Tag Archives: summer

Metamorphosis

Standard

One of the reasons we went for our walk together yesterday, was because I have been having difficulty coming up with a design for my Doctors Without Borders mosaic.  With only 5 weeks left in which to complete it, I have been looking for inspiration everywhere.  With all of the flowers and butterflies and beautiful things that I saw yesterday, I believe I have come up with the perfect design:

Image

I enjoy the fact that this design is built on a circle rather than a more traditional butterfly shape.  I like it that it has straight lines mixed with curved ones.  This lends a sense of grace to the overall design.  Yes, I think this, or some variation of this, will be my design.  John has promised to cut a piece of Wedi-backer board for me today or tomorrow so I can get the design laid down and get started.  My glass cutting skills are a little rusty, but I plan to make most of this piece from glass.  Haven’t decided on a background yet….maybe smalti….maybe tile.  Will have to wait and see how it goes. I want to make this large enough for the wings to go outside of the borders of the piece so that it only shows a portion of the butterfly.

In other news, I have decided to paint the kitchen.   I painted it a deep, dusty blue a few years ago, which looks great with the white cabinets, but  have been longing for something lighter and brighter, so am going to lighten it back up to white and put in a smoky gray/green glass back splash.  I have a lot of company coming this summer, so need to hop to it.  I want to do some kind of mosaic work over the stove….but we shall see…..

I love having all of these projects, and it feels great to complete each one.

Summer Cold Have You Down?

Standard

Image

AHHHH-CHOOOOO!!!

Are colds really worse in summer?  Seems like it.  My handsome husband woke all droopy-eyed with a cold  this morning, poor thing, and he looks terrible, but I’ve been taking good care of him.  My cure-all potato soup is on the stove and hot ginger tea is in the pot.  I put clean sheets on the bed and have him all tucked in.  No work for John at all today.

john sleep

Summer colds are caused by different viruses than winter colds and tend to last longer than the winter variety.  In fact, colds in summertime can last for weeks, at times seemingly going away and then suddenly storming back with a vengeance, infectious disease experts say. A winter cold, by contrast, is typically gone in a few days.  Why is this?

Image

Some of the things people commonly do in the summer can prolong the illness, like being physically active and going in and out of air-conditioned buildings.  Do this for awhile and before you know it, you have “clothespin nose”!

Image

Summer colds, which can hit between June and October, occur only about 25% as often as the winter variety. But summer colds can have more severe, flu-like symptoms, in addition to sneezing and coughing. Many people also mistake a summer cold for allergies, because it just doesn’t seem to leave.

Image

My cousin is still trying to shake off a cold she developed in early May. It began with the sniffles, so she didn’t pay much attention to it at first.   She continued to exercise  and play tennis.   However, she soon developed a fever—uncommon for her, —and a cough and she became overly exhausted.    She initially thought she had pneumonia, the symptoms were so bad. By the time she went to see Ed, a doc friend of ours, she had already begun taking a cocktail of Mucinex, cough syrup, Tylenol and Sudafed.   (I’m a homeopathic kinda gal myself, but my cousin is not.) Ed prescribed a different cough syrup, but that  didn’t work, so he  eventually put her on antibiotics.

My friend ended up taking a week off from her high-demand, executive job and ended up missing two weeks of tennis practice, which is unfortunate, since she had planned to play in a tournament.  Her husband, William, who caught the cold the third week of her illness, is also still ill.

Image

When I catch a cold, I find that it helps to  ramp up my exercise routine to sweat out the cold, but I have recently learned that this practice might actually prolong the illness, which says a lot.  I haven’t been sick in a year, but last year and the year before, I was sick for months!  Moderate exercise tends to protect the body from illness, but a sudden and strenuous workout can decrease the body’s immunity.

Image

And moving between the hot summer outdoors and cold air-conditioned inside environments can make people more vulnerable to sickness in summer. The sudden chilling lowers the defenses in the nose and throat by causing constriction of the blood vessels. If a virus is already  at work in the body,  this reduces our immunity.

Image

A summer cold’s symptoms can be a bit surprising. Along with the sniffles, sufferers may also get a fever, diarrhea and an achy-breaky body. Symptoms can also vary depending on people’s ages.

Image

Because summer colds stick around longer than many people expect, they are often mistaken for allergies.  Some ways to tell the difference: If you are “droopy-eyed”…meaning your eyelids are puffy and eyes bloodshot, it is  probably allergies instead of a cold. Mucus color also is different—green for allergies, clear for summer cold. If  your nose and eyes and ears feel itchy or tickly, that really points to allergies, and not to a summer cold.

