Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Words of Wisdom

"The mind is like water, when it is agitated it is difficult to see, but if you allow it to settle the answer become clear."                                           -Master Oogway (Kung Fu Panda)

"Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, but today is a gift. That is why it is called the 
present."                                                               -Master Oogway (Kung Fu Panda)

Fair Isle Knits

It has been cool and crisp in Los Angeles and all my "winter" sweaters have been pulled out of the backs of drawers and closets.  It struck me, that other than one or two fun, bright cardigans, I play it pretty safe with my sweaters- lots of black and grey and brown. 

So I think I want to add something a little busier to my collection, and what better than the versatile and beautiful Fair Isle design.  With so many patterns and color combinations the options are endless! And while some can be quite loud and cheerful, others are simple and understated.  

And now that I have started to knit, I am able to recognize the effort and skill that must go into every Fair Isle design. I can't even comprehend how you could knit with so many colors and make such small patterns!  

These first two pictures are from the Fair Isle website and show authentic sweaters made from start to finish on the island. I liked the look of the sweaters alone and then I saw them worn by adorable kids, wearing wellies, bottle feeding a lamb! The cuteness is too much!!
I am in love with this picture. Seriously.

This one isn't as pretty as the hand made ones above, but for those of us who can't actually get to the Fair Isle area to buy an authentic homemade sweater, going to the mall to find a substitute might be an option ;) 

Oh! This is my one of my favorites.  It is just fabulous looking! I love the use of just a few colors, not quite as cheery as some of the other designs, but I'd probably wear it a lot more too.  This sweater reminds me of a sweater my mom used to have from the 70s or 80s- it was the same cut but hers was dark blue and grey. This one is a bit out of my price range (I have never owned a sweater that costs over $400) but I guess that is what you have to pay for the designer name.  Maybe one day, a long long time from now, I'll be good enough at making sweaters that I can make this one for myself! 

I even found a little something for the kitties, so they can enjoy the pretties of the fair isle design- this little mouse is a repurposed sweater and is filled with catnip, I believe.  You can find just about anything on Etsy!

To learn more about Scotland's Fair Isle, go to http://www.fairisle.org.uk/

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Edmund Dulac Prints

The Real Princess
I happily stumbled upon the art of Edmund Dulac while searching for something completely unrelated. I am so impressed with his use of color and attention to detail- but I am more in love with his subject matter.  He paints images from beautiful stories.  The painting above is from one of my favorite stories as a child, Hans Christian Anderson's The Princess and the Pea. And his representation is so close to how I imagined that scene as a child! For those of you how don't remember the story, I have reprinted it below- (it has the best moral ever!)

There was once a prince, and he wanted a princess, but then she must be a real Princess. He travelled right around the world to find one, but there was always something wrong. There were plenty of princesses, but whether they were real princesses he had great difficulty in discovering; there was always something which was not quite right about them. So at last he had come home again, and he was very sad because he wanted a real princess so badly. 
One evening there was a terrible storm; it thundered and lightninged and the rain poured down in torrents; indeed it was a fearful night. In the middle of the storm somebody knocked at the town gate, and the old King himself sent to open it. It was a princess who stood outside, but she was in a terrible state from the rain and the storm. The water streamed out of her hair and her clothes; it ran in at the top of her shoes and out at the heel, but she said that she was a real princess. ‘Well we shall soon see if that is true,’ thought the old Queen, but she said nothing. She went into the bedroom, took all the bed clothes off and laid a pea on the bedstead: then she took twenty mattresses and piled them on top of the pea, and then twenty feather beds on top of the mattresses. This was where the princess was to sleep that night. 
In the morning they asked her how she slept. ‘Oh terribly bad!’ said the princess. ‘I have hardly closed my eyes the whole night! Heaven knows what was in the bed. I seemed to be lying upon some hard thing, and my whole body is black and blue this morning. It is terrible!’ 
They saw at once that she must be a real princess when she had felt the pea through twenty mattresses and twenty feather beds. Nobody but a real princess could have such a delicate skin. So the prince took her to be his wife, for now he was sure that he had found a real princess, and the pea was put into the Museum, where it may still be seen if no one has stolen it.
Now this is a true story.

