Tag Archives: birthday

Central Coast Vacation


Here are pictures from our recent road trip. As it included Rem’s birthday, we visited a few breweries so he could sample some beer. We drove south on Highway 101 and our first stop was at El Toro Brewing Company.  Rem tried their Ghost Chili Golden Ale, a hot, spicy beer after enjoying one on our last birthday beer road trip.


They claim it is the hottest beer in the world. Rem said it was “insane” but I think he was glad to have tried it.

Speaking of insane, with Rem at Big 5 picking up new sneakers since he left his at home, I wandered through the BIGGEST craft store I’ve ever seen: Hobby Lobby.  There were aisles and aisles of different kinds of letters: metal, cardboard, acrylic, paper, etc.




A huge selection of cabinet knobs.


This cool dresser:


And this cute pillow and poster, not to mention a LOT more stuff. It was staggering to just try and get an idea of all the crafting supplies they carried.



I’ve since learned that I don’t see eye-to-eye with this company and some of their practices, so it’s just as well there’s not a store near home.

Next stop: Monterey Coast Brewing in Salinas. This is where Rem met up with a cute blonde at the bar.


Well, to be honest, we brought her with us. This is Stella, my sister Kathleen’s long-haired dachshund. We couldn’t really bring her, so we did the next best thing and brought some cut-out photos of her, and had a great time finding new places for her to visit.

At Paso Robles, which was a toasty 103 degrees, we headed to the cool, foggy coast and our destination for the next three nights: Cambria and the lovely Olallieberry Inn, recommended by friends. The inn had a birthday special for a three-night stay: Stay over your birthday and pay the regular rate for the first two nights, and the rate for the third night is the year you were born, which in Rem’s case meant we paid $19.67.

We arrived just in time for the late afternoon wine and snacks on the deck.  An abundance of flowers in the back garden added to the charm of the inn.




After dinner out, we fell asleep in our “Room at the Top,” with a chorus of frogs outside for a lullaby.

Rem’s birthday started with decadent French Toast Brûlée, olallieberry yogurt, homemade granola and bran muffins. I left the French toast for him to enjoy and was very happy with the rest of it. It’s a good thing, because on our drive into the hills above Cambria, we stopped at Linn’s Fruit Bin and shared a mini-ollalieberry pie. We didn’t see any olallieberries and the blackberries weren’t ripe but it was still a pretty place to visit.


Stella enjoyed the scenery.




We hung out in Harmony.


It’s a tiny town, really just a few shops, a glass blowing studio and shop, and a small chapel.


Back to the Inn for our evening snacks than a change of clothes before going out to dinner.  Robin’s Restaurant had been recommended by the same friends that suggested the inn, and we had a special meal, befitting the occasion. Rem chose a curried lamb dish and I had short ribs. Even though it was his birthday, he let me choose dessert and it was not difficult to decide on the Sweet Trio: strawberry sorbet, dark, dense chocolate mousse and excellent creme brûlée. We were both surprised when they brought a chocolate sundae for Rem gratis. A sweet finish for a nice birthday.


The next day we drove back to Paso Robles for lunch at Firestone Walker Brewing Company in their Taproom Restaurant. It is a huge complex, much bigger than other breweries we’ve visited and they’re expanding.


We did a little meandering on our way back to Cambria, stopping at a few wineries, but it was pretty hot and I was looking forward to the foggy coast.

This is the ceiling in a winery that looks like a castle; Tooth & Nail.  I was able to get a few of their wine bottle labels to use in collage projects.


Back in Cambria, a full 44 degrees cooler than Paso Robles, we went to Moonstone Beach, pictured here at the top of the post. This photo is looking south and the other one is looking north.


After some geocaching and window shopping in town, we had our last evening wine (Rem) and snacks (me) at the Ollalieberry Inn before a low-key dinner out.  Each evening and over breakfast we enjoyed conversation with the owners, staff, and other guests at the inn. I was also delighted to be able to spend some time crafting in the dining room and finished a collage-painting.

The last morning at Cambria had arrived but we still had a few more days of vacation, which I will share in a future post.


Thanks for sharing our trip and thanks for your visit.










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Balloon Birthday Card


A big, red balloon was the perfect image for a birthday card for my boss: bright, cheerful and uplifting.

As usual, I went to Pinterest for ideas and found Jennifer McGuire Ink and her cute and simple balloon cards, which I pretty much copied for the card front.

