Monday Morning Memories

My mom died three years ago yesterday. Sometimes it seems so much longer, maybe because my dad died just a few months later and there was just so much we were all going through back then. It was a tough time, they had the dementia/Alzheimer's stuff going on. I remember when I got the call from assisted living that my mom and fallen and they were taking her to the hospital. It was the same day that little newborn Riley and Katie were coming home from the hospital. I remember looking at the sky, seriously, and out loud asking, "why now, why now". I feel bad admitting it, but I was angry. I just wanted a couple of days to celebrate the birth and enjoy my first grandchild! When I called the hospital, they say she would be okay, and in a few days they would send her back to assisted living. I felt better, although it only lasted a day. Above is a picture of me with my parents when I was a baby. Where did all that time go?This picture is my mom with Brande at the hospital when Katie was born. It makes me a little sad, wishing that she could still have done the same thing with Riley, after Morgan was born. A couple of days after I got the call from the hospital, its was 6:16am on August 30th, 2006. The nurse asked me to "hold" because the doctor wanted to talk to me. I was on "hold" for what seemed like forever, which actually was probably less than five minutes. The nurse got back on the phone and then said the doctor wanted me to come to the hospital right away. I "knew" my mom was gone and asked the nurse, but she wouldn't tell me. I understand much more now, how my mom had been so sick for so long and just "held on" long enough for Riley to be born. It still didn't make it any easier though. But with all things in life, with the passage of time, you accept what happens in life. And I know my mom is in a better place right now where she is no longer in pain. I just hope she knows that I'm trying my best to be the best Gramma ever to my baby girls, Riley & Morgan. I miss you Mom!

Back to School Time

When I opened the store yesterday morning, I was once again blown away by a brand new display! After all, it's time to get ready to go back to school. Country Roads goes back "vintage style"!I think my favorite part of this display is the drinking fountain! And for those of you that have shopped with us for years, the big potting table we've displayed from for years, is now in the garden for sale if you are interested.School just isn't about "readin, writin, and arithmetic", you've got to have a little fun playing!Remember these desks? Thankfully, I'm happy to say I do NOT! But I love the blue patina on it. I love this display and a big "thank you" to my boy Bryce and Darcy! Looks awesome!



I learned something about myself this week, I'm spoiled! As many of you know, I'm very close to my family and I get to see my two grandbaby girls, Riley & Morgan, almost every day! Riley, Katie, and Vinnie went down to San Diego for a few days this past week.I missed Riley so very much. Morgan, and her mommy and daddy, live with me, so I see her daily. And actually babysat last night while Bryce & Justine went out to dinner for their anniversary. And Riley, Katie, and Vinnie live less than ten minutes from me so I'm use to seeing Riley almost every day as well!I would never want to miss Riley's birthday, so I drove down to San Diego to spend the day with her. Katie & Vinnie ended up staying an extra day, so I haven't seen Riley since Wednesday. I know, it doesn't sound like a lot of time, but to me it feels like weeks since I've had her wrap her little arms around my neck and say, "I love you Gramma". As Morgan took a little nap last night, I just sat and watched her sleep. And then I realized how very spoiled I am when it comes to "Gramma's girls"! They are such a big part of my every day life, and when I don't see them, there is such an empty feeling inside of me. Thankfully, Riley comes home today, and we are having a family birthday party for her over at her house to celebrate her birthday! And me, I'll be smiling the whole time, because I AM spoiled and never, ever forget how much those little girls mean to me and how blessed I am to have them be a part of my life!


Want To Feel Old??

