Monday, January 30, 2012

Winter Blues

It was wonderful on the water yesterday.

The hills are dry and brown this winter, but the ocean and sky were amazingly blue.

This tall ship was returning to the harbor as we headed out to sea.

I love taking our boats out on any beautiful day and especially when we can take a leisurely paddle through The Keys out into the ocean.

We launch at Little Beach where there are no waves. 

We can launch and dock with ease as opposed to the ocean where I usually take a dunking both coming and going.

Paddling through The Keys shows a completely different view of our beach community.

There was a lot of action on the water - kayakers, stand up paddlers, sailboats, you name it.

I wasn't quick enough to snap a photo of the double kayak with a third rider - their dog.

I think this is my favorite house on the water.

It is at a spot where a key meets the channel so they have a spectacular view.

I love the shingles, the brown with white, the architecture...I love it all.

As a primary color kind of girl, I am always surprised that I am drawn to gray houses.

I love the 3 sets of window on this house.

This house did not photograph as pretty as it is.

On the dock post the owner always has a pot of flowers.

The colors of this boat are beautiful.

This house always cracks me up.

It is hard to see, but in the middle of the deck there is a cannon.

The dock reminds me of the Pirates of the Caribbean ride at Disneyland.

There are barrels at the foot of the ramp that resemble powder kegs.

I had to laugh because we had just passed the tall ship when we paddled by this house.

The crew members of the tall ship were singing shanty songs for the passengers.

I felt like I was truly paddling through the Pirates of the Caribbean ride and expected to see
drunken sailors chasing wenches around the dock.

We feel so blessed to live where we do.

It doesn't get much better than this!

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Every Cottage Needs An Adirondack

Almost the first purchase we made when we bought our beach house was 2 adirondack chairs.

To me, they are the epitome of beach living.

We have adirondacks in the back yard 

and in the front yard.

There is something about the chairs that calls to people and makes them want to just sit and relax.

One morning the beach was particularly spectacular so I suggested to Steve that he "stage" a photo
of an adirondack and his colorful surfboards.

That photograph became this painting

which became this wine label.


There were actually 2 paintings

Red Chair Lookin' North


Red Chair Lookin' South

Fortunately, the label became a poster that hangs in our home because the paintings sold long ago.

The poster hangs in the homes of at least 3 of the local beach houses of friends and as far away as Oslo, Norway.

All of them framed it much nicer than we did, but we were limited in space.

When an adirondack has reached maturity, we don't throw it out.

It is simply retired to the beach where it can rest all day in the sun and watch the sunset every night .

If you are ever in the area, drop in to sit a spell - in the front, the back, or out on the beach.

Adirondacks are always waiting.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Decorating Resolution for 2012

I love my floral sofa.

We bought it in 2003 from Sofas U Love on an incredible sale - the sofa and chair together for the price of sofa alone.

I love the red flowers - they give me my touch of red without being overwhelming.

It is totally comfy.

Living with a dog who thinks the sofa belongs to her has taken some years off the life of the sofa.

Numerous washings have left the fabric weak.

 The last time I washed the slipcovers I noticed a small tear in one of the cushion covers.

My red buffalo check chair has suffered in the same way, but from the cat, not the dog.

Decorating Project of 2012 

make new slipcovers for the sofa and chair in the living room

Because our house is so tiny, I have the same colors in the dining room as in the living room.

That means I have to make a new window seat cover and pillows.

Sewing isn't an issue.

 I have never made slipcovers for a chair or sofa.

I did make the cushion for the window seat and all the pillows.

When my kids were little and I was a stay at home mom,  I sewed for a decorator.

The problem is deciding on fabric and a color palette.

Should I try all white?

My sofa with white denim slipcovers

Should I stick with my current color palette?

These are all possibilities.

Should I just make new slipcovers with the fabrics I already have?

I love this look that I found at Fric and Frac.

My walls are yellow and I really like this red and white stripe.

Although this is a task that needs to be done sooner than later, it will have to wait until summer.

In my former house, I had a sewing room.

A project this size needs time and space.

I have neither of those right now.

When school is out I will have the time and can leave out materials for a few days.

According to my Countdown app on my iPad I have 142 days to make by decision.

That gives me time to:

search Pinterest

shuffle through the 39 books I have created of ideas

skim through all of my decorating books

Something to look forward to!


Update - I went with all white.

Friday, January 20, 2012

What Lies Beyond?

I love unusual doors and gates.

I always wonder, what is going on beyond the barrier?

What does the garden look like?  

Is the house as great as the door suggests?

We found this gate on a walk last summer. 

Steve was recovering from surgery and could not surf, kayak, play tennis or cycle. 

With those limitations, walking was our best option for exercise.  

We took a 2 hour walk every night exploring different areas of town.  

We would probably never have walked or driven down this street otherwise.

This gate is on the drive out of our tennis club.  

I love the combination of stone and brick on the fence.

The curves on the blue gate are wonderful.

I have belonged to the tennis club for 26 years yet I  have never seen behind that wall.  

Maybe someday.

That white gate hidden by bougainvillea and ivy is the original gate in our backyard.

One day a strip of the gate broke off.

