Saturday, December 22, 2012

Family Heritage

Steve and I traveled to Idaho for Thanksgiving this year. We spent three days visiting with my grandma and all of the Martin relatives. What made this trip special was a visit up to the Prairie where my grandma was raised.  The prairie is a place that is often talked about amongst my family and I can't believe it took this long for me to see it with my own eyes. 

The prairie itself was just as I envisioned, but getting there is a different story. We climbed through the mountains on windy dirt roads, just wide enough for one car to pass - the same route my grandma took as a child when they made the grueling drive into town. Back then, there were portions of the road that were so dangerous my grandma's dad made the family get out of the car while he drove across, for fear that the car wouldn't make it. There are only a few homes up at the prairie, and it is hours from stores, restaurants, hospitals, and other modern day comforts that we take for granted today. 

Along the drive, I couldn't help but wonder how my family ended up in such a desolate, far away place. The story goes that a long, long, time ago, my relatives robbed a Wells Fargo horse-drawn wagon and fled deep into the Idaho mountains to the prairie. They wanted to find a place so difficult to get to that they wouldn't get caught. It is thought that someone in the family still has the Wells Fargo trunk! 

When we arrived at the Prairie, we pulled into the same house that my grandma grew up in. A tiny house where her brother Elmer and his wife Barb still live today. My grandma often talks about riding her horses to school in the snow and having to run outside in the cold, dark night to use the bathroom. And although the house has been retrofitted with an indoor bathroom, the old hut still stands to this day. And the cellar, right across from the house, my grandma says, is where her mother would store all of the canned foods. 

The land is owned by my grandmother's relatives and for miles and miles, all you can see is open land, property that will stay in the family forever. And all of that private land means a safe place to shoot guns whenever and wherever. And my step-dad came prepared! He brought his brand new rifle to try out and we all gave it a go. The gun boomed and echoed so loud, but it was fun and easy to shoot. 

 And during my turn, I managed to hit the barbed wire fence across the street, dead on. 

See the bullet flying back in the air by my mom's cheek?? 

The prairie is such a beautiful and peaceful place. An ideal homestead for cowboys, cowgirls, and those who want to get away from the hustle and bustle of city life. 

And I am thankful to have seen this part of my family history and learn a little bit more about my grandma's fascinating life. 

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Music Night!

My new Leadership friend, Wendy, organized a get together at her house centered around music. Our leadership class is full of talented musicians so the night was full of promise. I certainly cannot hold a note, and my only experience with an instrument is a short stint in 5th grade with the violin. So, needless to say, I contributed as band photographer. Wendy often has family music nights so she had every musical instrument under the sun! Fun and easy instruments like bongo drums, maracas, hand cymbals, a harmonica, tambourine, recorder, and rain stick, to name a few! Michael rented a drum set for the weekend, and with Josh's bass, Wendy's piano, and Melody's voice, we had a full blown band! And it sounded like we've all played together for years! :)

Everyone had a chance to try out an instrument and we all sang together at the top of our lungs. We played every song we all knew the words to, and when we didn't know the words we googled them and sang anyway! 

It was seriously one of the most entertaining, silly, awesome, and wonderful Friday nights ever and hope to do it again soon!!!

And the cast of characters:

Josh on bass

Alexandra and Josh rockin' out!

Michael, our drum expert

Wendy shows Danielle a bongo beat!

Liz chimes in on the maracas

Alexandra had a great time on the drums!

All of those nights playing Rock Band with my little brother paid off!

Rachel and Wendy Lucas - such wonderful hosts! 

Melody, Brian and Alexandra 

Alexandra and Danielle

The whole gang!

Saturday, December 15, 2012

We made great strides!!

This year, I volunteered on the Making Strides Against Breast Cancer of San Luis Obispo committee. We spent months planning a fun, heartfelt, and successful event! My girls came to SLO to join me on the walk, which made it all the more memorable. I am so thankful for all of their help. We got to the Mission Plaza bright and early to help set up and it wouldn't have happened without them! 

