Beach Memories

harbor fish

oceanside harbor 1

oceanside harbor 2

boys in the sand

oceanside harbor 4

oceanside harbor 5

oceanside harbor 3

oceanside harbor 8

oceanside harbor 7

oceanside harbor 9

oceanside harbor 6

Ah… Summer. I think I spend most of the year thinking about how I can’t wait until it is Summer. And, let’s be honest, being in Southern California I don’t really have much to complain about, but everything just feels right in Summer for me. Perhaps it is because I was born in Summer. As long as I can remember, the start of Summer was marked by my birthday party and 4th of July fireworks followed by NO SCHOOL! What could be better than that?

So, we are knee deep in Summer. A visit to a familiar childhood beach sent me soaring through memoryville recently. Not really sure why it hasn’t been a beach I take my own kids to more frequently. I have bad memories of parking the car there being particularly troublesome and I have this image in my head of having to walk, like, very unbearable distances before we settled into our little beach spot for the day. That must be it. Of course, though, it wasn’t nearly as awful as I remembered. In fact, it was probably even better than several of the beaches I’ve tackled with my own complaining little ones in tow.

Here’s the story: a few weeks ago, a childhood friend of my husband’s let us know he was going to be in town and asked to meet up and get our kids together at the Oceanside Harbor. (He also has two boys, very close in age to ours.) We met at Oceanside Harbor Fish for lunch. This place. I mean, it’s right there. At any moment, one of us could, conceivably, hop in the car and pick up (what I believe to be) the best fish and chips in California and have it back at the house in around a half an hour. Thinking now of all the times I’ve order fish and chips off the menu of some overpriced pub or restaurant and been thoroughly disappointed because it was nothing like Harbor Fish. (Or, Harbor Fish South – which is the name of the place we most often frequent in Carlsbad.) So. Good. (Note to self: Go here next time I need a pick-me-up. Especially at the harbor.)

Flood (deluge!) of childhood memories: feeding fries to the seagulls (which, of course, signs now discourage you from doing), sticky picnic benches, napkins flying away, nom noming on battered fish while longingly looking at boats and wondering if any of these sea-worthy vessels had travelled long distances. In fact, the last time we ate at Harbor Fish a few years ago was when a friend of my husband’s docked his actually-travelled-across-the-world yacht in Oceanside for the night and asked us to meet up. So, suspicions confirmed, stuff like that actually does happen here!

When I was little, there was an ice cream parlor/candy shop next door. Like, the kind of candy shop filled with barrels and jars of every kind of candy you could image. Dinner was usually followed by a dip into this sugar shack. Bubble gum ice cream cone. I remember this so vividly. Also, hours spent working away at a golf ball sized jaw breaker. My tummy hurts just thinking about this now.

Back to the story, after lunch we were off to the beach where we, amazingly!, found a very good parking spot. A relatively easy and short walk later, we were setting up chairs and the umbrella. Little boys did their thing digging in the sand and bobbing around in the waves. At one point, I went for a little walk down to the jetty. The entire afternoon we were there, the clouds hung low giving us great cover from the sun. As we discovered while visiting with our friend, this would be the only time this Summer that we would be seeing them. Travels and setting up home in a new city would keep them from spending more time in his hometown. So, there was no need to rush. Little boys continued to play and big boys tried to catch up on a year’s worth of conversation. I wandered on the beach, snapping (or, clicking is probably a better verb?)  pictures, marveling at how a beach can look so exactly the same after all these years.

It was well after 7:00pm when the sun finally dipped below those low-hanging clouds and the beach just lit up. It was beautiful. As we were packing up and walking back to the cars, the sky was blue and the setting sun was casting a warm orange glow on all of us. Blessing us, I like to think.

Final Days of Summer


Only a week and a handful of days left until the first day of school. Before school broke for Summer I was so anxious to have my boys to myself. A few days after the last day of school I was ready to tear my hair out! I had forgotten how much I appreciate my quiet days of puttering around the house to my own little schedule. But I adjusted – learned to step in to diffuse the bickering before it broke out into full on warfare, set up the snack drawer so I wouldn’t be constantly bombarded with the question, “Can you get me a snack?” and ended up closing the shop for several weeks of each month to slow down the number of orders I was taking. In addition to keeping these little rugrats entertained, I’ve been involved in a major sort and purge effort in the house. We’ve been going through toys (many of them baby toys buried under toddler toys mixed with unopened toys that were forgotten) and games (How we ended up with the traditional Operation, Sponge Bob Operation AND Star Wars Operation is beyond me… I haven’t fact checked this yet, but the boys told me that the inventor of the game Operation who sold it for very little to a company which, in turn, made loads of money on the game had a fundraiser for a life-saving operation. True?).