Edmund Dulac's paintings are not only based on fairy tales, he also has some beautiful representations of other literary works, including Edgar Allan Poe poems and Shakespeare's plays. I like the one below of Prospero from the Tempest.
He Grew Strange in Secret Studies

If you have a happy moment to spare, I advise looking at some of Dulac's other works- his paintings of the Little Mermaid and the Arabian Nights are lovely! And I love his depictions of the Snow Queen as well. To see some of his other beautiful work, or to find out more about him follow the links below.  The first link is the one that I found first, and it led me to the second link, which is his official page.  I believe prints can be purchased for both site- for a pretty reasonable price! Might make a nice gift for someone one your shopping list!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving!

I wish everyone a happy and heathy Thanksgiving! There's a lot for me to be thankful for this year- and I hope to carve out a few moments on this day to reflect on all the good things in my life.  My actual Thanksgiving day celebration this year is going to be a minimal affair, but Matt and I celebrated together a few days ago at the Thankful Turkey Celebration at Animal Acres. Visiting that place, and seeing the goodness in the people who work there and the visitors that support them always warms my heart. I am very thankful that I get to go there each year- to renew my spirit and get me in the Thanksgiving state of mind.  

And Thanksgiving would not be the same without turkeys.  So the rest of my Thanksgiving post is dedicated to that big, strange, pretty, bird that we don't give nearly enough respect! 

Let's Talk Turkey!

Wild turkeys can run at speeds of up to 25 miles per hour.

Benjamin Franklin wanted the turkey to be the national bird of the United States.

Turkeys have excellent hearing and vision- their field vision is about 270 degrees.

Turkeys sleep in trees, they fly to roost around sunset. They especially like Oak trees.

Turkeys can see in color.

Gobbling turkeys can be heard a mile away on a quiet day.

Baby turkeys are called poults, and are tan and brown.

The male turkey is called a tom; a female is called a hen.

Tom turkeys have beards, black hair-like feathers on their breast...hens sometimes have beards too!

Some studies claim that turkeys have been on Earth for 10 million years!

Turkeys will have 3,500 feathers at maturity.

Turkeys' heads change colors when they become excited.

The ballroom dance the "turkey trot" was named after the short, jerky steps that turkeys take.

The costume that Big Bird wears on Sesame Street is rumored to be made from turkey feathers.

There are a number of cities in the United States named after this amazing bird: Turkey, Texas, Turkey Creek, La., Turkey, N.C., There are also nine townships around the country named "Turkey," three in Kansas.

June is National Turkey Lover's Month!

So this Thanksgiving, I give thanks to the turkey.  I've gotten to know a couple of them personally through the functions at Animal Acres.  I have to admit, even as an animal lover, I was surprised how loving turkeys can be to us humans! The few I met ate from my hand and like to be pet! 

And since this is my happy blog, instead of being sad about how many turkeys are *inhumanely* slaughtered for our thanksgiving tables, I am going to focus on how more and more people are trying vegetarian and vegan thanksgiving celebrations. It really is a growing trend! I see the Tofurkey flying off the shelves at my local grocery store! And that's just one option- the recipes for a vegetarian thanksgiving feast are endless- people are enjoying all kinds of hearty, rich, cruelty-free food! Just check out these mouth-watering dishes!

But, for some of us, it's just not thanksgiving without a bird on the table.  I like the look of this one! Festive and regal, just like the real birds! How great would a tofu-turkey or one of the other delicious dishes above look served out of this?? 

Or, if you're artistic, you could try your hand at edible art, like the woman in the picture below.  She made a turkey centerpiece using local vegetables- its so fresh, fun and colorful!  This is the kind of turkey I would be honored to have grace my Thanksgiving table!  Follow the link below her picture to find out how she did it.   And if anyone makes one, I'd love to see it!

Of course, there is one more way to celebrate with a bird at your table for Thanksgiving... 

Gobble Gobble!!

Golden Gate Park

Golden Gate Park has got to be one of the best places in the world.  It is exactly what an urban park should be- an oasis of nature in the heart of a city and a community space for all kinds of activity.  My big bro lives right next to the park, and while I don't get up north nearly enough as I'd like to, visiting him always has the added bonus of taking a nice walk. Below are some pictures of the last time Jason, Mary, Matt and I walked through the park together- it was hard to choose which picture to share because I had so many beautiful shots! Every view on our walk was picturesque, but these few make me especially happy.  (Especially the duck and the turtle, who posed for me!)

