How enchanting it is when you come across art in nature. You have to pay close attention or you may miss the illustrations carved into tree trunks, branches and stones. Rocky Mountain National Park has an abundance of fanciful, natural artwork. It doesn’t take too much of an imagination to see the volcano in this fallen tree trunk.
Have you ever met someone who exudes joy and their mission in life is to make the world a better place? That was how Liz Miller lived her short life. She was diagnosed with epilepsy at age 12 and passed away on March 28, 2008. I recently heard about Do A Liz Thing from Ariana Friedlander. Although I never met Liz, I can imagine that she was a kind and sweet young woman. Her family created the Do A Liz Thing program as a way to honor Liz and inspire others to continue to do simple acts of kindness, with no expectation of reciprocation.
Mayor Wade Troxell has proclaimed March 28, 2017 as Do A Liz Thing Day. He will be reading the proclamation on Tuesday, March 28th at 2 pm on the Stage in Old Town Square.
Image of the proclamation below:
The Miller family has created labels that can be printed and used whenever a person does a Liz Thing. People write notes on the back of the cards when they leave a generous and unexpected tip, or buy the coffee for the person in line behind them, or they use them as a gift tag on a bouquet of flowers, or a loaf of fresh baked bread. It isn’t too hard to come up with random acts of kindness to make another person’s day a bit brighter. Be creative, be bold!
I love biscotti. I buy boxes of of these delicious treats and toss them on the desks of the women I work with. Dixie Daly works in my office and she tosses black licorice or Good & Plenty candy on my desk; especially if she knows I am having a bad day. These are very simple ways of showing others you care. And it might just make a big difference on that particular day.
It is nearing the end of winter and I keep asking myself, “Will spring ever get here?” One day it is 70 degrees, the next day we have snow on the ground. The nice days tease us and have us thinking that spring is here. And then we are jolted back to reality as we put on a warm sweater to deal with the nasty weather.
If you are a gardener, what can you do to keep from falling into a funk when winter seems to drag on forever? You can start looking through the seed catalogs and order seeds that thrive in cooler weather. Have you thought about exploring heirloom seeds, but haven’t made the time to do so? I found Baker Creek Heirloom Seed Company last year. But I have to admit, I didn’t fully check them out or order any seeds.
I was pleasantly surprised to see my local library is offering an Heirloom Seed class. Attending this class should help me keep a positive attitude as I await spring. I can’t wait to see the first daffodil and buds on the lilac bushes.
You could also check out websites to learn how to build a cold frame – Mother Earth News has a set of cold frame DIY plans available. I started using cold frames a few years back. What a joy to have lettuce, beets and spinach growing in the frame when all the other plants in the yard are still getting hit with frost.
Preparing your garden bed soil for the new planting season can give you a warm glow. Take off the gloves though, research has been done that shows contact with the soil triggers the release of seratonin, which elevates mood and decreases anxiety. Check out the blog post It’s in the dirt! Bacteria in soil may make us happier, smarter.
I realize that not everyone is into gardening; I have a hard time understanding that. Gardening is so therapeutic, even if you just try container gardening. Plant a pot of of your favorite herbs by your back door and you will always have fresh herbs available to spice up your meals.
If you need a little rejuvenation, you can’t beat a winter retreat at the Mabel Dodge Luhan House in Taos, NM. My husband and I have made it an annual custom to travel to Taos and/or Santa Fe between Christmas and New Years. Mabel’s room is our favorite, but we decided to be brave and try the Solarium during this year’s trip.
I wouldn’t suggest this room if you are modest, as the entire room is floor to ceiling windows. It was quite a nice surprise on New Year’s Eve when the fireworks were set off in the town square and we had a bird’s eye view from our room.
It is hard to describe the serene feeling one gets when entering the Mabel Dodge Luhan House. During the winter months the fireplace in the living room has a continuous crackling wood fire. The end tables in the living room have beautiful photographic coffee table books available for all guests to peruse. One afternoon, while sitting by the fireplace, I had just finished reading Enchanted Land and Healing Hands by Lenny Foster. At the end of the book was a page that had a photo and bio of Lenny. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw Lenny sitting on the other side of the room. I believe he may have been staying at the B & B. He only sat there briefly and now I am sorry I didn’t get to tell him how wonderful his work is.