Image

I am giving John some NOW brand zinc while he is sick.  However, in my research, I have learned that taking zinc, which is often advised for warding off winter colds, may not work for the summer variety. The literature on zinc is mixed, but the proposed mechanism is that it might interfere with how the virus attaches inside the body.   Since the summer virus attaches differently, it might not work as well.  Time will tell.

Enteroviruses and rhinoviruses are around all year. According to further research, it is not yet clear why summer colds tend to be caused by one virus and not the other.  Possibly, the summer-cold virus may be more physically delicate than the winter cold virus…but who knows?

Image

Winter colds may occur more frequently than summer colds because colder weather and lack of sunlight decreases the body’s immunity.  However,  both types of virus thrive where large numbers of people gather, such as schools, public transportation, sports games and airlines flights.  Anywhere there’s crowding, you can pick up a cold.

Frozen Treats for Hot Summer Days

Standard

Image

Ingrid loves her summer popsicles, so I have equipped myself with some good recipes.   I like to experiment with various juice, fruit, vegetable and other flavor combos, such as chocolate or vanilla…or lavender….although we don’t let Ingrid have chocolate.  Sometimes the pops turn out well and sometimes they don’t.  Here are a few of the ones that we have enjoyed over the last few summers.  I’ve even thrown in a couple of adult-only pop recipes!

For this first one, you can use any type of fruit that you like.  Ingrid really enjoys orange ones, but you can use whatever you have around.

Image

Ingredients:

  • 1/3 cup diced kiwi
  • 1/3 cup diced watermelon
  • 1/3 cup diced strawberries
  • 1/3 cup fresh pineapple, diced
  • 1/4 cup fresh orange juice or sweetened lime or lemon juice

Directions:

Combine diced fruit in a bowl and fill each 5 oz cup with fruit. Add 1 tbsp of juice and insert craft sticks into each cup. They easily stay in place because of all the fruit. Place in the freezer a few hours until firm. To remove the pops from the cups, run under warm water a few seconds. Enjoy!

Image

Frozen Nutella Coconut Banana Pops

Ingredients:

  • 1 medium ripe banana
  • 8 oz Nutella spread
  • 1 tsp canola oil
  • toasted sweetened or unsweetened coconut flakes

Directions:

Cut the banana in half lengthwise, then in half to make four quarters. Insert popsicle sticks into bananas and freeze on a wax paper lined cookie sheet. When the bananas are frozen, fill a coffee mug with Nutella and melt in the microwave.  (Watch it carefully, because it only takes about 20-30 seconds, if that long.)  Dip the bananas one at a time into the Nutella, scraping off the excess chocolate from the back of the banana, and place it on a cookie sheet lined with wax paper. Quickly add the coconut shreds on the rounded side before the chocolate hardens (you have to work quickly here). Place on wax paper and return to the freezer until frozen and ready to eat. Eat frozen and enjoy!!

Image

* You can also use semisweet chocolate instead of the Nutella in this recipe.  Based on 0.5 oz of chocolate per banana. If you use a large banana, you will use more chocolate and will need to adjust.

The next two recipes are for the adults in the scenario:

Image

French Popsicles

yield: 10 popsicles (plus a little bit left over to drink!)

  • 12 oz. of champagne
  • 4 oz. of cognac or gin Either  are a good choice.
  • 4 oz. of simple syrup
  • 3 oz. of fresh lemon juice

Combine all ingredients together into a large measuring cup, then evenly distribute in your popsicle molds, leaving about 1/4 inch of room at the top. (You’ll have around 3 oz. left over after filling the molds.)

Honeydew Cucumber Margarita Popsicles

Image

 

Makes five 2-and-1/4-oz. popsicles

1 cup approximately a whole melon weighing 1lb – juiced…or 1 C honeydew juice
1/3 cup cucumber juice (about half a 5 oz. cucumber).
½ cup gold tequila
1 tablespoon Gran Marnier
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
1 tablespoon mint simple syrup (recipe follows)
3 large mint sprigs

Instructions:

1. Place the honeydew and cucumber in a food processor or a blender and process until everything is pureed. Add tequila, triple sec, lime juice and mint syrup and process for another 20-30 seconds to blend well. Pour mixture into popsicles mold.

2. Freeze for about 2 hours or until mixture starts to solidify enough to hold a popsicle stick upright. Insert popsicle sticks and finish freezing popsicles overnight. To release popsicles run hot water on the outside of popsicle molds for a 2-3 seconds.

Mint Syrup
(You will have more syrup than you need. Save for other cocktail uses.
· 1/2 cup water
· 1/2 cups sugar
· 1 cup mint leaves, loosely packed

Instructions:

1. Place sugar and water in a pot over heat until sugar dissolves. Allow mixture to cool to room temperature and place mint leaves in mixture and muddle. Allow mint leaves to steep for 20 minutes. Strain and discard leaves. (Depending on the fineness of the sieve tiny pieces may remain)

Portland, Pick Your Own!