I went to see the movie, Taking Woodstock, this afternoon. I love going the movies in the afternoon by myself. I turn my iphone off so there is no messages, texts, etc. I always go to this little movie theater on PCH not too far from Seal Beach Leisure World! So, today, as I'm watching Woodstock, I kept thinking, "wow, that was 40 years ago", and I'm looking around the theater and I felt so old! Next time I think I'll choose a theater not so close to Leisure World! Yep, that was me 40 years ago, did I mention 40 years ago! As I look at that photo, so many memories come back to me of days gone by! I still remember all the stories about Woodstock and the music, oh how I loved the music. I wish they would have had more music in the movie, my only tiny objection. Watching it just took me back to days gone by that seem in some ways so long ago, but in other ways like it was yesterday!If you get a chance, and don't mind being reminded that you are getting "older" go see Woodstock, the memories are awesome. Think I'll be on itunes now downloading some of my favorite "oldies" from the Woodstock days!


The San Diego Zoo

Yesterday, to celebrate Riley's 3rd birthday, Brande & I drove down to San Diego to go to the zoo with Riley, Katie & Vinnie. For Riley's birthday, she got a camera, she loves to take pictures!I haven't been to this zoo since my kids were little. I had forgotten what a great place it is. Here, Riley takes a picture with her new camera of the bears while Brande holds her.The zoo had just opened their new elephant exhibit, which was awesome. Riley really enjoyed the elephants.I have ALWAYS loved the petting zoo's, as does Riley. Goats are one of my favorites too!After our day at the zoo, we all went to Old Towne San Diego, I love it there. And they have the best Mexican restaurant. The Mariachi players sang, "Happy Birthday" to Riley as she blew out her three candles on her birthday flan! Riley loves Mariachi players and as Brande said, "she will expect them for every birthday from now on". As we were leaving, the Mariachi guys were playing music to a table of Japanese tourists out on the patio. Vinnie held Riley up on the wall, as she danced and clapped with the music. And in turn, the Japanese tourists were taking pictures of Riley. All and all, I think she had a pretty special day! I know I sure did too.


Happy Birthday Riley!

Three years ago today, Riley was born. I was in the delivery room and got to help deliver her. You never, ever forget that feeling and the bond!!!Aunt Brande was in the delivery room too helping out and as you can see, the two of them bonded quickly after Riley was born!And a couple of days later, Riley came home and I couldn't put her down, my tiny baby girl! And in the blink of an eye, my little baby had turned one year old. We had a huge first birthday party for her at my house.Riley cried when everyone sang "happy birthday" to her! Once she stopped crying, she liked her cake! And before I knew it it, in the blink of an eye, my little girl was now two years old!! All of my family went to Disneyland that day to celebrate Riley's birthday as Riley had lunch with all the Disney Princesses. And today, my little girl is three years old. I took that picture last week when I gave her one of her birthday presents. I'm getting ready to leave now. I'm off to meet Riley and her mom and dad in San Diego. They went down last night. Brande and I are driving down now to spend the day at the zoo with my little baby girl! They grow so very fast!


Blooming Tuesdays

For this "Blooming Tuesday" I wanted to share a couple of photos from my dear sweet friend, Ruthie's garden. She moved away a year ago to her condo in Florida after her and her daughter had a falling out. I also wanted to share a story I had just written about Ruthie, and I was so surprised to get these photos of the roses this morning in an email from her. Seems her daughter-in-law was out here helping get Ruthie's house that she shared with her daughter, Susan, ready to sell. And because Ruthie loved her garden SO much, her daughter-in-law cut some roses from the garden and sent pictures to her. I really miss my friend Ruthie, she is such an awesome person, and had such a beautiful garden!Be sure to go visit Ms.Greenthumb Jean for some beautiful photos or her gardens and others!
The Gift of a Rose
Several years ago I gave my dear friend Ruthie Schmidt a bare root rose. I thought it was a great gift, something that would continue to grow and bloom just like our friendship that I so deeply cherished has grown and blossomed! Last year, Ruthie, at age 76, moved back to Florida and left her home and garden behind here in Old Towne Orange. The house belongs to her daughter, but Ruthie was the gardener. Her gardens were absolutely beautiful! She would bring us roses, fruit from her trees, and some of the vegetables she had grown to Country Roads. Her daughter has decided to sell her house and asked one of my dealers at Country Roads to hold an estate sale. Because Ruthie was so involved in Country Roads for so many years, Steve and Robin, who are doing the estate sale, wanted to do a preview night for just the Country Roads dealers. They wanted me to help be in charge of the event and I tried to explain to them “why” I couldn’t do it.