I’ve also been going through years and years of collected craft supplies. I am moving my work space out of the third bedroom to give the boys their very own rooms. I long for the day I can send them each to their own room when the bickering has become more than I can handle. But, in order for this to happen I’ve got to get all my stuff OUT. Big task. Huge. Sorted through piles of fabric and saved only those that I can actually imagine myself using. Same for piles of felt. Instead of separate boxes of fusibles, zippers, thread, embroidery floss, Velcro, etc. I now have one ‘Notions’ box. Also, one ‘Art Supplies’ box minus all the crafty goodies I picked up somewhere along the way and never even opened. I’m proud of the fact that I’ve finally reached a point in my life where I can accept that I’m not going to, say, make soap. Soap making supplies GONE. I know I’ll never make handmade paper again. Paper making kit GONE. And so on and so forth. Magazines! Years and years of magazines saved, organized and stacked now GONE. Why do I need them now? I have Pinterest! The room is almost empty save for some last remaining items that I just don’t know what to do with… alas the state of procrastination I’ve found myself stuck in the past couple days.

So, yesterday, instead of finishing, we went to the beach. Of course we have to go to the beach! In fact, we should probably go to the beach every remaining day of Summer! The tide was high which made for some rough waves crashing right on shore. At several points, little bodies tumbled up in waves came directly at me sending me tumbling along with them. The water was cool, but after some getting used to it was very nice and refreshing. The high tide made the sand prime real estate. (Note to self: Pick a different beach with more sand during high tide. I’m usually so much better at coordinating our beach time with low tide… but, again, this was an unplanned escape from what I should have been taking care of at home.) The sand where the surf was breaking was really black. Not sure what causes this. Or maybe I was just used to the white sandy beaches of Hawaii. And the high tide was bringing in loads of seaweed. Hate getting tangled up in it when I’m in the water. Has always been and continues to give me the heebie-jeebies as I imagine some slippery, slimy sea creature wrapping it’s long tentacles around my legs. Ewww!

Hopefully I can lock myself into that room until every last item is either tossed into a donation box, trashed or given a new home. Last night I was very optimistic that today would be the day. Even promised to take the boys to pick out new paint today. Now the day is half over and would you look where I am? Okay. Time to get to work. After some lunch. Might throw together some ramen with peanuts. Yum. Or maybe go out for a smoothie to beat the heat. There I go again… looking for an escape. Back to work.

Third Time’s a Charm

pizza kettle 3pizza kettle 2pizza kettle 1pizza kettle 4pizza kettle 6pizza kettle 5pizza kettle 7I bought our Kettle Pizza several months ago, but it was such a busy time that I only used it twice before admitting that I would have to experiment more later. I was so thrilled at the idea of barbecuing pizza, bread and bagels. I’ve often thought it would be fun to build a brick oven out in the patio… but, as a few months ago proved, I just don’t have the time for big projects. Discovering this attachment to use with our Weber grill was the perfect solution. My first try wasn’t entirely bad. Second was awful with a crust burned as black as the Weber itself. I was long overdo for another attempt at a perfect woodfire pizza. I used Jamie Oliver’s recipe for the crust and sauce. This made 5 individual size pizzas, with some dough left over. I decided to make individual pizzas instead of the large pies of my first and second, less than favorable, attempts. I also cooked the crusts for several minutes each before adding toppings. Both of these decisions proved to be enormously helpful. My previous attempts were hindered by the inability to maneuver a floppy, doughy crust loaded with toppings. So I formed and heated up all my crusts first, then added the toppings. I’m thinking this would also be a better way to make pizzas with a large group. I could set up an assembly line with the pre-cooked crusts and toppings for everyone to make their own pizza while I man the pizza kettle. (That is, if I find myself confident enough to cook up pizzas for a large group.) With a layer of charcoal smoking away, I still wasn’t getting anywhere near the ideal pizza cooking temperature of at least 600° F. Once I added wood, the flames shot the temperature right up. (And it’s always so satisfying for me to find ways to use all my baby mobile wood scraps!) My first pizza of the night was much like attempt #2 – blackened bottom. At 600°+ things cook pretty fast! I was under the misapprehension that I could pop one pizza in and then go back into the kitchen to get the next pizza ready. Mistake. These pies need to be watched and turned and moved around to avoid burning. So with one pizza in the trash, I was ready to get this right. I piled on a few more pieces of wood in between each pie and got the temperature back up. I hovered over each pizza, constantly rotating and checking the bottom to be sure it wasn’t turning black – moving it around until the cheese on top was bubbling. Success! My pizza dough forming skills could still use a little perfection… the edges of my crust were a little thicker than I’d like. But other than that, success.

