Plants in the Patio

Pots in the Patio

My patio project is, in reality, never going to be done.  I somehow manage to under-water or over-water my plants.  But it looks pretty nice these days so before I kill something else, I thought I’d share some photos.

This is a part three of my little patio makeover.  Last September was the first stage.  It was a great start and a huge improvement.  Just a few weeks ago I finally pulled together a table, umbrella, chairs and cushions for the second phase.  I’m really pleased by what a difference these items have made and I’m happy to see them every time I walk through the patio.

Rem listed the other chairs we decided we didn’t really like (not these ones) on Freecycle and found someone very happy to take them off our hands.

Table & hanging pots

The latest addition are the pots that hang on the fence.  I got them from my sister, Kathleen, and had them rattling around in my trunk for awhile.  I moved them into storage over the winter and finally got them planted and in place.

Pots on Fence close up

They are little metal baskets holding terracotta pots that hook onto the fence.  It doesn’t really hide or disguise the fence but the bright pops of color draw your eyes away from the gravel, cement and chain links around them.

one pot on fence

My idea is to change out the plants throughout the year.  Maybe mums in the fall and poinsettia’s at Christmas time.  Or, knowing me and my brown thumb, I can always just stack them back in the storage area.

For now they look nice in the corner with the new outdoor furniture.  As for the plants around our front door area, I added more succulents to replace some of the plants that were struggling.  A rosemary topiary is a little dried out but I think it’s going to be ok.

New pot of succulents

Big rosemary

Freezing weather took out the mint but it came back.  Then scorching weather flattened it but it came back again.

Mint in blue pot

Tripod stand

Another succulent in a small pot looks nice in this tripod stand we got at Urban Ore in Berkeley.

Spider Plant

The spider plant is thriving, the succulents look good and the rosemary…well, it’s not in the best shape.  But maybe it will survive.


The neighbors cat, Kitty, or as Rem has dubbed her, Kitty McNibblit, adds to the warm and welcoming feel of the patio.  She’s very friendly and when she’s outside she’ll greet anyone who walks by, rolling over and meowing for petting and treats.

Angled umbrella

Even though I don’t sit out here every day, it is attractive.  Sometimes when I walk through the patio on the way to work, just seeing this inviting spot makes me anticipate the end of the day or the weekend when I know I’ll spend some time under the umbrella, enjoying the flowers, the sunshine, a book and a snack.  In fact, I think I’ll go out there right now.

Thanks for the visit.





Filed under Life

Father’s Day. Ouch.

Father's Day Pennant Card

I’ve been wanting to write a little post about project ideas for Father’s Day.  But thinking about Father’s Day just made me feel sad and so I didn’t do it.  I’m trying to put the best spin on things and be really grateful for all the wonderful years I had with a great dad.  I’m a silver lining kind of person.

But Father’s Day still makes me sad.  I asked Rem if we could make plans for an outing today.  Both so we could have a nice day together and also so I could be busy and not think about it being Father’s Day.  We’re leaving soon to take a ferry into San Francisco to attend the North Beach Festival.

I’m sure we’ll have a great day, but I’m missing my dad and remembering making this card for him.  I also gave him this paper rosette.


Of course it made him laugh, which was good.  He said I was his favorite middle daughter.  I was his only middle daughter, but good to know I ranked as favorite, right?

Happy Father’s Day to all Dads.

To those of you missing your dad, I get it.  Hold on to the good memories.

Thanks for stopping by.


1 Comment

Filed under Crafts, Life

Skydiving Video & FAQ’s

3 seconds into dive

Here is a link to the video from our skydiving adventure on Rem’s birthday.  Make it full-screen for the best viewing experience!

In the photo, above, you can just see the plane by the instructor’s head.

There is a little bit of strong language, so consider yourself warned.

Since we made our jump, I’ve answered a few questions about the event.  So here are a few Skydiving FAQ’s:

Q:  Did you jump from a plane?

A:  Yes.  A very small plane.