The house is no longer a “home” in my mind. And the “things” for sale have no meaning for me. I think I would be too heartbroken to step inside of the house. Over the past years, I have so many found memories of Ruthie in that house. She use to host, what she called, “Operation Sell” once a month. She would invite a few people from Country Roads that she felt would be good at contributing marketing ideas. Often Mike Escobedo attended a few meetings as well. Ruthie would sit at her desk, and the former school teacher that Ruthie once was, she held our attention and we shared marketing ideas. Ruthie would have an agenda prepared for us and her daughter Susan would take notes. It was the best of times for me. Ruthie would cut out articles she found in trade publications about marketing that she felt were worthwhile and share them with us all.

After I had spoken to Steve and Robin about the estate sale and the Country Roads preview night I went home and emailed Ruthie. I told her there was no way I could go over to what was once her home, but now is just a house to me. The thought of people going through all of the things in the house and wanting better prices on them, well, that image just broke my heart. So, I sadly explained to Ruthie “why” I just couldn’t do it. I asked her for one big favor that would mean so very, very much to me. I asked her if I could have one of her rosebushes. I would have my son Bryce go over and dig it out, assuming it was okay with Susan since it is her house, and replace it with another one I would buy at a nursery. I so badly wanted my memory of Ruthie and the happy times in her garden to continue to be a reminder to me each time I saw her rosebush in my garden.

Ruthie’s reply was wonderful. She told me she knew the exact rose she wanted me to have. It is called the “Tuscan Sun”, it was the bare root rose I had given her years ago and forgotten about. That was the rose she wanted me to have and I immediately knew the exact place in my garden where I would plant it. I was very touched by the words from such a special person that Ruthie is. There aren’t many “Ruthie’s” in our world today unfortunately. We need more of them. And because of Ruthie’s gesture, each day I walk out my front door, I will see “our” rose and be reminded of the true meaning of love and friendship.

Monday Morning Memories

The beach, it's always been a favorite place of mine. I remember when I was a little kid, I spent a lot of time there. After all, it was free, didn't have to pay for parking and a great place to take relatives that had come to visit. In the picture of above, from left to right is: my sister Teri, my mom, me, and my Aunt Ruby from Texas. We were at Seal Beach by the pier. This is the same beach we take Riley to now. Back then life was so carefree. When relatives came from out of state to visit you could go places that were free, like the beach. You didn't have to pay for parking, you didn't have to worry about someone stealing your stuff you left on the sand while in the water. It was just a different world back then. My Texas relatives were always so much fun. I remember them always making me laugh and being a little crazy. I loved their accents and how crazy they were, in a good way! These pictures and memories are what keep my family, that is no longer here, alive in my heart!


My "Kids" Displays!

All three of my kids, Brande, Katie, and Bryce are dealers at Country Roads.I just wanted to share with you "their" talent. This is one of Bryce's spaces he is just moving into. As you can tell it's not quite done yet but is looking good!Bryce just took one of the front window spaces, and is beginning to achieve the "look" he is after!This is another photo of Bryce's new space as he continues to put it all together and give it a unique look.This photo is from Katie's space. I love this armoire! Inside and on top she has a huge selection of oil cloth products. The holiday stuff is in, as you can see by these cool Fall towels!!There are also Christmas towels available as well.Katie has just started carrying door mats, and many of them are seasonal, just in time for Fall and the holidays that follow. She's got a great selection, stop by and check 'em out.Brande, who is my oldest as most of you know, has the garden out back, named after my mom and her Gramma, "Johnnye Merle". This is one of the displays you see as you step out the back door to the gardens.Besides the great plant selection, one of the things that make this nursery so special is the displays. I love the use of the old flatbed truck with my old vintage bike to show off the drought tolerant plants.Again, using old vintage things like the wicker chair really add to the displays outside in the garden as well as all of the displays inside the store. There are times that my kids and I butt heads, that is a given when you have a family business! But I also know how very grateful I am to have a business that I love and be able to share it with my kids as well. I guess that is one of the many reasons "the store" means so much to me!