My dear friend Michael from Applemoon Photography graciously agreed to photograph the event, and his lovely little family joined in the fun! It all came together seamlessly and I am humbled and honored to have been a part of an amazing group of women who poured their time, love, and energy into this local event.

And thank you to all of the donors and supporters out there! My team, Breast Friends, raised $1,335! And overall, the event raised more than $60,000! Amazing! 

Friday, December 14, 2012

My Heart is Content INDEED!

During the month of November, I really tried to focus back in on my happiness project and with much success! I think the holidays are the perfect time to reflect on your behavior and attitude towards others and the small things you can do to be a better person and to enjoy life to the fullest!

  • Be polite
You guys - I held so many dang doors open for people. I will admit, there were a couple of instances where the tricky 'who goes through first' thing came up, but I did my best to get to that door first and hold it open rather than slipping awkwardly on through. I had to consciously think of this every day, and it's still a work in progress, but with enough practice and focus, I have high hopes for a successful door opening future! 
  • Use good manners
Well, I don't have a bathroom door, so I still pee with the "door" wide open - but I did manage to shut every bathroom door at Grandma's house! SUCCESS! Ha! I am also guilty of shoving food in my face at Thanksgiving...way too much food. I had a turkey baby and a potato coma and went to bed at like 8pm. Ooops. Better luck next year!
  • Don't get too hungry
My Costco pack of granola bars is gone - so I think this went over pretty well. Plus, I was only mean once, and all I will say is that it had more to do with vodka than not eating. ;)
  • Dance more often
I am known to cut a rug from time to time.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

The Heart of Life

Top Ten NYC moments:

10. Our final meal together at the quaint Italian restaurant, Da Marino, across the street from our hotel. We were treated like queens with celebratory lemon cello, tiramisu for the entire table, and amazing pasta. And Franci tried her very first meatball!

9. The moment I made it on the air of the Today Show for a split second, after waking up before dawn, waiting in line, staking our spot, holding onto my beloved birthday sign, and trying to stay warm and positive! Totally worth it!

8. Chinese food takeout on our first real New Yorkers.

7. Speaking Italian with Franci. Burro cacao! Buona notte!

6. Our "fancy" NYC dinner at Pigalle, wherein I had the best Tilapia of my entire life and learned that basil mashed potatoes are the key to happiness.

5. A relaxing break towards the end of our jam packed last day at the Tribeca Tap House where we rested our feet and laughed together over ice cold bevs and popcorn.

4. Window shopping and touring the neighborhood (and Carrie's house!!) in Greenwich Village. Quiet, cute, lush. The New York I dreamt about.

3. Roaming around Times Square, blissfully overwhelmed by all of the lights, sounds, and colorful people. I can still feel the energy.

2. The limo ride to greet my guests at the airport was the perfect way to start a trip! Random pee stops, champagne runs, and bricks!! Looots of bricks!

1. The way my heart swelled while watching Once, the musical. It's truly special when music can go beyond the ears and seep into the soul.

My Heart Beats for NYC! from Jaime Dwight on Vimeo.
Celebrating my 30th Birthday in New York City.

Music: "When Your Mind's Made Up" and "Gold" from the Once soundtrack

Sunday, November 11, 2012

So Tiled

A few weeks ago, my dad came for the weekend to help us tile the shower in the guest bathroom. He used to have his own tiling business and still had all the tools and tile saw. I was relieved when Steve accepted the help (this was no easy task!!), and I think in the end was so happy to have an expert in there for his first tiling experience. We could not have done it without him!

 It took us 10 months to get prepped for tiling, but you'll see soon, all of the hard work was worth it. Steve's meticulous measuring and leveling made the tiles go up easily. The best way to avoid overcomplicating a tile job is to get everything squared up beforehand.

