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Fantastic Friday!

I am SO ready for the weekend, how about you?

First of all, the winner of yesterday's giveaway is:

MissMolly, with comment #40.

Congratulations MissMolly!

I keep wanting to sing "Good Golly Miss Molly" now!

Thank you to everyone who participated.  I really wish I could send everyone who entered a photo, but I can't.

This was a fun giveaway to do.  I think I'll do something similar again in the future.  Maybe next time I'll do an ocean/beach scene on canvas.  Landscape photography printed on canvas turns out as beautiful as a painting when properly done.  (And I have someone who does the most beautiful work!)

In the interest of keeping today light and breezy ….

Wait – does that sound like a feminine hygiene commercial?

Let me try again …

In the interest of having a fun and easy Friday, I'm going to share some random photos from the week.  You might have seen some of these on Twitter and/or Instagram if you follow me in either of those places.

Random child playing on the beach.  

Why does it always touch my heart to see children playing on the beach?

(Well, except for the ones who run over my towel when I'm napping and kick sand in my face.  Those kids bug me.)


The sun breaking through the clouds at the end of yesterday's baseball game after a few "sprinkles" of rain.  I thought this photo came out so pretty considering it's just an iPhone photo.

We have a lot of lizards in Southern California.  I never think twice about them, but my recent house guests were surprised to see them.  (By the way, all lizards are not geckos and the above lizard is NOT a gecko.  The gecko/lizard confusion has been a big one since the Geico commercials began.)  This particular lizard tried to make a dash into our house, but I thwarted its efforts.

I have a "no lizards in the house" policy.  Well, except for my son's once-upon-a-time pet gecko which really was a gecko.  It was named Gecko (!) and we allowed it to live indoors in a terrarium for a short while before returning it to its natural habitat.  It ate crickets.  That is an entirely separate blog post.

South Orange County has some of the most expensive gas in California:


If my neighborhood wasn't so mountain-y-ish I'd be riding my bike everywhere I go.

I made a purchase for the house recently:

It's a new lamp (from Restoration Hardware) to replace a very old, and recently broken, lamp.  (My walls are not yellow even though they look yellow in the above photo.  I had a filter on my lens when I took the picture.) 

The old lamp broke accidentally when someone was playing:

He loves his giraffe.  

He loves his giraffe very, very, much.

© Twenty Four At Heart

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From Me To YOU!

One of my photos has been selling very well these last couple weeks.

In fact, my own mom tried to buy it for her house and I had to stop the order when I realized what she was up to.  

You see, my mom has a tremendous affinity for hummingbirds.  My parents live (retired) on about 13 acres up in Oregon.  My mom puts multiple hummingbird feeders up every spring and summer.  She's had a love for these beautiful birds her entire life and passed the trait along to me.

Knowing how much she loves hummingbirds, I had already planned to gift my mom with this photo:


I ordered it for her sized as an 8 x 10, in what is called a photo standout.  While I was at it, I ordered an extra one to give away to one of you.

From the front it's cropped a little and looks like this:

(Sorry, the above is not the greatest photo-of-a-photo.  Also, the "real" thing doesn't have my watermark on it.)

A standout, however, is like a box – thus, it stands out.


The sides are black.  The standout doesn't need to be framed.

It even has "holes" in the back to mount it, making it easy-peasy to hang.

A standout photo makes an awesome gift, or better yet – keep it for yourself!

I have ONE to give away and all you have to do is leave a comment to be entered to win.  This is an unsponsored giveaway, meaning it's my gift to you just because.

•  You may enter as many times as you'd like.  (Your email address will only be seen by me.)

•  You may enter even if you live outside the United States.

•  Contest closes at 9 p.m. Pacific time tonight.

•  Winner will be chosen using Random.org and announced tomorrow.

Good luck!

© Twenty Four At Heart

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My Giveaway Has Been Postponed in Honor of Vaginal Dryness

I know I promised a giveaway today, but I've had to postpone it until tomorrow.

Urgent business found its way to my inbox yesterday afternoon and I feel it has to be addressed immediately.

I received a PR pitch yesterday and I've been terribly traumatized by it.  It was unlike any of the other bazillion PR pitches I receive every day.

The subject line of the email read:  

Pamper yourself or your mom with the comfort she deserves this Mother's Day!

Rather than describe the contents of the email, here it is for you to read yourself  (I've highlighted the areas which particularly traumatized me!)  My comments are in regular print, and the email itself is in dark bold print:

Hi , Life moves too quickly. Help rejuvenate your mom with a day at the spa, indulge her with chocolates and flowers, help her relax and slow down from her fast-paced world full of deadlines, commitments and obligations. And help her be more comfortable with XXXX, A Long Lasting Vaginal Moisturizer.

