Kitty Cat Memorial Cactus Garden

My dear friend, Leighann, was in town for a few hours last Wednesday.

We met for lunch and some thrift store browsing in Poway before she headed to the coast for a meeting.

Whenever we get together, Leighann brings me the most amazing, thoughtful gifts.  This time was no exception.

Behold the beautiful Kitty Cat Memorial Cactus Garden:

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She assembled it in a gorgeous glazed blue pot.

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She tucked some sea glass and a tiny kitty between the plants.  (Sorry so blurry – hard to get a clear pic of the kitty’s little face.)

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I love this little garden so much.  It’s a perfect addition to our backyard.

More importantly, it’s a fitting tribute to Rusty and Poupon who spent so much time where this pot now sits.

Thank you, my lovely friend!  You always know exactly what to do.

Just outside our front door, there is small patch of dirt that makes my eye twitch.

This tiny patch was once home to a beautiful, licorice-scented heliotrope plant, but ultimately it proved too small to adequately contain such an aggressive shrub.  The heliotrope had zoomed to dishwasher size, was dropping its little purple flowers all over the path, and was mercilessly grabbing our clothes when we walked to the door.  We had to tear it out.  😦

For the last few years, the dirt patch has been basically empty, save for a handful of river rocks.  It never used to bother me, but now I stand in my driveway every afternoon as I wait for my son to come home on the bus and I just can’t help but stare at that stupid, unfinished, neglected chunk of yard.  😦

It’s a problematic spot – not very deep, limited water, and anything we plant there must be trimmed back from the walkway.  There aren’t many plants that can handle such routine and vigorous pruning.

A few weeks ago, I accidentally broke off a piece from a succulent in the backyard.  Impulsively, I shoved it into the dirt in the patch out front.  I wasn’t expecting any miracles, but the succulent survived and even started to grow.  Encouraged, I did it again with another plant.  That one made it too.

Today, I bought a few more succulents and tucked them next to the others.  I also added a bag of rocks we had sitting on the side yard.

Here is the (almost) finished patch:

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This may not seem like much to accomplish, but my eye has stopped twitching.

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What have you been up to?

♥♥

Cast Concrete in Chula Vista

***

Update as of July 2014

Unfortunately, R.C.S. Concrete Caps has closed their Chula Vista location.
I have not had any luck finding out if they still exist elsewhere.
Let me know if you find them!

***

 

 

Last week, on one of my regular trips to the west Chula Vista thrift stores, I spotted a new vendor at the corner of Broadway and Main.

R.C.S. Concrete Caps and Sculptures has taken over a dirt lot next to the Otay Farms Market.

R. C. S. sells mostly items made from cast concrete – fountains, animals, and other garden statues.

I love the giant turtles and alligators.

There are also some large planter pots, a Bhudda or two, suns, angels, pagodas, bird baths…really anything you can think of.

I chose a morning dove for $8.00…

and a frog for $5.00.

When I hesitated at the $5.00 price of the turtle I liked, the saleswoman lowered it to $3.00.

That’s my kind of vendor!

The turtle seems happier submerged in our birdbath than he did roasting in the hot dirt.  🙂

Anyhoo, that’s my find of the week!

Stay turned for a long overdue post about all those thrift stores I keep mentioning.

Happy Friday!

P.S.  My GIANT son thinks he is small enough to replace the little sheep that used to sit in the nook above our stair landing.  I’m not sure I agree.  🙂

 

Ribbon, Flowers, and Math

Ribbon

My order from The Gilded Bee arrived a few days ago.

(Commence happy dance now.)

She sent a gift along with my purchase.  🙂  That blue polka-dotted ribbon with the scalloped edges is the freebie.  I love it!

Giveaways are so great for retaining customers.  I will definitely order again – maybe even tonight!

And did you notice the pink plaid packaging tape on her shipping box?  Cuteness overload.  Love.

Flowers

Speaking of pretty things, there are flowers all over my backyard.

Thank you, husband.  You have been busy.

I particularly love Mr. Chicken.

The nasturtiums under our plum tree came raging back this season too.

They’re beautiful, bright, happy (and edible!) little flowers, but this year they are absolutely COVERED with aphids.  Blech!

Click the pix to see the little devils – they’re kind of horrifying.  😦

I guess the good thing is that the aphids are leaving everything else alone.

I think my favorite flowers in the yard right now are the ranunculus.  How the heck do you make that word plural?

Math

The boy sat close to do some math with his sidewalk chalk while I was taking pictures.

He made me upload this next pic, print it out and use a pencil to solve the problems.

This morning he used the utensils and food from his little kitchen to make a robot and some funny birds.

He is smitten with stop signs lately.  He has been counting and drawing them.  Oh, and taping them to the window.

Anyhoo, that’s our house this week.  What’s going on with you?

Hope you’re having a Happy Thursday!

P.S.  I am addicted to Pinterest.  Please send help.  (Or your Pinterest link. Ha!)

♥♥

Long Beach Flea Market

I don’t know how often I can come on here and say the same things.

Life is hard.  And easy.  And ugly.  And beautiful.