Not an hour after my dad walked through the door and we were on our way. The first step was coming up with a game plan for setting the tiles. We chose the windowsill as the starting place, but soon realized we needed to get the bench in first. Some tiles overlap the other to give a smooth edge so you have to be sure to set the right piece first to get the look you want. We must have changed the order 10 times before we were finally able to just get moving. 

Steve installed all of the hardee backer.

And then tore out the left wall in order to square things up, installed new dry wall, and coated the hardee backer with waterproof sealant.

I laid out the design of the two major shower walls before beginning. This made it easy to know which piece was next. It also helped with mixing up the dark and light tiles, to achieve a more random, natural look. If you pull one by one from the tile boxes, you might get half of a wall all light pieces, and the other half dark pieces. Not good.

Dirty boot proof walkway from the tile saw to the bathroom.

Mixing up the thin set

Our first row done! We started on a Saturday afternoon, probably around 2:00.

We set the first column next to the window, then realized we forgot to leave space for the shelves. Luckily, you do have some time with the thin set, and you can remove tiles before they stick permanently.

The diamond cuts were not easy.

Giving the shelves a nice face

And the (semi)finished product!! My dad left Monday at noon and we still had to finish some grout work, but overall only about 2 whole days worth of work! Not bad!

See what a difference it makes?! Here's a shot of our old shower.

Next up:
  1. Remove toilet and fix the gasket and replace the wax ring
  2. Remove vanity
  3. Texturize the new wall
  4. Paint entire bathroom
  5. Install new floor tiles (you're going to love these!)
  6. Finish front tiling on tub and trim pieces
  7. Install new vanity and sink
  8. Install new mirror, lighting, and other fixtures and accessories
  9. DONE!

Friday, November 09, 2012

On keeping a contented heart

November is all about getting rid of anxiety and doing the right thing. You know how when you get anxiety, you can feel it in your heart? At least I do. My heart starts beating fast and I feel physical pain in my chest. And I heart my heart so I will try wholeheartedly to keep it hearty! ;) 

Luckily, I don't get anxiety often, but this month, I am going to try to take a deep breath, relax, and keep that heart as content as possible and here are a few ways I will do that:

  • Be polite
Being polite is a sure way to keep that anxiety level down. Not just for you, but for those you're around. Think about holding doors open for people. I have the worst luck with doors. I always seem to approach them at the same time as someone else. Do I slow down, and let them open the door for me? Or do I speed up and open it for them? Usually, we end up there at the same time and there is a huge awkward dance in front of the door and one of us opens it and then sorta pushes it open further for the other person to slip in. Argh, there are so many doors at my work, this happens to me all day, every day. So this month, I am going to try to get to that damn door first and open it, step back, and let the other person through. Easy, right?!
  • Use good manners
This is similar to being polite, but sometimes you get too comfortable with people you're close to and your manners fly out the window! Am I right? Like, leaving the bathroom door open while you pee? Guilty! Or, shoving food into my face at dinnertime? Guilty! How about at Thanksgiving coming up - help with the dishes! Set the table! Take off your shoes! Wipe up all of that hair in the bathroom. Lots of things to make sure your hosts invite you back. 
  • Don't get too hungry
When I get too hungry, I get mean. Enough said. How to cope? I plan on carrying granola bars with me wherever I go.
  • Dance more often
I plan on dancing in my living room. Right after I publish this post. 

Boo ya!

Monday, October 22, 2012


Hi ya'll! I have to say that although my August and September happiness updates went down the drain, my life is simply blissful. I have not made time to blog, obviously, but that's because I've been super busy doing other fun things like traveling, entertaining company, going to dinner parties, hanging out with my Leadership buds, and working harder than ever. 