My next visit to San Francisco is all planned and I have tons to look forward to during my few days there- a Golden Girls Live! show, a Burrow-riffic Christmas, Walt's Museum- but I am also really excited about another stroll through the park.  The park has so many special places that every time I walk through I get to "discover" some new place. 

Siblings on a bridge

I almost stepped on this guy! Gotta watch where I'm going.

Flowers? or Ladybugs?

Snow-Shoeing v. Cross-Country Skiing

I have something to look forward to-which is really helping me gear up for finals. In just a few weeks I am going to go on a trip up north, which will feel like three trips in one.  The first leg of the trip is all about the snow in Tahoe! I don't ski.  One of these days I am going to commit to learning, but as of now I don't have it down. My exposure to skiing has been a day or two on the bunny slopes-practicing, falling, learning- separated by a year or two without any skiing at all. By the time I am on the slopes again, I have forgotten the little I have learned and I have to start all over again.

Well, not this year.  We are only going to spend 2 full days Tahoe so I am not going to try downhill skiing again. Instead, I am going to go for cross-country skiing! I have done it before and I remember it being fun.  It is not the same kind of exilirating fun that downhill skiing is, I am sure, but it is fun nonetheless.  I hope that it will be as easy as I remember it being. I'd really like to go off and have a peaceful afternoon, seeing birds and enjoying the scenery and getting a good workout all the while.

Or, I might try snow-shoeing for the first time.  I can have my peaceful trek out into nature that way too. I'm a little nervous about it for some reason- I know it is just walking, but it seems like it might be harder than it looks. Anyone ever done it before? I'd love to know how much of a challenge it is.  

Either way, I am really looking forward to a couple of days out in the snow and a couple of nights bundled up in a cabin with friends- which is the really fun part for me.  I am getting happy just thinking about it!

snow shoe tracks

Cross-country ski tracks

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Whimsical Wellies!

Yesterday it rained- which is not something that happens regularly in sunny Southern California.  I spent yesterday on a farm, a farm animal sanctuary, actually.  This is also something that doesn't happen regularly.  Rain + Farm = Mud!  There was lots of puddles and muddy walkways- my beat up sneaker didn't stand a chance. I needed some wellies! Some modest, practical, fun-loving wellies!

Lots of people wore wellies to the farm yesterday, including the friend that I went with.  Hers were black and had a couple of straps near the top with made them extra cute.  And while my friend was still quite cold and wet from the rain and the wind, those boots kept her feet dry!

Not only do wellies score high points for function, they also say something about their wearer.  A person who wears wellies is ready to get dirty.  They are doing yard work. They are stomping in mud puddles.  They are the folks running to catch their bus who are not afraid to get their shoes wet. They are the people in the picture below who have found a spot to enjoy an outdoor music festival.

And wellies come in so many colors and patterns- from standard black to the boldest florals.  There are so many choices- too many almost! I think that is why I have yet to buy a pair.  Do I want black? Or hunter green?  Yellow polka-dots? Plaid? Rainbow flowers? How do I choose?  If I lived in a rainier place, I would want a closet full- but in LA, if I need them at all, I really only need one pair. Decisions, decisions... Hmmmm- this girl looks pretty happy with her red ones!

Cowboy Love

This is Cowboy. I am in love with him.  He was brought to Animal Acres last June after someone found him trapped by shopping carts in an alley in West Hollywood.  He is now six months old and he is the most beautiful, gentle, sweet baby cow in the world.  Yesterday, at the Animal Acres Thankful Turkey Celebration, I got to give him some loves and he gave me some back.  I miss him already!

Cowboy's story was in the paper- if you want to know more, or donate for Cowboy's care, there is information at the end of the article about Animal Acres-


All ready for Thrusday's midnight showing... 

Friday, November 19, 2010

Sleeping with Stories...& Artist Unknown

Before I go to sleep I think about where I want to go in my dreams.  I imagine fantastical places- full of wonder and peace and beauty.  Sometimes, my pre-dreams thoughts are as simple as a walk through a meadow full of fragrant blooms, or even the layout of a tidy and comfy home full of charming nooks and lovely things.  Other times, I build on an elaborate story that I am trying to piece together.  

My pre-dream thoughts rarely dictate my actual dreams, which are still bizarre and slightly disturbing in the way that only dreams can be. But I enjoy the ritual.  It is my way of clearing my mind of all the real sensory input it has accumulated throughout the day- the work load, the television, the news- and preparing for sleep.

