grateful for a week of vacation…

Scott went back to work today after being off for a week. I am thankful for the week of vacation. I am thankful to be back to a routine. You know the feeling, right?

We all have different kinds of friends in life. It adds the spice to living. When we announced we were moving to California, almost to a person our friends said, ‘We can’t wait to come visit you there!’ It’s something you say, no? It just seems like the appropriate thing to lessen the upcoming distance in your friendship.

But not our friend, Rachel. As soon as we found a house here in California, she sent me a text with her available dates and asked, ‘When can I come?’ (big grin) For any enneagram followers, Rachel is an 8. She waits for no man! She strikes out and gets what she wants. A weekend trip to the west coast was what she wanted.

And we were more than happy to oblige!

Therefore, our week of vacation was spent preparing for Rachel’s arrival, the daytrips we took with her, and then spending some quiet evenings alone after she left – vegging and relaxing. It was the perfect week!

It was great having Rachel here. She is a bundle of sunshine and energy. But we were also glad to have a representation of Kansas City walking around in our California home. It was a nice connection to our home town and our first out-of-town guest.

We picked her up from the airport and drove to San Francisco – defying the rain to stop our plans. We ate seafood on the boardwalk and shopped at an adorable Marketplace on the pier that was filled with artisan cheese shops, meat and fish markets and everything in between. All local shops. Scott and I both want to head back there soon with a cooler in the trunk to buy some freshly caught fish and make – what I’m sure will be – the most amazing charcuterie board ever! We always look forward to going back to San Francisco. There’s so much to see and do. And there’s nothing quite like the smell of ocean air all around you.

I told Rachel my goal for the weekend was for her to be able to go home and say, ‘We saw the ocean and then the next day, we saw the mountains.’ That’s the greatest thing about where we live – we are a short drive to both extremes.

On Day 2 we drove to Calaveras Big Tree State Park to gawk at the enormous sequoia trees. For me and Scott, it was our first time seeing snow for the year. It was chilly but certainly not unbearable. Besides, the enormity of the sequoias and the immense height of the pines kept your mind off any cold. It was a beautiful, picturesque drive. We stopped to take the occasional picture (but never enough for me!) and even popped into a local donut shop in a small town along the way. After seeing the trees (and eating our picnic lunch in the middle of the park…but inside the warm car!), we stopped in a few antique shops in towns we passed on our way up the foothills. It was the perfect little daytrip.


(Scott is standing on the stump of a giant sequoia. For reference, Scott is 6’3″!)

We arrived back home in mid-afternoon as the Kansas City Chiefs were playing their play-off game against the Indianapolis Colts. We recorded the game so we could watch it a little later than the start time. We sped through the commercials and eventually caught up to the end of the game to watch with the rest of the world as the Chiefs decidedly, 31-13. We are now gearing up for the game on Sunday against the New England Patriots for the AFC Championship. All fingers and toes are crossed.

On Day 3 – and sadly the last day Rachel was here – we drove around our nearby town of Folsom. We spend a lot of time in Folsom as well as attend church there. We wanted to show her our little historic church where we attend as well as some area shops. We did a little shopping, grabbed some lunch, then drove by the Folsom Prison (made famous by Johnny Cash) before driving to the airport in Sacramento for her return flight home. It was a jam-packed weekend and it felt invigorating and adventuresome.

For the remaining days of his vacation, Scott and I worked on a few projects around the house and did the normal running around town for this and that. But mostly, we took it easy. We watched some favorite movies and we watched some new ones. We played card games (complete with thick banter and bullying) and Scott made some wood projects in his workshop (which I will blog about soon.) I worked on my California Adventures album (also, an upcoming blog post.)

Scott and I are good at doing hard things together and doing slothful things together… we are a good team and you know what? I really miss him when he’s gone back to work after being off for a week…

We continue to enjoy our life out here on the west coast. It’s also a lot of fun when others come and enjoy it with us. Thanks for a great visit, Rachel!

Rosemary and Time

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When we first moved into our California house, there was a VERY overgrown bush tucked in between the oleander and a yet-to-be-determined hedge. It was overgrown and dead in places and clearly hadn’t been manicured or tended to for quite some time.

It was on the backlist of things to get around to.

Any yet, one day as we were clearing out another area of the yard, I wandered over and dug a little closer. As soon as I touched it’s branches I knew it was rosemary. Not the little rosemary we grew in clay pots back in the midwest, but a huge bush of an herb. And ohhhh, did it smell heavenly.

Scott got out his big hedge clippers and we went at it. I hesitated, thinking I should probably google when the best time was to trim back a rosemary bush, but it was in such bad shape we thought ‘what the heck’ – what could we possibly do that’s worse than how it looked now?!

As he cut and discarded, trimmed back and tossed out, I grabbed a few sprigs for myself.

And then I grabbed a few more…

An armload of the rosemary went to a new friend in California and the rest I took into the garage to let dry.

Instead of trimming it all the way down to the ground, we left a little of it to stretch out and breathe some fresh air, now that it was newly free to grow and spread with all the room we’d given it.

