Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well-preserved body,
but rather to skid in broadside, totally worn out & proclaiming “Wow, What a Ride!”

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Friday, August 17, 2012

Thursday, August 16, 2012

thursday's garden~ watering tips for the heat

We're not the only ones suffering from the oppressive heat, so are our gardens.

I thought I'd share a few watering tips with you to use this summer.

Besides the watering restrictions of most US cities—using your sprinkler on odd or even days (depending on your address)—there are a few other guidelines to follow to help conserve water and provide the best watering opportunity for your plants.

* Water your garden before 10 a.m. or after 7:00 p.m. to avoid the hottest part of the day.

* If you can avoid a sprinkler system, hand- or hose-watering your plants will help keep your water bill under control and prevent wasting water.  A soaker hose can provide an even deeper watering for your garden and is very useful for herbs and vegetables.

* Avoid watering the leaves of your plants; water the soil at the base of the plant.  Water on the leaves can be heated by the sun and cause scorch or burn and fungal diseases thrive when the temperature is between 70 and 90 degrees. By watering the soil, you can protect your plants from this disease and damage.

* Keep water from pooling at the stem for too long. If the stem of your plant stays in water too long, it can be susceptible to fungus or disease.

* Deep water your plants every week or two. Newer plants will require watering more often until they get established.
* Adding mulch will help keep the soil and roots cool and conserve water, as well as foil weeds.  Water before you mulch and add 2- to 6-inches of mulch; if you are using grass clippings as mulch, let the grass clippings dry before spreading them around your plant. Also, don’t use a mulch or garden soil that has fertilizers, especially time released, mixed in it as this may burn those already struggling roots, save that for spring or fall’s cooler weather.

 yeah! like I said monday…I hate the heat- think I have been doing a little obsessing on all things summer hot, ha!? global warming…ouch! most likely when i get out to colorado permanently....i'll be .... "it's so cold" ahhh, i can only dream~ sigh

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

meal ideas ~ summer cooling drinks

Instead of turning up that air conditioner this summer, you can cool your body from the inside out with some refreshing summer drinks.

Sports drink companies would have you think that their products are the only option to stay cool and hydrated this summer, but that couldn’t be more untrue! Not only are most sports drinks loaded with artificial colors and flavors, they’re often sweetened with high fructose corn syrup and come in a plastic bottle. You can cool your body in a more healthy way and reduce your impact by whipping up your own summer drinks at home!

1. Melon Puree
This drink is incredibly refreshing and simple to make. Melons are a great source of vitamin C, and when you puree instead of juicing, you retain all of that healthy fiber. Here’s how to make your own melon puree:

Slice up a a honeydew melon or cantaloupe into chunks.
Blend until smooth, adding a bit of water to thin things out if necessary.
Chill your puree before serving for extra cooling benefits.
You could also make this with watermelon or any other sweet melon.

2. Cucumber Mint Water
It might sound like a strange combination, but cold water with a couple of slices of cucumber and a sprig of mint is a delicious, cooling summer drink. You can serve this up one glass at a time or put together a whole pitcher to keep in the fridge. Here’s how to make an eight-serving batch of cucumber mint water:

Combine a half of a sliced cucumber and 1/2 cup of coarsely chopped mint in a four quart pitcher.
Top the pitcher off with 16 cups of water and chill until you’re ready to serve.

3. Ginger Cooler
A spicy drink might seem counter-intuitive when temperatures heat up, but spicy foods actually help your body regulate its temperature. This ginger cooler will do the trick nicely!
1/4c chopped ginger
1/2c chopped mint leaves
juice of one lime
6 cups sparking water
sweetener of your choice, to taste
Combine all of the ingredients in a blender and serve chilled. You can strain this drink, if you don’t like the texture of the ginger and mint bits, but I prefer mine whole.

4. Iced Green Tea with Lemon and Mint
Avoid heating up the house with the stove and brew your tea in the sun instead! This takes a bit of planning, but there’s not a lot of actual work involved.

15 bags of organic green tea
1 gallon of water
1/2c whole fresh mint leaves
juice of 2 lemons
sweetener of your choice, to taste
Combine the tea bags, water, and mint in a gallon container and set it out in the sun for 3-4 hours, depending on how dark you like your tea. Remove the tea bags and add the lemon juice and sweeten, if you like. Chill and serve over ice.

5. Coconut Water
Coconut water is loaded with health benefits. It’s rich in electrolytes and potassium, which makes it perfect for replenishing your body after exposure to the summer heat. Of course, it’s not so easy for most of us to find a young, green coconut so that we can drink from it directly like in the photo above. Luckily, you can find cans or boxes of coconut water at most natural food stores.

