Author Archive

You Know What Time It Is?

Time for another recent adventures slideshow!  Hope you enjoy.  Also, I would like to see and/or hear about adventures large and small that you have been on lately.

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“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails.

Explore. Dream. Discover.”

-Mark Twain

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Girls’ Hike Day

Recently, I went with my friend Christina down to West Fork to hike the trail that runs along the bottom of the canyon.  What beautiful scenery!  You could go down there blindfolded, spin in circles while shooting random photos, and come home with a great set of pictures.  That is how pretty it is.  Photos, however, can’t do justice to the sheer scale and 360 degree-ness of all that nature.  There were rocks!  There were trees!  There was a creek!  Oh yes, the creek.  It was lovely and cool (as in, freshly melted), so it behooved us to skip lithely across it on rocks, logs, and branches rather than get our feet wet.  And when I say, “skip lithely,” I actually mean that Christina skipped lithely, and I, who in addition to suffering from a chronic lack of agility was wearing a backpack with a baby in it, was pretty sure I was going to slip and drop my baby into the frigid, rocky-bottomed creek.  AAAAKK!  Fortunately, Christina was very patient and helped me make several cautious crossings, and a lone backpacker we encountered was so kind as to wade halfway across the creek and give me a balancing hand across a difficult spot.

I loved our girls’ hike!  It was great to explore a new (to me) place, take pictures, and catch up with Christina.  Lily enjoyed it, too.  She was back there cooing, and kicking me in the ribs whenever I stopped to take a picture, as if to say, “Giddayup, Horsey, this ride ain’t over yet!”  Next time we do this trail, I will make sure and bring Danny, as he is much more nimble than I, and would make a faster and safer baby-carrier.

Well, blah, blah, blah, here are the pictures!

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The Meaning of Life, or at Least, of Food Labels

Are you like me?  Do you want to be an ethical epicure, but get tired of individually hunting down all the various definitions, sources, and certifications for purchasing better-produced food?  I love any quick and easy method for cutting to the chase and helping me make an informed decision.  And here one is!  I think this guide is a little generous in some of their descriptions, although technically accurate.  This is terrific.  It helps me figure out what I’m willing to pay a little extra for (Rainforest Alliance Certified, Certified Organic, Hormone Free, Fair Trade) and what I’m not (cage-free, for example, is a word that means you will pay more without necessarily improving the quality of the food or the animal’s well-being).  For more on this, see http://www.nature.org.

Here’s the Food Decoder.

Animal Welfare Approved

Found on: Meat, poultry, pork, dairy, eggs
Definition: AWA is a free and independent third-party auditing and certification program for family farms raising their animals humanely — outdoors on a pasture or a range. Both farms and slaughter plants are annually audited to the highest animal welfare standards in the U.S.
Source: Animal Welfare Approved

Bird Friendly®

Found on: Coffee
Definition: It’s certified organic and certified shade — good habitat for birds. And coffee producers protect waterways and soil, avoid pesticides and chemical fertilizers, minimize the use of fuel wood and maintain fair, safe and healthy conditions for workers and downstream communities.
Source: Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center

Certified Naturally Grown

Found on: Produce, honey, meat, poultry
Definition: CNG is an alternative organic certification program. It’s similar to USDA certification, but relies on peer-review rather than third-party inspection.
Source: Certified Naturally Grown

Dolphin-Safe

Found on: Tuna
Definition: Fishers didn’t use a certain kind of net on or around dolphins, and no dolphins were killed or seriously injured during tuna harvesting.
Source: US Department of Commerce and NOAA

Fair Trade Certified

Found on: Almost everything, from coffee to clothing to body lotion
Definition: According to the non-profit behind the label, fair-trade products are, well, fair. Workers are justly compensated, and local farmers and entrepreneurs are empowered to create sustainable businesses that benefit entire communities.
Source: Fair Trade USA

Food Alliance Certified

Found on: Things you eat
Definition: The product comes from a farm, ranch or production facility that provides safe and fair working conditions, is humane to animals (no growth hormones or sub-therapeutic antibiotics), and is a good environmental steward. The label also certifies ensures traceability, and a commitment by the producer to continual improvement.
Source: Food Alliance

