Archive | July, 2012


28 Jul

I love this time of year.  So many beautiful flowers are in bloom and there’s a feeling of life and hope in the air.  As I mentioned before, maintaining my yard is a full-time job but I get so much satisfaction being outside planting, watering, pruning…  It was in the ’80s today so I waited until early evening to go outside and do some weeding and watering.  I could have stayed out there for several more hours but the sun was going down and, well frankly my Angel game was already in the 3rd inning.  A girl’s got to have her priorities in check, right?

Black Eyed Susan

Paper Whites

Flowers seem to come in every possible shape, color and scent.  There are beautiful ones for every season and depending on where you live you can enjoy lush gardens all year long.




Right now I have several things I’d like to plant.  I tried agapanthus once and it didn’t make it.  I’d like to think it was the location, not my brown thumb.  I’m really anxious to try it again.  I have the perfect spot for it.  I’m a big fan of the purple variety but I’d like to plant the white as well.   I have a big area in the front yard that’s mostly shade and it needs quite a bit of filling in.  It’s just screaming for the lovely purple and white flowers.  When I plant them, I’ll post pictures.


California Poppy

Ice Plant

My yard is also filled with fun statues, birdhouses and other goofy decorative stuff.  I’ll do a post soon with more of them another time, but here’s a couple for now… stay tuned for more.

As I leave you tonight, I’ll give you the same advice I give all the living things in my yard, “Bloom where you are planted”.

Those who are…

27 Jul

“Those who are not looking for happiness are the most likely to find it, because those who are searching forget that the surest way to be happy is to seek happiness for others.”

  ~ Martin Luther King, Jr.

This is the final…

25 Jul

“This is the final test of gentlemen; his respect for those who can be of no possible service to him.”

  ~ William Lyon Phelps

A Happy Home Recipe

24 Jul

From the time I was about 5 years old my parents owned a vacation home in the Palm Desert area.  They started out with a mobile home in a private community and worked their way up to different condominiums in private, gated communities.  It was my favorite place to be.  Pool, tennis court, golf course, shopping. 

A typical day would find me and my mom sitting by the pool or curled up on the couch reading our books.  It was the definition of relaxation for me. 

Breakfast could be something as simple as a bowl of cereal or cantaloupe but for my mom and me it was bagels with lox, cream cheese and capers.  When lunchtime rolled around we took out all the fixins to make the best deli sandwiches.  Today, that’s still my favorite lunch!  At night, my dad might barbeque steaks, or we’d make homemade pizzas (each person made their own!).  It didn’t matter what we had, meals always tasted better when we were at our house in the desert.  I slept better too.  Maybe it was because the environment just encouraged rest and relaxation. 

We rented a lot of movies too.  After dinner, we’d gather around the couch with our bowl of popcorn and watch the newest flick or two.  I know how fortunate I was to grow up in a family that could afford such a place and it not even be our primary residence.  I know how blessed I am to have such incredible memories and grateful I was able to share the house and “lifestyle” with my own daughters.  For almost 40 years I had access to this mini-retreat. 

My mom passed away from cancer in 1994.  Her death is still the most emotionally devastating event I’ve ever experienced.  Spending time there after she died was bittersweet.  I could still feel her in every room.  I’d walk past the living room and my mind’s eye would see us both curled up reading.  I’d step out on the patio and see her eating breakfast while she and my dad shared the morning paper.  As I walked through the house I was reminded of her creative side.  Much of the artwork on the walls was painted by her. 

A few years ago my dad finally sold the house, and as you can imagine, it was really difficult for me.  I’d grown up there and most of my memories are tied to the special times with my mom.  In addition to the various art and sculptures, there was a framed recipe that hung in the kitchen.  It was there for as long as I can remember.  I don’t know where she got it or how much it cost, but it’s hanging in my kitchen now and its value is priceless.  Of all the recipes I have, this is by far my favorite.  I hope you enjoy it and prepare it often.

It is better…

23 Jul

“It is better to be hated for what you are than to be loved for what you are not.”