(Why not just put some vag moisturizer in Mom's box of chocolates this Mother's Day?  Or hide it in her bouquet of flowers?  Can you imagine Mom opening up her box of vaginal moisturizer at your family's fancy Mother's Day brunch this year?  "Thank you kids, it's the best gift EVER!")

We all know how busy a mom’s life can be but this Mothers Day take time to educate your mom about the treatment options available for vaginal dryness.

(My mom has never uttered the word vagina in her entire life and I'm pretty sure she doesn't know what one is.  If I took the time to "educate" her about vaginal dryness treatments, I'd first have to define VAGINA for her.  After I defined VAG, I'd then have to tell her she doesn't need to have a dried out vag if she'd just let me "educate" her.  I can't imagine a more touching Mother's Day!)

Nearly every woman will experience vaginal dryness sometime in her life, oftentimes making even daily activities unbearable.

(I hate it when that happens!  Oh wait … it hasn't ever happened!  When was the last time you couldn't do the laundry because your vagina was dried out?  Or the dishes for that matter?  "Sorry dear, I'm going to skip washing the dinner dishes tonight due to my dry vag."  Or maybe, "Sorry readers, my vagina was too dried out to write a post today!")

It is most often associated with the normal decline or fluctuation of the female hormone estrogen. This fluctuation can be triggered by childbirth, breastfeeding or menopause. Dryness can also be caused by stress, certain medications, or excessive exercise.

(If your mom excessively exercises her vagina, it will dry out.  Is that what they're saying?  Do any of us REALLY want to think about that?  I think not.)

Estrogen free, XXXX Long Lasting Vaginal Moisturizer goes to work immediately to provide soothing and long lasting moisture.

(How many times have they mentioned long lasting now?  How long is fake vaginal moisture supposed to last?  Hours?  Days?  Weeks?  Months?  Does it petrify your vagina while it's in there?)

As the cells of the vaginal wall are regenerated, dry cells are cleared and XXXX is eliminated naturally.

(In other words, wear a pantiliner when you use it because it will drip right out of you along with some "dry cells"!!!!  That's quite a Mother's Day thought, isn't it?  Ewww!)

As with dry skin on your face and hands, regular moisturizing treatment may be necessary to prevent dryness from recurring.

(I get it now!  It's just like HAND LOTION!  We should all moisturize our vagina's regularly just like our hands.  Thank you for enlightening me!) 

This Mothers Day take time for yourself or time to educate a woman you love about vaginal dryness …! 

As it turns out, I might have been the first blogger to tweet about this PR pitch yesterday – but many others soon followed.  It is, honestly, the worst PR pitch I've ever received and I've gotten hundreds, if not thousands, of PR pitches.  It also begs the question, how did the PR company decide which bloggers they suspect of having moms with dried out vaginas?

P.S.  Apparently, spell check does not recognize VAG as a word.

© Twenty Four At Heart

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Apologizing For My Worst Post Ever

* I will be hosting a photo giveaway tomorrow, make sure to stop by! *

My guests left on a redeye out of LAX last night.  (Translation:  I was up very, very, late seeing them off.)

I was expecting a well known blogger to be staying with me today, giving me one additional day of playing hostess, but plans changed and I'm now (sadly) famous blogger-less.

With all the guest commotion, I haven't had much writing time so I thought I'd give you a brief update on what I've been doing.

•  Spending way too much time on L.A. freeways.

•  Eating too much, drinking too much, getting too little sleep.

•  Logging several miles of walking/hiking in an effort to counter all of the above.

•  Snapping iPhone photos in my front yard:


•  Drinking a lot of Jasmine Oolong iced tea, which I might be addicted to.

•  Taking a few photos with my "real" camera.


•  Driving baseball carpool.  Baseball carpool involves hours upon hours in the car with smelly teenage baseball players who tell inappropriate jokes and then laugh uproariously.  

•  Helping PR make SIX posters for school.  It took HOURS of my weekend.  (Seriously!)

•  Booking a family trip to Hawaii for this upcoming summer.  Briefcase insisted on the trip, and I was *forced* to go along with his wishes.  I might have added a couple extra days when I made the reservation.  (Shhhhhhhhh!)

•  Omigod Hawaii – that means BATHING SUIT TIME!

•  Noticing funky, unusual, cloud formations in the early mornings.

(Taken while sipping my favorite coffee on my patio.)


