Monthly Archives: August 2016

Summer Breeze – Makes Me Feel Fine

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We hopped in the car yesterday for a spontaneous trip to the coast.  It was as close to perfection as a day can get. Ingrid just finished up French camp for the summer and is with us full time during the days for the next three weeks.  All of us needed some R&R, not that we really needed an excuse.

We went to Cannon Beach first.  Since it was such a sunny, beautiful day, we expected a lot more people than actually showed up there.  The beaches and the town were sparsely populated for this time of year.

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John wore the wrong shoes and wasn’t up for as much walking as Ingles and I were, so he sat in the shade and watched us as we played on the beach.  She was so happy to be there.  We buried her legs in the sand, chased one another, ran into the waves and out, and generally had fun.  In the following photo, she is running down a stretch of beach made famous by the film “The Goonies”. Remember that one?

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Soon the entire beach was inundated by tiny clear jellyfish, so we decided to leave a little sooner than expected.

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We left the beach and walked back to the village.  John and I stopped into a wine shop and bought some nice flatbread and cheese to go with the picnic we’d packed before we left home.  We sat in front of the Cannon Beach theater on their nice benches and had a good chat while we ate…and laughed…and generally enjoyed being where we were. John forgot his pocket knife and had to struggle with the cheese. 😉

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Ingrid was such a delightful girl…so polite and friendly.  John and I just can’t get enough of her.

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After our trip, we went to a local glass blowing studio.  Here are some of the delightful pieces we saw there.   (My sweet friend usually sends me glass hearts for my birthday, for Christmas and for other occasions, so my own heart went pitty pat when I saw this one.)

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And this one….

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This vase was my favorite.  Don’t you think this would look great in my house?  😉

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We left the studio and picked up our annual bag of the best salt water taffy ever.  This soft, gourmet variety is locally made, and comes in virtually every flavor imaginable.  I got so much that I had to put a lot of it in the freezer.  We don’t eat stuff like this often, but when we go to Cannon Beach, we make an exception.  I got some extra so I could send some to my friend.

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Next, we headed to Ecola Park.  This is a magical place….really beautiful. I had John let me off a few miles down the rode while he and Ingrid drove on ahead.  I met them there later, after my wonderful hike through the woods.

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When I got to the top of the cliff, I met up with John and Ingrid and the three of us walked to the lookout point.

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The view was impeccable.

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We met a couple who had their long haired chihuahua with them. They were nice and we hung with them for awhile.  We didn’t take the Beebs, because we felt she would be more comfy at home….but we missed her!   We spent the rest of the afternoon just hanging out in this beautiful spot.  Ingrid recited spontaneous poetry and danced for us.  It was nothing but pleasantries, one right after the other.  We had such a good time!

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If you ever find yourself in Oregon, I highly recommend the coast.  It is one of the most gorgeous coasts you will ever see.

Boutonniere Inspirations for a Wedding

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Long ago and far away, I worked as a freelance wedding planner.  My specialty was economical weddings in dramatic settings, such as beach weddings, foreign destination weddings and weddings in authentic Texas locations.  I once planned an elegant wedding in an old Austin Texas  barn, attended by some famous C&W musicians.   As they invited me to participate in the wedding celebration, we all had the times of our lives. The juxtaposition of elegant finery contrasted with the rustic elements provided by the barn was just perfect, and I was rewarded handsomely for my efforts.

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As part of my promo literature at the time, I gave tips about wedding attire, honeymoon accommodations and other useful things.  What follows is some advice I had for boutonniere inspirations.:

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Nothing can quite add the panache to a groom’s wedding attire  like the classic style embodied his boutonniere. This traditional symbol worn on the lapel of the groom’s jacket is a gesture brimming with meaning that reaches  far beyond the flower itself. Boutonnieres symbolize beauty. They symbolize the fragility of life, and love undefined all captured in a single blossom.

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Classic Wedding

A classic wedding calls for a classic symbol. A single red rose boutonniere with, perhaps, a tiny spray of baby’s breath embodies all of the characteristics any bride could wish for in a groom. The red rose symbolizes courage, sincere love, respect and a hearty congratulations to the happy couple. The baby’s breath symbolizes everlasting and undying love.

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Beach Wedding

Keeping things natural at a beach wedding is the way to go. Tiny white lily boutonnieres trimmed with raffia and miniature seashells can add a nice touch, or for something more ornate,  earthy boutonnieres with lavender, green blueberries, wax flowers and rosemary can add a subtle, yet beautiful touch the blends right in with a stunning ocean environment.

Western Style Wedding

A sunset wedding on the ranch, or at the beach, calls for shades of yellow with a boutonniere made from dusty miller, billy balls and handmade wooden button flowers tied with twine. This is a winning combination that can dress up any groom’s lapel without going over the top.