Evening at the Moonlight

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A Summer tradition here in Vista, California is seeing a show at the Moonlight Amphitheatre in Brengle Terrace Park. (An especially precious treat for those of us who remember the days when it was merely a concrete platform sitting below a grassy, terraced knoll.) In it’s 35 years of putting on productions, quite a lot has changed. We arrive when gates open an hour and a half before the show begins. Settle into a nice spot on the lawn and enjoy a picnic dinner as the sun sets. Once that Summer sun dips behind the trees, the snacks, hot chocolate and blankets come out. Of course I enjoy the people watching. Taking in the scene… bottles of wine being opened, fancy picnic dinners shared on little tables and picnic blankets, kids tumbling down the grassy hill. In fact, this park is pretty much known for it’s abundance of grassy hills. I remember them from my days as a kid. What is it about a sloped lawn that invites juvenile minds to immediately think, “I’m going to run up and then roll down”?
This year we attended “Music Man” with my parents. At the end of the show, our very own hometown High School marching band rhythmically marched up on stage to play the final boy band tune. And so, of course, it made me think about my High School days performing with the band in the drill team. Watching this group of kids I thought, “They look so small.” I don’t remember being that small when I was in High School – as if that were only yesterday when it was, in fact, close to 25 years ago. (!)
Vista isn’t the small town I remember and a far cry from the small town my Grandma used to talk about. (“I remember when Vista had only one stoplight!”) When Robbie and Finn spotted the familiar headshot of a boy who played “Baloo” in “The Jungle Book” at their school last Spring, Vista suddenly felt small again. Tom and I never imagined coming back to Vista, let alone raising our family in the same place we grew up. San Francisco! New York City! Los Angeles! But, this feels right. Perhaps now more than ever when so many cities are starting to feel just like every other city. Yes, we have Starbucks – several, in fact. But there’s a there here now. A 10-minute drive across town can bring us to an evening of outdoor entertainment under the stars. Shoot, maybe we’ll even have to catch a second show. (Finn has expressed his desire to see “Shrek”, the musical, which starts performances next month.) Like a warm fuzzy blanket on a chilly-for-us Summer night… I wrapped myself up in this hometown of mine last night. Bravo!

Kauai Nei

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Our almost-annual visit to the Hawaiian islands (this time, and most times, Kauai) has once again given me the reboot I needed. A daily soak in the warm Pacific ocean washed away most of my worries, stress and insecurities. Visits to all our favorite beaches… Anini, St. Regis, Hanalei, Ke’e, Tunnels, Lydgate. Shaved ice, of course – I prefer guava, pineapple and passion fruit. And then all the things that photographs just can’t capture. The sound of birds during a rain shower, the smell of the lush vegetation after a rain shower, rain shower rain shower rain shower! (Can you tell that I’m a Californian longing for this drought to be over?) Did we do any activities? Well, no. No helicopter or boat tours, no hikes, no driving around the island. We just soaked in the North Shore by listening to a lot of Hawaiian slack key guitar, watching the sunset beyond Hanalei Bay, eating Portuguese Sausage with rice and eggs for breakfast, swimming and drinking quite a few Mai Tais. Oh! We did snorkel. Does that count as an activity? At one point I thought it was Wednesday when it was actually only Tuesday, which was a wonderful surprise. I think you can call it a pretty good vacation when you start to lose track of your days, don’t you? When we were there it felt like we’d been there for weeks. Suddenly, before I knew it, we were home again, home again (jiggety jig) and it suddenly all felt like this whirlwind of a dream. Trying my best to keep the aloha. Spritz a little plumeria water in my hair, close my eyes and imagine the world around me is still that island. Somehow, just knowing it exists gives me a calmness as if it’s my own little imaginary world that I can escape to at any time. Aloha oe, Kauai nei!