Reading before bed helps me do this (or listening to Matt read, rather).  Especially when we read wonderful books that take us into a fantasy.    

This post was inspired by this lovely piece of art that I found online.  I have searched but I cannot find the artist.  It looks like there might be a signature on the bottom left hand side, but I cannot make it out.  Regardless of who painted it, I simply love it.  I assume that the books this girl is snuggled under are full of wonderful stories (it just wouldn't be the same if I pictured them full of legal cases or tax codes- the horror!) If anyone knows of this artist, or how to find him or her, I'd love to know.  I'd like to thank the artist for combining two of my favorite things- sleeping and stories- into one simple and serene scene.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

A Happy Potter Picture on Etsy

I found this picture while I was doing a little online shopping on one of my favorite sites. It is a shot of teenagers wearing paper crown, sitting in a field and reading Harry Potter to each other.  How totally happy!! This picture is for sale on Etsy, and I have provided the link to the store below. I ought to buy it myself, since it makes me happy to look at it, and it makes me happy to support the independent artists on Etsy.  (Or maybe it can be my christmas present, Matt-- hint hint) 

HP7: Deathly Hallows!

Tonight I am going to see the midnight showing of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.  Its a tradition for Matt and I to go to the midnight showing of each Potter film.  I think we've done it for all of them except the first two (if I could turn back time...!)  We wait in line with tons of folks, young and old(ish), and we are all excited for what we are about to see.  This year will be no different, except...I have already seen it!

A couple of days ago, Warner Brothers held a sneak screening at LA Live, and Matt asked his cousin Robert- the most awesome person ever- to get us in.  Our names were put on the list, and we were treated like WB execs! We got all kinds of royal treatment, not to mention, the best seats in the house! Tonight's showing we might not get as lucky with our seats- but it will have different perks... like fans in costume!

Don't want to discuss the actual movie- which was great, and different, and exciting- but it had to make it onto the happy blog.  I mean, there are few things that give me instant gratification like a good movie, and a Harry Potter movie, well, that takes the happy to a whole other level. Especially one on a big screen! And I am still super excited to see it tonight, everything went by so fast the first time!

On a little side note- Robert, the most awesome person ever, has come through a lot for us before, especially when it comes to Harry Potter. So thanks Robert, for all the awesomeness and for giving me so much happy!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Kitty Cuddles

Nothings is as blissful as a cute kitty cuddle.  And they are happening left and right at our place.  Here's a few from the last couple of days...

Anywhere is a good place for a nap and a cuddle!
Against a pile of stuff to donate to charity...
On the unmade bed...
Under Matt's desk...

Go-to Grateful

Let us be grateful to people who make us happy;
they are the charming gardeners
who make our souls blossom.  -Marcel Proust

I have taken a week off from my blog--something that I didn't plan to do. In fact, I had intended on posting something everyday (November is national blog month, or something). My intention to write something everyday wasn't foiled by the usual suspects. I wasn't too busy--even though life is even more hectic than usual-- I could still clear a minute or two to share something that makes me happy. It wasn't that I've been too lazy, either, which is often the reason I do not complete my to-do list. This last week, I just didn't feel happy. I felt scared and sad and anxious.

I heard bad news. News about a friend. The kind of news that reminds you that life is not fair, it's unpredictable and that bad things happen to people you love. This news just sat with me all week.

I visited my blog each day last week wanting to add something; not just for my own "post-something-everyday" goal but becuase I wanted to add a little happy to my world (which is why I made this blog to begin with). But I didn't add anything, I didn't feel like it.

I've decided to jump back in by sharing the most positive thing I have felt this last week- an overwhelming sense of gratitude.  So instead of focusing on the bad things happening around me, I've decided to remind myself of all the wonderful things in my own life.  I want to train myself to make gratitude a go-to feeling when I am unsure how to react to something.  Its been a slow process to pick up- anger, fear, worry- they are all easier for me to access but they aren't the most helpful feelings.

And there is another good reason to remind myself about all I have to be grateful for- it's that time of year. What better time than Thanksgiving to take the time to focus on the positive things in life.  So I am not going to wait until the 25th, I am giving my thanks now-  

I am grateful for my health.

