Hills and Harbor


For the sake of privacy, I don't post photos of our town very often, but this past Thanksgiving weekend was so beautifully sunny that Hubby suggested we take a drive around our town to look at the lovely fall colors before they've been blown away by a storm. I decided I wanted to share s couple of photos from that outing here.

Our small San Francisco Bay Area town is uniquely situated against rolling hills and the water of the San Francisco Bay that stretches tendril-like fingers inland through straits, past us, and far into the interior of the state of California. If we get November rains and overnight cold snaps (as we have) we have the unique privilege of seeing our hills turn green at the same time as the trees turn lovely autumnal shades of gold, orange and red. This fall is one of those spectacular ones I long for.

I remember taking my brother to see our town when we first moved here almost a decade ago. The reason why I remember is because of my brother's reaction. As we stood on the pier at the marina, he looked up at the rolling hills that come down to meet the water. He was quiet. Then he said, "The hills are pensive." And then he was quiet, pensive and meditative again himself.

Many times over the years since I've found myself drawn into deep thought by the hills and the harbor. I've often found a connection with my soul and my Maker because of them.

Yesterday in church, we were discussing the idea of finding a safe harbor in life. The image of our own real hills and harbor resonated in me as a powerful visual image of what we were discussing. The hills protect our harbor from the winds that blow out on the open sea and even on the stormiest days, our waters are relatively calm in comparison to the treacherous waves of the Pacific to our west. The boats that anchor in the harbor bob up and down on the ripples of the harbor instead of being crashed and tossed by ominous curls out at sea.

I noted that as the captain of my own "life ship", I have a choice. I can choose to seek out a safe harbor and put down anchor, or I can choose to sail in treacherous waters. It is up to me.

It is also up to me to identify what is truly a safe harbor. It is up to me to analyze the topography before me at any given time and determine if I am headed for or away from a safe harbor. It is up to me to discern what is a safe harbor for my own little ship.

Another realization came to me. I may not feel the brute force of the elements while anchored in a safe harbor as I would if I cast myself off into the open waters. But I will still be bobbed up and down by the ripples and waves of life. I will still feel the cycles of the tide. I will still feel the wind. And if I'm not anchored properly or if I fail to man my anchor rope, I will be pulled out into dangerous waters. Being the captain of my life's ship is a constant and never-ending job of vigilant analyzing, discerning, and maintaining my bearings--always seeking the safety of the hills and the harbor.

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Lighted Kissing Ball

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The above arrangement is another of the design projects I've been working on for Aqua-Gems using their products--Aqua Gems Liquid Marbles and BrightSPOT Submersible LED Accent Lights.

I've named this design "Lighted Kissing Ball". The above arrangement is made with fresh roses and lemon leaf leaves for greens, but I also made it up in a silk sample. Here are the steps on how to assemble one for yourself.

Materials list:

1 Gala Bouquet Holder by FloraCraft (from craft store)
1 Bright Spot light (used white)
Aqua Gems (any color--I used purple)
48 fresh roses (as shown) or 24 silk roses
Green leaves for filler (for silks use green leaves from stems)

  1. Carefully open bouquet holder at middle seam and remove floral foam (slide a dull knife around the middle if necessary)
  2. Using a butter knife or flathead screwdriver, remove plastic plug separating globe from bouquet handle
  3. Fill hollow handle with Aqua Gems
  4. Turn on Bright Spot and push up into the bottom of the floral foam (cut out foam material if necessary)
  5. Replace floral foam in holder with light shining down
  6. Snap holder back together
  7. Arrange flowers in floral foam so the edges touch and all foam is covered
  8. String ribbon through hole in bottom of holder to hang
Click here to visit the Aqua Gems website for more information
or to buy Aqua Gems Liquid Marbles
and BrightSPOT Submersible LED Accent Lights for this project

Disclosure: I was paid to design the featured project. I AM NOT being paid to feature this project or product(s) on my blog and WILL NOT receive compensation for clicks through to the company website featuring the product(s)
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Lighted Carnation Parfait Centerpiece

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The past two weeks I've been working on a confidential design job that I can finally write about. I've been designing projects for Aqua-Gems using their products--Aqua Gems Liquid Marbles and BrightSPOT Submersible LED Accent Lights. A number of the design projects I've created will be used in a large retail craft/fabric store account that Aqua-Gems has, but I've been given the green light to showcase them on my blog too!

The first is a lighted centerpiece I've named "Carnation Parfait". Here are the steps on how to assembly one for yourself.