Q:  Does it feel like a roller coaster when you jump? 

A:  No.  Neither of us had that lose-your-stomach kind of feeling.

Q:  What does it feel like?

A:  When my chute opened, my harness became very uncomfortable.  Like getting a mammogram uncomfortable.  But I’m a plus-size woman and I’m sure that made it more uncomfortable for me.  Rem said his wasn’t uncomfortable.

At first, it is really noisy with wind and pressure and you don’t know what is going on.  It is a huge adrenalin rush.  After the chute opens, it is very gentle floating.  Except for the harness discomfort, it was really amazing.

Unfortunately, my goggles weren’t on snug enough and they were pushed up on my face and so I really could not open my eyes during the free fall.  I’m still not sure if that was a bad thing.

Q:  Are you crazy?

A:  No. Well, maybe, but I’m glad I did it.  I felt as if I would regret it more NOT doing it than doing it.

Q:  Have you always wanted to do this?

A:  Nope.  But Rem said he’s been wanting to for years and I just decided to go for it.  When I was in my 20’s I toyed with the idea but never acted on it and haven’t felt a pressing need to do it.

Thumbs up

Q:  Were you scared?

A:  YES!  Very scared.

Q: Was Rem scared?

A:  I don’t think so.  He really had a blast.

Q:  How high did you jump from?

A:  12,000 feet.

Q:  How long did the free-fall last?

A:  A little less than a minute.  But it seemed like a very long minute.

Q:  How long was the rest of the ride  (once the parachute was opened)?

A: About four or five minutes.  Rem’s instructor did some fancy loops and turns that took them down faster even though they jumped after me and my instructor.

Q:  How was your landing?

A:  Great.  Rem landed on his feet.  My instructor had us land on our rear ends and it was really gentle.  No sprains or broken bones, no scrapes, bumps or bruises.

Q:  Will you do it again?

A:  Doubtful.  But I didn’t expect to do this at all.  So anything is possible.

Back on earth

In the video, just after our chute has opened, the instructor, Cliff, asks if I “had fun,” I was still in a state of mental chaos. My response is a squeak but what I said was “I think so.”

At about 1:07 on the video, you can see the little step or platform out the window of the plane.  This is where we put our feet just before jumping.  The door of the plane is opened, and we scooched into position sitting in the open doorway with our feet on that platform, I grabbed the straps of my harness and the pilot tipped the plane. Cliff, my instructor, pushes off as we drop away from the plane.  It wasn’t like “1-2-3-JUMP!”

By the way, when doing tandem jumps, the instructors have reserve parachutes should the main chute fail to deploy.  There is also a device that will activate the reserve chute if a certain altitude is reached without the main chute being opened.  Although I didn’t know this last Sunday, I’m comforted by the idea.

I also read that a person is more likely to die being hit by lightning than doing a tandem skydive.

Thank you for all the great responses to our adventure.  See more pictures and read the post about our jump here.

Credit to Cliff and Tyler of NorCal Skydiving for video and still footage.  Rem took a few stills used in the video.  A big thank you to Rem for editing it into one piece. ♥


Filed under Life

Rem’s Birthday Surprise? SKYDIVING!


I surprised Rem with the gift of a tandem skydive for his birthday today, something he’s been wanting to do for years. I surprised myself by jumping too.  I went first.

My instructor, Cliff from NorCal Skydiving in Cloverdale, California, is the one with blue hair.  He’s wearing a GoPro camera.  Thanks, Cliff, for the ride and the photos.

Harnesses on

Rem loves surprises and only learned about 10 minutes before we got to our destination what his present was.  I made reservations earlier in the week, which means I’ve had more time to be anxious about it.

Once we arrived at the airport, Rem was delighted when I told him I would be taking a tandem skydive too.

Sardines in a Can

The small plane is noisy and we fit inside like sardines.  The pilot is on the lower right, my instructor’s feet show on the lower left, Rem and I in the middle and his instructor, Tyler, is in the back.  Tyler also had a GoPro camera so thanks to Tyler for some of the photos.