August and September - Pursue a Passion

  • Make time to blog eh - new design! That counts, right?!
  • Learn more about photography I gave in and bought a new lens for my Canon SLR...but shame on me, I've only used it ONCE. Literally, one snap of the shutter. Boo. Seriously regretting not bringing it to NYC!
  • More DIY - gifts, food I DIYed my own blouse alteration!! YAY! 
  • Learn a new cooking method Not cooking per say, but I learned a new freezing method from Steve's mom for our gajillion peppers. Our pepper plants are prolific. We have four pepper plants and I lost count as to how many peppers grew. Probably like 200. Not kidding. So, now my freezer is FULL of chopped up sweet peppers, ready at a moment's notice.
  • Canning! I suck because I am too scared to can. I read some awesome recipes from my canning book, and the thought of NOT sanitizing enough really made me nervous. So, instead of canning my tomatoes, I blanched, peeled, stewed, and cooked them into a yummy marinara and transferred to baggies to freeze. Close to canning, right?! :-/
All I think about when I think of October is NEW YORK CITY!!! For the past 18 years, I have been dreaming, planning, saving, yearning for NYC and I finally got there...with some of my favorite people of all time. October is one for the record books and I can't wait to tell you all about it!!!

October - Pay Attention
  • Enjoy the moment
  • Slow down
  • Remember names

Sunday, October 14, 2012

A Royal Hunt

Did I tell you that we got a new queen bee? No? Well, we did! And it arrived in a Fed Ex box on our porch. Yep, not kidding! We got a queen bee delivered to our door. I seriously want to meet the person responsible for inventing mail-order bees. Just think of all of the packaging prototypes that didn't quite work out. Dead bee? No bee? Angry bee! 

We had to get a new queen because without the queen, the colony cannot survive.  

"The queen, for her part, is the unifying force of the community; if she is removed from the hive, the workers very quickly sense her absence. After a few hours, or even less, they show unmistakable signs of queenlessness."  - Man and Insects 

Anyway, we got a bee in the mail. And we (Steve) put that bee in the hive. The queen's main job is to mate and have lots and lots of babies so that the colony grows and survives. This means one night out to skank it up. She leaves the hive in search of a horny pack of drones and gets it on with ALL of them. Like 10 drones in one night. See, I told you! Skanky! No joke!

So now all the queen has to do is lay eggs. And it's our job to make sure her promiscuity was successful. A thriving beehive needs lots of new larvae, eggs, baby bees, and the queen herself. We were on the hunt.

There are 9 frames in each box of our hive. Steve learned that the queen usually stays in the bottom box, so we decided to begin our search here. We suited up, and pulled out each frame one by one in search of the queen and her offspring. Steve used a bee smoker before we began which sedates the bees so that they aren't angry at you for entering their home! Once smoked, they barely buzzed around..calm and cool.

Along the way, we found all sorts of glorious things! My favorite being honey of course!!!! 

Each frame was more and more packed with busy worker bees. They were busy making honeycomb, storing the honey, capping the holes containing eggs so that the larvae could develop inside, and  depositing pollen in other holes.

"Honeybees are social insects and live in colonies. Each colony is a family unit, comprising of a single, egg-laying female or queen and her many sterile daughters called workers. The workers cooperate in the food-gathering, nest-building and rearing the offspring. Males are reared only at the times of year when their presence is required." - Bees of the World

We knew the queen had a successful night out because we saw TONS of eggs and capped comb which meant there were larvae inside waiting to be born! In fact, as we were searching for her, we saw a baby bee pop out of a capped hole! Just like a baby chick coming out of an egg. She cracked open the cap and wriggled her way out, all hairy and small!

And on the 8th frame, we finally found her in all her glory! Do you see her? She is longer than regular bees with a narrow tail, smaller wings, with a hairless black crown. 

Research told us to look for a group of bees surrounding her like a flower. And once we saw that, we KNEW it was her.

"New beekeepers are told that the way to find the elusive queen is by first locating her circle of attendants." - The Queen Must Die: And Other Affairs of Bees and Men

You can really see the bees encircling her. They clean her, feed her, and take away her excrements. What a life, eh!?

SO COOL. And now I love my bees more than ever. 
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