Another fun part of sitting in the living room at the Mabel Dodge Luhan House is meeting people from all areas of the country. We met two lovely women from Brooklyn. Through meaningful conversations, it was clear these young ladies were at a stage in their lives where they were considering drastic changes. Taos has a way of bringing those thoughts and feelings to the surface. They may have even considered a move to the Southwest. I don’t know if I will ever hear from these women again, our brief interaction left a lasting impression. I wish them well as they discover a path that makes more sense to them.
One evening, sitting by the fire at Mabel Dodge Luhan House, a young couple came in and sat across from us, Billy and Mandy. They looked downtrodden and they were unable to get a fire to take hold in the fireplace in their room. We shared a taste of our bourbon and chatted about their budding business in Albuquerque, NM, Breve Crepes and Coffee. Being in business development, my conversations usually drift to business; especially if I am talking to a business owner. I was quite impressed by the determination and wisdom of these two business owners. I believe they will be highly successful in their business endeavors. I will certainly always stop by Breve when in Albuquerque to visit with them again.
I was able to finally drag myself away from the solace of the fireplace and we made a quick trip to Santa Fe. The Silver Sun on Canyon Road has an annual half-price sale on their native jewelry between Christmas and New Year’s Day. It is the perfect time to find a treasure for oneself or a gift for a friend.
I have walked past the New Mexico State Capital buildings a ton of times while in Santa Fe and have never stopped in. Curiosity got the better of me on this trip and I am so glad that we stepped into the building to discover the most amazing collection of artwork and furniture. You won’t want to miss this if you get to Santa Fe.
We ended up going back to Common Fire twice during our week’s stay in Taos. Their roast beef sandwich and mac n’ cheese were superb. All the staff members were welcoming and engaging. The owner, Andy, sat by guests telling fascinating stories.
Gutiz, serves Latin-French cuisine and seems to be a favorite of locals and tourists. The brie sandwich with Granny Smith apples was delish.
Lambert’s is exquisite and not to be missed. The cheese plate was really enough to fill us up and we should not have ordered the Sea Bass. But the Sea Bass dish was out of this world and I would not hesitate to order that again. Lambert’s has a casual area on their second floor, the Treehouse. I am a big fan of places that do happy hour well and these people know how to do happy hour. They have a $6 menu served in the Treehouse from 2:30 pm to 6:00 pm. We tried the Kale Caesar Salad, the Marinated Beet Salad and the Pan Roasted Mediterranean Olives. The portions were large and everything was scrumptious. The bar is small and intimate, surrounded by comfortable furniture and an adjacent room filled with more comfy furniture. You almost feel like you are sitting in someone’s living room.
Eske’s Brew Pub is a local favorite spot and the blue grass jam session that we stopped by to check out was super. It was nice to see a new brewery in town, Taos Mesa Brewing. Good beer and wood fired pizza…you can’t go wrong with that. We tried to go out to the Taos Mesa Brewing Mothership, which is located about 15 minutes out of town, but the parking lot was so muddy we would have ruined our shoes. They have live music almost every night, sorry we missed that.
I will wrap up this post by mentioning my favorite restaurant in Santa Fe, The Pink Adobe. The atmosphere is intimate with crackling fires in the multiple fireplaces. Anything on the menu that you try will be fantastic. There is an adjoining bar, Dragon Room, that serves a more casual menu and that is an entirely different experience. I enjoy that area, but do prefer to be in the more formal dining portion of the building.
It is sometimes difficult to get back into the swing of things, upon returning from a retreat to Taos or Santa Fe. There is a calmness and maybe even a spirituality about the area. The calm feeling does linger and perhaps it would be a good plan to travel to this area twice a year to help ignite a create spark and to quiet one’s mind.
I take the privilege of voting very seriously. Perhaps that is because my grandmother drummed the importance of voting into my head. My grandmother volunteered for the League of Women Voters for as long as I can remember. She would lecture me on the importance of not splitting your ticket. You were to vote all Democrat or all Republican.
