Tag Archives: reno

How Not to Die

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I am very excited to announce the long-awaited book by my nutrition guru, Dr. Michael Greger.  Folks, this is a revolutionary breakthrough in medical research that will blow your minds!  Pick up a copy by visiting NutritionFacts.org.   This is the book that will change your life forever.  Would make a great holiday gift as well!

IT’s OFFICIAL: Processed Red Meats Cause Cancer

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This article appeared on NPR this morning.   It is an empirical finding by the World Health Organization.

The World Health Organization has put bacon, hot dogs and sausages in the same category of cancer risk as tobacco smoking.

The World Health Organization has put bacon, hot dogs and sausages in the same category of cancer risk as tobacco smoking.

The World Health Organization has deemed that processed meats — such as bacon, sausages and hot dogs — cause cancer.

In addition, the WHO says red meats including beef, pork, veal and lamb are “probably carcinogenic” to people.

A group of 22 scientists reviewed the evidence linking red meat and processed meat consumption to cancer, and concluded that eating processed meats regularly increases the risk of colorectal cancer. Their evidence review is explained in an article published in The Lancet.

The conclusion puts processed meats in the same category of cancer risk as tobacco smoking and asbestos. This does not mean that they are equally dangerous, says the International Agency for Research on Cancer — the agency within the WHO that sets the classifications. And it’s important to note that even things such as aloe vera are on the list of possible carcinogens.

In a Q & A released by the IARC, the agency says that “eating meat has known health benefits,” but it also points out that the cancer risk increases with the amount of meat consumed. As we’ve reported, studies show that the heaviest meat eaters tend to have the highest risk.

The IARC says high-temperature cooking methods (such as cooking meat in direct contact with a flame) produce more carcinogenic compounds. However, the group says there were not enough data “to reach a conclusion about whether the way meat is cooked affects the risk of cancer.”

Susan Gapstur of the American Cancer Society says the society recommends “consuming a healthy diet with an emphasis on plant foods and limiting consumption of processed meat and red meat,” she told us in a written statement.

The recommendation, Gapstur tells The Salt, is based on research. For instance, a systematic literature review on colorectal cancer published in 2011 by the World Cancer Research Fund found a statistically significant, 16 percent increased risk of colorectal cancer associated with each 100 grams of red and processed meat consumed. As the ACS points out, this is an amount of meat roughly equivalent in size to a deck of cards.

The Lancet paper points out that red meat also contains “high biological-value proteins and important micronutrients such as B vitamins, iron and zinc.” And the North American Meat Institute says lots of research points to the benefits of red meat consumption.

“Scientific evidence shows cancer is a complex disease not caused by single foods and that a balanced diet and healthy lifestyle choices are essential to good health,” writes Barry Carpenter, president of the North American Meat Institute, in a statement on the new WHO classification.

Carpenter says it’s important to put this new classification in context. “IARC’s panel was given the basic task of looking at hazards that meat could pose at some level, under circumstance, but was not asked to consider any off-setting benefits, like the nutrition that meat delivers or the implications of drastically reducing or removing meat from the diet altogether,” the statement concludes.

Are you Depressed?

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In my opinion,  psychiatrists should first test their patients for nutritional deficiencies before writing prescriptions for Zoloftor for  antipsychotics, like Zyprexa.  Conscientious doctors send patients to get lab work done prior to prescribing drugs or increasing dosages.  There are times when people do need antidepressants.   However,  other times  spinach would go far to eliminate the symptoms of depression.   Think Popeye.

If you haven’t ever tested your nutrition levels, you might inquire with either your psychiatrist or primary-care physician. Supplements can be expensive, but you can make it back  by not having to see your psychiatrist as often. You should talk to your doctor before taking any supplements, especially if you’re on prescription drugs.

 

Vitamin D

According to my doctor, Vitamin D deficiency is a major epidemic that doctors and public health officials are just beginning to realize. This deficiency has been linked to depression, dementia, and autism. Most of our levels drop off during the fall and winter months, since sunlight is the richest source.   My doctor believes that we should be getting from 5,000 to 10,000 IU  a day.  However, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) recommends most healthy adults get only about 600 IUs daily.  Hence, the widespread deficiency and increases in depression.