Free-Range/Cage-Free

Found on: Poultry
Definition: USDA free-range regulations apply only to poultry. Any other product that claims to be “free-range” isn’t regulated. American producers must prove that the birds have “access to the outside,” although the frequency or duration of this access is not defined.
Source: USDA

Grass-Fed

Found on: Meat
Definition: From day one, the animals were fed a diet of “100% forage,” were raised on a pasture and were never given hormones or antibiotics. (If your label says “USDA grass-fed,” beware — that claim’s not third-party verified.)
Source: American Grassfed Association

Hormone-free

Found on: Poultry, pork, beef, dairy
Definition: Federal regulations prohibit the usage of hormones when raising chickens or hogs, so your poultry and pork products are hormone-free by default. For beef or dairy, producers must show that no hormones were used in raising the animals.
Source: USDA

MSC Certified Sustainable Seafood

Found on: Seafood and products containing seafood
Definition: Fish products that bear the MSC ecolabel can be traced back to a sustainably managed fishery.
Source: Marine Stewardship Council

Local

Found on: Just about anything edible
Definition: If the product adheres to USDA guidelines, it was transported less than 400 miles from its origin, or hasn’t come from another state.
Source: USDA

Rainforest Alliance Certified

Found on: Coffee, tea, cocoa, bananas, oranges, cut flowers
Definition: This certification ensures that “goods were grown on farms that meet rigorous standards for sustainability that involve reducing waste, water pollution and water usage, while curbing deforestation and protecting wildlife habitat. Further, farm workers and their families are guaranteed good working and living conditions, decent wages and access to health care and education.”
Source: Rainforest Alliance

Salmon-Safe

Found on: Wine, produce
Definition: Salmon-Safe farmers reduce agricultural runoff into salmon habitat and spawning ground by planting cover crops in between seasons and protecting the banks of nearby streams and rivers.
Source: Pacific Rivers Council

Shade-Grown

Found on: Coffee
Definition: It’s coffee, grown in the shade. Instead of clearing land to grow coffee, producers grow coffee underneath the tree canopy, which helps keep our air clean, our soil healthy and provides habitat for animals and birds.
Source: Northwest Shade Coffee Campaign

USDA Certified Organic

Found on: Anything that comes from nature, so pretty much everything
Definition: Things that are USDA certified organic are managed in accordance with the Organic Foods Production Act “to respond to site-specific conditions by integrating cultural, biological, and mechanical practices that foster cycling of resources, promote ecological balance and conserve biodiversity.” It usually, but not always, means that synthetic chemicals weren’t used in that item’s production.
Source: USDA

 

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Featured Artist

Craigslist, much?  If you do, then I’m sure you’ve seen the “Missed Connections” section, although if you were on there looking for a lawnmower or trying to drum up some gigs for your terrible band, then maybe you didn’t read them.  I have read them a few times.  It’s basically an e-bulletin board on which you can post a short message to someone you saw briefly and don’t have any other way to contact.  I’ll give you a sampling of some of today’s local offerings.

Clarkdale w4w - You were at the Clarkdale laundromat today and I really wanted to say hello but my shyness got in the way. The chance that you will read this is slim but if you do, email me. I think you are cute :) I was the one wearing a hat.

Artist at Utopia w4m - It was a friday night in Flagstaff and I found myself caught up in the sensuality of the downtown art walk. All that music. All that art. All that wine. And then I saw you. I walked by Utopia and stopped to listen to some drums outside. Through the window I saw your art. And then your face. I pretended to be interested in the music while I watched you explain your work to some potential clients. Then I dared to walk inside. I wanted so badly to talk to you, but your beauty overwhelmed me. Your long hair. Your smile. Your hat. We locked eyes for a moment but I turned, and I left, regretting my decision with every step.  If you ever come across this feather in the wind, meet me at the bowling alley and roll your ball down my lane…. (on Thursday night, lane 7)

Shell beer aisle w4m – Thanks for the directions, we found a great place nearby. :) What was I thinking not asking for your number??!! I obviously wasn’t.