I came across, Suffragettes Forever! The Story of Women and Power while clicking through channels on the TV a few weeks ago. The 3-part series portrayed a 300 year-long campaign by women for political and sex equality in Britain. Some of the historical details were unimaginable. Historian, Amanda Vickery, takes the viewer on a tour that reveals revolting facts about this period of history. The extremely brave women who sacrificed so much to bring about change, did so by resorting to violent acts. I was shocked by the length of time these women persevered in their pursuit of change, justice and the right to vote.
This suffragette series helped me to better understand why my grandmother, Clara, was so involved in the voting process. Clara was born in 1896. The 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution wasn’t ratified until August 18, 1920; granting American women the right to vote. Clara would have been in that group of women who were breaking away from the traditions of that period, where women were to simply follow their husband’s guidance in all matters. No wonder she was a zealot about the right to vote. When I turned eighteen I couldn’t wait to register to vote. Unfortunately, I was always on the opposite of side of how my parents and grandparents were voting. With that, came a host of heated arguments. Very similar to what I see on Facebook feeds now.
For my first presidential election, Richard M. Nixon and George McGovern were running. Our country was devided, as it is now, and it was a very sad time for the U.S. We had been watching our American troops, live on TV, as they were engaged in a military action in Vietnam. One almost became numb to the enormous numbers of dead American boys that the press reported on. Our current period in time has similar scenarios. Terrorists routinely blow up buildings and planes. The losses during the terrorist attacks on 9/11/2001 are so hard to comprehend. And, it is difficult to keep track of the number of shooters who have entered schools and killed innocent children. We see these horrifying acts on TV so frequently that they are becoming commonplace.
I have no wisdom for voting in the 2016 election. It feels like a bad dream and I am looking for a miracle. I keep hoping I will wake up and there will be two different candidates on the ballot. Some of my friends and family are for the Democrats, some are for the Republicans and some were for Bernie Sanders. There are Republican politicians who have decided to not endorse their presidential candidate, Donald Trump. I heard a few folks going in the direction of Gary Johnson (Libertarian Party). That is until Gary was unable to name a world leader he admired and was unable to answer a question about the crisis in Aleppo, Syria.
We appear to be split down the middle of our nation, once again. And now the Russians appear to have hacked the Democratic National Committee’s computer network to influence the outcome of the election. Is this the new reality of what we can expect for all future elections? I can’t help but wonder if my grandmother is turning over in her grave, especially with the televised debates for this year’s presidential election. Don’t worry grandma, I will be voting. But I can’t promise that I won’t split my ticket.
Recently, I attended a class on the basics of sprouting at the Windsor Clearview Library. The class was taught by Sapna Von Reich. After reading a few articles about sprouting, I was apprehensive to try it. Some articles said to bleach the beans and seeds, which turned me off completely. Sapna was able to demonstrate the process in a simplistic way to show how easy sprouting can be.
I have purchased sprouts in grocery stores but then heard that half the time these sprouts have mold on them…not too appetizing. During Sapna’s class she explained that sprouting increases vitamins and minerals. And sprouting also makes the protein in nuts, grains and legumes more bio-available to the body.
As part of the Sprouting 101 demonstration, the instructor made hummus out of spouted garbanzo beans. Hummus is a favorite of mine, but I suffer from Acid Reflux Disease and the fresh garlic in hummus can make me horribly sick. The idea of adding my own fresh ingredients to the homemade hummus was quite appealing to me. As part of the class, we were given a few recipes to try. The recipes in this post have been altered for people suffering from Acid Reflux. You can find Sapna’s recipes on her website: http://sapnavonreich.com.
Basics of Sprouting
I would suggest experimenting with sprouting by starting with beans, since they are the easiest. You don’t need to purchase beans in packages that list “for sprouting.” The best way to purchase beans is by buying from the bulk bins in grocers like Vitamin Cottage, Sprouts or Whole Foods.
All you really need to get started with sprouting is a sterilized wide-mouth Mason Jar and strainer. Place about a ½ cup of dried beans or mung beans (rinse them first) at the bottom of the jar. Fill jar with tap water.