Now that my guests are gone, I'm gearing up to photograph a high school baseball tournament.  There are, I think, seven games in the next nine day period.  I may have to skip photographing a few of them because even the thought of all those hours of photography makes me cringe in pain.  Baseball requires a BIG, HEAVY lens and the games usually run 2-3 hours long..  My monopod has helped my arm a lot, but there are limits to what I can handle pain-wise.

OK, this is the most boring post ever.  I'm sorry – I'm exhausted!

I'll be back tomorrow, hopefully refreshed, and with a great giveaway.

© Twenty Four At Heart 

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Signs My Hormones *Might* Be Changing

* I love you, male readers, but you're not going to want to read this post!  Please come back and visit again tomorrow!  xo

Ok, first of all, let's just be honest.

Women's hormones are always changing, even before our first period.  Our gender is screwed by forces out of our control.  

Basically, we're fucked the moment our ovaries develop in utero.

Remember, a couple months ago when I told you there was a shortage of tampons?

Later that same week, I saw my favorite brand of tampons back in the stores and I decided to stock up on them.  (There were rumors they were being discontinued.)  I might have gone a little overboard by buying enough to last me another two years.  Stop laughing … I was very focused at the time.

I haven't had a period since.

No kidding.

I have a cupboard filled with a two year supply of tampons and I'm pregnant.

Oh wait …???

I've had a period every 28 days since I was barely 11 years old.  (My three pregnancies being the only exception.)  My body is like clockwork ….

So, what the hell?

"I just went through menopause," I announced to Briefcase when my period was a week late.

"What?" he asked skeptically.  

"Menopause.  I went through it last week while you were gone," I answered.

He raised one eye questioningly, grabbed a beer, and wisely hid behind the newspaper.

"Maybe we're going to have a BABY!" I suddenly exclaimed wide-eyed.

(long silent pause)

"A BABY!" I said again, in case he hadn't heard me.  "That's why my jeans are so tight!"

I instantly began worrying about my unborn fourth child, and what my three existing kids might think about a sibling so much younger than themselves.  Baby names started popping into my head at an alarming rate.

"Um, Suzanne?  Do you remember having your tubes tied?" Briefcase asked questioningly.  "It was around fifteen years ago …?"

"Oh, that's right," I frowned.  I absently tugged on my too-tight jeans as I pondered the idea I might simply be – fat. 

Clearly, that is not an acceptable possibility.

"My tubes must have grown back together!" I announced suddenly.  

Briefcase gave me a panicked look, then sighed, and shook his head no.

(He seems to do that a lot around me.)

I turned to Doctor Google and began muttering out loud as I read.

  •  I haven't had any night sweats – it can't be menopause.

  •  I'm (so!) lacking "mental clarity" – it must be menopause.

  •  I haven't had any hot flashes – it can't be menopause.

Here are my symptoms:

I've been getting a lot of headaches and they seem hormone related.  (Meaning they're the kind of headache I often get when I'm PMS-ing.)  But maybe they're related to my arm/shoulder/neck injuries instead?   

The music I chose, and put on my own iPod, is irritating the hell out of me.

On Tuesday I woke up with a pimple on the left side of my nose.

By Friday it was gone, but I had a new one on the right side of my nose.

On Sunday, I stared in the mirror, horrified, as I watched mustache hairs sprout out of my face right before my eyes.

I'm completely lacking in energy.  I'm considering a full time job as a couch. (Or just, perhaps, taking a nap – whatever!)

I'm craving carbs (especially chocolate!) just like I do when I'm PMS-y-ish, but no period.

I cried a ridiculous amount at a sad movie the other night.  I always cry at sad movies, but not as much as I did at this one.  (Broken hearts are a tragedy, let's all sob out loud together and hold hands while we do it!)

I seem to be going through some sort of I don't know what I want to be when I grow up crisis.  Also?  How did my life turn out like this, what the hell?

I suddenly don't know who the frumpy lady in the mirror is, but I wish she would give the old me back.

So Internet, what do you think?

Am I pregnant?

Am I perimenopausal … whatever that is?

Or maybe I really did have a one week jump into full blown menopause?  Is that even possible?  Without any hot flashes/night sweats … anything?

© Twenty Four At Heart

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Busy as a Bee

My guests have been surprisingly easy, but still - 

I've been very busy since they arrived.

Not too busy to snap this photo yesterday, though.

© Twenty Four At Heart

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The Runoff

In spite of wearing sunscreen, I'm sunburned from yesterday's baseball game.  It's been in the 90's the last two days here.  But, Orange County had a cooler than normal, wetter than normal, winter this year.

The snow in the mountains, the rain in the hills …

Eventually it makes its way to the ocean.