I am grateful for my family- my loving husband with whom I feel so connected, my furry baby kitty boys, my brother who is my favorite person to talk with, both of my wonderful sister-in-laws, my father who lets me act like his baby girl when I need to, and my mom who is my guide.

I am grateful for my friends- They have given me joy and support for so many years.

I am grateful for my home- I have a bed. I have running water. I have a big tv ;)

I am grateful for animals- they have wisdom that I do not. Through them I feel connected to the world. They bring out the best in me and I feel so grateful to humans who dedicate their lives to making things right for all creatures.

I am grateful for my sense of right and wrong and for my own spirituality.

I am grateful for my sense safety.

I am grateful for my sense of individuality- I can speak my opinions. I can vote. I can come up with new ideas.

I am grateful for my green eyes.

I am grateful that I can read, and travel, and sing, and learn new things, and have hobbies.

I am grateful for imagination. 

I am grateful for food.  It is delicious and nutritious and I always have more than enough. 

I am grateful for my dreams... and my hopes for the future.

Thursday, November 11, 2010


I feel grateful for moms.  Well, specifically, I am grateful for my mom.  She leads by example.  She is tough when she needs to be and gentle when she needs to be.  She asks questions. She gives advice. She is still the first person I turn to when I get bad news and she is always there to listen, and often more than that.  She acts. Sometimes her acts are nothing short of heroic.  She gives what ever she has to give.  She works hard. She tries.  She is still learning new things everyday.  She treats the sick the way she would want to be treated if she were sick. She laughs at herself, and at the rest of us. She snuggles with her dogs.  She knows a lot of useful information and she is resourceful.  She gives encouragement and criticism but stops when you've heard enough. She shines in times of crisis and yet sometimes she can be oh-so-silly.  I am happy she is my  mom.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Reading Nook

Who doesn't love a perfect reading nook?! Personally, I like to be kind of cozy and secluded when I curl up with a good book. Natural light and lots of pillows make just about anywhere feel like a good place to read.  I used to read so much more than I do these days, and I want to get back in the habbit.  Maybe if I copied one of these great little reading spaces in my own home I would have my nose in a book more often! (I bet if I got rid of the huge flat screen television in my livingroom I would read more often as well...). 

But these reading spaces make me happy- I love all of them!  Each one is totally different from the next (especially the tree cove found in a public library's kid section) but each one has something great about it. 


Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Daisy Chains

I have been feeling a little sentimental lately.  It's getting closer to the holiday season, I miss my family, school stress is settling in for finals and I just got over a cold.  All of this makes me think of pretty carefree times (or at least, that's how I choose to remember certain days from the past).  I have also been thinking a lot about my friend Marisa- one of my hometown girls who is coping with a great loss.

I remember the day Marisa and I became friends.  I am sure we knew each other prior to this afternoon (small town and all) but knowing one another and forging a friendship are very different things.  We were in high school- and it must have been lunch time (or else we were cutting class) and we went to the park- just the two of us.  The park in Ukiah has a pool and a giant rocket to climb... well it seems giant when you are a kid, I have seen it recently and I think it must have shrunk! It also has a large uninterrupted grassy area with a few shady trees.  Marisa and I laid on the grass beneath one tree and talked.  And as we talked we made daisy chains.

I had made them before, as had she, but for some reason that moment stuck out in my memory and now I always associate the pretty delicate circle of flowers with Marisa.  Daisies are prefect friend flowers- they make me think of laughter and smiles, youth and ease.  They are humble and sweet and pretty.  They are also very happy.

I'd like to go back to the park with Marisa and talk and laugh and see if we can still make daisy chains.  It's been way too long since I have put flowers in my hair! 

Monday, November 8, 2010

Pumpkin Cakes

Last week I made Pumpkin cakes- and they were pretty good! They are super easy, and  since the recipe calls for a box of cake mix, its not cheating!

Just combine one box of spice cake mix, a can of pumpkin, 1/2 cup of applesauce and any little goodies you want (it calls for cinnamon chips, but they are hard to find... you can use chocolate chips, or caramel chips or nuts- whatever you want!)

Put them in an oven at 350 degrees and back in oiled or papered muffin pan for 25 minutes.  They smell great baking and they come out fluffy and a little gooey. And very good!  They were so easy I've decided to keep the ingredients on hand in case I ever have to whip up something sweet!