Place jar filled with beans and water on your kitchen counter (not in direct sunlight) for 12 hours. Drain the water off and rinse beans really well and return to empty jar. Let stand for another 12 hours and rinse and drain again and keep doing this until you see little sprouts form at the end of the beans. This can take 2-4 days. The mung beans are a wonderful addition to salads.
I have to admit that I did try and sprout some small seeds with a special sprouting lid that you purchase for Mason Jars. That experiment was disastrous and the finished product was a glob of goop.
1/2 cup dry garbanzo beans, sprouted – you can use the raw bean mixture or cook the spouted garbanzo beans in enough water to cover and cook for 10 minutes then let sit in pot, covered, for another 10 minutes. You will then add this and the following ingredients to a food processor and mix until creamy.
1 tbsp Tahini
Salt to taste
1-2 tbsp fresh squeezed lemon (to taste)
1-2 tbsp of water (can use the liquid used to cook beans)
2 tbsp olive oil (add enough liquid/oil until nice and creamy)
Here is where you can really have fun. One version is a lemony Hummus that you can make by adding Lemon Balm and a little cilantro. If you can tolerate it, you can add a bit of crushed garlic. To make a Mediterranean Hummus add chopped Kalamata olives, sundried tomatoes, fresh basil.
Sprouted Mung Bean Salad
2 cups sprouted mung beans
2-4 tsp freshly squeezed lemon/lime juice
Salt to taste
½ red and ½ orange peppers
Cook one ear of corn on the grill and cut kernels off into salad
(if fresh corn not available, add ½ cup frozen corn – thawed)
¼ cup cilantro
½ cup cucumber
1 diced tomato
For Acid Reflux sufferers, you may need to adjust these recipes; depending on your stomach triggers. The above recipe originally called for a Serrano pepper and a dash of cumin. If you follow any of my recipes, you are forewarned, they are only guidelines. I always make adjustments to my recipes.
Do you think you may be suffering from Acid Reflux Disease? You may want to check out the book: Dropping Acid The Reflux Diet Cookbook and Cure.
It is nearing the end of summer. If you have a garden, you are probably wondering what new summer squash recipe you can add to your repertoire. By this time of year you have certainly sauteed, grilled it and shared your abundance of summer squash with friends.
This recipe is an old-fashioned dish. I was given this recipe by a woman who is close to 90 years old, Della, and she got it from her Aunt Nell, many years ago.
Aunt Nell’s Casserole
4 – 6 medium summer squash – cut into chunks and steamed
Drain and mash squash and let cool
Beat 2 eggs and stir in 1/3 cup milk
Add ¼ cup cracker crumbs (crushed Ritz crackers work well)
Stir in 1 can of creamed corn
Add ¼ lb. of sharp cheddar cheese
Stir all ingredients together and pour into a greased casserole dish
Bake at 350° uncovered for 45 min. to 1 hour.
During the patron party at Loveland Sculpture in the Park this past Friday, I was delighted to meet Doug Schneiter, Loveland, CO woodturning artist. This event showcases exquisite talent. Many of the pieces easily go for $50,000 plus and are worth every cent. As I strolled through the aisles, I thought I saw intricate baskets in one of the booths. Soon I discovered, the artist creates his pieces out of wood by turning, burning and then adding intricate bits of color. The end result is a basketweave pattern.
Doug began focusing on artistic woodturning in the mid-90’s. He was inspired by the work of David Nittmann to develop what David termed as “basket illusion.” David Nittmann passed away on August 13, 2014, but his memory lingers on through the work of Doug Schneiter.
Wouldn’t it be wonderful if Doug Schneiter would create a few smaller pieces to be featured at the Loveland Visitors Center. Visitor Center Manager, Gary Light, happened to stop by Doug’s booth at the same time that I did. He knew Doug and has been suggesting this idea to him for quite some time. Gary spotlights all things Loveland at the Visitors Center and you can find unique gifts produced by local artists. Lovelanders may not be aware of the high quality items that Gary selects for the Center. The program that I work for, the Loveland Business Development Center is located in the same building as the Visitors Center. I will be checking in to see if Doug’s beautiful artwork shows up.