Holding Hands

This is before my harness is attached to Cliff’s harness.


Now we’re attached and John, the pilot, has just reached across us to open the door.  Yikes!  After some awkward maneuvering of limbs both Cliff and I manage to get our legs out and our feet on the little platform outside the plane.  It is even noisier, cold and really scary with the wind buffeting us.



It really wasn’t a matter of jumping but just hanging on to the straps of the harness.  I closed my eyes.  John tilted the plane and we simply fall into the sky.  I said a bad word.

Free Fall


The view

Can't. Open. Eyes.

Good thing Cliff was taking pictures because I could NOT get my eyes open.  It could have been that the goggles slipped.  But at this point we were free-falling at 120 mph.  So maybe it was just fear.

Tandem Jump

Meanwhile, Rem was starting his dive.


Fly's through the air

Back with us, Cliff pulls the chord and the parachute slows our fall.  I’m able to open my eyes and even take off the goggles.

Thumbs Up

This relieved thumbs-up is just one minute after the picture at the top of the post.

Big thumbs up

Rem and Tyler in the distance

Cliff points out Rem and Tyler, the speck in the distance.  Tyler (with Rem’s approval) does some crazy, swooping turns.

Rem and Tyler's parachute opens

I’m quite happy that Cliff just guided us gently down.  The hotdogging gets Rem down faster and they land first.  Tyler was able to get pictures of Cliff and I coming in.

Almost back to earth

It was truly awesome and…I’m really glad to be back on the ground.  I’m proud of myself for doing it.

We made it!

Two Thumbs Up

Happy Birthday, Sweetie! I love you at all altitudes.

Thanks for stopping by.










Filed under Life

Prettier Patio Part II

Pretty Patio

Last September I wrote about a mini-makeover of our apartment entry area in this Apartment Curb Appeal post. I wanted to find a table and chairs to put in the corner but I put it off for the winter.

It isn’t a very picturesque spot.  Up the cement stairs from the car port, a chain link fence separates you from the gravel roof.  It is just an area you walk past when you go in or out of the apartment.

Patio Before

With warm weather, I got back to the project to create a usable spot to sit on our shared patio.

My sister Sarah gave me this cute metal table and I stored it away until I could find chairs and an umbrella.

Green metal table

The table folds up, making it easy to store during the winter.  It has some nice little details, like the punched out design on top.  I like the green color and the scrapes and scratches that add character.

Design on table

During the Fall, Rem and I went to Urban Ore in Berkeley, a treasure trove of recycled goodies.  We found a pair of black metal chairs for the bargain price of $10. They needed some refurbishing and went into storage to await better weather.

I’d love to say that I fixed the seats of the recycled chairs, spray painted them turquoise and stitched up cute cushions and then tell you how you can DIY! But I didn’t, so I won’t.

Cushion Pattern

When we pulled the old chairs out and looked them over, we decided that even with repairs, they didn’t feel very comfy.  I wanted to start using the patio and knew we needed chairs that we could sit and relax in.

Over the Memorial Day weekend, I went shopping! I had seen these chairs at Cost Plus World Market another time but this time they were 30% off with a better choice of colors. Win.

Turquoise Chair

OSH had patio umbrellas on sale and they had one in turquoise.  Perfect.


The final touch: thick, comfy cushions from Bed, Bath & Beyond, with a discount coupon.

Blue Patterned Cushion

So, from this:

Corner of Patio Before

To this:

Table, Umbrella soft

I’m so pleased with how it all came together.

Coming soon – an update on the potted plants on the patio.

Thanks for your visit.


Filed under Life

Thinking About My Dad

Daddy Red Turtleneck

Saturday, May 24 will be two years from the day my dad died.  I’ve  been thinking about him.  The other day I saw something that made me smile and I immediately thought of telling  him about it.  A vendor at the Farmer’s Market was munching contentedly; a carrot in one hand, a bottle of hot sauce in the other. I imagined telling my dad the story and knew he’d think it was funny but in less time then it takes to read this sentence, I remembered he was gone.  With an ache in my chest, I knew I couldn’t tell him about it.