Standard

 

There are SO many reasons to love Portland….and I do.  Here is yet another!

We live in the heart of a busy section of Portland, one that gets busier, in fact, every day.  Developers have come onto Division street, one block from our place, and are ripping out old businesses and putting in new ones every week.  We have recently acquired the name, “Restaurant Row” which is fantastic, because there are a ton of new, affordable restaurants within walking distance, all of which offer delicious, affordable fare.  However, I like to cook, and it can be expensive to eat out a lot, so we don’t do it that much.

I like to buy fresh, organic produce…lettuce, berries, all kinds of veggies…and I do a lot of grilling.  I have a nice, counter top grill.  It is not unusual to have a poached egg on steamed spinach for breakfast, or grilled Brussels sprouts.  Yum!  But the key to good cooking is the freshness and purity of the produce.  The best way to get ace produce is to pick it oneself.  We are fortunate in that Portland has a plethora of community gardens, co-ops and a number of nearby farms that allow people to pick their own!

pick

Kruger’s Farm
17100 NW Sauvie Island Rd.
Portland, Or 97231
503-621-3489

Kruger’s Farm, located on Sauvie Island, offers a full afternoon of activities for kids over the summer, and we will be taking Ingrid there to “help” us pick strawberries. The farm is ready for little hands to romp through their no-spray, U-Pick strawberry fields.  Ingrid will get to meet and greet Matilda, the farm pig, and delight in the wild turkeys and chickens that roam the grounds.

U-pick is offered for the following crops: strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, marionberries, boysenberries, blackberries, tomatoes, peppers, pumpkins, and flowers. For the most up-to-date U-pick crop information available, visit their daily Harvest update page.

You can pick from 10 a.m.- 6 p.m. weekdays; 9 a.m.-6 p.m. on weekends

Kruger Farm’s Farm Tunes Concerts brings live music to the farm from 6:30- 9:30 p.m. every Thursday night June 19 through August 28. The family that lives there invites Portland area families to bring their own picnic dinners or to purchase food, beer and wine onsite. There is a modest $10 parking fee per carload.  They also offer Farm to Plate dinners.

strawberry

Bella Organic
16205 NW Gillihan Rd.
Portland, Or 97231
503-621-9545

Bella Organic’s motto is “Local, Affordable, Organic, Fun”.  The farm is certified organic  and has more than 100 acres of ground where they grow everything from blueberries to asparagus. Right now,  the farm has four different varieties of strawberries available in the U-pick fields — Hoods, Totems, Seascapes and Tillamook.  Ingrid will want to see their barnyard animals, I’m sure.

Strawberries are available in June, July and August, as well as blueberries, marionberries and raspberries in July, thornless blackberries in August and pumpkins in October. For the most up-to-date crops available, check the U-Pick page.

Pickers can visit from 9 a.m.-6 p.m. daily (last call for U-Pick is 5:30 p.m.)

Bella’s Sounds and Tastes of the Farm are harvest festivals that occur each Saturday, from July 19-30, at 5 p.m. Proceeds benefit  Music for the Heart, an organization that donates proceeds toward  heart research. The events always feature a mix of live music by local bands and adult bevvies from local breweries and wineries, as well as artisan foods, compliments of local chefs. Admission is only $10 a car.  Great deal!

picking fruit

Columbia Farms U-Pick
21024 NW Gillihan Rd.
Portland, Or 97231
503-621-3909

Serene Columbia Farms U-Pick is spread out around a white barn with a green roof. The farm caters to a quieter customer, one who yearns for a farm experience minus the corn dog and pony ride. Kids will love getting their hands dirty while finding ripe, big berries in the fields while parents can take a deep breath and slowly exhale.  Serene is the BEST!

Strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, marionberries, boysenberries, and flowers. For the most up-to-date information on what’s being harvested, visit their blog.

Tuesday-Sunday, 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Closed the entire month of August.

Columbia Farm’s blog lists terrific recipes using their delicious produce — everything from roasted tomato sauce to blueberry muffins. Don’t have a ton of time? In addition to U-pick, Columbia offers customers the option of calling ahead to order pounds or flats of berries for pick up.

 

So, we’re all set with produce, guitar pickin’ and summer fun!  Can’t wait!

School Days…..

Standard

I have just rounded a corner…wait…Can one actually *round* a corner?    Let me begin again….