Materials list:

1 parfait or sundae glass (I got mine at a restaurant supply store)
1 drinking straw
1 BrightSPOT light (I used pink)
1 package of Aqua Gems Liquid Marbles (I used pink)
6 standard carnations in a color matching the Aqua Gems you use
2 white standard carnations
1 artificial red cherry or cranberry on a pick wire (from craft store)


1) Turn on the BrightSPOT and slide the drinking straw over the bulb of the light (see photos below)

2) Place a small amount of hydrated Aqua Gems Liquid Marbles in bottom of parfait glass and nest BrightSPOT in Aqua Gems (see photo below)

3) Fill the parfait glass full of Aqua Gems Liquid Marbles

4) Position straw just to the right or left of center

5) Cut the carnation stems to 3-4 inches in length

6) Arrange 6 colored carnations in a circle around entire rim of parfait glass (let edges of carnations hang over the edge of glass)

7) Place 2 white carnations in top center (re-position straw if needed)

8) Place cherry on top by sliding pick wire down into center

And you're ready to "serve"!

Click here to visit the Aqua Gems website for more information
or to buy Aqua Gems Liquid Marbles
and BrightSPOT Submersible LED Accent Lights for this project

Disclosure: I was paid to design the featured project. I AM NOT being paid to feature this project or product(s) on my blog and WILL NOT receive compensation for clicks through to the company website featuring the product(s)
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Reminder to self: create beauty not deadlines


Okay, first of all I will admit that the above "mosaic" was supposed to be posted on Monday for my "Monday Mosaic". But that didn't happen. And instead of beating myself up about it, I'm going to just post it halfway through the week. Does it really matter that it's a couple days late? Not really.

I think about how often I impose unnecessary deadlines, restrictions and rules on myself simply because some time way-back-when I decided something was a good idea. Does anyone else do that, or is it just me? Inevitably it's those little things that I end up getting stressed out about--rarely is it the big stuff. And if I take the time to step back from my stress and examine whether the thing I'm stressing over is actually something self-imposed, I usually discover that it is!

I have to wonder how much of my life is robbed by that kind of stress.

The past couple of weeks have been crazy and busy for me creatively with new horizons suddenly opening up for me (I can't share just yet, but I will soon). With all this busy creativity that technically should be stressing me out, I'm not stressed out. I just feel busy, utilized, validated, and content. When my head hits the pillow at night, I feel a good kind of tired. I'm thinking this is how it should be.

Something tells me I'm going to have to come back and read this post sometime in the future to remind myself to not self-impose silly deadlines that will inevitably crop up again. Yup... I know myself pretty well.

~Create beauty and not deadlines~
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The calming activity of corsage-making

I was anxious to get back to floral design class again this week since I missed both my classes last week due to illness*. I wasn't sure what everyone else would be doing, but I knew I had missed the class on fine-tuning our corsage-making skills, so I figured I'd just do that.

I came to class with one small $3.99 bouquet from Trader Joe's in hand that had 5 red roses and some white alstroemeria in it. I knew I didn't need a lot of flowers for a corsage. I took my chances that there would be some flowers left in the classroom fridge that I could use for filler. As it turned out, there were three pretty calla lilies and three sweet orchids left in the fridge that were "begging" to be made into a corsage. So I ended up building two during our 3 hour class.

Making a corsage is an interesting activity that I find quite soothing and relaxing. The pre-work is what is so time-consuming. It involves making a bunch of "floral picks" with bunches of filler around a central flower all taped to a tiny water source and wire with floral tape. We have blocks of stryofoam that we stick each pick into once it's done, then we move on to the next one until we have enough picks to gather together and tape to make a corsage. The act of taping each flower is repetitive and doesn't require a lot of heavy-duty thinking, so I find it relaxing as I sit and think or quietly chat with my classmates next to me as they work on their arrangements.

Corsage-making was just the calming activity I needed today as I'm finally feeling well again after fighting the nasty virus I had*. The corsages made me happy with their lovely colors as I twirled them in my fingers, twisting the floral tape around and around their stems. That is the epitome of soothing for me.

What calming and restful activity do you like to do?

*Illness Note: We suspect I had the H1N1 flu, but the doc didn't feel the need to swab me to verify it. He said a flu is a flu, that they're all A-type flu viruses, shrugged his shoulders and exclaimed that he didn't understand what the big hubbub was about. It's just a normal flu season, in his opinion. In my opinion, everyone needs to calm down, take care of themselves, and be responsible enough to quarantine yourself if you are sick--even if you think it's just a cold. This flu is much like a cold if you are not immune-compromised. So be thoughtful and don't put someone who IS immune-compromised at risk. Stay home.

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Monday Mosaic: Insight


1. I know, 2. Remember when...?, 3. Sparkle, 4. Spent, 5. Autumn lacecap, 6. Up, 7. Golden coins of Autumn, 8. Roses and Apples, 9. Antiqued Abraham Darby, 10. An elephant never forgets..., 11. New and old, 12. Pure love, 13. Let your light so shine...

Last week, my photos seemed to revolve around introspection, remembering happy memories, and insights.
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