Since this was a red-letter birthday (she turned 40), I wanted something extra special on the inside: more balloons!  I found more inspiration on Pinterest with a link to this tutorial video by Valita. Too bad that  I jumped in without thinking and ended up having a few challenges with the card, but I’ll get to those later.

Open the card…




Gold thickers looked great for the number 40.

The mistakes I made include:

  • Heavy watercolor paper for the card – It doesn’t hold the creases as well as a thinner, more standard card stock
  • Double-sided tape that wasn’t strong enough – I ran out of my super-sticky tape and used some Scotch tape and it wasn’t strong enough.
  • No balloon-shaped punch – Not a mistake, really, but each balloon is two pieces, so that meant tracing and cutting out 22 balloons
  • Acetate that was too lightweight – I used a sheet of acetate that is used for copying and it was too flimsy to hold the balloons up, so I had to score and fold two creases in each piece with was fiddly and made them more rigid than I would have liked.

In spite of all of this, I’m pleased with how the card turned out.

Thanks for your visit.



Filed under Crafts

Photo Album: Mom’s 80th Birthday


We celebrated my mom’s 80th birthday last weekend.  Her birthday was actually in July but this was when all her kids could be there for the event.

Mom & Grandkids

All the grandkids were there too.

Before the event, I made a batch of invitations. I photocopied this sweet old photograph of my mom to put on the front.


Each card was a little different from the next.


The party was for lunch and after considering different ideas, we ended up having it at my mom’s house (at her suggestion).

Various family members assisted and I organized the party. We decorated with paper lanterns and flowers from the farmer’s market.




Nestled in the arrangements were naked ladies, or pink Amaryllis Belladonna, flowers that my dad always loved, if only because it amused him to say naked ladies!

Here’s some naked ladies outdoors.


The day was sunny and warm but not terribly hot not like the weekend before.

Michael and Suresa.


Victoria and Caitlin, both wearing giant hoop earrings.


Robert and Leah.


Mom and Sarah.


After lunch we had dessert: Kathleen brought angel food cake with strawberries and whipped cream.


Leah made lemon bars from Smitten Kitchen.


I made brownies from the Commonsense Kitchen Cookbook to round out a trio of delicious desserts.


Victoria, Jake and Chelsea.


Caitlin, Cooper and Sarah.


Molly and Mom.


It was really a big, extended family party.


Gianna with Stella.


Stella wasn’t the only one that was tired at the end of the festivities.


Mom and I share an ottoman as we both put our feet up.


Thanks to everyone for being a part of this special day.

Thanks for stopping by.





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Vacation Album: Ft. Bragg to Sea Ranch


Looking at the mouth of the Noyo River just south of Ft. Bragg on my morning walk. State Route 1 crosses over above the river.


Businesses along the wharf have beautiful (and often humorous) signs.



“No phone, no TV, No WIFI. No problem. You are on vacation.”


I thought of you, Ariel.



Hiking up the hill to our motel I looked down at the wharf and harbor it was very peaceful.

After a bit of sunny weather in the Ft. Bragg area, going south to Sea Ranch we found it grey and foggy.

Nearly every day for the rest of our vacation was cool and grey.  Here are some pictures from Sea Ranch where we were joined by first my mom and Molly, and then my sister Kathleen.


Abalone divers getting ready to go into the water.


Low Tide on Walk On Beach.




Gooseneck barnacles and mussels on the rocks.


Rem and I made a cake to continue his birthday celebration: Double Chocolate Layer Cake from Smitten Kitchen.


The cake pans were a little smaller than called for, so we made a few cupcakes too.


I decorated the cake with nasturtiums.


The sun came out on the day we were leaving.  My mom, Kathleen, Molly and I walked at Gualala Point and down on the beach.



There was still a little finger of fog over Gualala.

It was time to pack up and get ready for our drive home after a wonderful vacation.

Thanks for your visit.

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Vacation Album: (More Beer, More Trees)


Pretty little Victorian town: Ferndale. We found many shops closed on a Sunday, but still enjoyed walking around.


Every town should have clean, centrally located restrooms like these.


The cemetery is on a hillside overlooking town.


Onwards to Eureka and more closed shops in Old Town.  We went into a  Los Bagels shop and they had this great piece: Frieda with Glitter by Michelle Graham de Martinez. (Thought of you, Vic).


More Victorians, including the Carson Mansion (hi, Carson!).


Across the street, the “Pink Lady” was built for William Carson’s son as a wedding gift.