  ~ Andŕe Gide

Roses are red…

21 Jul

People say roses are about the easiest flower you can grow.  I used to think those people were delusional.  I never had the kind of success others did and always figured it must be my soil, my brown thumb, my roses themselves, etc.  Today I would agree that roses are pretty darn easy but it’s taken me many, many years to come to that side of thinking.










The other day I talked about the importance of watering your garden.  Another thing I’ve learned over the years is that you must cut back your roses.  I know, I know everyone knows that, right?  It’s not that I didn’t know it; I just couldn’t bring myself to do it.  You see, I’d look at the beautiful roses and wonder why on earth would I cut it back?  They were so pretty.  If I cut them for vases, the bush would be bare.  Who wants that?  What if it doesn’t grow back?  What if I don’t get any more blooms?  What if I kill it altogether?  I was haunted by the what ifs… so I did what I always did.  Nothing.










I was told repeatedly the only way for them for flourish was to cut them back.  But did I listen?  No.  For years and years I did it my way and you know what I got?  Rose bushes that didn’t thrive.  Want more proof of my insane stubbornness?  Right outside my office is the most incredible rose garden.  We have approximately 1,000 rose bushes and 50 or so rose trees in as many different varieties as you can imagine.  We even cultivate our own varieties.  Suffice it to say, we’re no novices.



Every week I watch the groundskeepers cut the roses, and I usually walk over to take a few stems to put in a vase to brighten up my office.



Every February I watch them cut them back to about a foot tall.  Because we all know the first rule of rose care is pruning.  But was I practicing it at home?  Still no.



It wasn’t until a few years ago that I finally bit the bullet and thought I’d see what all the fuss was about. I was willing to sacrifice every rose bush in my yard in case this newfangled idea fell flat when I practiced it.  And then, just like magic my roses bloomed!  And not only did they bloom, they were plentiful.  Huh, must’ve been some kind of miracle.  Amazing what kind of magic happens in my yard when I take the advice of experts.  Maybe they’re on to something…



Today, I have about a dozen different varieties of roses in my yard.  I cut them back heavily each new year and continue to cut them throughout the year.  It still pains me to cut back something that’s growing and seems to be doing beautifully.  I have to remind myself that the rose wants me to cut it.  It needs me to cut it.  Sometimes it’s begging me to cut it.




I’m cheating it (and me) if I don’t.  Feeding it, watering it and giving it sunshine are just not enough.  Every once in a while it needs a good haircut just like I do.  Now when I go outside if I look close enough sometimes I think I see them smiling at me.  Maybe it’s just me.  Maybe it’s just a little of that garden magic.  Either way, I’m smiling too.

My Two Professors

18 Jul

I love to garden.  It’s more than a hobby, it’s a passion.  It’s something I enjoy not simply because it’s relaxing and gives me a sense of accomplishment, but I’m always learning something new.  I like that.  With a yard the size of mine it’s a full-time job.  Unfortunately I already have a full-time job, so until someone’s going to pay me to tend to my own yard, it is what it is.  I guess it’s a good thing I love being Out There.

I’m fortunate enough to have two people that help teach and guide me.  First, my friend Monique (who I’ve mentioned a few times here before).  She’s my go-to when I don’t remember the name of a plant, or how to care for it.  She tells me how to feed it and when.  She’s taught me a lot; most recently that plants need water.  I know, I know we all know that, right?  It’s not that I don’t water my plants, but with a yard my size and so many different varieties of plants, shrubs, flowers, trees, vegetables… it’s hard to know what needs what.  And how often.  She came over recently and said one of my vegetable gardens needed more water.  So, I increased the water and just like Samantha twitching her nose, everything starting growing taller and fuller.  Huh.  Interesting, I thought.  She might be on to something.  And if you haven’t checked out her blog before… please do so.  Visit her Little Yellow House.

