To those who are experiencing loss today...

"While mortals mourn 'a man is dead,' the angels proclaim, 'a child is born'."
~Heber C. Kimball~

{And I think this is true of our furry loved ones too.}
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Inspirational desktops

Click on image above to download as a free desktop

I had a bit of an epiphany earlier in the week that I've implemented right away. I've decided to use a few of my photographs (some personal favorites) to create inspirational desktops/wallpaper for anyone to download free from the Rosehaven Cottage Digital Download Shop. Each desktop features a quote from the Relief Society's visiting teaching monthly message (if you aren't familiar with what the Relief Society is click here).

I will definitely be releasing a new one every month. For now, I've gone backwards in time to create desktops for June and July, as well as creating one each for August and September. I may do the same for all the prior months of this year (not sure yet). Let me know what you think.

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Lavender blue, dilly, dilly

On my 3rd birthday, I received a portable record player. It was my favorite possession for many years. I had my own little collection of records which included two of the special Walt Disney promo LP's that you could only buy at Gulf Oil stations when you gassed up your vehicle. I played those records over and over and had them memorized. One of my favorite songs was "Lavender Blue" by Burl Ives. Here are the words I know oh-so-well:
Lavender blue, dilly, dilly
Lavender green
If I were king, dilly, dilly
I'd need a queen

Who told me so? Dilly, dilly
Who told me so?
I told myself, dilly, dilly
I told me so

If your dilly, dilly heart
Feels a dilly, dilly way
And if you'll answer, "Yes"
In a pretty little church
On a dilly, dilly day
You'll be wed in a dilly, dilly dress of

Lavender blue, dilly, dilly
Lavender green
Then I'll be king, dilly dilly
And you'll be my queen
I never quite understood how there could be a "lavender blue" and a "lavender green" because my only experience with "lavender" up to that point was the lavender colored crayon in my crayon box that was a similar shade to the mum below.

It would be decades before I was privileged to see lavender growing naturally and to see it through the eyes of the lyricist and understand why there is a "lavender blue" and a "lavender green".

This past week, Hubby and I have been away. We drove a total of over 1600 miles across some of the vast open spaces of the Western United States. And we enjoyed the blessings of seeing family as well as having a much-needed respite from the cares of everyday life.

When I was younger, my family drove through that same open country a number of times. It often seemed so desolate and boring except for one time when we were driving under the light of a full moon. I was awake while everyone else in the car was asleep except for my mother who was behind the wheel. In the light of the full moon, the terrain looked so different. I was mesmerized by the beautiful landscape and can still see it in my memory today.

As Hubby and I drove over the expanses this past week, I found myself seeing the terrain through new eyes. I saw the "lavender green" of the sage as it grew on the hills that reached up to touch the "lavender blue" of the sky. It was very striking... and beautiful. Interestingly, even though I had packed all my photographic equipment, I never broke it out once during the whole trip. I felt like a kid again just absorbing everything I saw and appreciating each moment for what it could give.

There is a purity in experiencing the world like that. It's cleansing and rejuvenating. It draws my mind to the things that matter most--my Creator and my family. And that is why He created all these things, so that we would have beautiful reminders of Him who is our first family. My heart is full and my gratitude is overflowing. As I step back into everyday life, I feel a bit "homesick" yet I am hopeful that the things I've experienced this past week will keep me buoyed up and strong, while also giving me the direction and purpose I've craved for the past few months.

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Green and Yellow Flames

"Yellow Sunflower Flames"
Click here or above to download this as a free desktop/wallpaper for your computer

The sunflowers in the front garden have been late in blooming. They've spent an inordinate amount of time growing their thick green stalks very high into the air. Finally they've begun to show their glory.

"Green Sunflower Flames"
Click here or above to download this as a free desktop/wallpaper for your computer
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Chap 10: Our first winter descends upon us

Click here to start at the beginning of the story of how Rosehaven Cottage came to be

Click on any image to view larger and read captions easier

As the Christmas holidays of 2000 approached, the cool and rainy weather came. In our climate (a Mediterranean one similar to the South of France or Italy’s Tuscany), we don’t get rain all summer. The relieving rains finally come some time in October, with some of our first good storms occurring in November. By late November, the overnight temperatures hover in the 30’s-40’s (0-5 Celsius) and we begin to get our seasonal overnight fog. We were pleasantly surprised to find that our proximity to a major waterway leading to and from the San Francisco Bay (the Carquinez Straits) had a wonderful benefit—we could hear the fog horns late in the night as tankers and other cargo ships navigated the straits. I’d always wanted to live in a coastal town after having grown up in an inland valley. This was the closest I had ever come to realizing that dream. The fog horns' soft mournful sighs in the foggy distance late at night were a welcome sound.