Customer Photos of Baby Mobiles in Action

I’ve rounded up some of the photos I’ve received from customers over the years. I am absolutely terrible at following up and requesting such photos – these were sent without any sort of harassment and I am truly grateful! And if you, who happens to be viewing this, is a customer or maybe even a potential future customer please keep in mind that I’d love to expand my collection of nursery photos. Unfortunately my little guys aren’t so little anymore so I can’t rely on them for free model work. These photos really help to give a perspective on scale. As you’ll see, the pieces are quite large. So even though each individual piece isn’t angled to hang facing baby, they’re large enough to still put on quite a display from below. The photos all link back to mobiles in the Flying Trees Etsy Shop. Thanks again for the photo contributions!

Baby Mobile Circus 2

Baby Mobile Circus 3

Vintage circus themed baby mobile

Baby Mobile Elephants

Baby Mobile Hawaiian

Baby Mobile Surf

Baby Mobile Surfboards

Baby Mobile Surfer Girl

Baby Mobile Under the Sea

Baby Mobile Volkswagon 1

Baby Mobile Wakeboards 1

Baby Mobile Willow Tree 1

Baby Mobile Willow Tree 2

Martha Stewart’s American Made Awards

Surfin USA Mobile

Another year, another entry in the American Made Awards. The Flying Tree Studios nomination is now up! I love browsing the nominations every morning. It’s incredible to see the variety of products being produced by people just like me. To help round out my nomination, I created a “Surfin’ USA” baby mobile. Complete with longboards in red, white and blue, it also features a patriotic VW Bus and a wooden United States cutout. Once the shop re-opens in July, I’ll be sure to add it to the lineup. Speaking of which, yes – the shop is in vacation mode. I’ve been enjoying time with my boys on their Summer break. We’ve been to the beach, to the waterpark and Legoland. I’m always surprised how fast the days go. I’d actually expected us to do a lot more, but by the time I’ve finished cleaning up the kitchen after breakfast, run a load of laundry or attempted a clutter cleanup, it seems it’s already lunchtime and I’m back in the kitchen once again. Already missing those school day hours that seem to pass so much more slowly.

Martha Stewart - American Made 2014 - Nominee Badge

Watching Caterpillars Become Butterflies

hungry catapillar



old chrysalis


butterfly on the passion vine


This time of year the garden is filled with fluttering butterflies.  The hungry little caterpillars absolutely love this Passion Flower vine.  And, fortunately, it grows fast enough to keep up with their chomping.  This vine has followed us everywhere we go from the very first house my husband and I lived in nearly fifteen years ago.  It was growing pretty prolifically in the yard and eventually found its way into my flower pots that were sitting in the dirt.  When the vine first blossomed, we were amazed by those alien-like flowers.  I quickly snipped several and laid them in a dish of water in the house, but they closed up within minutes.  So, they are blooms to be appreciated on the vine – as they should be.  In the two places we’ve lived in since that first house, we managed to transfer this vine.  It grows all along one of our back fences here in the garden and I like to think its still growing at the last place as well.  Wherever it is, the vine attracts those caterpillars and we find cocoons (or is it chrysalis?) everywhere.  And, every morning there are dancing, orange butterflies in the garden – which, incidentally, are incredibly difficult to photograph!

Surf and Beach Decor for a Baby Nursery in Orange and Aqua

Surf Nursery Orange Aqua


1 Blue and Brown Surf Collection Window Panels by Sweet Jojo Designs

2 Beach Nursery Art Prints by MangoSeed

3 Wooden Surfboard Mobile by Flying Tree Studios

4 Tropical Summer Sunrise with Palm Trees Vinyl Wall Decal by 3rdAveShore

5 Surf’s Up Surfboard Wall Clock by Trend Lab

6 Artwork by Heather Brown

7 Surf’s Up Hooded Towel and Wash Cloth Bath Set by Trend Lab

8 Blue and Brown Surf Collection Laundry Hamper by Sweet Jojo Designs

9 Surfboard Vinyl Wall Decal by DecalSticker

10 Surf’s Up Crib Bedding by Trend Lab


I found a few things to coordinate with my surfboard, vintage Woody car and seagulls baby mobile that uses a nice collection of blues and greens with orange accents.  The entire Trend Lab Surf’s Up collection uses these colors and would add so much color to a baby nursery or child’s room.  I’m particularly fond of orange as an accent color.  It adds such nice POP to a space.  I imagine a room painted in various shades of blue and aqua – maybe even waves in these colors layered upon each other.  The orange could be introduced with starfish or bright artwork hanging on the walls.  I’ve recently discovered artist Heather Brown from Hawaii after purchasing a print from a gallery on the islands.  I love her use of bright colors and think almost any of her prints would provide the perfect tropical flair to a beach-themed space.  The wall decals could be used in so many different ways other than simply on the wall: doors, furniture (applied to the face of a dresser, for example, with cuts to the decal made between drawers) and even on the ceiling!  A baby would be so lucky to grow in such a bright a beautiful nursery.