Dinner and of course more beer at the Lost Coast Brewery in Eureka.

Rem’s birthday started grey and turned rainy. After the dry weather in Marin, it was nice to see so much green everywhere and Rem didn’t mind the wet weather on his special day.


We drove north into Redwood National Park and took a little walk in the woods.




Heading south again, we took a quick detour when we spotted elk in a campground.



We found Luke’s Joint, a little lunch place in the Arcata Plaza, because the next brewery, Redwood Curtain Brewing Company, doesn’t sell any food beyond potato chips.





After careful research (and don’t be fooled by the photos, he tried more than four beers here), he decided the Pine & Pineapple Pale Ale and Irish Dry Stout were his favorites.


The brow a LOT of different beers here and were happy to give Rem small samples so he could try more varieties.

We didn’t want to miss one of McKinleyville’s top things-to-see:



It is located, rather unexpectedly, behind a Safeway store.  Once, years ago, I took a stroll through what was supposed to be a totem pole park and somehow missed seeing the totem poles!  It was in Alaska and I guess we (hi, Lis), took a wrong turn.  So it was nice to see the World’s Largest Totem Pole, even if it was in a Safeway parking lot.



Birthday dinner was at the Six Rivers Brewery, which along with Lost Coast Brewery in Eureka, is female-owned.





We shared a very good “Sweet Heat” pizza: habañero hot pepper jelly, caramelized onions, bacon, mozzarella and goat cheese and a sprinkling of green onions.  Rem gave high ratings to the Raspberry Lambic-Style Ale and the Anniversary Blarney Stout.

A brownie-sundae finished the evening and Rem’s birthday month was off to a great start!

Thanks for your visit.





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Rem’s Redwoods & Brewpubs Birthday Roadtrip


For Rem’s birthday, we’re enjoying a road trip in Northern California that includes flights of beer and beautiful redwoods. A flight, or small sampling of different beverages or foods, is a practice that is probably better known in winemaking, but has also gained popularity in the culinary world.

Last year, we experienced a different kind of flight when we celebrated his birthday!  This is less exhilarating but I think I’m enjoying it more.

We left San Rafael heading north on US Route 101, on the segment known as The Redwood Highway. The Redwood Highway starts in Marin at the Golden Gate Bridge and goes all the way up to the junction of 199 near Crescent City.  We won’t make it quite that far, but we’re seeing loads of redwoods and enjoying the incredible scenery along the way.

From the quirky to the sublime.



Our first stop wasn’t a brew pub, but Rem was still able to sample two beers on tap.


Graton is really ginormous. Because it is on tribal land, smoking is allowed.  They have non-smoking sections and I’m sure there is an elaborate ventilation system to suck up the cigarette smoke, but it is still there and you can still smell it.  We played a few slot machines after lunch. I used a dollar from Rem and put in a dollar of my own. Oh, so exciting. I just do NOT see the attraction.

Here are my winnings:


Did I get 97 cents worth of entertainment?  Well, I would have paid that to leave, so I’ll call it a win.

Onward to Ruth McGowan’s Brewpub in Cloverdale, the home of Cloverdale Ale Company, for the first official stop on the Brewpub Tour!



Rem enjoyed tastes of eight different beers (the flights have ranged from 2 to 4 ounces in size, and he hasn’t finished all the beers in a flight).  He is using an app called Untappd to track and rate the beers.  His favorite here was the McGowan’s Dry Irish Stout.


I enjoyed the signs I noticed:


I was a little confused by this one (in the Ladies Room)…


…until I looked in the mirror. (It says “You’re Beautiful”). Awww.


It was in the low 90’s as we headed on to Ukiah and our next brewery: Mendocino Brewing Company.



A flight of nine beers for $10 is a great way to sample the offerings.  Rem particularly enjoyed the Eye of the Hawk Imperial Ale.

Our dinner that night at Ritual, also in Ukiah, kept with the theme of samples; we shared 4 appetizers (Firecracker Won Ton, Lumpia, Thai Chicken Wings and Lamb Lollipops) plus a delicious salad of greens, beets, locally-made goat cheese and caramelized walnuts for me.


Ukiah Brewing Company is adjacent to the restaurant and is no longer a stand-alone brewery.


The server told us about a specialty beer, Navarro Yarrow, but cautioned it was particularly foamy that night.  She brought Rem a sample in addition to the flight of beer he was trying, and it was his favorite of the evening.

I had a walk in Ukiah early the next morning before we hit the road.