Most years, it's just a trickle.

This year, a river has been born.

© Twenty Four At Heart

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It's funny how in the span of just a few days …


I went back in time and relived so much of my past.

I laughed, I cried …

I submerged myself in all of my past experiences, and feelings, again.

And then?


Just like that

I knew it was time to put the memories away, and close the door.

© Twenty Four At Heart

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Ruffled Feathers

I get a lot of wildlife roaming through my backyard.

People always seem surprised to hear it because this is Orange County, the land of Disneyland and bad reality TV shows.  Nonetheless, I live adjacent to a "national forest" and I see a lot of critters.

Recently, a pair of doves have taken up residency in a tree adjacent to my patio.  I imagine they're building a nest because our yard seems to be the favorite nesting place of every.single.bird living in our little canyon.

Yesterday, one of the doves became upset when Mocha (our chocolate lab) chased her off our patio. 

In fact, you might say Mocha ruffled the dove's feathers.


I'm feeling like that dove today.

I have a second round of house guests arriving tonight.  I have a lot to do to get ready for their arrival.  I'll be driving up to LAX to pick them up, and I don't expect to get home until well after midnight.

I shot a baseball game yesterday which means I also have a team full of parents waiting for me to edit several hundred photos.  I have no time to edit them, because … house guests.

In other words, I'm feeling very overwhelmed by my "to do" list.

I plan to continue posting through the chaos of the next week, but if I miss a day you'll know why.  I might even subject you to whatever else I find in my old photo albums if I don't have time to write.


I'm very excited because next week I'm going to do a giveaway.  I'll be giving away one of my photos which I made into a "standout."  It turned out so beautiful!  (I'll have details next week.)

In the meantime, if any of you have any tips on house guests made simple for hosts with one working arm, please let me know.  I tend to stress myself out way more than I should when I have visitors.

© Twenty Four At Heart

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Proving (Once Again!), I’m Willing to Humiliate Myself on the Internet

We've been doing some cleaning out, and rearranging, at home lately.

Yesterday, I found a huge box of old photo albums Briefcase had recently moved into our garage.  Our garage gets really hot during the summer.  I didn't want all our old photos ruined from the heat.  I opened the box and began moving them inside.

Of course, I got sidetracked and started looking through old albums.

And, of course, my arm started flipping out (!!) on me for having moved the heavy box.  (I only moved it a total of six inches, but!)

I decided moving all the heavy albums, without help, wasn't a smart thing to do.  So I stopped moving them, left them strewn all over the floor for Briefcase to swear at   find  pick up later, and sat down perusing the albums I had so far rescued.

And then …

I began to giggle.


Well, because …..


In 1984 I was very skinny, and now I'm fat.  I also had big poofy hair, because it was the eighties and there was some kind of rule about having Farrah hair right about then.  

It seems hairstyles changed frequently, because by 1985 my hair went perm-curly-crazy.


Napa – summer of 1985  (Photo taken by Briefcase.  He was new to my life.  At the time, I never in a million years would have believed I'd end up eventually marrying him.  He, clearly, was not my type.)

Please notice the horrible Dolphin shorts in the above photo.  Yesterday, one of my readers asked me what Dolphin shorts were on Twitter.  She's, obviously, a young-un.  I explained to her Dolphin shorts were all the rage in the 1980's for some un-Godly reason.  Dolphin shorts made the thinnest of thighs look fat and were not complimentary on anyone.  And … they were very, very, SHORT shorts.

You probably also noticed, even in 1985, I had a camera around my neck.  Photography and I go waaaaaaaaaay back.

Well, 1985 rolled on and by the end of the year Briefcase and I were serious enough to take a vacation together.  We took off for a week at Club Med in Cancun, Mexico.

Oh yes, we did!

How eighties is that?

One day, on our Cancun Club Med vacation, as I was pulling back my wild-permed hair to head out to the beach, Briefcase was being annoying and snapped this photo of me as I said, "Don't take my photo!"



I was unintentionally sexy in a very 80's way.

I wish my body still looked like that.

Do you know, at the time, I thought I was fat.

Seriously, I did.

I'm 5'5" tall and I weighed 115 pounds.

I guess, like many women, I've always felt insecure about my body – even when I was thin.


I had never touched the color of my hair.  That horrible, brassy, look in the above photo?  It's, no doubt, from too much sun combined with the 1985 perm.

(Now, of course, I've tried all sorts of different things with my hair … pink, purple, highlights, low-lights – you name it!)

Okay, I suppose I've given you enough laughs for one day.

Did you hear me?

I said you can stop laughing (at me) now ….

© Twenty Four At Heart