I haven’t been going to his grave as often as I did the first year after he died.  It’s been a few months at least, and it’s been on my mind to get down there.

This weekend I had the opportunity.  Rem and I were house-sitting for my mom and on Sunday morning, he needed an early-morning ride to the ferry.  He was heading into San Francisco to take photos at the annual Bay to Breakers footrace.  After dropping him off at 5:40 a.m., Molly and I went down to Fernwood.

The sky was just growing light.  A thin, grey comforter of fog was draped along the upper slopes of Mt. Tam.  Molly was delighted to be out of the car and went up the path ahead of me.

The hillside is covered with rattlesnake grass, wildflowers and eucalyptus trees.  Oh, and some poison oak too.

Hillside Fernwod

It is only as I got closer that the stone marker was visible.

Papa's Tree

Papa's Stone

Roses for Papa

I laid some flowers and cried some tears.  I told him that Caitlin was graduating at Chico and that was where Mom was.  I talked about how sick Beau has been but that we’re so relieved he’s improving.  I sang two songs and watched some hawks circling up high above the trees.

As I walked carefully back across the hillside to the path, I searched for feathers but didn’t see any.

Molly was full of energy and I had plenty of time to wander around the cemetery, something I kept thinking about doing and never taking the time in my many visits down there.  Molly romped ahead, sniffing around and happy as could be.  I was thinking about my dad and how much I miss him.  I thought about how many lives were represented by the stones around me.

One message caught my eye and made me smile.

It all comes out in the wash and a little chocolate never hurts

Comes Out in the Wash

I think I would have liked this woman!

The positive attitude that came up with those words lifted my spirits and made me try to re-frame my sadness. I focused on all the wonderful years I lived with my dad in my life instead of the last three; the year of struggling with cancer and the two years since he died.

It made me think that although these gravestones represented loss and grief they also represented peoples lives.  Many stones have a name and two dates and little else, yet whole lives are lived in the space between those two dates.

As I followed a trail, I found a section of older graves and stones that were cracked and broken.  Some gravestones only show one date or a very short span of days.  Others list the age of the deceased and many lived short lives.  The oldest year I noted was 1907.


On their website, Fernwood states the cemetery has existed since the late 1800’s.  Again, instead of thinking of all of those people dying, I walked around and thought of all those people living.

I saw this fragment of stone that just showed a single date.  I don’t know if Valentine’s Day was remembered as the birthday of a loved one, or the date someone lost a loved one.

February 14

Walking around, exploring the cemetery, was very peaceful.  I looked through the trees at the view of Richardson Bay.

View from Fernwood hillside

Looking down the hill I see the pyramid skylight on the Fernwood Funeral Home, reminding me of the Louvre Museum in Paris.

Pyramid Skylight

Some things I had glimpsed while driving past and now I had I time for a closer look.

Like the Buddha statue in a tree.

Buddha in a Tree

A rustic gate open to a path curving around the hillside.

rustic gate

A beautifully carved wooden Buddha sits atop a rough base created from a tree stump. In spite of missing a finger, he was very serene.


Little talismans have been left in his hands: a bit of shell, a rhinestone rabbit  with a wreath of rhinestone flowers, and a sweet little green clay cat. with a pink neck scarf.

Rabbit & Cat

Dia de los Muertos figures dangle on a cord around his neck, holding a dried orchid in place.

Face of Buddha

Day of the Dead figures

Molly and I have had a nice hike and I was in much better emotional shape than when we’d arrived.

Time has softened the blow of losing my dad.  The grief and sadness aren’t gone but they aren’t here all the time either.