Magnesium

I am forever extolling the virtues of Magnesium, because this, like Vitamin D, is deficient in most American adults, according to my doctor, and the symptoms are not pretty.  They can, in fact, set off a chain reaction of unpleasant symptoms. Our lifestyles decrease our levels of Magnesium.  Some of the things that contribute are excess alcohol, salt, coffee, sugar, phosphoric acid (in soda), chronic stress, antibiotics, and diuretics (water pills). Magnesium is sometimes referred to as the stress antidote, the “most powerful relaxation mineral that exists,” according to Hyman. It is found in seaweed, greens, and beans. The NIH recommends a daily intake of about 400 to 420 milligrams (mg) of magnesium for adult men and 310 to 320 mg for adult women.  Magnesium Citrate can also act as a laxative, so buy your Magnesium accordingly….and time it well.

Omega-3 Fatty Acids

I was surprised when my results showed an omega-3 fatty acid deficiency because I eat plenty of salmon and take fish oil supplements every day. That shows you just how much fish — salmon, tuna, halibut — or flaxseeds and walnuts we need to consume to be at an optimal level. These essential minerals reduce inflammation and play a critical role in brain function, especially memory and mood. The body can’t make them, so you need to either eat them or take supplements. Omega-3 fatty acids are just one of the supplements I take every day for depression

Vitamin B Complex

B vitamins like vitamin B-6 and vitamin B-12 can provide some incredible health benefits, including reduced stroke risk and healthy skin and nails. On the other hand, a vitamin B deficiency may impact your mental health. More than a quarter of severely depressed older women were deficient in B-12, according to one 2009 study.

The best sources of vitamin B-6 are poultry, seafood, bananas, and leafy green vegetables. For vitamin B-6, the NIH recommends a daily intake of 1.7 mg for adult men, and 1.5 mg for adult women. Vitamin B-12 is found in animal foods (meat, fish, poultry, eggs, and milk) and shellfish, such as clams, mussels, and crab. Most adults should need to consume 2.4 micrograms (mcg) of vitamin B-12 daily, according to the NIH.

Folate

People with a low folate level have only a 7 percent response to treatment with antidepressants. Those with high folate levels have a response of 44 percent, according to Hyman. That is why many psychiatrists are now prescribing a folate called Deplin to treat depression and improve the effectiveness of an antidepressant. I tried it and it didn’t seem to make that much of a difference; however, I have several friends who have had very positive responses to Deplin. You need not try the prescription form of Deplin. You could just start taking a folate supplement and see if you get any results. Your daily recommended folate intake depends on your gender, whether you’re pregnant or breastfeeding, and age. However, most adults need at least 400 mcg daily. You can also get your daily folate requirements by consuming foods high in folate, including dark leafy greens, beans and legumes, and citrus fruits and juices.

 Amino Acids

Amino acids — the building blocks of protein — help your brain properly function. A deficiency in amino acids may cause you to feel sluggish, foggy, unfocused, and depressed. Good sources of amino acids include beef, eggs, fish, beans, seeds, and nuts.

 Iron

Iron deficiency is pretty common in women. About 20 percent of women, and 50 percent of pregnant women, are in the club. Only three percent of men are iron deficient. The most common form of anemia — an insufficient number of red blood cells — is caused by iron deficiency. Its symptoms are similar to depression: fatigue, irritability, brain fog. Most adults should consume 8 to 18 mg of iron daily, depending on age, gender, and diet, according to the NIH. Good sources of iron include red meat, fish, and poultry. If you really want to get more red blood cells, eat liver. Yuck.

 Zinc

This one is SO important!  Zinc is used by more enzymes (and we have over 300) than any other mineral. It is crucial to many of our systems. It activates our digestive enzymes so that we can break down our food, and works to prevent food allergies (which, in turn, averts depression in some people, since some of our mood disruptions are triggered by food allergies). It also helps our DNA to repair and produce proteins. Finally, zinc helps control inflammation and boosts our immune system. The NIH recommends a daily intake of 11 mg of zinc for adult men and 8 mg for adult women.

