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Descanso Gardens

When I was a kid, my parents "made" us (my brother, sister and I) go on weekly hikes.

We hated it.

The other kids got to hang out and play (or watch TV?) while we were being forced to enjoy nature.

My paternal grandparents lived very close to Descanso Gardens, so if we weren't hiking in the mountains, canyons, or beaches – we'd "have to" go there.  (This was almost always followed up with dinner at my grandparent's house.)

Soooo boring!

On a whim, I recently drove one and a half hours to revisit this place from my childhood.

I loved it.

Really, really, loved it!

I can't understand how I wouldn't have loved it as a child too.

(This is the part where my mom laughs her ass off, right?)

The beauty of Descanso Gardens, begins in the parking lot.

Pretty_In_Pink-1I don't know what kind of tree this is, but it's beautiful and I want one.  And yes, people did stare at me strangely when I laid down in the parking lot to take this shot.  (I'm pretty sure this is the same type of tree they have growing on Rodeo Drive/Wilshire in Beverly Hills – such pretty pink blossoms!)

Due to my schedule, I didn't have the entire day to spend in the gardens - which means I'll have to return again very soon.  I didn't have time to explore more than half of what I wanted and, you know me, I can't leave anything half done.  (Of course, if I wasn't taking nonstop photos of everything in my path, I might have covered more ground.)

Bee enjoying adorable little white flowers.

I spent a lot of time in the rose garden.

Roses in the rose garden at Descanso Gardens.

I've never considered myself much of a rose person.  I like roses, but there are other flowers I like more.  

But, oh the pretty!

Pale yellow rose.

There were so many different types and colors of roses!  (Have you ever heard of a Bourbon Rose?  It looks nothing like a "normal" rose.  I'm sure I have a photo of one around here somewhere ….)

Instead of following the map I was so kindly provided, I wandered aimlessly.  

Minutes after leaving the rose garden I found myself in a forest.

Entrance to the Descanso Gardens forest.

I encountered a beautiful, huge, deer.

"You aren't supposed to be here eating in the gardens, are you?" I asked her softly.

The deer smiled at me, all the while looking at me doe-eyed.  We watched each other calmly for several minutes, and then she turned and disappeared into the trees.

While walking around in the forest, I heard the sound of rushing water.  I followed the sound and it led me here:

Waterfall at Descanso Gardens.

There was no one at the waterfall, but me.  There was a little bench nearby.  I could have sat there – by the water, and hidden by the trees, for hours.  

Maybe next time I will.

© Twenty Four At Heart

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Good News, Bad News, And Weird News

My life is SO not normal.

Weird news:

Multiple people are sending me photos of their basters.


I can't even tell you how much this amuses me.  In fact, it makes my day because hahahahahaha!

I think YOU should take a photo of your baster and send it to me too.  It can be a phone pic or whatever you want.  Baster photos make me laugh.  Please keep your baster shots rated PG-ish though in case I decide to share them.  (I really see no reason why I would need x-rated baster photos, do you?)  If you want to be creative with your baster – all the better.

Ha ha!

More sort-of weird news:

This is a blurry phone photo of Fawn:


It's not Fawn's fault she's blurry, it's mine.

By the way, HI FAWN!!

Anyway, Fawn works at my favorite tea shop.  I drink a lot of loose leaf tea (mainly iced).  I buy it in large quantities so I only need to buy it every few months.  Yesterday, as soon as I walked in the door Fawn said, "Jasmine Oolong" which is my favorite tea.

I was very impressed.  Fawn remembered and I haven't been in the store for months.

Then Fawn nonchalantly mentioned she laughed so hard she spit her coffee out the day prior while reading my Baster Post.  I was embarrassed.  I'm happy she thought it was funny.  

But …

Hello reader – meet your blogger who in her real-life-hasn't-showered-disgustingness!

This is the reason why I was such a slob:

I had a worker man (with a big tool) show up at my house early yesterday morning.  He didn't leave until afternoon.  I didn't want to shower with him in the house.  (Also?  I didn't want to shower with HIM.  I have poor grammar today!)  When he finally left I thought, "I'll just run and get more tea because I'm addicted and I can't live a day without it.  I'll keep my fingers crossed I don't see anyone I know because I'm SLOBBED OUT."

And then, I walked into the tea shop and smiley, friendly, Fawn recognized me on sight.

I think it's okay though.  I think Fawn is understanding of my slobbery-ness.  

