs in her backyard!

Liz wrote us a beautiful poem to read, as she shows us the transition from autumn to winter.

Terri photographed carrots in the snow, snow on a beach ball, snow on a clothes line, and Zen bamboo.

Suzanne shows us the beauty of autumn meeting winter in Oregon.

Tammy posted a gorgeous Christmas tree, a snowy puppy, and trees with autumn leaves, frosted with fresh fallen snow.

Jama found some brightly lit colorful bows around town, plus some bells in an archway, and a pretty red bow on her favorite candle.

Nancy posted a photo of snow on the limbs of a tree, with the some magnificent autumn colored trees in the background that seem to go on forever.

Connie also did both assignments, she brings us a lovely autumn photo of ducks swimming in some very cold water, and a glass ornament that contains within, a bow and a bell!

Mike photographed for us, an autumn leaf encased in some ice. Beautiful. :)

Nicely done everyone! I know this will be a busy time for everyone this coming week, so I want to take a moment to wish everyone a HAPPY HOLIDAY! Now GO BE PHOTOGRAPHERS! See you one week from today with the LL for this week's photo shoot assignment!


Sunday, December 21, 2008

The Last Autumn Sunset Of 2008

"I didn't ask for it to be over, but then again, I never asked for it to begin. For that's the way it is with life, as some of the most beautiful days come completely by chance. But even the most beautiful days eventually have their sunsets."


Last September, just a few days before the seasons changed from summer to autumn, I was on the San Francisco peninsula, doing some photos along the coast. We had the most beautiful sunset that night, so, in that I knew I was going to be busy the rest of the week, I decided to stop in at the Point Montara Lighthouse photograph one of the last summer sunsets for the year. It was absolutely spectacular!

As most sunsets do, that one inspired me. I thought about maybe doing a last photograph of each seasons sunsets, if the weather permitted. It was looking like I was not going to be able to capture the last sunset of autumn, do to all the storms we have had recently, but yesterday was completely clear, absolutely gorgeous. Warm, sunny, and lovely start to finish. The weatherman said it would be the day to get all the last minute holiday deeds done, because it was going to last only one day, the last full day of autumn!

We have everything done, so we used the opportunity to go across the bay into the city, to watch the ice skaters at Justin Herman Plaza at the Embarcadero Center. December has been such a blink for us, that we hadn't had the chance to get over there until yesterday! Actually, the ice skating rink has been there since mid November, but as I said, time has just been a blink! I will share those photos after Christmas, this entry is all about the sunset, and how it looked from Treasure Island, facing back toward the Embarcadero. I love it during this time of year, with the buildings downtown outlined like packages! I love San Francisco. :)

The Last Summer Sunset Of 2008!

"Last Sunset Of Autumn 2008"
Treasure Island
Oakland/San Francisco California
December 20th, 2008

Happy Hanukkah

"May love and light fill your home and heart at Hanukkah."


The Festival of Lights begins tonight at sundown. Happy Hanukkah everyone! I am making dreidel cookies a little later on today, and tomorrow Alan and I will be making a traditional Jewish feast together. He enjoys cooking as much as I do, and every Hanukkah we try to make a new recipe. Tonight it's Brisket in Wine Sauce. I found a number of wonderful new recipes at All of them are pretty simple, and so far they have come out just right. Alan is making the Latkes on Tuesday night, which I am really looking forward to. :) That isn't really a new recipe, it's a lighter version I developed after I learned I had Type 2 Diabetes. It's really delicious, and while I am eating a different version, it's just as yummy. Facing a diagnosis of diabetes wasn't the worst thing that ever happened to me, in fact, it has taught me a lot about nutrition. That's a blessing. :) It's a good time in our house, the holidays bring the best out in both of us. Happiness is a good thing.

From our house to yours... HAPPY HANUKKAH!

Happy Hanukkah 2008