I always wanted a gate that would give a peek-a-boo look to our garden so Steve called a customer in Mexico and asked him to make us a gate.

We chose Steve's art logo because the SC represents our combined initials.

Roberto made the gate and charged us almost nothing.

The expense came when we hired someone to hang it.

We paid $75 and no shipping for a gate made in Mexico.

We paid $400 to have it hung.

This is the gate at the home of friends on our street.

Until a couple of months ago, we didn't even realize there was a gate there.

It was hidden by a large tree.

They cut down the tree, painted the gate white and added the wood trim.

Before adding the trim, they created the curve at the top of the gate and it made the gate really stand out.

I love the medallion in the center.

Christmas 2010 we rented a house in Santa Fe. 

I love the gate to this adobe.

The blue windows are such a great contrast.

Those crooked doors and steps are perfect teamed with the spectacular colors of Santa Fe.

Another crooked entryway.

This is the house we rented in Santa Fe.

A welcoming entry into a lovely house.

This door is the entrance to a gallery on Canyon Road in Santa Fe.

On Christmas Eve, thousands of people walk up and down Canyon Road lit with farolitos or luminarias.

Carolers sing.

Hot chocolate  and champagne are sipped.

It is magical!

Strolling down Bleeker Street in New York we spotted this beautiful door.

I insisted Steve stop and take a photograph.

Primary colors on a fantastic door worn bare from age and use- what's not to love?

Steve painted the door on a 48" x 60" canvas and it hangs over my red buffalo check chair in our living room.

I love the painting and hope it never sells although my sister has mentioned several times that she would like it in her study.

On the same visit to New York, walking down Spring Street we came across this gate.  

My favorite primary colors burst across this scene.

We never figured out what the business was.

Who cares?  it was just great to see!

I am pushing for a trip to Paris in April.

If I get my way, we will walk all over Paris. 

Just imagine all the wonderful gates and doors we will see.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Happy House

What's Your Calming Place?

Yesterday I was reading the blog
Fresh Vanilla for C
and she asked, "what is your calming place"?

I responded that it was my workspace.

Today we took our usual morning walk.

We walk 2 miles along the beach every morning before work - from the end of our lane, which dead ends on the ocean, to the jetty.

We talk about our life, dreams, goals (I'm pushing for April in Paris ), problems...

Mostly we marvel at the beauty of our beach, the ever changing sand and how fortunate we are to live where we do.

Dorje at low tide
As we were approaching our house Steve told me a quick story.

Yesterday, he was taking out the trash and a young couple was walking down our lane.

They stopped him and told him that our house was their favorite on the lane.

They call it

The Happy House.

I realized that my calming place is not just my workspace, it is my entire house.

14 years ago, we moved just 1 mile, to the beach.

At the time, it was not a wise move financially.

Everyone thought we were crazy.

We were paying twice the money for half the space of our two story tract house.

Front of the house
It was the BEST move we ever made.

The house brought out Steve's art muse.

He retired from the business world to become a professional artist.

"Front Porch" by Steve Cook   
The house is a tiny little 1928 beach cottage.

We are lovingly making it our own and will probably never finish.

We have made many changes:

 a studio for Steve
knocked out walls
removed carpeting
remodeled the kitchen and bath
a red Dutch door
attic stairs to gain storage

Next up is bartering  - an attic floor for a custom painting.

This summer we will tackle our wood floors.  

Our hidden garden is a favorite oasis on windy beach days.

The previous owners were weekenders so they had planted only succulents.

I am continually searching for the perfect plants for our sandy soil.

Many of the plants were planted by the birds so the garden is a constant surprise.

We may be the smallest house on the lane.

But I wouldn't change a thing.

Our's is such a

Happy House!

Monday, January 16, 2012

My Word of the Year

Between the Big Picture Class I just registered for and Layla over at The Lettered Cottage, I am compelled to find my Word of the Year.

I considered




and countless others, but when I thought about what I really needed to do this year, I realized that I simply need to

I have reached a point in my life where I actually have my act together.

I need to


what I am doing because I feel that I've got it right.

I take on too much

working full time as a teacher
speaking at conferences
teaching a night class
coaching volleyball

I rarely say no.

But, I keep it in balance and have learned not to stress because I always get it done and I know I will


to do so.

We have our financial life in order.

I have everything I could want.

I have learned to moderate my spending not because I can't afford things, but because I have come to the realization that I don't really need a lot.

Living in a small house has taught me to buy only what I truly need or love.

I will


to spend and save wisely.

I have my physical fitness regimen down.

We walk on the beach EVERY morning unless it is raining -
 even if it is cold!

We play tennis on the weekends.

We kayak when the ocean is calm.

We cycle regularly and sometimes I ride to work.

I walk at least 15,000 steps daily.

I will


to exercise regularly.

I love to create.

I love making cards, books and gifts for myself and friends.

I try to do something creative every day.

I am a life long learner.

I read, discover and continue to grow as an both an educator and a student.

I take art classes.

I will


to challenge my brain and my heart.

I love my life:
 my family
my home
my work

I know I am going in the right direction so all I need to do is

on my present path.