You get the gist, right?  A second chance for the slow or shy, what a great idea!  I simply adore the notion of people actually meeting each other this way.  Maybe someday someone will be telling me the story of how they fell in love and it will involve a missed connections posting.  Until then, I don’t read them much.  I live in Flagstaff, and some of the postings make me go awwww, while others make me go ewwww.

By contrast, Sophie Blackall lives in Brooklyn, and some of the postings inspire her to make art!  I am by no means an art critic, but as an ardent admirer of originality for its own sake, I am smitten.  Everyone else is inspired by fruit bowls and scenic landscapes.  This artist is inspired by craigslist.  She is a woman for our time.  I’ll post a few of her works with the missed connections postings from craigslist that inspired them.  If you would like to see more, you can also go to her blog here http://missedconnectionsny.blogspot.com/, which has a lot more of these.  If you like ‘em bad enough, you can click on any photo in her blog and it will automatically redirect you to that print for sale in her etsy shop.  Because not only is Sophie Blackall artistic, she is also, apparently, computer-savvy.

DARK SKINNED WELL SPOKEN LADY


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

-m4w
I help you almost once a week at the grocery store with your seafood purchases. I  doubt you’ll see this, but if you do, please respond back. I’ll know it’s you when you tell me the specific seafood you ask for each week.

 

 

Owl Lady in the Red Dress

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

- m4w – 25 (Astoria)

 

We both purchased owl statues today.

You are the classy looking dame in a red dress.

I am the mustachioed gentleman.

I think we should meet up and discuss further wildlife decor.

 

 

I Gave You My Umbrella But the Wrong Directions

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

-m4w
It was windy and pouring rain last night, and you were looking for directions in the East Village. You were wet and cold, so I gave you my umbrella. Unfortunately, I later discovered that I gave you the wrong directions and I feel just awful about it. I hope you and your friends got to your destination without too much trouble.

 

 

In the Library, Browsing

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

- w4m (BPL)
We were in the Brooklyn Public Library on Saturday, browsing graphic novels – you had on a big furry hat and nice smile.                 You tapped me on the shoulder and told me I’m pretty. That was nice. Which book did you end up borrowing?

 

 

HOT Toll Collector

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

- m4w – 35 (Outerbridge)
I complimented you on your new look today. Hope you see this, I was too shy. The $8 was well worth it… and always is when you’re there.

 

 

Dear Girl with a Silk Screen

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

-m4w (Ridgewood)
Dear girl with silk screen on the M –
I wasn’t following you; I live down that block.

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Lucky Me!

Got a facebook friend request from our wedding photographer!  Haven’t seen her since that most auspicious year, 2005, and now she was cleaning out old files and wanted to know if I would like all my negatives, CDs, and copyright release.  Would I?  YES!  So for a very reasonable fee, she mailed them out to me, and I just received them.

I have this to say, in case you are ever planning a wedding.  No matter what else you have to scrimp on, budget as much of your money as you can on photography, so you can get the best.  We are so glad we did!  (Breshears Photography in Tri-Cities, WA, if you must know, and according to the copyright release conditions, you must.)  That little aside was all I really needed to do to be an ethical customer, but because I really do recommend them, I’ll even give you their link here http://www.breshearsphoto.com.  Ah, but that is not what I intended to write about when I clicked on “Add New Post” and blithely titled this blog “Lucky Me.”

I’m glad I got great wedding photos.  But the real reason I’m lucky is I got a great man.  Almost 6 years later, it’s easy to get caught up in the blah-da-de-blahs of everyday housekeeping.  When my sock feet step in fresh mud-ice boot prints on the kitchen floor, it’s a little too easy to find fault.  Ah, but I am blessed.

Danny understands that if we are driving down the road and see a fish hatchery sign, we have to stop.  He’s never asked me why, he just knows I enjoy poking around a good fish hatchery, so he pulls in and finds a quarter for the fish feeder.  I love that about him.