Good News:  Fawn even gave me a delicious iced tea "on the house."  It was such a nice thing for her to do!

I like Fawn.  If any of you happen to be at the Mission Viejo Shops, you should stop into anonymous tea store and say hi to Fawn.  Tell her hi from me!  (I'm not posting the name of the store in case it would get Fawn in trouble … but there's only one tea store at that mall.)

Bad News:

A teen son doesn't find it amusing when he sees his mom posted about Worker Man's Big Tool on Facebook.  (Which was a total accident by the way – it was a message intended for some Twitter friends but I just started using Hootsuite and I don't know what I'm doing.  I accidentally posted it to Facebook.)

It must be humiliating to have me for a mom.  

More Bad News:  I'm not sure my site re-design is going to be done as soon as I hoped.  Several of you have mentioned you want to purchase prints as holiday gifts now, so … here's the scoop:

Good News:  My older prints will continue to be up (click here) until mid to late December.  You can order any of them, just the way you always have.  I will give you a few days notice when my "old" site is about to go down.  (I don't have the exact date yet.)

Good News:  I'm going to give you a sneak-peek at my new (still being built) photo site.  You can find many of my newer photos in galleries by clicking here.  And yes, you can now order prints from the new site.  

I'm able to offer many more products/sizes on the new site.  I also now have, what I consider to be, the top photo lab in the country printing for me.  Prices on some items are lower (and on some items higher) than on my "old" site.  The prices are dependent on what I'm charged.

Because I'm still getting the kinks out, and because the site isn't finished – I will be checking and approving every order myself as orders are placed.  I want everything to run smoothly even if there's still a lot of work to do behind the scenes.  (I appreciate you understanding I'm moving forward before everything is "perfect" and completed at the request of readers.)  If you have any questions, or a problem placing an order, please let me know so I can help.

I will post more details for you about what's going on with the new site, soon.  If you want a photo you don't see posted, just let me know and I'll do my best to have it available for you within 24 hours. I'm in the process of transitioning over my most popular photos ….

Thank you, as always, for being the best readers in the entire world!

© Twenty Four At Heart

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Eat Your Vegetables and Other Words of Wisdom

Yesterday afternoon I sent an inquiry out on Facebook and Twitter while I was at the grocery store.  (This is newsworthy in itself because I'm rarely on Facebook.)

Tell me about kale.  I've never had it.  Would it be good in vegetable soup?

I also texted my friend Nike to ask her if I should put kale in the soup I was about to make because she used to drink kale shakes for breakfast every single day.  (Therefore she ought to know a lot about kale, right?)  

I was NOT prepared for the outpouring of pro-kale feedback I ended up getting on Twitter and Facebook.  (By the way, Nike also said I should buy it but she was more concerned with whether or not I could join her for shoe shopping ….) 

I bought kale as a result of all your positive feedback.

I added it to the vegetable soup I made for dinner last night.

I liked kale.

My son liked kale too.  He ate FIVE bowls of soup.  (He's a teen boy, and he loves homemade soup.  I can't entirely credit kale for his soup-appetite.)

Now, I already KNEW kale is very healthy, packed with nutrients, etc.  I'm very educated about healthy foods.  (After all, I do live in California – the land of health freaks.  I was also raised by two incredibly health-conscious parents long before "eating healthy" was fashionable.)

But …?

I had a perception of kale tasting bitter and being gag-worthy.

Maybe my perception was formed years ago when Nike used to tell me about choking down drinking her morning kale shakes?  Maybe hearing her stories permanently scarred my psyche?

In any case, I'm glad I finally tried it.  I like it enough to make it a regular part of my family's diet.  Several people shared links with me to their favorite kale recipes and I plan on trying them as I get my kale-bearings.

Do you like kale?

How do you cook it?

Do you have a vegetable you refuse to even try?

I still won't eat turnips.

Why not?

Well, my dad used to go on and on about how terrible they were.  My mom never served them as a result.  I've never had a turnip, but if my dad (who's a total foodie) hates turnips that much then surely I would hate them too, right?

Do you have a vegetable you HAVE tried but vehemently dislike?

For instance, I'm glad I tried kale and I can now say I like it.

However, I've tried lima beans and I HATE them.

I don't like peas at all either.  Bleh!

Well …?

© Twenty Four At Heart

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Embarrassing Purchases

I bought a new turkey baster yesterday, and I felt dirty for hours afterwards.

Last year, you might recall, I had a few "incidents" while cooking Thanksgiving dinner.  One of those incidents was the explosion of my favorite Master Baster.