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Castle or Mansion Wedding

Any  groom can  look like a prince in a beautiful purple boutonniere made of royal ranunculus buds and rose hips that are wrapped with white or purple velvet ribbon.

High Desert Wedding

Ranunculus and rice flowers in soft desert pinks, corals and yellows are a perfect combination for a high desert wedding boutonniere. An alternative choice is silvery brunia and tiny, mint green succulents wrapped in a pale pastel ribbon.

Elegant Cocktail Lounge Wedding

Imagine the beauty of an elegant cocktail lounge wedding atop a skyscraper overlooking the glittering lights of the city. What better boutonniere could adorn the groom’s lapel than one inspired by the fresh ingredients and herbs found in the fine spirits that are served there. An aromatic boutonniere made from cinnamon sticks, Douglas fir, hops, bay laurel, grains, juniper and rosemary will be the highlight of the groom’s suit.

Hawaiian Wedding

Hawaii is one of the most popular destination wedding locations in the world. The groom will fit right in with a simple orchid boutonniere, or, for a little more flare, a boutonniere made of astrantias and jasmine blooms against a background of local foliage.

Remember, a successful wedding celebration is all about the details.  The marriage?  That’s all about the couple.

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Suma

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About 15 years ago, I attended an art exhibit in the Alberta Arts District here in Portland, where one of my professor’s then-wife, Toni Thomas, (now a close friend) was showing her woman-centric, rustic sculptures, displayed along with her poetry.  I instantly fell in love with them, and vowed to own one some day.  That day has come.

Last night, we were the dinner guests of Toni and her boyfriend, Peter.  Both of them are getting ready to leave for a year in Edinburgh, Scotland to study poetry.  We went to bid them farewell and to enjoy one last night of their companionship before they leave.

When we got there, John had a surprise for me.  Said surprise might entail our having to take a second mortgage out on the house…but who cares.

Meet Suma.

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The name Suma is an East Indian name meaning , “flower” or “feminine”. The name is also found in the Egyptian language, meaning, “ask” and in the English language, meaning, “born in summer”.  However, Toni named her with the East Indian moniker in mind.

She is a very heavy, hand-thrown ceramic piece that stands approximately 24″ tall and about 18″ wide, at her widest, at the base.  She has a copper-like patina that no photograph can do justice. She is magnificent!

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There is a sadness about her facial features, a plaintiff expression, not unlike life’s longing for itself. Her truncated arms form breasts….or else the breasts form truncated arms. The torso is long and thin with an off-center navel and the suggestion of wide, womanly hips.

The piece now sits on the teakwood credenza in front of the window where our little hummingbirds feed.  At first, I feared she might frighten them, but no.  They are contented with her presence.  I, for one, am not only contented.  I am thrilled.

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Butternut Squash Tacos in Sweet Sriracha Sauce

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A friend from Reno sent me this photo this morning.  While it made me smile, it also made me concerned that it might be considered a racial slur…stereotyping the whole Juan-sounds-like-one thing and all that.  So let me say up front that I post this picture to HONOR my favorite cuisine.  I love Mexican food.  The owner of this restaurant is Mexican and HE put up this sign….so I suppose it’s ok.

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The thing that prompted me to post this photo is the fact that we had our own taco emergency today, so I had to whip up some of my special tacos.  They consist of sweet and  smooth butternut squash in a savory Siraracha glaze and served on soft corn tortillas.

I begin this dish by peeling and quartering a small onion, which I then wrap in foil and stick into a 425 degree oven.  I also wrap about 4-6 tortillas in foil and set aside.

Next, I cut 1 butternut squash into sticks and cook them in about a tablespoon of olive oil, turning occasionally, until they are soft and brown in some places. I used a nice AllClad skillet because it enabled me to put all the squash into one layer for more even cooking.

Next, I cut up a red bell pepper into strips.  I removed the seeds, but left a little of the white membrane to add a tiny bit of heat.

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I cooked these in a tablespoon of olive oil in a heavy cast iron skillet until they just began to soften.

 

Next, I mixed about 4 Tablespoons brown sugar, 2 tablespoons Siriracha and 3 tablespoons soy sauce.  Yeah, I know.  What on earth am I doing adding soy sauce to Mexican food?  Just do it.  It’s great.

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Stir the mixture on low heat until it forms a syrup….just before the boiling point.  Remove from heat.

Turn off the oven and stick the tacos in as you remove the little onion packets. (They need to cook for about 18 minutes.) Salt them!

It just takes a coupe of minutes to heat the tortillas.  Once warm, remove them and get ready to assemble. Unwrap each onion quarter.

