Monday, December 24, 2012

Citrus Season in So Cal

I remember once when I was a little girl, my Grandma Hetherington told me that when she was young, she would get something like a book and an orange for Christmas. An orange for Christmas? I couldn't believe my ears. I was shocked that something so invaluable and plentiful—that actually grew on trees—could be considered a gift. Now I wonder if we'd all be better off with small tokens like that instead of the extravagant things we all seem to want and need...

I was thinking about this story when I set off into the front yard yesterday with my fruit picker. If you're not familiar with this tool, it's a long pole with a sort of clawed basket attached to one end. As you can see from the picture above, our trees are ridiculously weighted with oranges right now. And although my picker and I spent a good thirty minutes defruiting, we barely made a dent. I did get hit in the head a couple of times by oranges that bounced out of the basket—I'm sure I was an entertaining sight for any neighbors watching.

Here's what I ended up with after my mini harvest attempt:


I didn't count my fruity booty, but I bet there are somewhere between 60-80 oranges there. And the tree looks exactly the same as when I started. I think its power is so great, everything in the front yard it turning orange with envy.


By far, my favorite pick from the day was this little mangler that looked like a deflated orange balloon. Or... well, we'll leave it at the balloon comparison...

While I was playing farmer, Mr. W was doing his own work with some citrus, making baklava (which requires just a hint of lemon). The kitchen smelled awfully yummy when I came back inside.

And now we get to look forward to having a little bit of this with Christmas dessert tomorrow night:

One of the many upsides of marrying a half Greek boy! And there's something so much more meaningful about a present like this than a new iPad or cashmere sweater. Grandma Hetherington was onto something...

Happy Holidays, blog readers! Wishing you lots of love and laughter and adventure from now into the New Year!

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Two Weekends in Santa Ynez: A Pictorial Review

 Look what I made Saturday night!

Before I lived with Mr. W, I remember feeling like his house was a sort of haven. I would come over on the weekends and feel like I was at a mini resort. I wasn't far from home, but I was far enough out of reach that it felt like an escape. There always seemed to be time to read a magazine over breakfast or catch up on my latest novel before dinner.

My new haven is our Santa Ynez house. The drive up the California coast—with the expanse of blue water keeping me company out the driver's side window—seems to slowly, steadily calm my soul. By the time I arrive in our semi-circular drive, I'm filled with gratitude.

I hope this feeling lasts after we move. It's become fleeting for me in Hollywood, and I hope the calm I feel in Santa Ynez doesn't dissolve as our furniture and regular daily life take up residence in the house.

Since Mr. W is in Vancouver, I've gone up on my own the past two weekends to chip away at the seemingly endless to-do list there. It's coming along. It makes me smile bigger every time I visit. Here's a little recap of some of the progress...

 I don't know how the previous owner went about picking the paint colors, but pretty much everything was red or yellow. And let me tell ya, those aren't the easiest colors to cover with new paint. But after who knows how many hours of taping and brushing and rolling, I made it happen.

During one of our first weekends at the house, we went to an estate sale in the neighborhood (which apparently are the thing to do on Saturdays up there—the traffic on that street was crazy) and I developed a crush on these geode bookends. I picked them up for $15.

I felt even better about the purchase when I saw these on One Kings Lane a couple weeks ago:

Our other bedroom at the house feels a lot like my apartment with my old duvet cover on the bed. Mr. W doesn't love the girlie grandma-ness of the room, but I adore it.

A dear friend made us a piece of art for Christmas, and I thought it was the perfect addition to the room, with its fun cheery message and bright paint colors. She made it in honor of Mr. W's scheme to grow lemon trees with the seeds he brought back from our honeymoon in Amalfi.

In addition to picture-hanging, painting, and fire-making, I hemmed all of the curtains, pruned some of the flowers, re-affixed weather stripping to the front door, and taped off the hallway so we can paint it when we go back up after Christmas. There are 8 sets of cupboard/doorway molding in that dang hallway. It took me 2 hours to tape it all. But it's worth it. All just part of creating the dream.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Sorry Christmas, You've Been Downsized

I am so behind.

Behind on blogging (I cannot believe it has been almost 13 days since my last confession). Behind on reading my favorite blogs (Hi Nilsa, Sizzle, Mandy, Meg, GH, Lesley, Jeff, Janice, Brett, Chantel, Christine, Autumn, Susie, and anyone else who has posted in the last 3 weeks or so). Behind on my coaching homework and all the big planning and scheming I need to do to start moving the direction I want to go next year.

Even with Mr. W working on a film in Vancouver, I cannot seem to find enough time to get caught up.

Between work projects, house projects, edits to the work projects, fixes to the house projects, holiday shopping and a handful of social obligations, my free time supply is registering a big fat zero.

And that is why I decided to downsize Christmas this year.

I asked Mr. W weeks ago if we could skip exchanging gifts. He poo-pooed the idea. So instead, I took the easy way out with my siblings and siblings-in-law and decided to give them each a weekend at the Santa Ynez house, rather than buy tangible presents. And then I did a large portion of my other shopping from the comfort of my couch.

Also, for the first time in my adult life, I don't have a full-sized Christmas tree. The thought of getting the tree and decorating it felt overwhelming to me. So Mr. W and I went Charlie Brown-style, and picked up a potted, pint-sized fir instead. I kind of like it. And we can plant it in our new back yard after the holidays are over. But it's still a teeny bit sad to look in the corner and not see a 5 - 6 footer twinkling against the Hollywood skyline. In addition to the many balls and baubles that didn't make their way onto the tree, I also left a lot of other seasonal decor in the box this year. I'll call it the bah humbox.

Sadly, I don't want to be a Scrooge. I really want to enjoy the holiday. This is my favorite time of year and it bums me out that so many other things are demanding my attention right now.

Here's to hoping life calms down in 2013. That is, if we all make it past the end of the Mayan calendar next week...