Leaf Peeping in Hope Valley

It’s a goal of ours every year to get up to Hope Valley in Alpine county to see the golden leaves of the aspens. It’s difficult to gage exactly when the leaves are at their peak. Sometimes we’re a bit early and other years we arrive and the leaves have already faded from their glory, but none the less it’s always a beautiful, scenic drive. On this day the leaves weren’t at their height of color, but we were greeted with gorgeous sights everywhere we looked.  We won’t have time to drive up again this month, but I’m betting that this coming weekend the trees will be putting on a spectacular show .img_1282img_1287img_1284img_1280img_1288img_1290img_1331We spent a lovely afternoon taking in the sights, strolling around the trails and hills, and then had a delicious early dinner at the cafe at Sorensen’s Resort. Autumn has definitely arrived!

“Just before the death of flowers, and before they are buried in snow, there comes a festival season when nature is all aglow.” ~Author Unknown

 

Glorious Glen Alpine Trail

I think it’s safe to say that the best weekends involve some hiking, a chance for a little get away to the mountains or the shore, exhilarating fresh air and the incredibly beautiful vistas mother nature has to offer us.

We recently hiked the Glen Alpine Trail in South Lake Tahoe. To get there you must drive the long one lane road along the south shore of gorgeous Fallen Leaf Lake. I’m certainly not complaining; look at this incredible view from the car!img_1044We parked in the parking lot near the general store and walked a little over a mile to get to the trail head. There is limited parking closer to the trailhead, but we’ve always enjoyed the walk. Along the way we passed the lower falls which were just trickling, and the cozy Saint Francis of the Mountains chapel where a wedding was underway. I refrained from taking a photo, wanting to give them their privacy, but it was truly a lovely sight.img_1053img_1059img_1052img_1063img_1049img_1100Once we got to the trailhead we were gifted with meadows, springs, historical sites, rushing waterfalls, and stunning view of Mount Tallac all along this secluded mountain trail.img_1230img_1098John Muir was just one of the many hikers who found the trail unforgettable, writing that it “seems to me one of the most delightful places in all the famous Tahoe region. From no other valley, as far as I know, may excursions be made in a single day to see so many peaks, wild gardens, glacier lakes, glacier meadows, and alpine groves, cascades, etc.”img_1069img_1074img_1084img_1083img_1082img_1107img_1095img_1109img_1110His words are perfect. We found all of that and a whole lot of love!

 

Savoring the Last Days of Summer

It’s almost time to give summer a long kiss goodbye and welcome the jewels of autumn. With comfortable warm daytime temperatures and cool nights and mornings, my gardens seem to be putting out a last beautiful blast of blossoms. Here’s how things looked today.

Japanese Anemone
img_6096Foxgloveimg_0941Zinniasimg_0828Lamium
img_1011Fuchsia
img_1009 Calibrachoaimg_1008Roses
img_1007img_1006Impatiensimg_0953Sweet Autumn Clematis
img_1020Black- eyed Susansimg_1019Sedum, Autumn Joyimg_1016Salvia, Black Knightimg_1021Perovskiaimg_1014Lorapetalum
img_1027Sunflowersimg_1023I’m still harvesting tomatoes from my vegetable garden daily, but in another month I’ll be pulling them out. They’re the last of my summer vegetables that are still producing.img_1025 And then there’s this! Vibrant Virginia Creeper already adding so much gorgeous autumn color to a fence.img_1018And this beauty I found in the  lawn the other day. Yep, you can bet I’m savoring every bit of this late season beauty.img_0934What’s blooming in your garden during these last days of summer?

And now, off to take my husband’s hand and set off for an evening walk to admire that incredible harvest moon!img_1040

A House in the Trees

This summer we had two new structures built on our property. One is a garden shed that I promise to show you soon, but today I’d like to give you the tour of our new tree house play structure for the children, which was finished in June, and has already seen many hours of play.

Nestled within four oak trees, and shaded by their branches, this new structure sits, ready for the children. As you walk up to the steps you’ll notice three personalized mail boxes. There might be stickers, a small toy, bubbles or a love note inside. You just never know!IMG_0808IMG_0137 Up the steps, here we go.
IMG_0171Hold on to the tree branch hand rails for support.IMG_9918Don’t forget to check the little fairy house on your way up the stairs. There might be something special in there.IMG_0368Open the wee door. This time there’s an acorn and a shell!IMG_0370Now we’re up at the top, about three feet off the ground. Excuse the mess; children have been busy playing here!IMG_0800IMG_0806IMG_0802

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There’s plenty of room for running, climbing, butterfly chasing, playing with toys, doing a little chalk art, or steering a “ship”. Most recently we traveled to the ocean to see the whales!

