Thursday, August 6, 2015

Botanic Gardens

Last week Dan and I rode bikes up to the Ranch Santa Ana Botanic Garden for a special butterfly exhibit featuring music, drinks and access to the garden past normal business hours.

Butterfly
 We had a wonderful stroll through part of the 86 acre park. These gardens feature California native plants. We were lucky enough to happen upon the beautiful "Majestic Oak" that is over 250 years old.

Grand old Oak tree


We didn't take Annie with us on our adventure and it's probably a good thing we didn't as she might have taken off after a desert hare and ended up in a Cactus bush!

Desert Hare

Friday, July 24, 2015

"Where the Streets Have no Name"

On Liz and Alex's last full day in Southern California we filled up water bottles with cold water, packed a picnic lunch and drove West on the I-10 to the desert. As we approached the entrance to Joshua Tree National Park we turned on U2's Joshua Tree album and admired the many funky trees that were beginning to crop up.

Rock piles at Joshua Tree National Park
 As we hiked through this awesome desert ecosystem we decided we needed to pick our favorite trees and pose beside them.

Mary chooses a funky favorite tree

Dan channels the energy of this tree
 Did you know that these trees can live to be thousands of years old and can grow as tall as 49 feet?!
Liz raising the roof

Alex and his spirit tree
There were lots of cool large rocks balanced precipitously on top of other boulders. We were sure not to get too close in case one got loose and tried to crush anyone.

Boulder Croppings

Liz at the Ryan Homestead

California Dreamin'

We have been in Claremont for a week and a half now and are really enjoying Southern California. This past Saturday Liz and Alex came for a visit. They happened to visit us during the rainiest July in LA in recorded history. We had two solid days of rain and that made for some unusual weather!
Liz and Mary in RAINCOATS
On Saturday we braved the rain in raincoats to explore the shops in downtown Claremont and enjoy lunch and dinner in Claremont Village.

On Sunday we drove up to Mt. Baldy Recreation Area for some hiking and exploring. At one point along our walk I dropped my water bottle cap and it fell down a steep hill into a ravine where there was a small creek. I was ready to call it a loss, but Liz came to the rescue and ventured down to retrieve it.
Liz rescuing my water bottle cap
 After hiking for a while we decided to head back to Claremont. At this point it started to sprinkle a little. This sprinkle turned into a full on torrential downpour and by the time we made it back to the car we were all entirely soaked!
Dan, Alex and Liz taking a (pre-rain) break from hiking Mt. Baldy
 Later that night we ventured out to the neighborhood of Koreatown in downtown Los Angeles where we ate a delicious Mexican meal at a Oaxacan restaurant called Guelaguetza. After dinner we went to sing our hearts out at a fun karaoke spot.
Dan and Liz singing Karaoke in Koreatown
 We also drove down to Laguna Beach for some ocean time.
Laguna Beach
After the beach we had our friend Suzi and her son Austin over for dinner. For dessert Liz made lemon bars with the lemons from our very own lemon tree! Suzi also brought over lemon bars so it was fun to have a lemon bar tasting for dessert.
Liz and Mary lemon picking

Yay for fruit trees!
 Liz also discovered a lime tree at our house - we're not yet sure if it's a regular lime tree or a key lime tree - either way we'll be sure to not get scurvy out here!
Lemons from our tree in a beautiful new wooden bowl from Michigan

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Pagosa Springs

Durango Dan arranged a weekend at a fancy vacation home on the San Juan River for us to meet up with the McGrundallnesses for a visit. We enjoyed a hike to Chimney Rock formation, an exploration of Treasure Falls and a trip to the Pagosa Springs Hot Springs in addition to lots of playing with the kiddos, fancy homemade potions courtesy of Ethan and terrific meals cooked by all involved!

Dan, Ethan, Dan, Chris and Julian enjoying the view

Scenic Overlook

Erin, Dan, Elliot and Ethan at Treasure Falls
 On our tour of Chimney Rock Ethan volunteered to grind corn using the tools that the Native Americans who lived in this area would have used.

Ethan grinding corn with the Mano and Metate

Flowering Cactus

Mary, Chris, Ellen and Ethan in front of Chimney Rock and Companion Rock

Treasure Falls

Chris and Julian ready for a hike

Dan and Audrey by some wildflowers

Mesa Verde

Last week on Monday packers came to our house in Springfield and packed up all our stuff, on Tuesday movers came and loaded all our stuff on a truck, on Wednesday we sold our house and got on the road and drove for over 15 hours until we arrived on Thursday in the wee hours to Dan and Erin's house in Durango for a visit - what a whirlwind! Thursday was Dan's birthday and we celebrated with a trip to Mesa Verde.

Spruce House
 We enjoyed going down into an ancient Kiva at Spruce House.

Dan climbing down into a Kiva
On our way to look at the amazing Cliff Palace ruins we found 8 dollars on the ground - our lucky day :-).

Cliff Palace
We explored the balcony house and had to do some pretty gnarly climbs up ladders and cliff faces to get in and out of the ruins. Luckily we had only adventures, no misadventures!

Balcony House

The Birthday Boy coming through a tunnel
After our guided tour we did an overlook trail hike where we ate our picnic lunch in the howling winds.

Scenic overlook at Soda Canyon
 We wrapped up the day back at the house and celebrated Dan's day with a Baskin Robbins ice cream cake.


Wednesday, June 10, 2015

A Visit to Colorado

We just got home from a visit to Colorado to see Dan's family and some friends. We had a wonderful time in Longmont with Dan's Mom and also snuck away a few times to hang out with friends.

We met up with Alicia and Gavin in Golden. It was great to see them and meet Gavin!

Alicia and Gavin doing some climbing.

Gavin, Alicia and Dan at the park
 We also spent some time in Boulder - Dan met up with his old advisor for a coffee and chat then we met up with Adrienne and Dora for a hike and dinner in downtown Boulder.

Mary, Adrienne and Dora in the mountains
 We took a bunch of walks around Longmont with the dogs, Cody and Annie,

Mom, Dan, Cody and Annie at the Park
Other highlights included a trip in to Denver for a Rockies game with Dan's siblings and their families and a trip in to Denver to see Brian and go to the Modern Museum of Art followed by dinner with him and friends.

Lindsay and Noah at the ballpark - Go Rockies!

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Making glass paperweights

Last weekend I was treated to an extremely special adventure. I took a paperweight making class at the glass studio in Springfield. This is something I have wanted to do for years and years - I was thrilled to finally be in a hot glass studio creating beautiful pieces of art!

Terry Bloodworth, Springfield Hot Glass Studio owner / instructor, and Mary
I was the only student signed up which was nice to have the one-on-one attention. Terry was a fantastic teacher - he demoed each type of paperweight then guided and coached me as I made my own pieces.

Glory Hole on left, rod being heated in the flame in the middle and the glass melting crucible on the right
The rods are heated before going to the vat of melted glass then we dip the rod in the glass to gather up the molten glass. After gathering the glass on the end of the rod you have to "rotate, rotate, rotate" the rod so that the glass doesn't drop off it. Then you can do cool things like dip it in colored glass and roll it against the marver to swirl the colors or twist and twirl the glass to make a knot or dip it in soda ash to create bubbles.

My paperweights in the oven cooking after being created
It was such a thrill working with Terry in the studio and creating these pieces - I am so lucky to have had this unique opportunity!

Mosaic I designed to be put in paperweight


Didactic Paperweight
Bubble Swirl

Two color swirl

Coral Reef
Endless Knot









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