Introducing Flying Tree Studios

I have been running an Etsy shop for over SEVEN years. It’s really hard to believe that it’s actually been that long! What began as a creative outlet for a new stay-at-home mom has blossomed into an almost full time job. Back then I called my shop, Out of the Box. (You will see that name pop up quite a bit if you continue to read past blog posts.) After finding myself focussing entirely on creating wooden mobiles, my husband and I came up with the whimsical name, Flying Tree Studios. Now that my youngest has graduated from Kindergarten and will be starting full school days with his big brother in the Fall, I am happy to know that my hours will be filled with designing and crafting my baby mobiles.
Wooden baby mobile with vibrant red, orange and green prints.

Wooden baby mobile with vibrant red, orange and green prints.

It has always been incredibly satisfying for me to make things. Whether it’s a loaf of bread from flour and eggs, a pillow from a yard of lovely fabric or a baby mobile from planks of wood, it’s like magic to take raw materials and turn them into something functional or beautiful. And now that I have offered my services for creating customized baby mobiles, I find so much joy in taking an expectant mother’s vision and turning it into a personalized baby mobile. I’ve created mobiles for bicycle enthusiasts, for campers, for lovers of fairy tales and eccentric artists who want vibrant works of hanging art dancing above their baby’s crib. I expect that the future holds even more exciting projects and welcome the challenge.

So, welcome to my adventure! It is my goal to continue building my business and share as I do along the way. (I can think of several inspiring crafters/artists/entrepreneurs whose advice gave me so much guidance, so I hope to do the same.) I consider this blog as both a journal and a scrapbook where I can share creative endeavors, family adventures and news from Flying Tree Studios. May the future be filled with lots of all of the above!

Next Posts



  • Set my phone outside for a time lapse and wasn't really sure what I'd get. No real change in the sun, but the little glare spot shows the eclipse pretty nicely! (This is about 45 minutes during the height here.)
  • A friend worked with him on a movie and gave us his business card. "I don't care if she is a tape dispenser. I love her."
  • A #flyingtreestudios baby mobile custom designed for this little slugger to coordinate with his baseball nursery. His papa is an umpire, so the jerseys match those he wears on the field! Many thanks to this adorable family for sharing! #baseballbaby #baseballnursery
  • MOLE!
  • Our fantasy football league trophy in progress. There have been times when it seems we have at least a dozen mini football helmets lying around, and yet today I could find none. So I've cut a ping pong ball for the helmet and fashioned a football from clay. Fantasy draft is next weekend, so I've got a week to "make it work". 😉🏈
  • The seagulls in this #flyingtreestudios baby mobile remind me of eating fish & chips at the harbor. Those birds don't hesitate for a second snatching up food right in front of you. I saw one once that gulped down tarter sauce, paper cup and all! #surfbaby #babymobile #wishitwasstillsummer #mineminemine
  • #flyingtreestudios
  • And they're off! 8th grade and 5th grade - kings of their schools. 👑
  • Just like that, Summer is over. Hot chocolate in mugs made by grandma and glazed by the boys over the Summer. Back to our early morning routine.
  • Summer Day-68: Enjoying these last precious moments of Summer.
  • (In case you haven't noticed) the shop is back up and running!
  • #flyingtreestudios baby mobiles getting ready to ship out.
  • Custom colors for this  #flyingtreestudios baby mobile. 🖤🌊💙
  • Miss Candy... part of the after dinner conversation. And what was your favorite part of the day?
  • Here to see "The Little Mermaid". Really looking forward to hearing all those songs. Will be hard to not sing along! 🎶🦀🐠🐙🎵
  • Summer Day-56: Exploring at the botanical garden. (Free admission to San Diego locals on the first Tuesday of the month.)
  • Strolling through the bamboo garden.
  • Something on the menu for our canine dinner date!
  • Robbie & Finn's haul from Comic-Con. (So far!)
  • Stayin' cool 😎 at the Wave.
August 2017
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