Unlike its richer cousin coconut milk, coconut water is low in fat and calories. You can drink your coconut water chilled on its own or add a squeeze of lime to brighten it up. It’s also great for adding a tropical twist to your morning smoothie!

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

healthy living~ How to Stay Cool During a Heat Wave

 There's a heat wave in town! And I hate, literally hate, the heat. Yes, Mr Bill, I am a penguin...or a polar bear, depends of what day it is...ha!

While hot weather can be uncomfortable and annoying (boob sweat!), extreme heat can also be dangerous. Here are some handy healthy tips on how to stay cool -- and safe –

1. Plan ahead. If you have to do chores or plan to exercise outdoors, try to avoid the hours of 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., which is the hottest part of the day.

2. Dress smart. Good thing white is a hot summer trend! Wearing loose-fitting, light-colored colored clothing will help heat dissipate from your body. What better excuse to treat yourself to some new “cool” threads?

3. Drink up! What's the best beverage to combat dehydration? "Water, water, water."  Also, it may be tempting to look up a recipe for margarita popsicles, but steering clear of alcohol and caffeine is your best bet, since both can be dehydrating. Carry a water bottle with you and drink throughout the day. "If you wait until you feel thirsty you're already dehydrated." Plus, it may sound funny, but keeping an eye on your pee can tell you if you're hydrated enough -- it should be clear like water!

4. Water sounds boring? Make it yummier! add cucumber and raspberry to your water, or you can try fresh mint, lemon and lime.

5. Feeling overheated? Get out of the heat. This may seem like a no-brainer, but it's really important to go someplace cool if you're feeling too hot. Some of my favorite cool places: the movies, a bookstore.

6. Eat watermelon. eating fruits that are high in water content can help you stay hydrated and cool. Watermelon is PACKED with water (not to mention vitamins A and C and phytonutrients!).  Tossing watermelon cubes with fresh coconut, then drizzling them with hot sauce -- it's a traditional (and delicious) flavor combination in Mexico. Or blend watermelon with a couple sprigs of mint for a cooling summer beverage!

7. Going for a swim? but keep in mind that sunlight reflected off the water can give you a severe sunburn. Reapply sunscreen often, wear a hat, take breaks in the shade and don't forget -- just because you're in and surrounded by water doesn't mean you don't need to DRINK lots of water!

8. Check your medications. Some antihistamines and certain antidepressants can put you at a higher risk for heat exhaustion, because they can keep you from sweating effectively, and certain antibiotics can increase your sensitivity to sunburn. So it's a good idea to check labels and consult with your doctor.

9. Spritz yourself! sweat is your body's mechanism for cooling itself down. So anything that helps sweat dissipate, like a spray of water that dries and evaporates, can help cool you off. A spray bottle or even one of those fans with water will do the trick nicely.

10. Get chilly. Ice compresses cool you down quickly, especially when applied under your arms and to your groin, because those areas have lots of blood vessels. 

And hey -- if you have a friend in Japan, have her send you an ice bra. 
Yep -- that's a real thing, and will sure cool you down fast.

Monday, August 13, 2012

it's not what you do but how you do it

A man at the grocery store was being so rude to the checkout-bag boy that I was flabbergasted. The young man was moving slower than some, however, this young man was not only doing his job with a huge smile, very pleasant demeanor, but with extreme proficiency. You will never find a broken egg, or your bread crushed in the bottom of the bag, or even your fruits and vegetables bruised and squished in your grocery bags, why?, because this young man took pride in what his task was, as menial as it is, and in himself. And, when the man screamed at the young man “for %#%& sakes kid! It’s not rocket science, just put the $#@# stuff in the bags.” I secretly wished that when he got home all his groceries would be destroyed by some magical “rocket fuel”. When it was my turn to be “bagged” I smiled at our now rattled young man and simply said: “you may not be a rocket scientist, but at least your not an old crotchety ass that thinks he is human.” This got me a smile. My thought, is that it is not the job, but the person doing it and how well they do it that defines their job’s worth.

In our search to define ourselves, we often look to our job to show us our worth. Society does not judge all professions equally, however, and it is not uncommon for the individuals who hold what others may consider to be ordinary or menial jobs to feel that they themselves are ordinary or menial. Yet, in truth, many wonderful and wise people throughout history have held what have typically been perceived as ordinary jobs, and this in no way has had any bearing on whether or not they have managed to contribute their skills and talents to the world. Whether you work in business, education, medicine, retail, or another profession, you worth is inherent to who you are and not what you do for a living.