Life is hard…

because my autistic son needs everything to be a certain way and, despite the good intentions of everyone in my life, very few really understand how insanely difficult it is to parent him.

He seems so incredibly normal – whatever the hell “normal” is.  He is beautiful.  He is smart.  He is talkative and cheerful.  He is happy and animated and very cooperative.  Until he isn’t.

Over the two-week break, he hit me a few times.  😦  He pushed me too.  On one of the days he had a meltdown like I can’t even describe.  He screamed, he broke things.  The usual.

He yells about everything.  “No take the plate to the kitchen!”  “No mama say!”  “No mama singing!”  “No music!”  “No.  No.  No!”

And then there’s the OCD stuff…

He has a thing about the pantry door.  He has to close it a certain way, at a certain time, repeatedly.  He chants his little chants, he swings it shut and pulls it open and swings it shut and pulls it open and swings it shut and pulls it open and SLAMS it closed.  And all of the things that hang from the inside of the door go crashing to the tile below.  LOUD.  LOUD.  LOUD.

And the bathroom door.  He closes and opens it too.  All the time.  Just because.

He writes math problems for himself every night.  He leaves the papers all over the table.  He does this when I am in the pit of the day’s fatigue.  Consequently, his math papers never get picked up.  Our house is an overwhelming wreck.  It depresses me.  I am tired and life is hard.

Life is easy…

because I have three fabulous moms and a good friend who listen to all of it.  Life is easy because husband knows how it is and he’s here everyday seeing it, feeling it, and being in it with me.  And when he isn’t here to make it easier on me, he’s out there to make it easier on me.  He works so that I can take care of our kid.  And our house.  And our laundry.  Our never ending, steaming mountains of laundry.

Life is ugly…

because of stupid, evil, mean people who make me sick with worry for my son…and his future…and the potential dangers that await him.

Life is beautiful…

because the yelling, pushing, screaming, toy throwing little boy is also sweet and kind and funny and he makes up songs about silly things like my jiggly arms.  😀  I love him.

Life is beautiful because I get to see my good friend every few months and we always have a great day together somewhere.  On Sunday, we went to the Long Beach Flea Market and I bought a water fountain.  It’s perfect for our little yard, but it weighs a gazillion pounds.

Life is beautiful because the vendor wanted $75 and we talked him down to $50.

Life is beautiful because my friend carried the dirty top part of the fountain a great distance to my car for me.

Life is beautiful because there is ibuprofen to ease the pain and stupidity of carrying the lower section of the fountain by myself.  Day four and I am still achy breaky.

Life is beautiful because we had a very pleasant lunch at Bono’s Long Beach with the best creme brulee I have ever tasted in my life.  The portion was HUGE and my friend didn’t want any.  🙂  Thank you, silly friend.

Life is beautiful because I also found a book for my brother, a liquid timer for my son, and some Bit-O-Honey candy at Powell’s (best old timey candy store ever) for my husband.

I got these guys for me:

Their bodies are hinged so you can sway their little legs back and forth if you want to.  I know you want to.  🙂

Life is life.

Happy Wednesday!

♥♥

Flowers and Jars and Other Good Things

Just some little things today…

Flowers and Jelly Jars

We go through a lot of strawberry jelly in our house.  The jars make the sweetest give-away vases for flowers from our yard.  This little bunch went to the teacher at open house last night.  The chocolate mint tucked between the roses is the happiest “mistake” in our yard.  It smells soooo good.

Bamboo

On Saturday, I went to Ranch 99 to get a new sun hat for our beach day with the boy.  I had no cash in my wallet and the hat didn’t cost enough to meet the minimum charge amount, so I came home with three stalks of bamboo too.

The bamboo focused my Monday thrift store visits to a search for the perfect jar.  This is the one I chose.  It’s huge.  HUGE.

Batik Stamp Bonanza

A few years ago, I discovered this beautiful batik stamp in a box of my husband’s collectibles.  At the time, I had no idea what it was.  I only knew that I loved it.

Husband isn’t completely sure just where it came from – maybe something from his departed grandmother – but it started an obsession for me.

I look for reasonably priced ($8 to $12) batik stamps wherever I go.  I’ve been lucky enough to find a couple at the Rose Bowl Flea Market and to receive a few others from a friend.  I also have two from Anthropologie.

There are plenty of very high-priced batik stamps in the world, but half the fun for me is stumbling onto a bargain.  Maybe that’s why it filled me with such joy to find an entire lot of them priced together in a clearance sale on etsy.  Woohoooooo!  Now I just have to figure out how best to display them.  For the moment, they occupy a big wooden bowl on my table.  I think my favorite is that curvy floral on the top right.

 

Ooo la la buttercream…

I am so excited by the arrival of my latest purchase from The Good Cook book club.  Meg Ray is my new hero.  Cake for breakfast – I love this woman!  Can’t wait to visit one of her shops in person someday.  I’m aiming for the Ferry Building location in San Francisco.  Wanna go with me?

