This weekend we went to The Ecology Center in San Juan Capistrano. What a pleasant surprise this place and event was! We partook in some beer tasting as well as a “talk” from sustainable beer producer New Belgium Brewing Company. Very cool talk, very good beer and very beautiful and interesting venue. It was a gorgeous fall day which helped hit off the weekend to a wonderful start.

It was interesting to tour The Ecology Center after the tasting and talk. They have a lovely garden with numerous types of vegetables and California Native plants as well as a water garden made from upcycled trash cans, a chicken coop and several vermicomposters.

The rest of the weekend was pretty busy with stops at the Antique Market (looking for dollhouse furniture… I did pretty well and even found some lovely china I could not pass up as well) and the farmers market for pumpkins, persimmons and sweet potatoes as well as getting some laundry done and some fall baking (I wasn’t going to let the 80 degree heat put a damper on my fall baking)!

Hope you had a wonderful weekend and I hope you have a lovely week! Happy Halloween!













Some Flooring and Wall Paper- A Dollhouse Update

I finally got the chance to work on my dollhouse this past weekend and wanted to post my progress, limited but none the less progress…

One of my fellow bloggers pointed out to me that this dollhouse was in fact a vintage Lundy dollhouse circa 1960’s/1970’s and I should be careful with the vintage details. I accepted this interesting information about my dollhouse and with a bit of trepidation, I ever so carefully went to work, using museum putty instead of glue and scrapbook wall paper instead of paint.

I started with some wood flooring from large scrap tiles from Home Depot that I cut up into smaller planks and fit together. I only got to two rooms but I think I am going to finish the house with them.

The bathroom needed an over haul and so I chose some little stone tiles to lay down to cover up the dated orange floors. I’m not sure if I like the look of the tiles just yet and so I haven’t puttyed these down. I did add in some wall paper to cover up the bathroom walls and I do like the new blue walls.

I will be working on the bathroom some more, but I do like the lighter aura it has now with all the lighter colors.


The upstairs children’s bedroom was plain but the original wallpaper was in pretty good shape. I wanted something a little more “baby girl” for the “child’s bedroom” so I went with some scrapbook paper I had lying around.


I think the colors of the wall paper go nicely with the blue floors so I’m not sure if I want to lay down wood here?

And last but not least I made my first teeny tiny pennant with some vintage pillow case fabric. It was very hard hot gluing these little guys onto ribbon, but it came out pretty nicely and all of a sudden welcomed my imagination into this house that’s coming together ever so very slowly… I was busy favoriting things on Etsy this week and will be scouring the flea market this sunday for dollhouse finds. I’m also talking to my engineer husband about putting in some solar power and helping me with a “living roof” I think would look lovely. What excitement over a doll house! How are your doll house reno’s going?

Monday Musings

It was quite a long weekend with sick dogs, a husband away, dollhouse renovations and a lovely visit with friends. But, I managed to get a lot done and even become inspired by a few things I found this past week. I hope you become inspired too…

– Just finished this book. And I’m now trying to see things in a different perspective.

– My good friend’s hard work is finally paying off in this beautiful, and delicate collection.

– Love this idea of bringing good local food, farms and lovely dinners together and when they are in California, I will be sure to try it out.

– Would like to try this challenge but not sure if I have it in me yet.

– A wonderful young lady at the Farmers Market we go to every weekend gave me a few eco-friendly links to check out. I had no idea  this (and this) was so close to me!

– Planning on attending this next weekend with my beer savvy husband.

-Planning on also attending this next sunday to hopefully boost my dollhouse’s furnishings.

– And I finally caved and signed on to this and boy has it been inspirational as well as a time sucker! I can spend hours looking at things here!

Fall Gardening

I keep reading about all these lovely plans for fall gardens on other blogs (usually bloggers who live on the east coast). Well, here in California its still not feeling cool enough for it to really be fall. I decided after doing some delicate research in my container balcony garden that it was time for some containers to be turned over and replaced with new “fall gardeny” plants.

I planted a few pots with purple broccoli and swiss chard I bought from the Farmers Market. After a brief caterpillar invasion was thwarted by my nimble caterpillar pinching fingers, the broccoli is doing wonderfully and the swiss chard is growing like mad.

