Saturday, August 30, 2008

The Empire Mines

Sadly, our house guest left yesterday. We had a wonderful week doing just what we wanted to do! Some days we traveled to places of interest. On a couple of days we just hung out by the pool, read, gabbed & tried new cocktails. (The Pomegranate Royale is my new favorite! And for a straight up gin martini girl, that is saying something!)

Our day trip on Saturday took us to the Empire Mines in Grass Valley. It was the day for the annual Miner's Picnic. It was a living history day, so there were tours of the mine shaft, the offices and the mine owner's (William Bourn) summer "cottage", docents in period dress & even a mine disaster rescue.

The following photos show the front of the mine office and the hand-carved gate into the mine yard.

Next is a shot of the back of the office, the bullion room and rescue station. See that metal frame standing in the yard? That is a 7 ft. cube. If all of the gold that was taken from this mine were compressed into one solid mass, it would be the size of that frame. Amazing! It would be worth $65 billion at today's gold prices!

Here are a couple of examples of the costumes being worn by the docents & their kids. I asked the two girls what they thought of their dress and in unison they said "too hot"! The lady in the white dress ducked under the canopy, so I guess she was "warm" too!

We were able to go 40' down into one of the mine shafts. The pictures inside are not good, but will give you an idea of the conditions in side. The first photo shows the sled on which the miners sat to be lowered into the mine. Someone jostled me when I took the picture of the stairs, but I am showing it because it gives you an idea of how steep the shaft is. The last is a shot into the shaft itself. The mine's deepest shaft is over 11,000 ft below ground! And the entire mine is flooded at about the 100' level.

I can tell you, just being on the stairs in the beginning of the shaft gave me the creeps! No way would I have been able to be a miner!

Finally, here are a few random photos.
First is one of the stampers that crushed the rock from the mine so that it could be processed. There were dozens of these and we were told that the noise could be deafening!
This is the bullion furnace where the gold was refined and a mold where the molten gold was poured to form ingots.
Last but not least, the engine & crew who rescued the mine disaster victims.
In the next couple of days I'll be posting about the cottage and gardens at the mine! They are beautiful, so be sure to check back!

Friday, August 22, 2008

Having a Guest!

My brother-in-law's sister is coming from Connecticut today to visit for a week! I am so excited to have a reason to take a few days off work (who needs a reason?) and to take her out and about to see the sights!

I have plans to take Wendy to as many of my favorite places as we can squeeze in, all in one week! *Ü*

Let's see...

There's the Empire Mine in Nevada City,

and Old Town Sacramento & the California State Railroad Museum,

and my favorite Daylily farm and the Gold Country towns of Jackson & Sutter Creek,

and "high" tea at An Afternoon to Remember,

and dinner at Buonarroti Ristorante for fabulous Italian food,

and I'll have all my Red Hat girlfriends in for a gabfest to meet her!

Whew! I am going to have a whirlwind of a week! I'll take the camera and hopefully have a few interesting pix to post! I'll try to catch up with everyone as I can!

I'm off to add the finishing touches to the guest room.


Thursday, August 21, 2008

Thankful Thursday

It's time for another Thankful Thursday, hosted by Rhondi at Rose Colored Glasses.

Today, I am thankful for the view from my kitchen window! As I looked at the bright, clear sunshine, I was reminded of the awful smoke & heat we had to contend with a few weeks back. It'll be in the 90's today, but I'll be seeing blue sky.

See that small deer by the tree? I am thankful for her too. Even if it does mean that if I want a rose garden & hostas, I'll have to fence them in! We have plenty of deer traveling through the yard. There's even a big buck with an impressive set of antlers that I see frequently at dusk.

We also have a group of 10 turkeys that visit the yard every morning and evening. I tried to get a photo of them yesterday, but by the time I got the camera, they had headed off into the neighbor's pasture. If I can catch them this morning, I'll add the picture later. (GOT 'EM!) I am thankful for the entertainment they provide! There are a couple of adults and the rest are juveniles. They take dust baths out past the lawn and pick fights with one another, establishing their "pecking order", I suppose.

I really enjoy having critters visit my yard. Even the coyotes & skunks are interesting at a distance. :)

Pocket gophers & ground squirrels however, are another story entirely!

Thankfully, Chris

Monday, August 18, 2008

Just a Clump of Grass!

I really love English-style gardens. Lush, green, well-kept. Give me a boxwood border, trimmed topiary, wide perennial borders, and I'd be in gardener's heaven! Someday, I will have just that, even if only on a small scale.