Corner Cupcakes

Speaking of sweets…

I finally caught up with the Corner Cupcakes truck.  Yippee!

I ordered a chocolate cupcake with vanilla frosting and another called a “full house,” which was the most divine combination of lemon cake, lemon curd, and lemon buttercream laced with toasted coconut.  There was coconut somewhere else in there too.  I’m sure of it!  Deeeeeelicious.  And kind of melty.  It was hot yesterday.

The chocolate cake was very good, but I am not a huge fan of the extra strong vanilla flavor in the buttercream I chose.  I prefer a mere hint of vanilla or none at all, so next time I will just order a different frosting!  There will be a next time because there is much taste bud joy in that truck.  I am excited to try other flavor combos.

All of this reminds me to ask if you are as happy-dancing-footed as I am over the pending arrival of Nothing Bundt Cakes in Mission Valley.  Yes?  Yes!  It will be nice to have one closer than Del Mar or Poway.  Maybe we can all go together on opening day.

What little things are cheering your life this week?

I hope you’re having a Happy Wednesday!

♥♥

Back Again

There were words missing from the word search in the little boy’s homework packet this week.

The words were listed on the bottom of the sheet, but they didn’t appear in the grid of letters above.  And the word “built” was backwards.

My son couldn’t handle that.  “No backwards!  No backwards built!”

He gasped that out through lumpy-throated, head-shaking moans.  Then he flew into a raging tantrum like I haven’t seen in a long time.

He ripped the paper into six pieces, wadded up the bits and threw them to the floor with a scream.

Next, he reached for the pencil bucket.

He used both hands to send bunches of sharpened projectiles into the air over his head.

Most of them rained down on the china hutch and computers behind him.  His scissors and the hole punch landed halfway up the stairs.

I snapped at him to pick up immediately.  He didn’t.

Instead, he up-ended a basket of his school papers and sent them sliding to the floor too.

I was mad and I yelled.  Nine years, and I still instantly feel like such a rookie in the face of his upsets.

I fought for calm and grabbed a piece of paper.  I drew a scale – one to ten – and tried to make him understand that the missing words on the homework sheet were just a “level 2 frustration” and not the “level 10 mad” he had just displayed.

He stared at me, a little catatonic, but with a spark of understanding.  I actually think he knew what I meant.  He watched in stillness as I taped the word search back together.

I talked to him quietly about his homework.  I told him we would put it away for now and try again tomorrow – maybe even make our own word search.  He seemed okay or, at least, distracted from his rage.

I stood up and I told him I was going to make dinner for daddy.  He had started drawing, so I left him at the table.

In the kitchen, I put on gloves to peel and slice some garlic.  I should have predicted it wasn’t the best night to do that.  He interrupted me on the third of ten cloves.

“I want to take a bath.”

It was a routine, even-tempered, and perfectly articulated announcement, but it was much earlier than usual and I wasn’t ready to go upstairs with him.

I showed him my gloves and knife and the cutting board too.  I even told him to smell the garlic, so he would know my fingers were too stinky to touch the shower curtain or the faucet, much less the shampoo bottle or his hair.

I reminded him that last night we talked about what a big nine-year-old boy he is and how he can take a shower by himself now.

He looked at me and started to shake.

Clearly, this was not the time to begin a new independence.  I cut the garlic faster and told him to wait a few minutes.  He couldn’t.

He started looking around for something to throw.  He used his arm to clear a binder and some loose papers off of the new glass topped dresser in the kitchen.  He looked at me and then turned back to the dresser and tried to push it over and the glass off too.

That was the final straw for me.

I yelled at him to stop, I pulled off my garlicky gloves and I followed him out of the room.  I was defeated and he had begun whining, slapping himself and flailing his arms back and forth.

He wanted me to come with him upstairs, but he was so mad and I was too.

I am embarrassed to confess that I lectured him all the way to the tub.  It really didn’t help or make either of us feel any better.  I am an ogre.

He got in, turned on the water and yanked the curtain shut.  I left the bathroom and went back downstairs to cry and finish the damned garlic.

I knew I had only ten minutes until he emerged from the shower, failed to dry off, and came dripping downstairs, expecting me to get pajamas for him.

That time limit made me cry even harder and chop even faster.

Sure enough, he came into the kitchen, naked and damp, just as expected.  I kept chopping.

He said nothing and left the room.  I heard the laundry doors open and could hear his little whisper voice talking about something in the hall.

I was weighted by his tantrum and couldn’t even muster a smile, but I had finished the garlic, so I washed my hands and went to get him the pajamas.

Much to my surprise, he was already in them!

Miracle.

He was even wearing a pair of shorts that he typically rejects.  He did it himself and he made a compromise too.  I was speechless.  Something sunk in…and it kind of melted me.

In the day’s sea of frustration and tears, my smart little boy extracted some useful tidbit and took a step toward more independence.

It may seem like a teeny step, but it’s big enough for me.

Happy Tuesday, indeed.

Good little boy.  😀

God, I’m tired.

Sigh.

P.S.  Look at the new hibiscus now…so pretty.  Thanks, husband.  🙂

♥♥