I also worked through one of the window boxes that held strawberry plants and flowers and replaced a dead strawberry plant and flower with sage and feverfew. They seem to be happier in this location. (The feverfew wasn’t doing so well in its previous home as you can tell by its browning. Hopefully that will subside and it will perk up with a little more sun).

It’s just the beginning to what I would like to do. I find myself already dreaming up next spring’s garden and the things I will do differently. But, for a person who always killed any plant I touched just a few years ago, I think I am doing pretty well for a new gardener. We had a tiny bounty of tomatoes, basil, peppers, blueberries and cucumbers this year and I am mighty proud of all that I produced!

Happy Weekend!


A Terrific Trip

I have been meaning to get to the wonderful trip I took with my husband back to the east coast so here’s a peek into our quick but glorious week out east…

Every year we try and visit my husband’s family in Boston. I have always gone either during the summer or the winter. It has always been really sticky hot or very freezing cold, so it was exciting to finally get to visit during the fall and as I’m a California girl it was also going to be a highlight to see the much anticipated foliage of the east. We spent a few days in Boston visiting with family and friends and then the two of us headed up the coast to Maine. This had also been something I had always wanted to do and we thought October would be the perfect traveling weather to do so. It certainly was beautiful weather. In fact almost too nice. I was hoping for more of that fallish crisp air and it was in fact almost 80 for most of the days we were there. It was lovely stopping in all of the coastal villages along the way to Portland. I loved the town of York where we got to see our first lighthouse of the trip.

and another highlight off the beaten path- Popham Beach State Park.  We spent awhile out there walking along the beach, sitting on driftwood and just relaxing by the shore.

We stayed in some lovely bed and breakfasts while in Portland (we stayed here and here if you’re curious), my husband was patient with my requests to stop in every yarn and fabric store up the coast. We had dinner at a fantastic, original restaurant and we even stopped at “the best lobster roll shack in Maine”.

But, I think my favorite thing was walking through Portland’s Farmers Market. Oh boy was it different than the ones here in Southern California.

rows and rows of delectable vegetables and fruits, an array of color and freshness that I have never seen in California.

It really felt like fall seeing all those heirloom pumpkins and ghords, corn and apples. Never have I seen so many varieties of pumpkin. It was so much fun walking through the market. I couldn’t leave this beautiful farmers market without anything so we bought some homemade cheese and apple cider for the road back to Boston.

We spent a few more days in Massachusetts, said our sad farewells and had a very good flight back to California. I love the east coast and all its beauty and after spending time in Maine and specifically Portland, I now have a fondness for the quirky, historic port city. For this California girl, the east coast certainly has a piece of my heart.

A New Project

My husband and I have returned from a wonderful vacation in Boston and Maine. We spent a week on the east coast visiting with my husbands family and then just the two of us drove up the coast through Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Maine for a couple days during the week.

I will get more into detail about the trip a little later this week but right now I wanted to talk about my new project.

I have been trying to encourage myself to be more creative and recently I pledged to do something “out-of-the-box” creative once a year. Last year, I worked on a really neat avocation called The Sketchbook Project. This year I didn’t have anything quite like The Sketchbook Project (I did start this blog which has been quite a creative endeavor) but then Laura from Lolalina posted about Design Star Emily Henderson’s I’m…a…Giant…Blog Challenge and I knew that this was what my “creative out-of-the-box project” would be for this year. I was and am so excited about this! I’ve always wanted to work on a doll house of my own but always felt too old to do so. I thought that when I had kids I would be all over something like this, but kids have not yet happened  and after reading Emily’s reasons why one should take on this challenge I thought these reasons were the perfect excuse for someone like me to do this. So today I woke up early and headed out to the Long Beach Antique Market in hopes of finding my dollhouse so that I could begin this fantastic project. Lo and Behold, there sitting in the first little stall was a pretty basic, perfectly priced dollhouse. It was in fact fate and I snatched it up quickly, took it home and started immediately dreaming up how I would fashion and furnish this doll house of my very own.

I’m hoping to make as much as I can for the furniture and details as well as scouring next month’s flea markets for additions to my doll house. I will post my progress as often as I can (shooting for weekly, but we will see) but as for tonight, I will be using last years creative project ideas with this project and start sketching out my plans for the dollhouse. A good quote to encourage work on my project (that I have hanging in my preschool classroom) is ” Play keeps us vital and alive. It gives us an enthusiasm for life that is irreplaceable. Without it, life just doesn’t taste good.” – Lucia Cappocchione

So here I go… let’s play!