A job that you enjoy, lets you meet your needs, and allow you to live in accordance with your values will always be more gratifying than a high-status job that you dislike. But while experiencing professional satisfaction can be a vital part of being fulfilled by your work, it is important to remember that it is possible to find happiness in any job. This is because what you do is often less important than how you do it. Your attitude and intention can turn a mediocre job into work that fulfills you because of the way that you approach it. If you do your job well and what you do benefits others, then you are doing work that is making this world a better place.  Just think what this world would be like if we had no garbage pick-up people-not a world I would like to live.

If you are happy in your current line of work and feel that it allows you to be yourself and live authentically while meeting your emotional and physical needs and allowing time for you to enjoy the fruits of your labor, then you have found a job that adds value to your life. If you are a waitress, then be the best waitress you can, take pride in your work and others will notice your passion. You can contribute your talents and skills to this world while doing any job. It is not the kind of work you do that allows you to be of service. It is you who must choose to be of service through the work that you do.

Friday, August 10, 2012

fun friday photo~ laughing pooch

jesse playing in the water at big bear lake last week, who says dogs don't laugh
he was having so much fun he... howled 

Thursday, August 9, 2012

thursday's garden~using pet food cans in your garden

My favorite plants for my garden and house are ones that when I want a new plant I simply break off a limb, stick it in the ground, nurture it a tiny bit, and whalla I have a new one. One of my most prolific varieties is what I call the “spider plant” aka: Chlorophytum comosum. It is very common in my part of the world but originates in southern and tropical Africa.
Every year my main spider plant, which is out on my back patio becomes prolific and sends out a gazillion babies. All of which eventually I need to find homes for. I have a habit of saving cat food and dog food cans for just this purpose and when I start seedlings. It is an economical and “green” way to what I call pre-pot a plant, usually done when I plan on giving the new plants away to others. If they stay with me, then they usually go into their home pots.

 Sometimes I leave the labels on the cans, more for fun and to show that you can re-purpose almost anything. The nice thing about the pet food cans is that they are aluminum and easy to punch a small hole in the bottom for drainage.

If doing this with spider plants, make sure the little ones have a good growth of roots on the bottom, use a rich potting soil compost, and I take some thin wire and make a pin to secure the plant down in the soil for sturdiness until the roots can mature slightly.

Water gently, I usually wait a couple of weeks and then let my friends and neighbors know I’ve got plants and off they go to their new homes.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

meal ideas ~ anniversary stroganoff

      ahhh, Beef Stroganoff, this was one of the first meals I learned to cook as a child, it is so elegant, flavorful, and super easy to make. It has been many years, 38 to be exact, since I last cooked this meal. Not sure why. It was the first meal I cooked for Steve- I remember that night well, I had put a tremendous amount of sherry into the sauce, we had a whole bottle of Mateus for our dinner wine, and a bottle of champagne later—and with all the “relaxicant” liquids… we made our lifetime commitment together- ha!
      I thought it would be fun to make this on Monday for our 38th anniversary; again neither of us is sure why it hasn’t been cooked since that fun night so many years ago. This year, the meal was met with a more sophisticated wine and a pure love that can only be gained by years of nurturing.

The recipe taught by my mother:

Beef Stroganoff-

1 pound boneless sirloin steak, trimmed Cooking spray
3 cups sliced cremini mushrooms (about 8 ounces)
1/2 cup chopped shallots or onion
1 tablespoon butter
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 cup fat-free, less-sodium beef broth
1/4 cup dry sherry
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3/4 cup sour cream
4 cups hot cooked egg noodles
3 tablespoons minced fresh flat-leaf parsley
Fresh parsley sprigs (optional)

Cut beef diagonally across the grain into 1/4-inch-wide strips; cut the strips into 2-inch pieces.

Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Coat pan with cooking spray olive oil. Add beef to pan; sauté 2- 5 minutes, until lightly browned. Remove beef from pan; place in a medium bowl, and keep warm. Add cremini mushrooms and onion to pan; sauté 4 minutes. Add cremini mushroom mixture to the beef off to the side.

Melt butter in pan over medium heat. Add flour. Cook 1 minute, stirring with a whisk. Gradually add broth, stirring constantly. Cook 1 minute or until thickened and bubbly, stirring constantly.

Add beef mixture, sherry, salt, and pepper to pan; bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer 4 minutes. Remove from heat; let stand 30 seconds. Stir in sour cream.