I have just finished reading the book, The Weight of Water by Anita Shreve. What led me to this book was reading another book by this author, The Pilot’s Wife. I acquire many of my books at the semi-annual Friends of the Loveland Library book sale. To be honest, I grabbed The Pilot’s Wife because it had the Oprah’s Book Club stamp on the cover. I never have the amount of time that I would like to read novels. So I added this book to the many other books that I intend on reading one day.
During the course of the year, I get into purging moods to keep up with the clutter that so easily accumulates. I have moved The Pilot’s Wife book to quite a few different locations over the years. During my latest purge, I was tempted to pass this book along to someone else since it seemed I was never going to actually read the book. But then I said to myself, “This is a short read, just stop what you are doing and read the dang book.” I finished the book a few days ago. When the last page was turned, I headed to the library to find another book by this author. I chose The Weight of Water; I liked the title and had no idea what to expect.
The Weight of Water revolves around the brutal murder of Karen Christensen and her sister-in-law Anethe Christensen by Louis Wagner. Speculation as to whether someone other than Louis committed the murders continues to this day. I tend to enjoy historical fiction and biographies for my reading pleasure. This book was right up my alley. Anita Shreve uses great artistic license in creating the characters of the book. She has said the book is opposite of what is traditionally known as historical fiction. Historical facts interwoven into the story line will wet your whistle and entice you to explore further.
At one point in the book, Maren and Anethe were sleeping in the same bed on the night of the murder. The intimate interaction between them seemed to cross a line, with regards to how the author embellished their personalities. These were real people and the author portrayed them in a way that could cast a dark shadow on how they are remembered. Anita’s writing is intriguing and the author does give fair warning that it is a fictitious story; albeit based on actual events. Read the book yourself and come up with your own conclusions.
After I finished reading The Weight of Water I went searching on the internet to find out more about the gruesome murders. The articles that I found captivated me as much as the book did. A Memorable Murder by Celia Thaxter was published just one month before the convicted murderer, Louis Wagner, was hanged in Maine. Celia’s style of writing was magnificent. Do a Google search for Maren and John Hontvedt or the Smuttynose Murders. You will find plenty of fascinating articles about the events that occurred on May 6, 1873.
I come from a region of the country that embraces hanging laundry outdoors to dry. In fact, the laundry that can be seen drying on the clotheslines in that county is reminiscent of an outdoor art installation. I grew up surrounded by Amish and Mennonite farms. As you drive through Lancaster County, most farms will have a permanent clothesline set up. The sight of black, purple and blue clothing hanging on a line when you pass an Amish farm is quite beautiful. And if you are lucky, you will drive by on a day when the quilts are hung out to dry.
My mother used an outside clothes drying apparatus that had a center pole and looked more like an umbrella without the fabric. I would gather the quilts from our house and hang them all over the device, pinning the sides together with clothespins and laying a few quilts on the grass below. This made a spectacular tent. My girlfriends and I would attempt to sleep outside in the homemade tent but would always end back inside after a few hours.
I have lived in a few rural properties and one of the first things I want to do when I move in is install a clothesline, if there isn’t already one of on property. It isn’t a big deal if you live in the country, there aren’t silly regulations prohibiting you from this common sense act. I do care about the environment and that is one good reason to dry your laundry outside; keeping your electric bill down is another good reason. The fresh smell of sheets, when you take them off the drying line, is unlike any other smell. That smell makes the added effort of drying outside so worth it.
I have also lived in subdivisions where there were strict bylaws prohibiting the act of drying laundry outside. I was always perplexed by this and ignored these ignorant rules.
I heard that Colorado passed a law that stated subdivision bylaws could not deny people the right to put up clotheslines and dry laundry on their property. In researching some sites for this post I came across an article from Mother Earth Living: http://www.motherearthliving.com/green-living/drying-clothes-on-clotheslines.aspx. Apparently, Colorado law protects your right to install retractable clotheslines, not permanent lines.
It would make sense to have federal regulations mandating that it is okay to do the simple act of hanging one’s laundry out to air dry. It seems absurd to me that each state in the U.S. has such different thinking when it comes to this issue, which clearly should be a non-issue.