 Selenium

Like iodine, selenium is important for good thyroid function. It assists the conversion of inactive thyroid hormone T4 to the active thyroid hormone, T3. It also helps one of our important antioxidants (glutathione peroxidase) keep polyunsaturated acids in our cell membranes from getting oxidized (rancid). Most adults need about 55 mcg of selenium daily. The best food source of selenium is Brazil nuts, which contains about 544 mcg of selenium per ounce.

Iodine

Iodine deficiency can be a big problem because iodine is critical for the thyroid to work as it should, and the thyroid affects more than you think: your energy, metabolism, body temperature, growth, immune function, and brain performance (concentration, memory, and more). When it’s not functioning properly, you can feel very depressed, among other things. You can get iodine by using an iodine-enriched salt, or by eating dried seaweed, shrimp, or cod. I take a kelp supplement every morning because I have hypothyroidism. The daily recommend amount of iodine for most adults is about 150 mcg.

Oatmeal, anyone? An Evening with Ottmar Liebert

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When my daughter was small, she would refer to Flamenco guitarist, Ottmar Liebert as “Oatmeal”.  “Listening to Oatmeal again, Mom?”  she would ask.

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Last night, we were treated to two hours of this graceful guitarist’s skilled execution of some of the most incredible music I have ever heard.  Liebert was joined by bassist, Jon Gagon and percussionist, Chris Steele.  They had definite chemistry, and put on an ideal show in an intimate Portland venue in the Alberta Arts District.

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© Stacy Alexander

Ottmar Liebert is what guitar playing is all about.  He is in tune with his craft to the point that it seemed, at times, that he and the guitar were one instrument.  He was graceful, and seemed comfortable in his own skin, playing, most of the time, barefoot, with his eyes closed, seemingly oblivious to his surroundings, riding the waves of his own creations.   I believe he was playing a small DeVoe guitar, but it didn’t have any markings on it that I could see, so I’m not certain that is what it was.

Since 1986 Liebert has lived in Santa Fe, New Mexico. In 1992 he purchased an “alt-ranchette” just outside the city, with an adobe guesthouse he built as a recording studio.  In May 2006 Liebert was ordained as a Zen monk by Dennis Genpo Merzel at the Kanzeon Zen Center in Salt Lake City, Utah.  He had a very strong presence….one of peace and goodness.  Both John and I sensed this immediately as we watched him.

(I couldn’t get the video of Luna Negra to embed.  This video (above) is an earlier performance.)

I have been unable to find a video of Jon Gagnon, his bassist, but will post one here, if i do later.  He  was simply put, rock solid in every way.  Jon had a huge presence and voice on a 4 string fretless which sang like an baritone opera singer…or, at times, a French horn.  I couldn’t figure out what one of his bass instruments was at all it.  The one shown here was huge, and had a EB-like headstock and a body shape of something like a JP and a morsh.   Its  tone was full of mwah, but soulful and crying. The  fretboard was  coated with something shiny. I’d not seen anything like it before.

Screen Shot 2015-08-17 at 10.54.47 AMThe drummer, Chris Steele, was not to be believed.

Screen Shot 2015-08-17 at 10.57.15 AMI did find a video of Chris playing, and I encourage you to watch it.  He is truly a unique player, and fantastically talented.

There is a video on YouTube that I couldn’t manage to embed here.  Please look it up.  It is called “Good Drums, Bad Turtleneck” by Chris Steele.  This is the video to watch to really see this man’s talent.  You can find it here:

The Alberta Rose Theater is a sweet little venue….very small and intimate, which was the perfect place to hear a trio such as this.  John and I ate the venue’s delicious  hand pies and sipped Perrier as we basked in the warmth and beauty that these musicians presented to us. We had such a nice evening.   These guys are  true professionals…plain and simple.  They were tight, knew exactly what they were doing, and provided the audience with an amazing show.  ’nuff said.  Well…no….NOT enough said, actually.

As I was sitting there watching these incredible musicians, I though about my dear friend, another musician, and felt so sad that his life has taken the path that it has.  It could have been him up there on that stage last night….but as they say…”When you lie with pigs….”  He has made some not-so-wise choices.   I’ll leave it at that.