I've been meaning to replace it ever since.

I know grown women who struggle with embarrassment when purchasing tampons or other "feminine" products.  I know men who feel self conscious purchasing condoms.

For me?

Embarrassment is all about people knowing my Master Baster needs.

At first, I eyed the basters from afar (or across the grocery aisle).


I approached the basters cautiously.  

They were hanging, conspicuously, on display.

I looked at them.  They looked cheap, and likely to explode just like my favorite (good quality, but very old) Master Baster did.

The need for a baster nagged at me though.

I might not have time to look for a Better Baster before Thanksgiving.

Sometimes, Any Baster is better than No Baster – right? 

I glanced around.  No one appeared to be looking my way.

I quickly grabbed a baster from the display.  

I walked away quickly, feigning nonchalance.

I reached into my grocery cart and squeezed the red knob of the baster a few times.

A too-squishy knob would never do.

Of course, I needed to baster with a pliable knob too.

If you can't squeeze your Master Baster, you're bound to have a host of problems.

Mentally, I estimated the baster's length.

I wondered if basters come in different lengths and thicknesses?

I've only known one baster, in all my adult years.

And so it begins …

The holiday season has arrived.

Are there any items you feel uncomfortable or self conscious purchasing?

© Twenty Four At Heart

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Dream House

I don't usually share terrible photos with you.

Well, I try not to.

But ….

Yesterday, I found myself visiting my dream house and the light for photography at the time was terrible.  It was glaring right at me, and into my camera.

I couldn't resist though and I took this photo anyway:

Ocean-front dream house in South Orange County, CA.

I promise to go back and take better photos of Dream House soon.

To be honest, I really don't care about the actual house.  I'm in love with the location.

Yes, Dream House is worth tens of millions upon tens of millions of dollars.  Maybe I'll get it for my birthday next year?

The views must be astounding from all the decks.  The house faces west towards beautiful sunsets and Catalina Island.

The rock arch/cave underneath the house is huge.  (Several people could comfortably hang out in it and pretend it's the basement of Dream House if they want.)

Oh, how I would LOVE to fall asleep every night listening to the waves crash on the rocks below.

Can you imagine how fun it would be in a storm?

Waves crashing, fireplace lit, a glass of wine in hand ….


Where would your dream house be located?

© Twenty Four At Heart

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The Derby Square Bookstore

Piles of books everywhere.

The Derby Square Bookstore in Salem, MA is definitely unique.  You can barely walk in the store because there are stacks of books everywhere.  Finding the cash register when it's time to pay for something is also a challenge.  Somewhere, amid all the stacks, is a small "hole" where a man is hiding with a cash register.

It's hard not to fall in love with this store, but don't expect to find a particular title without help from the employees.  It appears to be pure chaos with aimless stacks of book, although supposedly there is some type of method to the madness.

This is a "must see to believe" type of store.  I am so glad I had the opportunity to visit.

© Twenty Four At Heart

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Winners and Other Stuff

•  Thank you to everyone who participated in my give-away yesterday.

The winners are:

DrLori71 with her comment:  If I win I'd love to buy myself something. But I'll probably just end up buying more Legos for my boys lol.

And –

Annette with her comment:  Perhaps a new pan to replace the one I burned up!

Congratulations – you each will receive a $50 Amazon gift card!  

In other news –

•  The programming of my bionic arm and shoulder has been corrected.  That's right, I'm no longer corrupted.  In addition, I now have two new programs added to my arm.  All five of my programs have been adjusted to be more effective than what I've had since I became bionic.

So far, it seems to be helping quite a bit.

I also have a very interesting new side effect from the bionics … I'll tell you all about it next week in a separate post.  It might involve at least one nipple.

•  Several of you have contacted me wanting prints for the holidays.  The goal is to have my new site (including the photo ordering piece of it) up and running by the end of November.  I'll be spending most of today working on uploading photos to the new site in preparation to go live.  Thank you so much for your patience.

•  I re-visited a haunt from my childhood this week with a visit to Descanso Gardens.  I'll have more about this special place next week.  

For today, I'll share just a few photos from my visit there.

Garden bench in a nook created by vines.  


I think I could "hide" in the nook for hours.  I might read, or I might just HIDE!

Also, I was pleasantly surprised to discover beautiful fall colors here in Southern California.

Fall leaves

Fall foliage isn't something we get a lot of here.  I think it's SO pretty!