The Plaza Review. . . Good News

Every morning I wake up and only watch a half hour of local news. I seriously can't handle the news anymore! This morning the "top story" was about the model that was murdered by her boyfriend and apparently he had cut her up, or some other horrible thing. Then the news continues to report that the only way they could identify her was from the serial numbers on her breast implants! I mean, come on, how much do we need to know anymore, how many details are really necessary? The interesting part about my half hour of news this morning was this; they open the news with "that" story and the last story they closed with was so much better. It was about a family that had four children. When their kids were young they sailed around the world. The 16 or 17 year old son had just broken the record of the youngest person to sail solo around the world. And now his 15 year old sister is going to try and break this record. It was such a great story, so positive and uplifting. I often wonder "why" there isn't a news show that reports just "good" news!! I would watch it. Then it reminded me of a little newspaper we have here in Old Towne Orange. It's called the Plaza Review and the editor is my good friend, Mike Escobedo. I'm fortunate enough to be included in this paper with two or three articles every issue. There is so much GOOD news out there today, it just isn't as accessible which I will never understand. A feel good newspaper like the Plaza Review, or a news show with good stories would be a wonderful to wake up to each morning. Why can't networks make money with this type of news?? For more information on my favorite little newspaper contact Mike at: mikeesco@pacbell.net He might be able to add you to his mailing list for a copy of the Plaza Review. But for now, turn off the news. I know after the mutilated body being identified by serial numbers on breast implants, I'm back to the music channels to wake up!


My Baby Girls!

During my week, I have Riley at my house three days, and Morgan lives here with me, and my son and his wife. So, I get to enjoy "my girls" pretty much daily. Here were some of the pictures that made me smile this week!Riley's birthday isn't until next week on the 26th, but I wanted to give her one of her birthday presents early. Her big smile and hug and the, "thank you Gramma" made my day!I love watching Riley's little hands and concentration as she plays. But my very favorite is the pretend playing and talking. I love it. I have a feeling that Riley and Morgan are going to grow up being very close! And each and every day I see this smile on Morgie's little face, I know its been a good day. Maybe because I've never had to live far away from my babies, but I have to say, I couldn't imagine "Gramma's Girls" not being a part of my daily life!


About Time for A Country Roads Slideshow!

When I went to work at "the store" (our family name for Country Roads)this past Saturday, I hadn't been in for five days. And I can't even begin to explain to you how totally blown away I was by how different everything looked! And it looked GOOD!!! I know that is the reason so many of you come in more than once a week. Each and every day at Country Roads is "different"! Merchandise and displays change constantly. Below is a slideshow I put together to let you see, visually, what I'm talking about. There is a little bit of everything in it, including Johnnye Merle Gardens and Nursery. I could spend as much time in the garden taking pictures as I do inside of the store. For more current updates on our garden, go to the sidebar on the right and click the link to JM Gardens. Brande has a couple of landscape design specials going on right now that you might want to check out. So, before you click on the show below, get comfortable, relax, and hey. . .if you see something you really want, I strongly suggest you either come in soon, or give us a call and "charge it" over the phone. Like I said above, our merchandise changes daily, meaning it sells pretty quickly!
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White Wednesday

For this "White Wednesday" I'm out in my garden. I love all the weathered, white, chippy paint garden stuff that has always called my name. Not sure what it is about this stuff, but I've always had a love affair with 'em! Here's a few of my favorites. . .

For some more great photos from "White Wednesday" stop by Kathleen's blog over at Faded Charm!