Danny loves a good adventure, and all the better if it doesn’t turn out the way we planned.  He can roll, and I think that’s hot.

Danny likes his eggs exactly the same way I do – scrambled until golden brown, with NO slimy parts.

Danny makes a mean pancake and coffee breakfast-in-bed combo, and sneaks in quietly so I don’t wake up until I smell it.

Danny can make me laugh like none other.

Danny is a good dad to our daughter – tender, compassionate, and understanding.  The two of them have so much fun together that I fall in love anew watching it almost every day.

Danny is good to people who don’t deserve it.  Even though certain of those people irritate the living daylights out of me, I am glad he is so kind to them because of what it shows about him as a person.  He’s not a pushover, he’s just good.

Danny is smart, generous, helpful, and genuine.  What you see is what you get.  Also, he once fixed my car using only a rock.

It was when we were first dating, and my usually mostly reliable old, beat-up Subaru just died in the middle of nowhere.  I pulled over, and he hopped out and popped the hood.  My view obscured by said hood, I had no idea what was going on out there, until I heard about 5 loud “wham” sounds.  I knew I didn’t have any tools in the car, and correctly surmised that he was beating on the insides of my car with a rock.  I was hoping I could make it home before this psycho murdered me, and resolved to act like everything was normal until we got the heck back to civilization.  He hopped back in, told me to try the ignition, and IT WORKED!  I now know that he was knocking built up corrosion off my battery terminals to allow them to get a good connection.  How totally hot is that?  When we got home, he whipped out a handy little tool, some kind of concave wire scrubber, made just for the purpose, and cleaned my battery terminals off till they shone.  To this day, I am glad I kept him, and you’ll be relieved to know he has never again shown signs of being a rock-wielding psycho.

I’m so glad I got these pictures in the mail today!  I’m having a great time reminiscing about our wedding day, and all that we’ve done together and learned about each other in the intervening years.  Is everything all chocolate and roses?  Of course not.  I’ll admit to my share of shouting matches, name-calling, peevishness and petulance.  But I’ll take that any day because it’s a byproduct of a trait I appreciate that’s in both of us:  being headstrong.  In the years since this picture was taken, we’ve each grown a lot, and we’ve grown together.  Closer.  Stronger.  Hopefully wiser.  When I look at our wedding pictures, these are the things I think about.  And that is why, if you’re thinking about getting married, you really should invest in a good photographer.

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Fundraiser Update

Well, a lot of folk have been asking how my little home-cooked meals for Japan fundraiser is going.  So far, so good.  The amount raised is at $217 right now, not including IOUs and orders waiting to be filled.  The orders are still trickling in pretty steadily, and I’ll be continuing to take new orders through this week.  Thanks to everybody who’s supporting Japan, whether through this or any other agency.  Also pictured, this is what I got when I asked Danny for a midnight snack of “a croissant with cheese in it.”  Sly commentary that dear wifey is being too demanding, or just his sense of humor?  The world may never know, but I sure laughed when I saw it coming.

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When Irish Eyes Are Smiling

Happy St. Paddy’s Day, everybody!

Irish Blessing for the day:

“May you get all your wishes but one, so you always have something to strive for.”

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Eat Like a President

Want to feed your family what the Obamas are eating?  Re-posted from the Obama Foodorama blog (you can find a link in the right hand column), here is a rare non-vegetarian recipe for you.  Created in the White House kitchen by executive chef Christeta Comerford, without further ado, here is:

 

Seared Lamb Loin with Chickpea Puree and Parsley Finishing Oil

Ingredients
4 Boneless lamb loins, 4-6 oz
1 to 1-1/2 Cups canned Chickpeas
About 1/3 Cup Tahini (sesame seed paste)
About 2 Tblsp, or to taste, Harissa
2 Cloves Garlic, or to taste, chopped
About 3 Tblsp fresh Mint, chopped
Freshly-ground Sea Salt and Pepper, to taste
Light Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Zest of one orange

Method
1. In a food processor, process/blend Chickpeas, Tahini, Mint, Garlic, Salt and Pepper with enough olive oil to form a puree; taste and adjust aromatics, seasoning.
2. Gently warm the puree in a saucepan on the stovetop; do not boil. Set aside.