Betsabeé Romero in Reno

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Betsabeé Romero in Reno

I went to see the Betsabeé Romero show at the Nevada Museum of Art a few days ago and would like to write about two parts of the exhibit.  The exhibit is Romero’s first solo museum exhibition in the western United States.   She is one of the most highly evered Mexican artists of her generation. and is known for combining indigenous and folkloric designs with non-traditional art-making materials, and for creating inventive installations inspired by literature and diverse cultures.  She created a series of four new installations for the exhibition, with an overriding thematic focus on transportation—both literal and metaphorical.

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The first pieces were large circular discs that were suspended about a foot away from the wall and facing a window.  The light from the window penetrated the surface of the various materials on the discs to reflect beautiful colored shadows on the wall behind them.

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The soft light and color filtering through the discs were magically multi-dimensional.  Their overall affect was one of serenity.

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Another part of the exhibit was Romero’s use of go cart wheels and gold leaf to make both physical sculptures and prints on paper.  Romero transformed tires in art from their status as a symbol of urban blight to one of progress and creative thinking.  This part of the exhibit was called, “Urban Stalactites and Stalagmites” and used Spanish and colonial patterns common to Mexico.

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The tires were inked, at one point, and rolled across papers to create serigraphs that repeated the designs.

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Day #3 – SKYLINE

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Photo a Day – AUGUST

Day #3 – SKYLINE

© Stacy Alexander – 2013

Day #27 – BLACK and WHITE

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Photo a Day – JULY

DAY #27 – BLACK and WHITE

© Stacy Alexander – 2013

La Vecchia – Reno, Nevada

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René Best guitarist
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La Vecchia is a lovely Italian restaurant in Reno, Nevada that is owned by chef Alberto Gazzola.  Let me tell you.  This guy knows what he is doing!    The restaurant is  nestled into the hills above Reno where the view enables one to see the lights twinkling down below during dinner.  The place has been completely overhauled from its former incarnation, and transformed into a posh romantic atmosphere with a much-needed touch of class and refinement.

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Since we were in the Reno/Tahoe area to celebrate our anniversary, we thought we’d try something special.  When we asked our hotel concierge to recommend something   romantic and  good, he didn’t miss a beat in telling us that La Vecchia was the best Italian restaurant in Reno.  After two other people told us the same thing, we were sold!  After our experience there, we believed them all.

 First, apologies.  As you can see from my rather bad photos, we were in a low light atmosphere, which was great for a romantic ambience, but not so great for iPhone photography.  Because my phone didn’t do justice to the place, I nabbed a few of these photos from La Vecchia’s website to add with my own.                                      René Best guitarist

La Vecchia  is  lovely inside.  It is well-appointed in a sort of hip decor-meets-modest traditional… with a few mid-century modern touches.   I especially  enjoyed  the cylindrical light fixtures.  I also liked their tasteful  choices in art.  In particular, there were some framed cloth pieces that I suspect were Marimekkos.  They were very nice,  and tastefully placed throughout the restaurant.  Little touches such as these go far to warm up a place and give it a welcoming ambiance.  I had heard that as it dwindled toward its crash and burn state, the former restaurant had a few fish pictures, loud music and TACOS as part of their “Italian”  cuisine. La Vecchia is clearly in a league of its own, and has transformed the place into a fine dining establishment.

 It  was also clearly decorated by a professional.

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When we walked in the front door, we both chuckled about the framed photo of Luciano Pavarotti standing with  Enzo Ferrari.   I was (and still am) a HUGE Pavarotti fan….along with most of the rest of the world, I know.    His renditions of Puccini’s work was absolutely unsurpassed, in my humble opinion.  He brought me to emotional tears many, many times…but in a good way.   During his career, I probably saw Pavarotti a dozen times ,  so it was nice to see his smiling face as a welcome to the restaurant.   Paired with Enzo, neither John nor I could think of a more appropriate Italian welcome!    Our granddaughter’s uncle  drives a Ferrari, and named his son Enzo, after Mr. F …..and that is a bit of a joke with us….so we got a private chuckle out of seeing the photo.