Monday Musings

My husband and I only have five days before we leave for our trip so I’ve been checking out all sorts of restaurants and other fun things to see and do in Maine and along the way. Anything we should put on our list?

Here are some things that I’ve been musing over…

Making sure we have reservations for next week.

I wanted to start on my anniversary gift for Jeff. It’s actually a collaboration between us. Since it’s our Second Anniversary I thought an anniversary quilt was in order. He’s picking the fabric out and I will put it together for us.

Loving this book. It’s making me want to learn all I can about preserving food!

I love this idea of capturing your garden in its different phases. I’ve taken lots of pictures of my own garden, but I will for sure try this idea next spring.

Someone posted this on Facebook and I can not get enough of it. People are so clever!

I love this screen printed fabric and I am loving these towels too!

I’m hoping we get a chance to go here next week and here for some good eats.

Happy Monday! (the photo is one from my container garden… I love it’s fairy like qualities)

An Every day sort of Anniversary

Today my husband and I celebrated our second wedding anniversary. I guess you could say we’re still newlyweds, although we celebrated like we’ve been married for fifty years. It was lovely and simple and just like any other sunday… just the way we wanted it.

There was some major worm bin renovating. (More on this later).

There was some chicken stock brewing on the stove filling the house with soupy smelling goodness…

I used up the last tomatoes as well as the last mini yellow bell peppers from my garden and some tomatoes from my mom’s garden (thanks Mom!) and made for the first time, some Ripe Tomato Chutney from a great book that I received in the mail this past week – Well Preserved: Small Batch Preserving For The New Cook By Mary Anne Dragan. Since my tomato supply was so limited I ended up cutting the recipe down A LOT to make one cute little jar of chutney. But, it turned out pretty delicious and I am excited to try more preserving recipes in the future.

Here is the easy to make Ripe Tomato Chutney adapted from Mary Anne Dragan’s Well Preserved :

8 cups chopped tomatoes

6 cups chopped apples

1 cup chopped onion (I did not have an onion so I left this one out)

1 cup chopped bell pepper (the recipe calls for red but I used yellow)

2 cloves garlic peeled and minced

1 cup red wine vinegar

2 cups brown sugar

1 Tblsp ground mustard

1 1/2 tsp salt

1 tsp ground cumin

1 tsp coriander

1 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp chili powder

Prepare the preserving jars. Combine the tomatoes, apples, onion, red pepper, garlic, and vinegar in your preserving pot. Bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to medium and simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in the remaining ingredients and simmer for another 30 to 40 minutes, or until thickened, stirring often. Remove from heat. Ladle the chutney into hot sterilized jars, leaving a 1/2 inch head space. Wipe the rims clean. Seal according to manufacturers directions. Process the jars in a boiling bath for 10 minutes. Makes about 7 to 8 8oz. jars.

After making chutney I moved on to the remaining apples from the apple farm. I still had so many and didn’t want them going bad on me. So I thought since I did so well with the chutney, I would try my hand at some Apple Mint Jelly.

This one is a two day process… after cooking the apples, lemon and mint together all day, the mushy mixture has to settle through some cheese cloth over night until I have enough liquid to cook into jelly. I will be getting up early tomorrow to finish this one and will let you know how it turns out.

So with all this cooking and worm bin renovating you may be wondering what happened to those anniversary plans… Jeff and I were busy all day with our respective cooking and cleaning projects but we spent a lovely morning together at the farmers market and then spent the evening planning next weeks vacation to Boston and Maine. We plan to celebrate a little more romantically by driving from Boston (where Jeff’s family resides) up the coast to Maine and staying in several bed and breakfasts. It will not only be a welcome break from work and every day life but it will be wonderful to visit with Jeff’s family and to spend some quality time with my husband in a state I’ve always wanted to visit. Whether we are relaxing on the east coast or working diligently on household projects, I know I chose right. This man I married is something special and I am so happy to be sharing my life with him.

                                     (photo by Maria McCarthy)

Hope you have a lovely week and Happy October!!!