1round

I have just TURNED a corner in my current school term, one of the most difficult of my academic endeavors.  This is the end of midterm.  During this week alone, I  have read 4 dense, technical chapters on brain chemistry, I have written a tediously detailed research proposal regarding a new protocol for biofeedback in the treatment of depression, and am currently working (hard) on a paper about the APA Ethics Code with regard to a schizophrenic man that has lost his feet due to frostbite.  Gripping subjects, both of them, but at this point, I am fantasizing about the arrival of summer.  I am tired.  This term has been challenging, yet invigorating at once.  I love/hate school.

 brain

Our sunny spring in Portland lasted only a couple of weeks…and then the rain returned, bringing with it cool temperatures and dark skies, so it has been like winter all over again.  There has been a chill in damp air that has necessitated my wearing my thick, terry cloth bathrobe in the mornings rather than that graceful cotton kimono that I love to wear during  the summers. We have had a fire burning in the fireplace in the mornings.  It does not seem, at all, like May.

dark skies

Today looks promising, though.  I think the skies are supposed to clear up and the temperature is predicted to rise, so we will have typically beautiful Portland spring weather now.  Welcome once again!!

mum

 

My husband has returned for the summer…sort of…He has a graduation to attend in Sacramento and a business trip to San Diego, but other than that, we will be together until the beginnings of our concurrent terms at the end of summer.  Unfortunately, I have been so busy with school, and he with his online class and play writing,  that he and I have spent very little time doing anything together since his return.  That will change next month when his teaching term ends and my learning term ends.  We have many fun plans on the back burner for now.   I am going to take a term off just to unwind and recoup.  This has been a long, tough haul, but I only have 5 more classes to go!  Then, I’ll have my masters in organizational psychology to add to my other degrees and can move ahead with this business that my friends and I are planning to open.  Really looking forward to that.

Meanwhile, for the remaining part of summer, John and I will be two cool cats, just hangin’ out by the pool, traveling to some places and having fun.

2cats

 

 

Day #14 – EDIBLE

Standard

Image

Photo a Day – JULY

Day #14 – Edible

© Stacy Alexander, 2013

The Perfect Beach Day

Standard

 

Today was one of those perfect days….sunny, breezy….gently warm, but not hot.  The sky was a brilliant blue and perfectly lovely.

We decided to take a little day trip down to the coast, first to Cannon Beach and then to Manzanita.  Traffic was sparse and the entire trip was stunning.     The gently rolling hills and curvy roads formed a picturesque backdrop for our conversation as we made our way from Portland to the coast.

 

Image

We stopped in Cannon Beach and walked through a few galleries.  I fell in love with this little bird piece and others by this husband and wife team of artists. I will publish their names here as soon as I find where I put their card…Loved their work!  Loved it!

Image

I also enjoyed padding about on the cheetah carpeting at a little boutique where I tried on clothes for my husband who was kind enough to treat me to a pretty new dress.

Image

There were beautiful flowers all over the place in Cannon Beach! We took a nice walk to the vista that overlooked the beach, then finally dropped back around to the Volvo and drove to Manzanita.

As we approached the village, just about 15 miles down the road from Canon Beach, we pulled over and stood at the ledge of the cliff for a long time, overlooking the beach.  The water was the most gorgeous color.  We talked about how peaceful we both felt…how happy we were.  It was a nice moment for us both.

Image

When we pulled into Manzanita, John wanted to go immediately to El Mariachi Loco, a little greasy spoon Mexican place that reminded us both of a little place in Reno that a friend recommended we go to when we were there in March.  This place isn’t as good as the one in Reno, though, but we still enjoy it when we visit Manzanita.

Image

The food was ok.  I think I was just anxious to get outside and walk on the beach.  In fact, I only ate about half of what was on my plate and split, leaving John to stop by his favorite Manzanita ice cream shop for a strawberry sorbet.  I always have been a little hyper….)

Image

The walk on the beach was perfect, albeit a little windy.  I practically had the whole beach to myself!

Image

There were some windsurfers and a few people on horseback, but for the most part, the beach was isolated.

Image

The small dunes were particularly nice.

Image

After I walked about a mile, I turned around and headed back to where I entered the beach.  John met me at the gate, and we walked for another couple of miles.  Then the wind REALLY picked up!  I was wearing a wrap-around dress and hat.  First, my hat blew off my head and went tumbling down the beach.  Next, my dress began to flip and flap and I had a major wardrobe malfunction.  I was so glad that my husband was the only person that saw it….and he claimed to have rather liked it, actually, so all’s well that ends well, I suppose.  😉

He looked at me right after that and pointed to the little metal sculptures below and said, “Wanna duck?”    (He’s pretty corny sometimes…)

ducks

And well….the rest is history….

Image

Click here to listen to Janis Joplin sing, “Summertime” the perfect song for today…