 The uber-gracious  hostess showed us to our seats in the main, carpeted dining area.  The place was packed on a Tuesday night, which we heard is typical there,  but a table had just opened up, so thankfully,  we were seated  almost immediately.  We sat by a wide bank of windows in a part of the restaurant that was formerly an outdoor patio.  The current owner had it enclosed to expand the dining room while maintaining half of the open air atmosphere for diners who prefer to dine alfresco.  It added a nice touch.   I had heard that the former restaurant had been rather cramped in that area.  La Vecchia  is nice and spacious with plenty of room between each table.

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There was a little room on the side as well, that had a more casual feel.  The brick walls lent themselves to a more casual feel than that of the main dining area where we ate.

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One thing that my husband and I noticed right away was how happy the staff seemed to be working there.  This, it seems,  is always a sign of a good restaurant.   The staff at La Vecchia is obviously treated well, or they wouldn’t have been so great at their jobs….and they were.   We chatted with two different waiters as well as the hostess.  All reported that business is great, and this is what we witnessed, too.   Our waiter was gregarious and intelligent and very knowledgeable about the food, which we appreciated.  Everyone who helped us that evening was quite courteous and good at what they did; very professional, yet at ease.

We began our La Vecchia adventure with cocktails, namely the house special martini.  The idea of cheese in my martini did not appeal to me much at first, but I was happy that I tried it.  It was crafted with house-infused rosemary vodka and Absolut citron, served up with a fresh sprig of rosemary and double blue cheese stuffed olives.  The rim of the glass was dusted with some tangy, salty parm.  Delicious, much to my surprise!  Differently delightful.  Wish I’d had two!

While we sipped, our waiter brought us a basket brimming with house made, bread that I *think*

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Our dinner wine was probably a cheat.  The owner of this restaurant has a very nice collection of boutique wines from Italy, and we should have tried one or two… but we both love Oregon so much that  when we saw our favorite, silky, creamy Argyle Pinot Noir, we had to go for it…just out of a sense of loyalty, I suppose.   This wine has never let us down with its hints of ripe plum and sweet black cherries.  We could taste mushroom and chocolate spice on the back of our tongues .    This is a wine that has a nice, long finish and is best sipped very slowly….perfect for a wedding anniversary celebration.  And…  It is perfect for a one-glass dinner.  Next time, we’ll try the Italian.

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We began the meal with one of the best  salads either of us had ever eaten.  Our plates were lined with paper-thin, crispy, house-made parmesan wafers, upon which organic baby spinach leaves gently rested, topped with roasted pistachios, poached pears, and the best red wine vinaigrette either of us had ever had.   Albeit very simple, the salad was absolute perfection!

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We both had the Northern Italian wild mushroom ravioli (Ravioli Misto Bosco) as our main course. This is a simple dish, consisting of lightly sauteed shrooms stuffed into rectangular pillows of handmade pasta.  The cream sauce was garnished with fresh chopped shallots. There was absolutely no chicken stock in it….no MSG…nothing nasty at all.    It was divine!    I gave up cooking with cream years ago, but didn’t think it would hurt to splurge this time.  It was, after all, a special occasion.  The flavor was rustic and delicate at once, satisfying, without being cloyingly overfilling.  We dug it, but it left NO room for dessert.

I must apologize for this picture.  The lighting makes this sauce look thick and lumpy and it wasn’t at all.   The effect of my camera in the low light caused it to appear this way.  There was nothing bad about this sauce at all.

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We finished off the meal with cups of rich, Italian roast coffee….and kisses.  We will return to La Vecchia!   Until then….addio miei amici!

Oh, and thank you for a lovely anniversary dinner, Dr. Freed.  I might spend another decade or two or three with you. 🙂

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Last Day in the Reno-Tahoe Area

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First, a warm welcome to “press inside”, my 200th follower on this blog.  I really apprecaite all of my readers and hope that I am keeping you entertained.  Thank you for stopping by.

We spent the night at the NorthStar Resort last night.  After I get back to Portland, I will post pictures.  Came back to Truckee this morning, where I made homemade cinnamon rolls, eggs and coffee.  I have some work to do.  Then, we will be headed into Reno for one last visit before we head back to Portland tomorrow.