One evening we found ourselves in front of the tv to watch a christmas movie so I plopped down on the floor with the dried rosemary stems and stripped the herbs from each stem (insert an achy back but fingers that tingled with the aroma of fresh rosemary oils.)

I made the following recipes I want to share with you. We used our backyard rosemary but you could also use the fresh rosemary you buy at the grocery store or garden center.

  1. Lavender Rosemary Bath Salts (we even used dried lavender from the lavender bushes we planted earlier in the fall)
  2. Lemon and Rosemary Sugar Scrub
  3. Lemon Rosemary Bath Salts
  4. Williams-Sonoma Potpourri
  5. and even though I haven’t made it yet, I’m sharing a recipe for extracting rosemary oil to make essential oils and
  6. Infused-oil Rosemary

Our kitchen has been smelling fab.u.lous lately, I’ll tell you that!

First, this Lemon and Rosemary Sugar Scrub. Oh my! It smells unbelievable! Winter brings dry skin. Elbows, heels, arms and legs. They all suffer from the lack of moisture in the air. The defoliating properties in this sugar scrub are both healthy for your skin as well as a healthy aroma in the shower.

Rosemary oils are an antiseptic. They protect skin cells and are very good for your skin and hair.

Lemon and Rosemary Sugar Scrub

1C extra fine granulated sugar
1/2C grapeseed oil
2T dried rosemary leaves
1 tsp lemon essential oil
1/2 tsp rosemary essential oil
1/2 tsp lemon zest

Combine all ingredients together. If it’s too thick, add more grapeseed oil. Too thin, add more sugar.

Store in an airtight container.

Use within one month.

Williams-Sonoma Potpourri

2C water in a pot

Slice up one lemon – put in pot and bring to a boil

Add a few sprigs of rosemary

1/2 tsp vanilla

Simmer – adding water as needed

Lavender Rosemary Bath Salts

1C Himalayan sea salt
1C Epsom salt
1/2C coarse Kosher salt
10-20 drops lavender essential oil
2T crushed, dried rosemary (pulse in the food processor a few times)
2-3T dried lavender buds

Combine the salts, lavender buds and crushed rosemary

Add the essential oil and mix thoroughly

(You can add purple food coloring…I didn’t.)

Store in an airtight container.

Lavender is a go-to essential oil. It’s a stress reducer (perfect for bathtime, no?) and has anti-inflammatory properties. I usually go through my lavender oil more quickly than others because I use it a lot at night for relaxation and sleep. (Funny sidenote: Scott read somewhere that it causes men to lactate so that’s usually an ongoing joke at night too!) 

And speaking of Scott.

Another ongoing ‘joke’ between us since we first met is our ‘role reversal’ when it comes to bathing. Scott is a hard-core bath taker. (As are his parents before him.) He relaxes and enjoys it and I……well, I…….hate baths. (please don’t hate me!)

I know! I know! Everyone loves to take a bath, right? No. Not me. They make me impatient and the thought of sitting in non-moving water kind of grosses me out. Needless to say, they are NOT relaxing for me.

However! I do really really love soaking my feet in warm water with good stuff dissolved inside. Now THAT is very relaxing and rejuvenating. Plus it’s a good activity while bingeing on Mrs. Maisel.

So we will use these bath salts in different ways – but each enjoying our own version of healthy, indulgent self-care.

Lemon and Rosemary Bath Salts

By the way…we used rosemary and lavender buds from our backyard and (fingers crossed!) eventually we will be able to use the lemons off our lemon trees.)

2C Epsom salts
1/2C baking soda
2-3T fresh dried rosemary, finely chopped
8 drops lemon essential oil
2-3T lemon zest

Combine Epsom salt and baking soda

Add half the essential oil drops, mix, then add the remaining drops

Mix in chopped rosemary and lemon zest.

Store in an airtight container.

The next two rosemary recipes I plan to make next…

Rosemary Essential Oil

Fill a pot with water. Put a bowl (or use a double boiler) on top of the pot of water with 2-3 ounces of dried rosemary leaves.

Cover the leaves with 2C of grapeseed oil

Simmer on low heat for 3 hours

Seal and store in a cool, dark place

Infused Rosemary Oil

1 pint jar

Clean and dry your rosemary – make sure there’s no water on the rosemary

Warm the olive oil on low heat for a few minutes. Make sure you don’t get it hot – that destroys the healthy properties.

Put some rosemary sprigs in the pint jar.

Pour the warm olive oil over the rosemary and fill the jar. The warm oil begins the infusion process with the rosemary. Set aside to cool.

Once cooled, seal the jar and store in a dry, cool, dark place for one week to complete the infusion process. After the week, you can strain out the rosemary or leave it in until you’re ready to cook with it.

The Kitchn has a great recipe for freezing the extra herbs to use later on in cooking and other DIY rosemary projects.

I hope these give you some ideas on how to use fresh rosemary in a variety of ways. I’d love to hear how you use rosemary – or other herbs – and let me know if you use one of these recipes and how it turned out. No time to make the recipes right now? Well by all means – pin it for later, right?!

I love simple DIY projects that merely take – a little rosemary and time…
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