The chilly nights were a stark contrast from what we had experienced when we first moved in during the heat waves of July and August. Chilly nights spent in an old house make one aware of every little draft—and we had many. The hallway floors had been removed, exposing the pine sub-floors with significant spaces between them. Cold air rushed in the quarter-inch cracks and chilled our feet when we traversed the hall between the bedroom and the bathroom. Edges around doors, such as the bottom edge of the door leading to the garage, were drafty too. We finally had to shove a towel under that door to keep cold air from flowing in and completely defeating our heating efforts.

The worst culprit for drafts was the room we had come to “affectionately” call “The Danger Room”. This room was part of the addition that had been built onto the house in the early 1960’s. The d├ęcor was indicative of the era and was completely out of sync with the rest of the late 40’s bungalow-style design of the house. My brother had told us of a similar room he'd seen in a friend's home that he had dubbed "The Danger Room" because it looked like all it needed was a mirrored disco ball hanging from the ceiling and techno/rave music blaring and it would make a perfect dance club called "The Danger Room".

The name stuck.

In the Danger Room, were the stairs that led to the half story that was also added in the early 1960’s. The stairwell appeared to be finished until one got halfway up the stairs and realized that the ceiling of the stairwell and the side wall into the large walk-in attic adjacent to the half story upstairs were completely unfinished. We could see the roof joists; the layer of roofing boards with the ends of shingle nails poking through; and the underside of the tar paper on the roof.

In the summer, going up the stairs was an interesting experience. Halfway up the stairs, the temperature around your head would suddenly rise to that of the interior of an oven. If you continued past the top of the stairs through a door into the large room that constituted the upstairs, then the temperature would go back down because the room was insulated. The stairwell wasn’t. It had never been finished since it had been built almost 40 years prior to us buying the house. That fact always baffled us.

With the cold nights of November and December, we discovered that this same un-insulated stairwell was now a draft corridor of major proportions. The cold air from the un-insulated attic that poured in large screened-permanently-open attic vents would come rushing down the stairs seeking the low point in the downstairs living areas. And we had two little kittens that wanted to do the exact opposite by rushing up the stairs and straight into every dirty nook and cranny of an attic space that hadn’t been cleaned in over 50 years.

Something had to be done.

The connection point between the old house footprint and the Danger Room was an 8-foot opening that probably had been a sliding glass door originally. Being an 8-foot opening made it the perfect dimensions for two standard sheets of plywood to be hung to block off the opening. It was the only way we could stay warm and keep our two curious kittens out of harm’s way. So up went the two sheets of plywood. Seemingly miraculously, our house became a whole lot warmer. Yes, we still had drafts coming in the floor in the hallway, but those were remedied somewhat with brown flooring paper and throw rugs.

Getting in and out of the Danger Room to get building supplies that we stashed in there was a bit tricky, so we eventually cut a door in the plywood and put it on hinges. With a sliding lock in place, it became a good makeshift passage door.

Sometime in late November, we experienced our first real rainstorm of the season. The rain came down in more volume than where we had lived only 35 miles south (one of the interesting characteristics of the micro-climate phenomenon of the San Francisco Bay Area). As the rain came pouring down in that first storm, we were confident that all would be fine because we’d had a full house inspection during escrow that had deemed our roof in good condition. Well, the inspection hadn’t checked the flashing along a seam in the differing roof lines between additions. Water came running in along a roof joist, followed gravity down, and ended up running in a steady stream straight into the middle of the Danger Room. At the time, we had no idea that a bent piece of flashing was at fault and we couldn’t climb the roof in the storm, so we put out pots and pans to catch the water and emptied them as they filled. We were truly living in a scene out of a movie—pots and pans filling with rainwater and all.

Fortunately, my brother came to the rescue during a break between storms and discovered the offending flashing. He straightened it and secured it with a nail or two. The leaks stopped and we haven’t experienced one since.

We learned a valuable life lesson during that first November and December. We learned to appreciate having a roof over our heads that kept us dry. We learned to appreciate having a warm draft-free home that kept us comfortable despite the elements. To this day, I often find myself including those two things in my prayers of gratitude, because I know there are still many in this world that live without one or both. I no longer take either of those blessings for granted.

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A really fun announcement!

Title: "Gazania" Digital Desktop/Wallpaper
Click here to download the desktop above

I am so excited to finally announce to everyone what I've been up to for the past couple of weeks. I've been sitting here at my computer coding and designing a new website called Rosehaven Cottage Digital Download Shop where all downloads are FREE to 99 cents.