3. Slice lamb loin into rounds ½-3/4 inch thick; dry thoroughly with paper or cloth towel.

4. Heat a few tablespoons of olive oil in a skillet over medium-high heat.

5. Sear lamb on both sides until medium-rare. Do not overcook.

Plating: On each plate, spread about ¼ cup of the puree onto the center, and lay two or three lamb rounds over the top. Garnish the lamb with orange zest. Decorate the plate with Parsley Finishing Oil (recipe below). Serves 4. (Above: Comerford plating the dish on Reagan China in the White House kitchen)

Parsley Finishing Oil

Ingredients

1 pound chopped fresh parsley
1 Cup light extra virgin olive oil

Method: In a saucepan, gently cook chopped parsley in olive oil on the stovetop until the oil turns a vivid green. Strain liquid through a paper coffee filter into a bowl floating in an ice bath, to preserve the brightness. Store in a fine-tipped squeeze bottle.

*Note: This recipe is a foray into White House oral history: As Comerford prepared it for an Obama Family dinner, she narrated it to a visiting Wall Street Journal reporter, according to an East Wing spokesman. Read Comerford’s full WSJ interview here.

*Photos by Andrew Cutraro for Wall Street Journal

 

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Need a Dose of Cuteness in Your Day?

I’ve got you covered!  Check this out, ain’t this just so stinkin’ sweet?  This baby’s mama, Adele Enersen, is a computer specialist in Helsinki.  She just started making artwork around her napping baby out of stuff she had laying around the house.  The baby’s name is Mila, and she is sure a sound sleeper while her mom scurries around and does all this.  And boring old me was using naptime to catch up on the dishes!  Ha ha.  I just love the creativity here.  This family has recently been “discovered,” and there is a book in the works, called When My Baby Dreams. It’s due out next year, so if you like this as much as I do, we’ll have to keep our eyes out for that.

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What an imaginative lady, and her love for little Mila sure shines through.  Which photo was your favorite?  I liked them all, but the one that really made me grin like an ape let loose on a banana plantation was the rabbit with carrots.  Haven’t wasted enough time at work yet?  Still need a little more cuteness?  Check out the blog here http://milasdaydreams.blogspot.com/.

Have a most whimsical day!

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Japan, we are praying for you.

I believe in the power of prayer, and if you do too, it is something I invite you to do right now on behalf of the people of Japan.

Compassion and solidarity of believers around the world touch my heart, and I believe they touch the heart of God.  I don’t think He needs us to inform Him there’s been an earthquake.  I don’t think He needs us to persuade Him of the seriousness of the situation, or implore Him to care or act.  I’m not sure exactly how prayer works, or what it accomplishes, but I believe in talking and listening to God.  I also believe He has called us to be His hands and feet here on this earth, and I really want to do something to help.  We can’t all be over there rescuing, feeding, and sheltering survivors, but our money can go where we can’t.  I’ve had a lot of people tell me they would like to buy my fundraising meals, but they don’t live near me.  I appreciate the thought, and I hope all of them will take the opportunity to donate to the agency directly.  I’ll attach some links in case anyone would like to do that.

The charity I am donating to is ADRA, and you can read about it and/or donate at http://www.adra.org.

Another excellent choice is the Red Cross, you can donate at http://www.redcross.org or by texting REDCROSS to 90999 to donate $10 from your phone.

Doctors Without Borders is sending over teams, and they are also a highly trustworthy and effective organization you might want to visit here http://www.doctorswithoutborders.org.

God promises that someday it will all be better.  This passage is so hopeful I just have to share it.

1 Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. 2 I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. 3 And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. 4 He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” 5 He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” Then he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.” 6 He said to me: “It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. To the thirsty I will give water without cost from the spring of the water of life. 7 Those who are victorious will inherit all this, and I will be their God and they will be my children.  - Revelation 21:1-7

Photo credit Nathan Greene.  To see more of his inspirational artwork, click here http://www.nathangreene.com/.

 

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