Separate the layers of onion and place on the tortilla.

Next, add the veggies and squeeze lime on top.  Add fresh cilantro. Then, ladle on the sweet/hot srirache sauce.  Yum-o!

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Enjoy!  These tacos are rich and full-flavored. They have the crunch from the peppers countered by the sweet soft squash.  The lime juice adds an acidic punch that is balanced by the cilantro.  These are GOOD tacos!   Just ask my husband.

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Why I’m with Hillary

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Going into this election, I was not a fan of Hillary Clinton.  She is far too conservative for my tastes, and too hawkish, as well.  I was for Bernie….but amidst all the misunderstandings (ignorance) about socialism Vs. DEMOCRATIC socialism and his “help all” policies, I did not have a realistic expectation that he would win.  It takes a well-educated person to understand Bernie Sanders, just as it takes an educated person to understand Barak Obama….and we have SO much ignorance in this country!  I mean, look at the Republican nominee for starters!  wow!

Since 3rd party candidates do not win in this country.  I believe Teddy Roosevelt was the only one who did, but I could be mistaken about that.  Anyway….I do not want to throw my vote away on a third party candidate when it could be used to elect another Progressive President, so, for this election, I’m with Hillary.

I conducted research into the political accomplishments of both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, and this is what I came up with.  I’ll start with Hillary.

#1.   While the subject of controversy here and there, much of which does not please me at all, but the majority of which has been investigated and dismissed.  (The email scandal was investigated by a REPUBLICAN committee and any thought of charges has been dropped.  Bush did what she did.  Colin Powell did.  Condaleeza Rice did….The email thing was common practice.  Risky?  Yes!  Any harm done. No!  So can we please move on from that?!  Oh, and Vince Foster….and the other collection of bodies supposedly killed by the Clintons?  Utter nonsense.  Rumors believed by dumb rednecks, but disproved on SNOPES.com.…where substantiation rules over ignorance.  Click that link to read about each of those deaths.

Hillary Clinton has been working for more than 40 years to improve the lives of children and families.  In comparison, Donald Trump has donated funds in isolated cases, here and there, but has made no significant contributions toward helping children and families specifically.  After law school, Hillary could have gone to work for a prestigious law firm, but took a lower paying job at the Children’s Defense Fund. She worked with teenagers incarcerated in adult prisons in South Carolina and families with disabled children in Massachusetts. The experience sparked a lifelong passion for helping children live up to their potential.  Trump?  Nada.  No contribution, whatsoever.

Donald Trump seems to have the attitude that the poor are bums and that they don’t deserve help. As first lady of the United States, Hillary Clinton fought to help pass health care reform. When that effort failed until Obama took office, she didn’t give up: Hillary worked with Republicans and Democrats both to help create the Children’s Health Insurance Program. CHIP cut the uninsured rate of American children by half, and today it provides health care to more than 8 million kids.  According to my research, Donald Trump has spoken out against programs such as CHIP.

When terrorists attacked just months after Hillary became U.S. senator from New York, she worked to make sure the 9/11 first responders who suffered lasting health effects from their time at Ground Zero got the care they needed. On the other hand, Donald Trump used funds earmarked to help small businesses that were destroyed or harmed in the incident, for his own profit.

Hillary Clinton’s standing in front of a U.N. conference and declaring that “women’s rights are human rights” was more controversial than it sounds today. Many within the U.S. government didn’t want Hillary to go to Beijing. Others wanted her to pick a less polarizing topic (you say polarizing, we say half the population). But Hillary was determined to speak out about human rights abuses, and her message became a rallying cry for a generation.  Donald Trump has railed against women, referring to them as “dogs” “pigs” “ugly” “fat” and other disparaging comments.  He has made blatantly sexual comments about his own daughter, and was accused by his 1st wife, of raping her….but because the law stated, at the time that the definition of rape did not include husbands doing it to wives, he was technically let off the hook, even though, according to Ivana, he DID commit that violent act.  He is furthermore accused of raping a 13 year old girl, who has an eye witness to the attack. THAT is Donald Trump’s stance on women.

As secretary of state, Hillary made LGBT rights a focus of U.S. foreign policy. She lobbied for the first-ever U.N. Human Rights Council resolution on human rights and declared that “gay rights are human rights.” And here at home, she made the State Department a better, fairer place for LGBT employees to work. Trump opposes nationwide marriage rights.