Now, we have 10 acres of mostly "wild" vegetation. I have been thinking of ways to use native, drought-tolerant plantings in our landscape. I saw a garden of ornamental grasses in a magazine recently, and it really caught my eye. My favorite daylily farm has a demo garden with lots of these grasses and I love the varied colors and heights, the interesting "plumage" of the seed heads, and the movement as the sway in the breeze.

When I mentioned to my husband that I wanted to find a place for such a garden, he looked at me a raised brow. "Doesn't sound too interesting to me", he said. I really need to take him to the daylily farm to see the grasses for himself.

Then, I happened to notice a clump of some kind of grass growing next to the irrigation ditch that snakes through our property. After much persuasion, I convinced him not to take the sickle bar mower to it! The results are what you see pictured below! I think it is so cool!

Last night when we took a walk along the ditch path, I asked him if he couldn't imagine a garden full of these graceful beauties somewhere on the property. He said "Yeah, might be nice...".

I'm making progress, for sure!

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Thankful Thursday

Thankful Thursday is hosted by Rhondi at Rose Colored Glasses.

I am so thankful for my home!
As I logged into the internet this morning, this was the headline on the Yahoo splash page:

US Foreclosures up 55%
One in every 464 U.S. households received a foreclosure filing last month.

I find that statistic staggering! I cannot even begin to imagine the heartache of being forced from my home. I know that in some cases, people have made poor decisions, purchased beyond their means, or perhaps been duped by unscrupulous loan officers. In other cases, there are circumstances beyond their control, such as job loss, illness and huge medical bills, even divorce or loss of a spouse. What ever the reason, it is a tragedy!

I am very thankful the we are able to pay our mortgage, and that headline reminds me just how huge a blessing that is!

Spending time reading your blogs has shown me how much you all cherish your homes. My prayer today is that none of us will ever face foreclosure! If any of you are currently dealing with this, I pray that God will lead you through the situation and that He will give you the strength to "land on your feet" and be ready to start a new chapter of your life!

Thankfully, Chris
P.S. I am off to Salt Lake City for a business conference. I'll be back on Monday - have a great weekend!

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

A Fun Meme!

I saw this meme while visiting Aunt Jenny's World. I thought it had some interesting questions, so I'm posting it along with my answers, of course.

Won't be tagging anyone, but if you'd like to play...feel free!

What kind of soap is in your bathtub right now?
Lady Primrose Celadon - the fragrance and feel of this soap is fabulous!

Do you have any watermelon in your refrigerator?
No, I prefer cantalope.

What would you change about your living room?
I would change the wall to wall carpet to a dark hardwood & a beautiful oriental rug.

Are the dishes in your dishwasher clean or dirty?
Dirty. Just unloaded the clean dishes from last night and loaded in a few glasses & a popcorn bowl.

What is in your fridge?
What's not there? *Ü* Most interesting thing would be sunflower sprouts which are great in salads and on sandwiches. You get all the flavor of the seeds with none of the mess and less calories!

White or wheat bread?
Wheat or even better, rye!

What is on top of your refrigerator?
Nothing. (Well, maybe some dust)

What color or design is on your shower curtain?
Guest bath:"Latte" solid with woven waffle-diamond pattern.
Master bath has glass enclosure.

How many plants are in your home?
(8) 1-Christmas cactus, 2-orchids, 2-african violets, 1-fern, 1 ivy, 1-very tempermental ficus!

Comet or Soft Scrub?
Barkeepers Helper and/or baking soda

Is your closet organized?

Can you describe your flashlight?
It is one of those black, heavy duty jobs that weighs a ton & would work as a weapon.

Do you drink out of glass or plastic most of the time at home?
Which ever I grab first.

Do you have iced tea made in a pitcher right now?
No. I'm a plain water drinker, though I usually make iced tea when company is coming.

If you have a garage, is it cluttered?
Yes, and it's mostly Tupperware and old furniture I want to work on...someday.

Curtains or blinds?

How many pillows do you sleep with?

Do you sleep with any lights on at night?
One dim night light in our master bathroom. My dog is black and she likes to sleep in there. Ever since my girlfriend broke her shoulder tripping over her dog at night, I've been paranoid about doing the same thing!

How often do you vacuum?
The housekeeper does it once a week and I do it anytime I think it needs it besides then.

Standard toothbrush or electric?