Our family will be gathering to celebrate my brother Beau’s birthday on Sunday.  I imagine there will be lots of good food and laughter. We’ll probably share stories about Papa, and catch up with each others lives.  If we think of something that he would have found funny, I believe it will honor his memory if we share it and enjoy a good laugh.

Dad 50th Anniversary

Here is a link to the post I wrote last year at this time.  That post includes links to other posts written about my dad.

Thank you for your visit.







Filed under Life

Corn Dog Mini Muffins

Cut Open Mini Muffin

Have you seen these on Pinterest?  I’ve been wanting to try them but it wasn’t until I bought two mini muffin pans that I found in the housewares section of T.J. Maxx that I made them.  They are simple to make and if you like corn dogs, I think you will enjoy these.

I don’t eat hot dogs very often but every once in awhile I crave a corn dog.  Here I am with a giant corn dog at a street fair a few years ago.

Big Bite of Giant Corn Dog

This monster was probably the biggest corn dog I’d every had.  It was ginormous!

Dipping the Dog

It was coated in a thick layer of cornmeal batter and deep fried to a deep, crispy brown.

Vat of Frying Corn Doggies

It was delicious, but not exactly a guilt-free treat.

So the idea of a miniature corn muffin with a bite of hot dog in the middle was very appealing to me.  Baked, not fried and small enough to have a few and still be ahead of the game (or at least as compared to eating one of those fried street fair corn dogs).

Corn Dog Muffin Ingredients

Corn Dog Mini Muffins

Yield: 21 to 24 mini muffins


1 8.5 oz box of corn muffin mix (makes 6 to 8 average-sized muffins)

1 egg

1/3 cup milk

3 or 4 jumbo hot dogs  (I used Hebrew National beef franks)

nonstick spray

mustard (to serve – optional)


Combine muffin mix with egg and milk as directed on package of muffin mix.

Muffin mix with egg and milk

Side note: Did you know that the President of Chelsea Milling Company, makers of Jiffy Baking mix, is named Howdy Holmes?

Howdy Holmes

I didn’t either.

Anyway, back to the recipe.  Stir just until dry mix is moistened.  There should be some small lumps.

Lumpy Muffin Mix

Spray the muffin pans with nonstick spray.  I used a paper towel to kind of spread it around in each cup.

With two spoons, drop about a rounded tablespoon of muffin batter into each muffin cup.  I made 21 muffins but could probably been a little more careful spooning it out and stretched it a bit.

Spooning Batter

Next cut a hot dog into pieces.  I tried cutting the first one into 6 pieces, not quite an inch each.  The hotdog was about 5.5 inches long.

6 pieces of hot dog

I wanted a high ratio of hot dog to corn muffin. But after baking the first pan, I realized I could make the pieces a little smaller and still achieve the results I wanted.

9 piece hot dog

I cut the next one into 9 pieces.  I think I could have cut each hot dog into 7 pieces to make it all even for 21 muffins, but if you stretch your batter to 24 muffins, you’ll want to cut each hot dog into 8 pieces.  Or use all four hot dogs in the package and cut each one into 6 pieces. Got that?

I experimented with the placement of the hot dog pieces in the batter.

Muffins Different Ways

Next time I make them, I’ll  scoop out a little dollop of batter, put the slice of hot dog in and only partially cover it with batter.  I liked how the ones with a little hot dog peeking out of the baked muffin looked.

Bake in a 350 degree oven for 12 to 15 minutes.  Serve warm.

Baked Baby Corn Dogs

Here are some that I baked with the pieces of hot dog turned on the side rather than with the cut side up.

Each muffin is about two bites and they are really tasty with a  bit of mustard.  One small warning: the second bite of the mini muffin is a little precarious as the tender cornmeal crust tends to crumble as you bite into the more resilient hot dog.

I took some for lunch to work on Friday and they warmed up very nicely in the microwave.  A toaster oven would probably be even better.

The best part is they completely satisfy my corn dog craving!

Wiener Dumpling

Rem calls them Wiener Dumplings.

Thank you for visiting.





Filed under Cooking