Combine noodles and minced parsley. Serve beef mixture over noodles. Garnish with parsley sprigs, if desired. This meal goes great with buttered sourdough bread and peas or fresh asparagus.
***Mateus Wine was popular in the 70's, not very expensive, a soft Rose’ that went with pretty much everything.  At its height in popularity it was 40% of Portugal’s wine export. 

I'm not sure if it can still be purchased...perhaps on ebay- ha!

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

healthy living~ summertime & bathtime

For those who love baths will tell you that anytime of the year is the right time for a stress reducing, relaxing, “me time” moment. Baths are often forgotten in the summer time- well, not in my house, but in many. Summertime baths are just as essential as those in the winter; however, you need to make a few adjustments, your water temperature is slightly cooler- on the warm side as opposed to the hot. And…you use different additives to the water. Just like I’ve mentioned in past postings about how you need to change your skin care regime from winter to summer, you need to also when taking a bath. I have a few friends that never, ever take a bath, and most likely will never be able to enjoy them, especially like I do. But I keep trying to suggest bath ideas in hopes that one might be interesting enough to try with a hop in the tub.

Here are a couple of my summertime favorites:

Honey Cream Bath
       This is an ultra-pampering, luxurious, hydrating bath blend formulated to moisturize the driest of skin. The combination of emollient cream with soothing, healing, honey feels great on parched, irritated, environmentally damaged, sunburned, windburned skin. Do not store, mix and use. yields 1 bath.

1 cup heavy cream 
1/2 cup raw honey at room temperature

Pour the cream and the honey together directly under running bath water. Swish with your hands to mix before getting into the tub. Relax submerged for 20-30 minutes.

simple as that!

Cider Vinegar Bath
       Cider vinegar has been used by me for sunburns since I can remember. Growing up in Morro Bay CA on the beach with fair skin and light hair I had my share of them as a child. My father, a chemical pharmacist, always liberally applied cider vinegar to my sunburns and the next day… it may have still been a little red, but there was absolutely no pain. I remember him saying it was the evaporation of amino acids, unbalancing the pH levels, through sweating under the sun that caused most of the burning. The vinegar refurbished the loss. Years later I came up with this bath recipe that soothes and softens itchy skin, relieves the sting of sunburn and windburn, and reestablishes proper skin pH levels. It also makes a great deodorizing foot bath additive- remember cider vinegar is proven to kill fungus bacteria.

4 cups apple cider vinegar (does not have to be unfiltered)
½ cup juniper berries or rosemary leaves

In a medium-sized sauce pan, bring the vinegar to just shy of boiling. Remove from heat and add the herb. Cover and allow steeping for 3 to 4 hours. Strain and store in a container.  I use a decorative one that stays next to my tub.

No refrigeration is required, but for maximum freshness and potency, please use within one year.

add 1 cup to bath while tap is running. soak 20 to 30 minutes.

juniper berries are wonderful, easy to find in your spice department, or fresh rosemary works just as well. I am blessed to have the juniper bushes scattered all over the ranch in Colorado. I was so excited when I first discovered them I think Steve thought I had gone bonkers. Not only good for making…Gin, can be used for many health care products, meal recipes, and the berries- slightly tangy sweet, are fun to nibble.

Monday, August 6, 2012

evolution of contentment

Last week was the official “turning of time” for me, it was my 58th birthday.  I’ve always for as long as I can remember celebrated my birth day as the “new year” for myself; with the calendar New Year secondary. Interestingly enough my birth day is exactly in the middle of the year so in essence I get two different calendars within one of my personal years.

Every year I reflect on the previous, what lessons I’ve learned, what I’ve taught others, how things have changed, and what perhaps I want to learn or change this upcoming year.

Last year was terrific for me in many ways. I’ve started down the road to ending the career I am in right now to completing the preparations for the next. Just a note, I am on my 3rd (educated) career and actually think this is it~ ha! 
This year I left the emergency room patient care scene (yeah~ just got tired of touching people) to a desk position still within Kaiser. I have one more year to go then I start Aspen Willow Ranch and Wildlife Preserve and an entirely new life.

This past year also brought changes in my attitude. An evolution in contentment. I think back to my younger years 20’s, 30’s, even 40’s and how I would spend hours with make-up, wardrobe, and my home had to have the latest whatever was popular. This past year it just wasn’t important any longer. I actually got rid of a lot of “stuff” during my yearly divesting.  Make-up, hair style in the most recent fashion- regardless of how expensive or hard to take care of, fashion and its accessories- boring stuff that I no longer want ~ I can even have my photograph taken without a moment of distress, without a care… this is a milestone in itself.