This idea was born out of my desire to share many of my photographs as free desktops/wallpaper for people to download whenever they felt like a "change of scenery". But I also wanted some security for myself so that I didn't have problems with "poachers". I realized that if I created a shop of my own where people signed in before they downloaded, it would make my desires a reality.

I started building the site with the free desktops in mind and then realized that I had a lot of other textures, clip art, and backgrounds I've created (or drawn) that I wanted to share too that would appeal to scrapbookers, crafters, artists, and bloggers. I also realized that I am constantly doodling, sketching and creating things so that the inventory would always be growing.

Over the past couple of weeks, I've been hard at work building the shop site so that all these goodies are available to download. To make it even more fun, the inventory can be viewed by color palette or season of the year as well as the basic product types. You can browse only the FREE stuff if you want. I've tried to make it really easy to find just what you're looking for.

I hope you'll go over there and download some of free desktops to decorate your computer. There are some nice ones perfect for August in the Summer section.

You can get to the Rosehaven Cottage Digital Download Shop by clicking here,
or by visiting and
clicking on the Digital Download Shop button.

If you have problems downloading from the new shop,
please email me at so I can fix it right away.

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Chap 9: The Home Depot curse and why we hate plumbing

Click on any image to view larger and read captions

It is interesting to me how my memory functions. The work process leading up to when we were finally able to move in to our home on November 9, 2000 is so very vivid in my memory. Then as soon as we moved in, the memories get fuzzier. It was as if settling into our home finally let me fall into a routine that was comfortable and also not so memorable. But that is a good thing, in my opinion.

Because we moved in at the beginning of November, the holidays were looming before us. We wanted to have our house feel like a home for the first holidays we would spend there.

We decided that the first priority would be the downstairs toilet. We were traipsing upstairs every time we had to use “the facilities” (day and night). Additionally, with the downstairs bathroom and kitchen sinks remaining to be installed, we only had the tiny basin upstairs for washing our hands. We used a plastic bin in the bathtub to do any dishes that we dirtied—although we mostly ate take-out food for that time period.

The other priority for me was to have a room that felt “homey”. And the living room seemed like the logical choice. It had the least amount of work necessary to give it a semblance of “hominess”. Before the moving van with our stuff had arrived, I had already painted the living room walls a pale “morning dew green” that had a wonderful glow when the sun came in the large east-facing picture window every morning. It was simply a matter of cleaning up the dust and arranging our living room furniture so that room felt like a real home. Hanging pictures on the wall was the last touch and I felt comfy and cozy there. The living room with its fireplace became the hearth and heart of our home. On chilly November evenings, we would light a fire in the fireplace and relax our aching muscles while the kitties warmed their little furry bodies on a floor pillow we placed in front of the fireplace just for them. Yes, it was feeling more and more like a home should.

Arranging the living room was easy. It was getting the toilet and bathroom basin in that would be a challenge.

By this time, we were regulars at our local home improvement stores—Home Base (now defunct), Home Depot and Ace Hardware. If one store didn’t have what we needed, we could usually find it at one of the others.

Home Depot was our nemesis. We hated going there. Looking back, I know it was just the nature of any home improvement project, but it seemed to us that every time we needed something in particular at Home Depot, it would be out of stock. Or whenever we’d get into a line to checkout, the customer ahead of us would suddenly have an issue with their purchase—their card would decline, a bar code wouldn’t work on an item, or something else would occur that the cashier insisted “had never happened before”. We started to dub this phenomenon “The Home Depot Curse”. If anything happened when we were standing in line, we felt an obligation to apologize to whomever was standing in line in front of us or behind us by saying, “Sorry. It’s us. We have ‘The Home Depot Curse’.”

Of course we knew there wasn’t really a curse, but it was amazing how often it happened—probably more than 65% of the time.

We started making a game out of it. Sometimes we’d try to fake out “the curse” by each of us standing in a different checkout line until the last second. The line that moved the fastest and didn’t have a checkout setback would win out. And if my brother was with us on a buying trip, we would divide up and stand in three different lines to really fake out “the curse”.

The reality was that our local Home Depot was the only franchise within a radius that encompassed a number of towns and cities. Because of this, it had the designation of being a “contractor center” which meant that it was equipped to service local contractors. Sometimes this was a good thing, but more often than not it was a bad thing. The aisles of Home Depot were packed with contractors on weekday mornings. Stock would fly off the shelves in large quantities all at once. It was quite possible to see something fully stocked in the morning and then come back later in the day to find it had all been bought up by a contractor that had a big job and needed every unit that had been in stock.