In the coming years I can imagine camp outs and tea parties, star gazing and moon viewing. And I, for one,  can hardly wait to see just what other discoveries will be made here!

Catching My Eye

I can feel it. Can you? That subtle shift away from summer and into fall. Cooler morning and evening temperatures, less daylight, acorns spotted on my walks, birds feasting on the faded sunflower’s seeds, and yes, just a hint of color in some of the leaves. Here’s what’s catching my eye right now in late August:

This maple leaf gave me reason to pause yesterday evening as I was out watering. Just a hint of what’s to come!IMG_0811And this Chinese Pistache caught my eye in a parking lot last week! Won’t be long now until the trees are all aglow with gold, rust and crimson hues.IMG_0775I’ve cut back many of the summer perennials that put on such a gorgeous show for us all summer. Still blooming are the Black Eyed Susans,IMG_0627Bee Balm,
IMG_0695Colorful and carefree Zinnias,IMG_0367and a few Hollyhocks!IMG_0359Last September, I went to the outdoor wedding of a friend and fell in love with Sweet Autumn Clematis which was rambling along a split railed fence. A few days later I ran out and bought one for our yard. Just look at it now, happily climbing up the pergola! It’s a new favorite of mine.IMG_0810My brother brought me this rock all the way from Colorado. I’m loving the way it  nestles in the roots of this oak tree near our porch. It’s bigger than my hand!IMG_0799A double heart within an olive tree’s bark. Such a delightful find recently!IMG_0542

Tell me, what’s catching your eyes during these glorious last days of summer?

“In summer the song sings itself.” ~ William Carlos Williams

Filoli Gardens

Located just 30 miles south of San Francisco in Woodside, and surrounded by a nature preserve, lies the grand estate and sixteen acre gardens called Filoli. The word Filoli was made up by the original owner of the estate, Mr. William Bourn, and it stands for FI-ght for a just cause; LO-ve your fellow man; and LI-ve a good life.

This was my fourth visit to this little bit of heaven and I don’t imagine anyone could ever tire of wandering through the immaculate grounds, taking in all of the boundless beauty and learning of the history of this impressive place. Donated to the National Trust for Historic Preservation in 1975, the country estate and the gardens are open to the public for exploring, self touring or guided tours. We toured the home, and it quite something to see, but my focus here is the spectacular gardens. Have a look!IMG_0602IMG_0597IMG_0553IMG_0565IMG_0626IMG_0561IMG_0562IMG_0556IMG_0590IMG_0601IMG_0577IMG_0571IMG_0629IMG_0585 (1)IMG_0583IMG_0578IMG_0579IMG_0557IMG_0564IMG_0567To learn about the history of Filoli, upcoming events, and planning a trip, I encourage you to visit Filoli‘s informative website, and then, just as soon as you can, treat yourself to a visit to this exquisite jewel. I promise you won’t be disappointed!

 

Taking Care of Myself

Lately I find myself having to walk away from the news,  turning off the TV. Newspapers pile up on the counter for a few days until I’m brave enough to sort through them. I have all but checked out of some social media sites because of the mean spirited political climate. Don’t get me wrong. I am interested in and want to be informed of what’s going on in the world, and I want to do my part to make the world a better place. But for the time being, in light of the violence, chaos, the constant turmoil and heartache in our world, I now need to take it all in small doses.

I firmly believe that despite the evil we know that exists, it is still an incredibly beautiful world filled with good hearted, thoughtful, kind souls everywhere. There is beauty beyond measure to behold. We don’t need to judge; we don’t need to agree on anything at all to be kind to one another. Let’s extend more compassion, kindness, forgiveness, and love. Let’s work on finding the best in everyone.

As for me, I’m taking care of myself: I plan to keep going on early morning walks with this sweet girl,IMG_0083I’ll keep hiking and  seeking solace in nature,IMG_8265I’ll spend all the time I can with these grand loves, IMG_0524IMG_0020IMG_0450I’ll keep writing, reading, listening to music, baking and trying new recipes, looking for good news, visiting with the wonderful friends and family members I’ve been blessed with, I’ll have morning coffee under the pergola. IMG_0488I’ll keep my eyes open for hearts,IMG_9247and I’ll be in the garden.IMG_0354IMG_0361IMG_0358IMG_0356IMG_0366IMG_0465IMG_0492IMG_0194I’ll be counting my blessings and praying for our world.