Hillary worked across the aisle to expand health care access for members of the National Guard and reservists—making sure those who served and their families had access to health care when they returned home. And she worked to expand the Family Medical Leave Act, allowing families of those wounded in service to their country to take leave in order to care for their loved ones.  Donald Trump publicly insulted the parents of a dead American soldier. He made a campaign promise to disburse large funds to the US Veterans, but did not spend a penny on them until the press uncovered the fact that he had not done so.  THEN he gave them SOME of the money that he promised he would.

As our nation’s chief diplomat, Hillary didn’t back down when the stakes were high. As Hamas rockets rained down on Israel, Hillary went to the region immediately. Twenty-four hours after she landed, a ceasefire went into effect—and that year became Israel’s quietest in a decade. Donald Trump encourages combat and war.  He has even stirred up dissent in the United States, l spawning a rash of violent behaviors at his dangerous violent rhetoric.  He has praised evil dictators and says he admires Putin, a murderer.

These are the reasons why I am voting for Hillary Clinton instead of the quickly diminishing candidate with the small hands.

 

 

Cooking Up Something Smmmokin’!

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First, I’d like to express happy birthday wishes to my wonderful husband, John, who despite his years, has the energy of a 20 year old, the mind of a genius and a heart of gold. He has made my life immeasurably abundant with his love, kindness, intellect and thoughtful consideration.  His ideas, words and deeds are deeply appreciated and respected by me, his wife, who has never once felt that our marriage was a mistake. Thank you, John, for the decades of love and happiness you have brought to my heart and soul.  I love you deeply…and dearly.  

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Smoky Ancho Veggie Bowl

For last night’s dinner, I cooked a nourishing veggie bowl that was packed with vitamins and protein, and that tasted absolutely delicious.

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First, black beans, corn and green bell pepper were simmered in a lively garlic-chipoltle sauce. The sauce had chopped tomatoes and a dash of ground ancho chilis for a subtle heat.

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The whole thing was topped with sauteed Pattypan squash with Ancho chili powder and a sprinkle of fresh cilantro and served with brown jasmine rice with lime. It was delicious!

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The addition of lime zest in the Jasmine rice and lime juice across the top of the dish itself, helped balance the heat with a nice, acidic taste that was balanced with the mildness of the Pattypan squash.

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It was awesome……well, according to everyone who ate with us last night.  Mmmmmmm!

On a Personal Note…

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Portland, Oregon facing west toward Mt. Hood

I talk so much about what a lovely place this city is, but every summer since we’ve lived here, we have traveled and spent long periods away from home.  Not this year. Well, ….we have both traveled individually…John to Southern California for his play stuff, and I’ve made a few trips, but we’ve done no out-of-state traveling together, and have not spent long periods of time away, which has turned out to be a good choice. We are having a good time.

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The incredible flora and fauna of Portland…the sites the sounds…are all so endearing….mountains in one direction, the beach in another…..  I don’t think I will ever get enough of them all, and I certainly do not grow weary of them. This city is always changing…the weather…the people…things to do, et al.  We’re still searching for just the right plot of land in the Reno area to build a tiny house, but Portland is our home and shall remain so.

We are working on things around the house this summer, which we both love to do.  For instance, I really hated the ugly cove molding on our fireplace, so John and I built a new mantel and mounted a piece of rustic walnut on the front.  It was a quick and easy fireplace makeover that turned out pretty well, considering what we started with.  I love DIY projects, and this DIY fireplace makeover was right up my ally!

This is how it looked before.

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We slapped the above white board onto the front of the mantel, painted it brown and added a piece of rustic walnut.  We also changed the art around in the living room, moving some pieces to other rooms and adding new pieces. (and yes…that IS a Lichtenstein!)   We still plan to do some more things to the ugly fireplace…because it’s still ugly….just not AS ugly….but you know…We’ll get to it. Still have to have the black face of the fireplace re-painted.

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As I type this, John is out back re-staining our concrete and painting the deck.  I spent the morning reorganizing and putting up shelves.  We really like to do this stuff.  John and I have been trading off cooking every other night, and he is only now discovering the joys of cooking that I’ve been raving about for so long. He is really getting into it, and I’m enjoying the break.

Our non-vacation this year has turned into a great vacation.  We are socializing with friends a lot, having them over for impromptu little soirees on our patio, meeting them in parks for picnics….spending a lot of time with Ingrid….visiting all the new restaurants on Division street, making music, going to hear music, making art.  This is a good life.

So soon, we will embark upon a short trip to the SF Bay Area, but only for a few days. Other than that, we will be here.   So, I guess the point of all this is to say that while I love to travel and have had some exciting adventures here, there and everywhere, one can also find happiness by simply staying at home and becoming occupied with things that help improve his or her life.

I’ve now completed a third country and western song, am getting closer and closer to opening my business, and feel great about life….and about whatever new adventure presents itself.

Ciao!

 

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