What color is your toothbrush?
Purple & sliver.

Do you have a welcome mat on your front porch?
Yes, but it nothing to write home about - just utilitarian.

What is in your oven right now?

Is there anything under your bed?
Shouldn't be. DH loses change out of his pocket occasionally.

Chore you hate doing the most?
Taking out the garbage.

What retro items are in your home?
Besides me? A teapot, maybe. Not a retro kind of girl!

Do you have a separate room that you use as an office?
Yes. I telecommute for my full-time job, so it is really necessary.

How many mirrors are in your home?
(6) 1-guest bath, 3-master bath, 1-dining room, and most importantly, the 5X in my make-up drawer!

Do you have any hidden emergency money around your home?
Nope. I'd forget where I put it...

What color are your walls?
Red, green, gold, latte.

Do you keep any kind of protection weapons in your home?

What does your home smell like right now?

Favorite candle scent?
I have a new favorite from PartyLite, "Herbal Mint".

What kind of pickles (if any) are in your refrigerator right now?
Crisp Kosher Dill & Bread & Butter.

What color is your favorite Bible?
Navy Blue

Ever been on your roof?
Absolutely not!

Do you own a stereo?

How many TVs do you have?

How many house phones?
One base station with 3 wireless handsets.

Do you have a housekeeper?
Yes & she is fast and thorough!

What style do you decorate in?
Traditional, leaning toward English country.

Do you like solid colors in furniture or prints?
I like a mixture of prints with a solid thrown in here and there.

Is there a smoke detector in your home?
There are seven.

In case of fire, what are the items in your house which you’d grab if you only could make one quick trip?
My jewelry box with my mother's rings, my laptop & my purse.

Have a Happy Wednesday!

Monday, August 11, 2008

Catch a Falling Star!

Tonight, between 1:30 am & dawn is the very best night to view the Perseid meteor shower, if you live on the west coast. Seeing any "falling star" is such a thrilling, magical thing. But the chance to see dozens of them is irresistable for me!

Of course, I am going to invite my husband to set the alarm for 3 am, so that he can join me on the back deck (the one with the most unobstructed view) to view this yearly meteor shower. I am prepared to have him say, "are you kidding me?". But I will extend the invitation, just the same. We are fortunate to live far from the glow of city & street lights. The sky is very clear. We should have a perfect view.

I have my father's telescope. And although it isn't good for viewing meteors, they are too fast, it reminds of his fascination for the stars. I got my appreciation for the wonders of "space" from him. His many years in the aerospcae industry afforded us kids a special perspective. And I was fortunate enough to work for the same aerospace company that he did, during my college years.

Had he not had 5 children, and been 20 years younger, I believe he would have jumped at the opportunity to go into space. I'm a wimp who prefers feet on the ground, but I'll appreciate the show, just the same!

So tonight, I wish you could all to join me out on the deck, eyes poised skyward, to view this beautiful piece of God's wonderful creation! If you are able, please try to see it yourself. I'll be thinking of my daddy and how wonderful his view must be!
Edited to add: The "show" was wonderful. I watched for about an hour and counted 14 meteors. I'm sure I would have seen more, had I been on my back in the middle of the lawn. But I wimped out there too. We have critters (especially skunks) running around at night and sitting in a chair on the deck just felt safer! *Ü*
The Perseid Meteor Shower continues tonight. So if you missed it last night, you've got another chance!

Tupperware Lunch Sets

Very seldom do I post here at Refining Life about my Tupperware business.

I prefer to reserve that information for my Today's Organized Kitchen Blog. But every once in a while, an exciting new product or a "super-duper" sale comes along that I feel I should share with you all. This is one of those times.

I think our new Salad & Sandwich Lunch Sets are terrific! They conveniently allow you to carry lunches from home, which is healthier, less expensive than purchasing lunch out and is a "greener" solution. (Did you know that the average family will use 7000 plastic bags in the next 10 years? Tupperware products can be recycled and rarely end up in landfills.)

If that weren't motivation enough, the Lunch Sets are on sale @50% off! So, if you're looking for a new lunch set, visit Today's Organized Kitchen for information on how to order.
Happy Monday! Chris

Saturday, August 9, 2008

We Have a Winner!

I love Giveaways! Hosting them or entering them, doesn't matter. The anticipation is always fun.

I sincerely want to thank all 25 of you (whoo hoo!) who left comments and played along.

First, I chose one of my favorite summer hats.

Then I placed the drawing slips in the hat and stirred them up really well.