Peace to all.IMG_6973

“When the world wearies and society ceases to satisfy, there is always the garden.” ~Minnie Almoner

To Die For Blueberry Muffins

The blueberries were ripe and ready for picking at Once in a Blue Moon Blueberry Farm in El Dorado Hills, so off we went with these two loves to gather our loot for making blueberry muffins. IMG_9763

IMG_9815IMG_9816IMG_9759Ahhh, two buckets full; time to pay for them and make our way home for some baking.

To Die For Blueberry Muffins

These delicious muffins have a sugary-cinnamon crumb topping, which I’m a total sucker for!

Ingredients:

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour

3/4 cup white sugar

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/3 cup vegetable oil

1 egg

1/3 cup milk

1 cup fresh blueberries

Crumb Topping Ingredients:

1/2 cup white sugar

1/3 cup all purpose flour

1/4 cup butter, cubed

1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Grease muffin cups or line with muffin liners.
  2. Combine 1 1/2 cups flour, 3/4 cup sugar, salt, and baking powder. Place vegetable oil into a one cup measuring cup; add the egg and enough milk to fill the cup. Mix this with flour mixture. Fold in blueberries. Fill muffin cups right to the top, and sprinkle with crumb topping mixture.
  3. To make crumb topping: Mix together 1/2 cup sugar, 1/3 cup flour, 1/4 cup butter, and 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon. Mix with fork, and sprinkle over muffins before baking.
  4. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes in preheated oven, or until done.

IMG_9766IMG_9767IMG_9768Now before we go any further, I must admit that there was the sweetest request to add sprinkles to the muffins. Sprinkles in blueberry muffins? Well, why not, indeed!IMG_9770IMG_9771IMG_9790Now we’re ready for our snack and a favorite book. Yum!IMG_9807

Cheers!

IMG_0016South Lake Tahoe, only an hours drive from our home, is our favorite place to get away to. The list of things to do in and around Tahoe is unending, and no matter what we choose to do while we’re here, time spent in this piece of heaven on earth is always special. Here, our worries are cleared away, and our souls are soothed and rejuvenated.

Nearly thirty four years ago we got married here. Through the years there have been countless family camping trips and days spent on the shores. Anniversaries and special occasions have been celebrated here. This is where we often come to hike in warmer months and snowshoe during winter months. The scenery is astoundingly gorgeous any time of the year.

A week ago we came across this dazzling field of lupine right at the shoreline in Tahoe City while exploring around the Gatekeeper’s Museum. You can walk right out into the middle of all this magic. We learned that when the lake recedes, lupines take over the flat moist area at the edge of the lake. The beauty of this field takes my breath away!
IMG_9970IMG_9974And here we are, best friends and loves of each other’s lives celebrating, once again, in Tahoe. Our special occasion on this day? The first time we met thirty six years ago, on a late June night. Me, just twenty, while he was twenty two.  How did we get so lucky to have found each other out of the vast amount of people in this big, wide world? Thirty six years of holding each others hands and hearts through all that life brings. All the while learning, compromising, growing, struggling, cherishing, forgiving, trusting, and encouraging. Most of all, loving.IMG_0010My heart overflows with gratitude and boundless love for this man. Here’s to many more years of celebrating life in Tahoe. Cheers!

Where Fairies Dwell

Clearly there is a bit of magic happening along the American River parkway in Sacramento, as my dad and I observed during a recent morning walk.

The trails have everything necessary for fairies, elves, and leprechauns to set up housekeeping:

Cool, clear water from the river,IMG_9890branches of a tree that have grown together, creating whimsy,IMG_9899magnificent oaks to live in,IMG_9896IMG_9894heart shaped grape vine leaves, plenty of grapes, and wild blackberries,IMG_9889a heart shaped rock,IMG_9888and pretty wildflowers. IMG_9887Who could resist making their home right here surrounded by all of nature’s treasures?IMG_9875Open the door…
IMG_9876Wow! Special feathers, pebbles, and clear lids to use as stools.

A pretty painted rock,IMG_9883A peacock feather, sparkling jewels, stones for a path to the door, flower petals and a tiny little doorbell!IMG_9880Here’s a closer look. Open the door! Look how sweet!IMG_9881Here’s another little home.
IMG_9874And another!IMG_9884Someone’s having so much fun! I’d love to come across them as I’m out walking.

I’m going to be on the lookout for more fairy homes on my walks. Hope you’re lucky enough to find them too! And wouldn’t it be fun to make your own? Who knew that last week was International Build a Fairy House & Den Week? Earlier today I came across a free booklet, Build a Fairy House and Den to download. The author includes lots of great ideas. Have a look!

“Hand in hand, with fairy grace, we will sing and bless this place. ~William Shakespeare