Of course, there were a ton of beautiful flowers in the gardens also.  I didn't have nearly the time I wanted to explore, but I was able to find several I considered photo worthy.

Orange, yellow, and red rose

So much beauty!

I can't wait to make a return trip when I can spend a little longer roaming the gardens.

Congratulations again to today's winners.

I hope all of my readers have a great weekend!

© Twenty Four At Heart

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I had plans for a creative give-away today.

I want to thank all of you for hanging in there with me during my fifteen days without a computer.  (But who's counting, right?)

I'm still doing a give-away, but the creativity part of the deal has been put on hold.


•  I didn't anticipate having to go up to L.A. for a very lengthy day yesterday.  (They really need to develop a high speed train from The OC . . . because SHEESH the traffic!)

•  I didn't anticipate having to take Briefcase to the hospital for some testing before dawn this morning.  (He's fine – his doc just had an early morning opening for some routine testing.)

•  I didn't anticipate having my bionic arm re-programmed incorrectly by Romeo's replacement this week.  (Romeo has left me … how could he?  Even funnier, Dr. Painless asked me if I felt like a jilted lover. Ha!)

Incorrect re-programming means my bionic arm isn't working – so ouch!!  Also, I suddenly have to re-arrange my week for a second trip for reprogramming.  Currently I get an error message informing me I've been corrupted … which would be hilariously funny if I wasn't in pain.  

Also?  It's much more fun having Romeo stimulate me vs. his female replacement.

•  I didn't anticipate heading into a pain flare-up midday yesterday.  Such perfect timing since my electrodes are down and can't offset the pain.

Can YOU be creative while on Percocet?  Because I just see blurrrrrrrr…!

I will be doing some posts on potential gift ideas as the holidays approach.  If possible, I'll tie in a few more give-aways in the process.

For today,

I'm going to keep it simple but useful.

I'm offering up TWO $50 Amazon gift cards.

You can order almost anything from Amazon … books, music, food, home furnishings, cameras, photography equipment, etc.!!  You can also re-gift them for the holidays if you'd like.

I don't do "complicated" give-aways so here are my very simple rules:

  •  Every comment you leave counts as an entry.

  •  You may enter as many times as you'd like.

  •  You're only eligible to win ONE of the two gift cards.

  •  I'll pick the winners using Random Integer software.

  •  Entries will be closed at 8 pm Pacific time today, Thursday.

  •  Winners will be announced on Friday.

(Spam comments will be deleted and disqualified.)

Any comment will do, but if you're having trouble coming up with ideas –

I'd love to hear what's on your wish list for the holidays this year.

© Twenty Four At Heart

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It’s a Beachin’ Life

* I'll be doing a give-away tomorrow!  Be sure to check back. *

We had rain here last Sunday.  It was kind of nice.  Briefcase lit a fire in our fireplace and I spent the day getting caught up on a lot of "inside" things while he worked.

We have our first (supposedly) big storm arriving on Friday.

For many of you, this would be no big deal.  A big storm for us is probably small by the rest of the world's standards.  But, we don't get that many storms so …..


I've been planning accordingly.  I've been ignoring most of my responsibilities and getting as much photography time as I can while the weather is nice.

And yes, that has caused a bit of a pain flare-up. 

And yes, I did see Dr. Painless yesterday.  I'll tell you more about that in a different post. 

For now,

Here are a few of the shots I've taken in preparation for rain ….

(Because when it rains, Orange County-ites tend to hibernate and avoid the outdoors at all costs.)

Beach cave at Treasure Island

I love the above cave.  Why are we drawn to holes in rocks??  Is it something left over from caveman days?

There are still plenty of flowers blooming here …

Yellow flowers

Aren't the flowers pretty?  I'm not sure what kind of flower they are, but I saw them right near the sand.  They're so bright and cheery.

The birds of paradise are also blooming like crazy right now.  There's orange and purple everywhere in Orange County, or so it seems.  I have better photos, but this one is right in front of me so I'll share it:

Bird of Paradise

We've had some unbelievably beautiful evenings too.  Many times the sunsets are so intense, so vivid, I feel like everyone will think I've completely saturated the color on the photos I take of them.

"This looks fake even though it's real," I mutter to myself.

Do you mutter to yourself?

I seem to mutter a lot, especially as I edit photos.

And, although I do love spectacular sunsets …

I love "dusk" at the beach just as much.

Dusk at an Orange County beach

Make sure to visit tomorrow so you have a chance to win my give-away!!

© Twenty Four At Heart