For a short time period, because of the volume of business it was experiencing, this particular Home Depot chose to become a 24-hour operation. The employees told us that it was only one of three at that time that was going 24-hour. The other two were in Las Vegas and Los Angeles. This changeover happened to coincide with us moving into our home and starting to do projects in the evenings instead of all day long. And the 24-hour status of our Home Depot ended up being a significant blessing to us, although we didn’t know it at the time.

Hubby and I thought that since we had a Home Depot 1-2-3 home improvement book that we could definitely tackle putting in the toilet and washbasin in the downstairs bathroom on our own.

“How hard could it be?” will be engraved on my tombstone.

The plumbing contractor had stubbed out the plumbing and then left the rest for us to do. So essentially there were just supply lines sticking out of the wall and a big drain in the floor where the toilet needed to go. The tile had gone in around it all. And we faced the daunting task of getting fixtures hooked up to it.

Referencing our handy-dandy home improvement book, we installed compression fittings on the supply lines. Compression fittings are connections that use compression to keep them on and keep them from leaking. It seemed simple enough. And it was much easier than having to sweat pipe with a torch to install traditional threaded fittings (we weren’t ready for that). So after following the instructions and taking multiple trips to Home Depot to get the right fittings and lines (we learned we couldn’t ever seem to get it all in one trip), we had the toilet and the basin installed and operational.

It was so beautiful. All that gleaming white porcelain and chrome made our hearts skip a beat. It looked like a real bathroom.

Less than 24 hours after having finished the installation, the dripping started. At first it was a slow drip from the compression fitting. Hubby and I were sure it was just because the fitting had to seat properly. It just needed time.

Then the dripping increased. We put down an old towel or two to catch the water and convinced ourselves it would be okay.

It was about 1 am in the morning when the compression fitting decided to blow. Fortunately we were home and awake. We happened to be standing in the bathroom stewing about the “drip drip drip” when the fitting shot off like a rocket under the pressure of the water, and the harmless “drip drip drip” turned into a gusher of water that shot across the bathroom and blasted into the side of the bathtub. Hubby slammed the bathroom door to somehow keep the water contained and prevent overspray from going into the hallway. He had closed himself in the bathroom amidst the gushing water.

It was left up to me to run outside to shut off the main water valve to the house. That would have been all well and good except for two key points: 1) I failed to bring a flashlight with me to navigate down the side of the house; and 2) I didn’t really know where the main water shutoff valve was. I knew where it was “in theory”, but I’d never touched it or turned it.

So in the chilly night air, I fumbled around touching every utility-like thing (including the gas meter) to see if it was the shut-off valve. In the meantime, I could still hear deafening roar of the water gushing inside because the old single pane bathroom window was less than 20 feet to my right.

I started crying hysterically (which didn’t help matters at all), knowing that inside my very wet husband was trying hard to salvage our home from serious water damage. My mind was reeling with all the work we had just completed and how it might have to be redone—the floor tile, the sub-floor, the sheet rock. I became more hysterical.

It seemed like an eternity of fumbling.

I finally ran down the side of the house in a panic, stretched my arms up to the bathroom window, and started slapping my open palms on the glass while wailing“I can’t find the shut-off!” I yelled hysterically over and over, but Hubby couldn’t hear me over the din of the gushing water. I had visions of horror flashing through my mind as I pounded on the window and yelled at the top of my lungs. Mind you, it was after 1 am in the morning. Our poor neighbors must have thought we were insane.

Hubby finally heard me and opened the window. I was so hysterical that I don’t remember if it was him or me that turned off the water. I just know it finally got turned off and the geyser in our bathroom finally ceased.

Of all times for us to need Home Depot to be open 24 hours a day, it was at that time. After sopping up the water, we made our way to Home Depot.

At 2:30 in the morning, we wandered the plumbing aisle looking for a solution to our predicament. It was for that brief slice of time, at almost 3 in the morning, that Home Depot became our friend and we were extremely and profoundly grateful for whatever chain of events had brought Home Depot’s corporate management to make the decision to have it be open 24 hours a day. That status didn’t actually last much longer than a few months when the amount of early morning shoplifting caused the store to go back to regular hours. For that brief time in history, it had been open when we needed it most.

We got a compression fitting that wasn’t faulty and brought it home to install it. But our confidence in our plumbing work was shot. The local plumber down the street was called in, and he came to sweat on supply valves with threaded fittings so we could sleep at night without the thought that our bathroom was going to flood again.

And thankfully, we didn’t have to replace the tile, the subfloor, or the sheetrock.

But the whole plumbing fiasco that occurred that night, has permanently traumatized both of us when it comes to indoor plumbing. Neither of us will try and attempt any plumbing project of any kind. And neither of us trusts a compression fitting as far as we can throw one (and, trust me, did we ever want to throw one that night).

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