The second person is my aunt Nancy.  And while she may not have the formal training Monique does, what she knows comes from a lifetime of experience and let me say she’s a natural.  I usually leave her house with some sort of cutting even though I remind her that my house is where her plants go to die.  She just laughs and says she has faith.  The bad news is I’d be scared to count how many have actually died.  And when I tell her about the corpse, she just gives me something else and says, “Okay, there’s no way you can kill this one”.  Yikes, no pressure!  The good news is my yard is also full of beautiful plants that were originally hers.  What a lovely tradition and what a blessing she is in so many ways.  Another nice thing is that I don’t have to share her, she doesn’t have a blog.  Yet.

I started writing tonight because I wanted to post some pictures of my flowers and yet somehow I got on the topic of the learning side of what I love.  When we learn, we grow and we always want to keep our minds stimulated.  Whether it’s through music, literature, nature or formal education, it’s what we need.  I hope I’ve inspired you to learn something new today.  You decide what it is. And then I’d love to hear about it.  Now Get Out There.

The way to become…

16 Jul

“The way to become boring is to say everything.”

  ~ Voltaire

Anti-Inflammatory Toast (bad name, great dish!)

15 Jul

I’ve mentioned my fondness for Dr. Oz and here’s another recipe courtesy of his website.  I admit the title of the dish might not seem very appetizing, but keep an open mind.  Give this toast a try and I bet you’ll like it.


2 slices whole grain bread

1 fresh lemon

1 avocado, sliced

Extra virgin olive oil

Chili powder*

Directions: Toast slices of bread.  Drizzle with extra virgin olive oil and a squeeze of fresh lemon.  Top off with avocado slices and a sprinkling of Chili powder.

*The recipe called for Chili flakes, but I used powder instead.

I’m not a big fan of breakfast and am always looking at new recipes to encourage me to eat the most important meal of the day.  I’m a huge avocado lover and every bit of this recipe sounded delicious to me (except the name).  Not sure why it’s anti-inflammatory and if you happen to know, please share with us all.  Whatever the reason, it was scrumptious, super simple to make and quick.  I made two pieces and was actually quite full afterward. Next time I’ll probably just make one slice and have a full glass of water with it.  The tang of the lemon combined with the spice of the chili powder were great complements with the avocado.  Give it a try and let me know what you think.

Crab Salad with Melon and Citrus Marinade

13 Jul

I came across this recipe on The Dr. Oz Show website.  Don’t know how many of you are fans of the good doctor, but I love him and have found some pretty tasty and healthy recipes on the show and site. As with most recipes I make little adjustments here and there, and this one was no exception. Here’s the original version if you’re interested:  Crab Salad

The biggest tweak was that I substituted imitation crabmeat for the lump crab.  I always have the imitation stuff on hand, but it’s a matter of personal taste and preference.

Like all recipes it’s important you read them all the way through before you begin in the kitchen.  You’ll notice below that between the first list of ingredients and the marinade, there are some duplicates when it comes to herbs.  I’m not sure it’s necessary to separate them personally.  The important thing is to make the marinade full of flavor. The rest is essentially garnish.




2 pkgs frozen imitation crab, (thawed)

½ cantaloupe melon

4 or 5 large basil leaves, cut into thin ribbons

3 or 4 sprigs cilantro, chopped up

Citrus Marinade (see below)


Citrus Marinade

1 bunch cilantro, finely chopped

¼ bunch fresh parsley, finely chopped

½ bunch basil (I used about 12-15 leaves), finely chopped

1 tsp ground fresh chili paste

4 lemons, juiced

4 limes, juiced

1 orange, juiced

¼ cup honey

¾ cup olive oil



Season crab meat with marinade and half of the herbs.  Arrange the melon around the plate and top with the crab mix.  Sprinkle remaining herbs over the top.


What I ended up with was an incredibly delicious ceviche of sorts.  I didn’t know what to expect by combining the crab “salad” and melon on my palette but the answer was surprisingly refreshing.  The recipe said it served 4 but when I divided it up into containers to take to work, I ended up with only 3.  Definitely could’ve stretched to 4, but you could put a bit more on your plate and call in a wonderful summer lunch.  Enjoy!

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