And the winner is...

Katie from Harrington House!

Katie, please send your shipping information to and I'll get your gift into the mail right away!

For those of you who love Tupperware, next weekI'll be hosting a Giveaway on my Today's Organized Kitchen blog. Pop on over for a visit!

Have a great weekend everyone!


Friday, August 8, 2008

More Teapots

Way back in February, I posted photos of some of my teapot collection. I said then that next time, I would be posting some photos of my vintage pots. It has taken me a while to do it, but next time is finally here. I still have many more to show you...can't say how many months you'll have to wait!

First, not a vintage pot, but I had it out to use so I thought I'd start with it. This Chinese pot and cups were given to me last Christmas by my 21 year old nephew. That kid is the best shopper! He "listens" all year long & shops accordingly. Everyone got a gift from him that they loved! (He is going to make a terrific husband some day!)

Next are three vintage pots. The one on the stand was given to me as a birthday gift by my girlfriend Nancy. It has an unusual shape and the overall condition is still very good. I suspect that might be a result of it not being used much since the shape of the pot causes it to not pour out well. But it's cute and I love it anyway!

The other two pots I won on eBay. Both are English, made by Sadler, and I am always attracted to gold!

Last for this time are three "tea-for-one" sets. I received all of them as gifts. One was obviously from my child (daughter Melissa) the other two from my "best buddy & pal" Kathy. I use them quite often for an afternoon tea break. I like my tea brewed from loose-leaf tea, in a pot, so they're perfect for about a cup and a half.

I hope you've enjoyed seeing more of my collection. I love to share tea, and using the pots in my collection makes me very happy! Each one has a great memory attached.

Reminder: today is the last day to leave a comment and be entered in the my Giveaway!

Enjoy! Chris


Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Thankful Thursday

Once again it is Thankful Thursday hosted by Rhondi at Rose Colored Glasses. Thank you Rhondi!

I am so thankful for my husband! I could never have found a better partner, even if it did take me a very long time! The picture below was taken at our wedding 3 years ago.

My husband is affectionate, loving and kind and he puts up with me...what more can I say?

Well, let's see...

My husband is a wonderful father to his own kids and especially to my daughter who is his stepchild. She grew up without a father until he came into our lives. He also grew up not knowing his father & I believe he "understands" and tries to make it up to her. And, he puts up with me.

He is so smart! I believe he can fix just about anything! He is very creative, and although I tease him about his "Rube Goldberg" projects, most of them work! And, he puts up with me.

He's also a tractor man - an old orange Allis Chalmers held together with a prayer & baling wire, and a shiny blue New Holland model with his beloved backhoe...

He loves riding steam trains and has taught me to love them too. Sadly for him, so far, that hasn't worked for baseball. But he's okay with that. Did I mention he puts up with ME??

He loves me just as much on my high mantenance days as he does when I am behaving myself! He never raises his voice in anger, and would never raise a hand against a living creature.

Yep, I am sure thankful that this wonderful man came into my life! I can't imagine it without him! (Even if he is from Mars!)

Thankfully, Chris


P.S. Don't for get to leave a comment to be entered into my Giveaway!

Friday, August 1, 2008

50 Posts and a Giveaway!

Today, I have published my 50th post!

I certainly had no idea where this "blogging thing" would take me. I have visited so many beautiful, interesting blogs and met the most fascinating people! I can't even remember what it was like not to take my first cup of tea straight to the computer to catch up with everyone. And I really miss that time when I am without my PC for a few days!

I have learned to look at the world from new perspectives. I have been inspired by you, and taught by you, and have experienced tremendous personal growth as a result. Each and every one of of you who take the time to read and comment are very special to me. I feel an affection for each of you that I would have thought absurd a few months ago. I am excited to strengthen these friendships and to see what and who the next 50 posts will bring into my life!

In celebration, I am hosting a giveaway!

The gift will be one of my very favorite books, Nell Hill's "Entertaining in Style" by Mary Carol Garrity. This book is full of the most beautiful photographs of her table settings, holiday vignettes, and even a recipe or two. You'll receive it just in time to use some of her Fall decor ideas. (I just HAD to get my new leopard print reading glasses in the picture! *Ü*)

Your chance to receive this gift is as easy this:

Leave a comment on any post from today, August 1 through Friday, August 8th to be entered. I will draw the recipient's name on Saturday, August 9th. Feel free to spread the word - the more the merrier!

Good luck! Chris