What do I want? - write, photograph nature, work in my garden, finish my various craft projects, find ways to help nature and wildlife (save them from humans to be exact), and continue studying myself and the journey my soul is taking. Strange, there is nothing material that I truly want. I could lose “everything” today and as long as I have Steve, Jesse the pooch, and okay, the psycho cat, Tiera, too, I would be content.

I thought the 40’s were great; my body physically had changes that were interesting if not downright terrific.  My attitudes changed somewhat but not to the extent of the 50’s, and now close to the end of this decade my inner-self has finally found a peace that I had not expected.

That inner peace is so wonderful, a contentment I had never anticipated and feel it will only continue to grow and flourish. I have many times throughout my lifetime said “I am at peace,” “I am content,” “I am happy,” but until you feel it for real, all those moments become “wow, was I wrong” chuckles.

Soon I will travel the road into my 60’s- if I have gained so much thus far I can only dream and be pleased of what is to come.  How could anyone fear getting older, it stumps me.

another celebration… today is
the 38th anniversary of my journey with my best friend and husband, Steve
happy years sweetheart~
thank you for every moment you have shared with me!

Thursday, August 2, 2012

thursday's garden~ micro surprise

You know how sometimes you take a photograph, thinking it is just one of those run-of-the-mill kind, the scene or setting was pretty, then you get home and get it on your computer and find there was a surprise you missed?  That is what happened to me this week; I was just wandering around in my garden taking some simple shots of the flowers. I had no idea this little ant was inside the flower when I took the photograph; it was just a quickie shot while playing with my new micro-lens.

This is not actually in my garden, it is on the hillside where jesse and I walk in the mornings. I had climbed the hill to grab a couple of petals off this yucca and noticed how beautiful it was. Did you know that you can eat the petals?  they are sweet, a little crunchy, and a great survival tip if ever lost out in the dessert- they provide some moisture and food.

The yucca plant, also known as Spanish Bayonet, grows wild in the warmer regions of the Americas. Native Americans used the plant fibers for weaving and rope-making, the roots for soap and the fruits, flowers and stems for food. The yucca provides nutritious food once you get past the needle-sharp leaf tips.

gardening blog to check out
 a fun gardening blog to check out “Loosing The Plot” . It is the journey a friend in Kent, UK is taking with growing her own vegetables on an allotment she has acquired.  There have been some great tips, challenges, and fun moments.  She also has some wonderful links to other gardening blogs that every gardener will love.   "just an added fyi :)"  Fizz, her bernese mountain dog, is Jesse’s welsh princess blog-pal and girlfriend. 

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

meal ideas ~ shrimp tacos- yummie good

this is a wonderful summer recipe, posted almost 2 years ago, I thought it would be nice to show it again. all I can say is you really have got to try this if you haven't already.

Grilled Shrimp Tacos
You may not ever find a better Shrimp Taco anywhere…
this recipe is a little more involved than I have posted in the past….but worth every second.
makes 4 servings of 2 tacos ea.

for the shrimp-
½  cup lime juice
1 Tbsp olive oil
2 tsp chili powder
1 lb large shrimp peeled & deveined (24)
8 tortillas **see note

for the chipotle sauce-
½ c. mayonnaise or sour cream
1 ½ tsp minced chipotle chilies in adobo sauce
1 ½ tsp honey
1 tsp fresh lime juice
  salt to taste

for the red slaw-
4 cups shredded red cabbage
½ cup sliced scallions
½ cup chopped fresh cilantro
1 tbsp. olive oil
1 tbsp distilled white vinegar

WHISK together lime juice, olive oil, & chili powder for the tacos. Add shrimp, toss and chill until ready to skewer.

WHISK together mayo, chipotles, honey, and lime juice for the sauce. Chill until ready to serve up to 2 days.

COMBINE cabbage, scallions, cilantro, oil, vinegar for the slaw. Season with salt and chill until ready to serve up to 1 hour.

WHEN READY -  heat grill on med-high heat  (shrimp  can cook under broiler.) Either skewer shrimp or place on a cooking grill and cook for 1-2 minutes per side.

DIVIDE the shrimp and slaw among the tortillas and drizzle with the sauce. yum!

TORTILLAS- use either flour or corn, and heat however you like. The way we do it…
Use a cast iron skillet or pan swirling the tortilla until warm and lightly toasted.
Note** we have found what I consider the best tasting tortillas around.
La Tortilla Factory’s Hand Made Style Corn or Flour Tortillas
The first tortilla with the taste of corn, but the flexibility of flour tortillas!  They are absolutely the best. They will not crumble or taste dry, and are calorie friendly.