'Irresistible' Book Club Choice

One of the things I love most about Book Clubs is that they open your eyes to novels you probably would never choose to read on your own.  I just finished The Irresistible Henry House by Lisa Grunwald.  Once I got into it, I had a hard time putting this book down.

Based on the true fact that from 1919-1969, orphans were used to teach college students how to parent, this fictional story shares so many incredible facets of the sixties...I found this plot irresistible and definitely worth reading!

It is the middle of the twentieth century, and in a home economics program at a prominent university, real babies are being used to teach mothering skills to young women. For a young man raised in these unlikely circumstances, finding real love and learning to trust will prove to be the work of a lifetime. In this captivating novel, bestselling author Lisa Grunwald gives us the sweeping tale of an irresistible hero and the many women who love him.

From his earliest days as a "practice baby" through his adult adventures in 1960s New York City, Disney's Burbank studios, and the delirious world of the Beatles' London, Henry remains handsome, charming, universally adored—and never entirely accessible to the many women he conquers but can never entirely trust. -goodreads.com

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My Big 5-0...Whoa!

I began my birthday morning opening presents and cards that I had collected over the last few weeks.  I delighted in it all and the day confirmed that I am one very fortunate woman.
First stop on our busy day was Tahoe's 'dump'.  We have been on a home improvement kick and had some things that just needed to be gone.  This was an interesting place.  It's not really a dump.  It's a gathering place for separating before going to the real landfill. "We promote environmentally-friendly practices to reduce solid waste by diverting as much recyclable material as possible."  We like the idea... the smell, not so much.
After a day of shopping in Carson City, NV (our nearest 'big city') we went to dinner at Los Mexicanos.  This is the restaurant owned by one of our neighbors.  It is highly rated and we were hankering for Mexican food.
Nothing says "birthday" like a giant, delicious burrito!
Final stop of the night was at our Community College for a film that I was very excited about.  We were introduced to Aldo Leopold and his book The Sand County Almanac by Kegan.  We even visited the Leopold Foundation  Center and Shack in Baraboo, Wisconsin.  He was considered by many as the father of wildlife management and of the United States’ wilderness system. He was a conservationist, forester, philosopher, educator, writer, and outdoor enthusiast.  And a really interesting guy.
For 73 minutes, I was mesmerized.  The film Green Fire highlights Leopold’s extraordinary career, tracing how he shaped and influenced the modern environmental movement. Leopold remains relevant today, inspiring projects all over the country that connect people and land.  Living in a place like Lake Tahoe really puts his "Land Ethic".  Within this work, he wrote that there is a need for a "new ethic", an "ethic dealing with man's relation to land and to the animals and plants which grow upon it".  Steve and I both walked away with a feeling of hope for the next 50 years of our lives.  It was extremely powerful and worth seeing.
It was a unique way to spend my birthday and I am thankful for every moment of it.  "When you are grateful, fear disappears and abundance appears."

1962 was a Happening year!

Okay, so yes, me being born in 1962 makes it pretty amazing but so many other significant events occurred that I had to share them.  Fifty years ago was pretty interesting...

There were some great things:
  • Oral Polio vaccine
  • John Glenn is the first American to orbit the earth and the rocket Ranger IV lands on the moon.
  • WalMart and Kmart both opened
  • "Love Me Do" is a hit by the Beatles
  • Andy Warhol creates "art" with his Soup Can
  • Johnny Carson begins as host on "The Tonight Show"
  • Joan Cusack, Demi Moore and Jodie Foster are born to entertain us
Sadly, we had a Cuban Missile Crisis and Marilyn Monroe was found dead.

Lastly, depending our how you feel about them, good or bad, Silicone Breast Implants were used for the very first time, 50 years ago.  One can only imagine how they're looking these days.

So as I celebrate my 1/2 way to 100 milestone, I have much to celebrate.  Thank you to all who have made this day extra special, more about my big 5-0 day later tonight.

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Our day of home improvement...

Today was a wonderfully productive day of getting stuff done.  I spent most of my time making new curtains.  I washed the existing ones (the green one next to the plaid) and then used that heavy fabric as backing for the colorful ones I sewed.  I was advised by my wise sister-in-law to use the heavy material to keep the cold out.  Since I already had it, I felt very good about recycling.

Steve's task was to construct a barrier so that guests in the 'loft' would not experience severe bodily injury by inadvertently taking a tumble down the staircase (which is almost a ladder, really).  The loft is lovingly named "the room of beds" for serious kid crashing, so I feel better with the handrail. 

The cabin is slowly morphing into our own little, special place. 

Decorating is not about making stage sets,
it's not about making pretty pictures for the magazines;
it's really about creating a quality of life,
a beauty that nourishes the soul.
-Albert Hadley

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Saturdays are  for Celebrating...

Karen and David came for a birthday brunch.  While at times it was chilly, we delighted in dining on the front deck, ogling the alpacas across the street.
We played SCRABBLE® in Italian (the first time we did this together was in our apartment in Spoleto).  There is a huge difference between the English and Italian games...the number of vowels.  For those who don't know, most words in Italian end in a vowel.  A traditional game has nine As vs 14 in Italian (note also, there are no Js, Ks or Ws).  It was a wonderful way to reminisce and practice our rusty language skills a bit.  E 'stato molto divertente.

A birthday dinner was at Steve's brother's home. He is an exceptional and healthy cook, it was not only delicious but super fun as well.  It was nice to spend time with family.

And they have the most spectacular garden.  One of the things we miss, currently in our snow covered Tahoe, are roses and boy do they have roses.  It was amazing in amongst them.