I have enjoyed the sunshine and the snow and the stunning scenery that we have encountered on this trip, but at the end of the day, I am always excited to get back to my beloved Portland.  I miss my family there, and I love the city.  We will be headed home tomorrow.

Yesterday, we spent the entire day at Lake Tahoe and at the resort, skiing, taking photos, hiking and just enjoying ourselves.  It’s been a great trip!  Now…off to Reno we go!                 –         –        

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Day #12 – Pet Love

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Photo a Day – MARCH

Day #12 – PET LOVE

Stacy Alexander

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This one is for you, Steve.  Happy birthday!

Big Sky, Beautiful Morning….

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Went to bed late last night and got up early this morning to make breakfast/coffee for my husband.  We sat outside on the patio in the morning sunshine, although there is still patchy snow on the ground.

He has two offices in the Bay Area and has to spend hours in each of them today. Then, tonight, he will be teaching his class, so won’t be back here to Truckee until very late… close to midnight.   I have been sitting here sipping my coffee, listening to mourning doves cooing.    Paco, my little chihuahua companion, is snoozing peacefully beside me.

The sun is out in all its glory, and I will be out, too, once I finish my coffee.  Can’t wait to hop on a bike and explore this area.  When I return, I will try to get caught up with my photo a day and my jewelry class.  Really looking forward to those two things.

It is a glorious day and I feel happy and peaceful.  I hope you do as well.

Truckee

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In Truckee tonight with my little blonde chihuahua friend.  There is a fire in the wood burning stove.  Dinner is on.  Had a nice chat with my baby, and all is right with the world.

Reno tomorrow…

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I realize that I look very serious in the above photo.   I have been burning the candle at both ends.  I hit the ground running every morning, trying to make up for the time I lost while so ill for about 3-1/2 months.  I am finally getting my strength back and feeling better, but this Portland winter has been dark and wet and I need some sunshine and dry air.  Therefore…..

Headed to Reno tomorrow and am SO looking forward to taking a little holiday.  Actually, I will be working a good deal of the time we’re away, but it will still be a vacation, nonetheless.  Will be in Reno proper for two days, then Truckee for a few, then a couple of different ski resorts.  I will be working on my novel, reading and working and on jewelry projects when John and I aren’t out and about. I’m also taking my sketchpad and pencil kit to capture any inspired ideas I get during this trip.  My head is brimming with art these days!   The weather is supposed to be great, so we’re planning to do some hiking, too.  A couple of friends have recommended a lot of places to go and some people to meet, so it should be a good time.  Then, there’s the legal  business aspect of the journey…  :-)(Some of you know what I’m talking about here….and if you don’t….don’t worry about it. It’s all good.)

Started the jewelry making class today and it seems very intense…but I’m a bit rusty, so I’m sure it will all come back to me with a little practice.  This class will help me take it all to the next level.  Taking all of my supplies with me so that if we get snowed in, it’ll be fine. John gifted me with a great new tool box and I have everything packed and in the car already.

Will try to update if I can, but if I can’t, I’m wishing you well and will write more when I get back.

Besos!  xoxo

Heading for the Biggest Little City in the World….

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I don’t know why I always manage to go to Reno when the weather is so crappy, but soon  I will be Reno-bound in the dead of winter again.  Actually, the weather  there  isn’t that different from here in Portland, minus a certain degree of precipitation.   Last winter when I was there, I faced a blizzard!  We’ll see what happens this time.

I enjoy the Reno vibe.  Have some  “legal business”  to take care of there, and some favors to do….and then my husband and I will be checking out some art and some resort areas.  Will be nice to take some time off work and chill for a while.  This trip is set for the second week of March.  Then, next month, I’ll be Texas-bound again for a rather extended period.  Hopefully, that will be all the travels I’ll have to take for awhile.  I want to spend the summer here in Portland this year.  I love this city so much, but usually spend the best months on the road.  This year, I just want to stay home…grow herbs in pots on my patio, take another yoga class, work on my art, finish my cookbook, nurture my rose bushes and do more entertaining.

I’m going to slow things WAY down for a change.  I’m ready.