About Carol

Carol Shwanda chronicles her blended family's lives and experiences offering hope, guidance, wisdom, inspiration and humor to anyone who is in or about to enter into a blended family.

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I would like my blog to be a forum for my readers to share their stories and experiences and express their views and opinions about being a part of a blended family. I am working on a book tentatively titled:Blended Family Stories. It will be an in depth look at the real life challenges and joys of successful blended families. If you would like to be part of my research I'd love to hear from you.Take my Blended Family survey

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Seaweed Art Cards
  • Published on May 7, 2012

    I flew up to Portland on Friday to help Sophia pack up her dorm room, put some of her belongings in storage and lug the rest her stuff home in four large suitcases. We managed to accomplish this in under two hours, which gave us a a lot time to hang out in her empty dorm room eating the sandwiches and snacks I packed and reflect on her first year away from home in college. We talked about all kinds of things, but mostly about her academics and I couldn’t help but beam with pride at her continued intellectual growth and development this past year.

    Paul was delayed in picking us up from the airport due to traffic. Since we had time to kill, I gave Sophia some money to buy a magazine thinking she would come back with a copy of People that I would surreptitiously read over her shoulder because I just love to hear all about those Kardashians (sarcasm). Instead, I was surprised to see her return with a copy of the Economist. As if reading my thoughts she explained, “I know, the Economist. It cost $7 bucks, but I just couldn’t bear to read one more thing about Khloe Kardashian’s baby weight. By the way, do you get the New York Times?”

    Our college girl is home.

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  • Published on April 17, 2012

    "image of brown seaweed"I’m so excited because I just launched the next phase of my SeaweedArt business with my SeaweedArt prints. Ocean conservation and my love of the sea are two of my greatest passions, and to be able to express this love through my art is so gratifying and rewarding to me. I just finished reading a book on this very topic (which I will review in a separate blog post) that states the need to immerse oneself in creative activities because it keeps your mind engaged and is the source of true happiness and contentment. So true. If I could not express my inner creativity, I could never be happy.

    Please visit SeaweedArt and let me know what you think. Ten percent of the profits from the sale of my SeaweedArt note cards and prints will be donated to ocean conservation.

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  • Published on April 12, 2012

    Wisteria peeking through the trellis…

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  • Published on March 8, 2012

    It is amazing how seemingly domesticated deer have become. They are not afraid of people at all. I stood right next to these deer and they barely acknowledged my presence.

    "image of deer eating grass"

    1 Comment
  • Published on March 3, 2012

    I love it when it rains on the UCSC campus where I work because it always brings out the deer. Lovely.

    "image of deer on UCSC campus"

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  • Published on March 1, 2012

    "image of the Eiffel Tower"Eva, my world traveler, is heading to France this summer for 6 weeks. We just booked her ticket. She will be traveling with a friend who is visiting her older sister who attends college in Tours. They will be staying in a small town about an hour’s train ride from Paris. She is so excited. She and her friend are planning their itinerary, which includes visits to the Louvre, the Loire Valley and dining with some local families.

    As you may recall, last summer Eva spent a month in Spain, where she studied at the Segre University in Granada. Her father and I find it remarkable that she has developed such a zest for foreign travel at such a young age. She once told me, dreamily, “Mom, I want to see the world.” She also said when she hears people speaking in another language she gets frustrated when she can’t understand them. Her Spanish is getting pretty good and she is now learning French from an App she downloaded onto her iPhone. She plans to graduate from high school a year early and apply through Rotary to be a foreign exchange student in a Spanish speaking country.

    You go girl. And to think my mother freaked out when I moved from Philadelphia to New York City. Times sure have changed.

    1 Comment
  • Published on February 29, 2012

    Almost three years ago I wrote a post titled, The Final Frontier, about the outdoor fireplace/fountain my husband was building in our back yard. He was inspired by the fountain in the lobby of The Catamaran Resort Hotel in San Diego where we stayed days after we were married. (The first time, when we eloped.) I have always loved the sound of running water and fell in love with that fountain many years ago. Paul promised to make me an outdoor fountain that was also, get this, a fireplace. ┬áNow, almost six years later, his vision and my dream are finally realized. It still needs to be painted, but it’s done. There’s just one little problem. Instead of the soft tinkling of a babbling brook that I had imagined, Paul’s fountain sounds a little more like a gushing, damn bursting river. Here’s a video I took. Not sure if it captures the sound accurately. Let me know what you think.

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  • Published on February 6, 2012

    "image of art studio"I’ve written about this before, but I can’t help but mention it again, I LOVE my studio. My husband built my art studio as a wedding present and it is by far my favorite room in the house, except it’s not in the house. It is in a building at the back of our property. My husband’s office is right next to mine. We get to work side by side. I love having my own special place. I come out here early in the morning before the kids are up and drink my chai and write. On weekends I am working on my SeaweedArt and in the evenings I write some more and sometimes read. It is my sanctuary. Thank you dearest husband for building this for me.

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  • Published on February 6, 2012

    "image of pressed seaweed greeting cards"I’m so excited to share that my SeaweedArt greeting cards were featured in our local newspaper. I have been working very hard on this business for the past year and I am finally seeing the fruits of my labor. Not only am I selling cards (and soon launching other products), I’m becoming a recognized spokeswoman for ocean conservation. I’m getting requests from online retailers to include my cards in their product assortments and I was recently approached by a marine botanical cosmetic company to use my seaweed designs in their product packaging! So cool. I’m thrilled. What matters the most to me were the kind words my husband was quoted in the article about how proud he is of me. He has always been so supportive. Our love of the ocean and sailing is something we both share.

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  • Published on October 25, 2011

    "image of creme brulee"

    2 Comments