Church mailbox in front of church.



We both dressed for the hot weather we expected after the first day.  However, the temperature never rose above the low 70’s and the scenery was just gorgeous.  It was a beautiful day. We deterred off Highway 101 to drive the Avenue of the Giants, a scenic roadway going through Humboldt Redwoods State Park.


Of course we didn’t want to miss the Drive-Thru-Tree.



We took a short walk along one of the park trails.




I was charmed by this little bunny.


Continuing back on 101, we went to the tiny town of Loleta to visit the Loleta Cheese Factory and tasted our way from one end of the shop to the other.  We didn’t try all 34 varieties they make, but we did try quite a few of them and bought some to take with us.


We backtracked to the town of Fortuna and after checking in to our motel, we walked to the next brewery on the list: Eel River Brewing.


We split an order of baby-back ribs and I had a salad.  Rem, needless to say, also had beer. His top pick here was Raven’s Eye Imperial Stout.River.

I started the next morning with a good walk along the Eel River, which is at record low levels due to the drought, but pretty nonetheless.




I will post another section of our trip soon. Thanks for stopping by.


Filed under Life

Mini Piñata


At Craft Gym last week we made sweet Mini Piñatas. Today is May the Fourth and it is my sister Kathleen’s birthday.  Happy Birthday! I’m sure the piñatas were to honor Cinco de Mayo but I thought it would be a just the thing to celebrate Kathleen’s birthday and make it an even more festive fiesta.

Unfortunately, the link for the mini piñatas on the Once Around site isn’t working, so I’ll walk you through the steps.

Mini Piñatas

You’ll need:

  • A Template (lots of online options) or draw your own
  • Pencil to trace template
  • Lightweight Cardboard such as cereal box or poster-board
  • Scissors (if you have multi-blade fringing scissors, now is the time to use them!)
  • Masking Tape
  • Colorful Crepe or Tissue Paper
  • Glue Stick or Glue such as Aleene’s Original Tacky Glue
  • String (if you want to hang it and/or to attach to trap door)
  • A large needle (to put the string through the cardboard)
  • Optional: Washi Tape to close the trap door for accessing the treats inside
  • Small Candies or other tiny treats to fill the piñata


I used some hand-cut confetti, sequins, paper hearts, felted balls and a variety of small candies to fill the piñata.

I saw several patterns online that had tabs for putting together the pieces of your piñata but in our Crafty Gym we didn’t cut any tabs, and they worked fine.

Cut two matching shapes of cardboard, (I thought the donkey was really cute, but it was a little tricky putting it together – a big heart would also be cute and much easier!) and one long strip of cardboard, about 1.5 inches wide.

Use masking tape to assemble the piñata. I started at the bottom of one leg and taped the strip to it for a few inches.  I creased the strip whenever I reached a sharp corner, then lined up the matching shape and starting taping it on the other side of the cardboard strip to form a 3-D shape.

If you want to hang the piñata up, use a large needle to poke a hole through the cardboard at the top of your shape and thread the string through the hole. I did this after I’d completely covered the piñata with paper fringe and it was pretty tricky.


I used super-cute yellow pom-pom cord that came on a birthday gift and I saved for just such an occasion. One piece is for hanging it up, one piece connects to the little trap door underneath.

Most directions suggested cutting a flap or trap door for candy removal after you’re finished assembling the piñata but I cut the trap door on the inside of one leg before I’d started adding fringe.


(Above) here is the candy door open, it is on the inside of the leg to the right) and you can just see two yellow pom poms attached to the door.

Cut tissue or crepe paper into strips about 1.5 inches wide and fold several strips together, folding in half and then in quarters, keeping the paper aligned.

Cut the tissue or crepe paper into a fringe, then unfold.

Using glue stick or tacky glue, glue two rows of each color of fringe to the piñata, starting from the bottom and working upwards.

Once you’ve completely covered your piñata, you might want to trim the fringe  so as to keep the shape of the piñata from become obscured.

Let glue dry.  Fluff the fringe a bit to give it more texture.

Fill your piñata with treats, tipping and tilting to fill every little corner.  Attach cord to trap door.


I added a small “happy birthday” tag on the cord for pulling open the candy door.

Close door and use some washi tape, if desired, to keep it closed.


Two strips of polka dot washi tape are keeping the treats inside until the recipient opens the piñata.  You might want to provide a plastic bag when you give your piñata so they don’t lose any goodies.


Thanks for stopping by.









Filed under Crafts