Birthdays are good for you.
Statistics show that the people who have the most
live the longest.

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Celebrating my #50 with the Chicks...

I have a wonderful and varied group of girlfriends...the oldest being 87 and the most uniquest being Brenton's 6th grade teacher.

Today, a dozen of these wonderful women joined together for our monthly Chick Flick date.  Instead of lunch and a movie, we had an extended meal, delighting in each others news and company.  It was a truly memorable way to spend an afternoon and I'm grateful for each and everyone of these chicks.

Friendship is like standing on wet cement.
The longer you stay, the harder it's to leave,
and you can never go without leaving your footprints behind.

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Celebrating Lynne's #5...

My girlfriend, Lynne, and I share a birthday and while I will be turning 50, Lynne will be celebrating her 5th.  It's not her real birthday (obviously), however, five years ago, Lynne had a life-saving bone marrow transplant on my actual birthday and each year since, we've marked the occasion.

Our Quirky Group 4 began meeting when Lynne's immune system was too compromised to venture out.  Even though she beat her Aplastic Anemia, we continue to meet to dine, converse and watch movies.

The theme for the day was suppose to be St. Patrick's Day.  Scott and Lynne made the most amazingly sumptuous lunch-  Dublin Coddle and Irish Soda Bread.  Bill's daughter crafted the ice cream cones (cupcakes baked right in the cones...ingenious and delicious).

The birthday component was a surprise.  It's difficult to explain this eclectic, quirky group of friends but we continue to enjoy each others company and have moments I will always treasure. 
We do not remember days;
we remember moments.

~Cesare Pavese

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Quiche, comfort food...

To fuel us for the long drive back to Temecula, I whipped up my world famous, albeit super easy, quiche.  I wanted to share.

Preheat oven to 400.

Saute onions (I use about a 1/4 cup.  this is up to your taste) in olive oil.
3 eggs mixed with 1/3 cup milk, salt & pepper to liking
12 oz of veggies (I use a bag of Bird's Eye Steamfresh Vegetables- broccoli, carrots,
           snap peas, water chestnut blend) cooked as directed and drain well.
4 oz. can diced green chiles, drained
8 oz Mexican blend, pepper jack and cheddar cheese

Mix all together in bowl. Put in a deep dish frozen pie crust.
Put in heated oven on a piece of aluminum foil just in case of over flow.

You can add anything you want to the base egg mixture.  Different cheeses. Meats. Crab.  Anything. 

Bake at 400 for +/- 45 minutes (center should be firm). Turn oven off and let sit in oven for 5-10 min. Cool for 10 minutes before cutting.

FYI about this delicious dish:  Quiche became popular in the U.S. during the 1950's.  Because of its primarily vegetarian ingredients, it was considered a somehow 'unmanly' dish, - "real men don't eat quiche" -a popular saying and book satirizing stereotypes of masculinity.  In the 80's, my brother was quick to point out, "But they do eat egg and cheese pie."

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There is such a thing as a free lunch!

When we were here in February, Steve and I had breakfast at the Bear Beach CafĂ©, a darling spot, with a beautiful view of the Lake.  As we were leaving, I put my business card into a jar for a free lunch.  I won, and today we redeemed my prize.

There is something enchanting about delicious warm soup, a grilled ham and cheese sandwich, and fries enjoyed while overlooking a lake, blanketed in snow.  YUM.

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Our wildly snowy Sunday!
After a delicious breakfast in Santa Rosa (where we met Brenton's boss and his wife), we decided to head home to beat the storm that was still brewing in the mountains.
I have never lived in the snow so all this is new to me but since we weren't in a hurry, we could enjoy the slow drive through some amazingly beautiful landscapes.  It was so void of color, we felt we were in an Ansel Adams print.
This was our view for about 2 hours at 15-20 mph.
And then... HOME and the most spectacular welcoming!
This was the first for us both... shoveling snow.  We will be investing in a snow blower soon!
I think this view out our dining room window helps to explain "Why Tahoe" just a little bit more.  There is something magical about the sapphire blue sky contrasting with the pristine white snow and the peacefulness a dusting of snowfall provides.
 Winter is the time for comfort, 
for good food and warmth, for the touch of a friendly hand 
and for a talk beside the fire:  it is the time for home.  
~Edith Sitwell

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My birthday weekend with the kids...
We awoke yesterday to the sound of rain and knew the storm was coming early, so we left in the dark.  While not our favorite thing to do, installing chains was the only way to get over Echo Summit (7382') to spend the weekend in Rohnert Park.
It was slow going but spectacular scenery.
Brenton, Christy, me, Monica, Kegan and Steve...a great group to celebrate with!
Christy's stuffed peppers were amazing.
This morning we gathered for  breakfast and a birthday song.
Kegan is spending his Spring Break in Monica's hometown of Portland!  They have an extremely exciting week planned with her parents.  We all dropped them off at SFO.
Brenton and Christy treated us to a delicious Birthday/St. Patrick's Day lunch at Russian River Brewing Co.... their favorite spot in Santa Rosa.  The place was full of Irish-for-a-day!
My birthday present was two-fold: 1.  I was given a GIANT SCRABBLE® game.  It is the biggest board I have ever seen and I love it!  It is the perfect gift for me!
2.  Brenton and Christy played the game with me.  It is an extra special treat because no one in my family loves Scrabble like I do.  It was a perfect way to celebrate my birthday and St. Pat's.
May the sun shine, all day long,
everything go right, and nothing wrong.
May those you love bring love back to you,
and may all the wishes you wish come true!

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