Tiny bloom beckons,
intricate and colorful.
A heavenly sight…
I hope you’re all having a great week thus far!
Tiny bloom beckons,
intricate and colorful.
A heavenly sight…
I hope you’re all having a great week thus far!
Congratulations, Oksana! You’ve won a copy of Eric Maisel’s book – Making Your Creative Mark! Please provide your mailing address. I’ll send your book out soon, and hope you enjoy reading it.
Thank you to all those who entered the giveaway. I enjoyed reading about your creative pursuits!
I want a garden. Bad. Perhaps it’s because I’ve lived in apartments virtually all of my life. I just love the idea of helping things to grow, and at this point I’m seriously craving some land to grow fruits, veggies, and flowers on. The problem? The staggering real estate costs here in Southern California. I’ve lived in California all my life, but can’t afford property here. (sigh) We currently live in an apartment and our small (third story) patio is the daytime play area for our rabbits. What’s a girl wanting to work in a garden to do? Borrow someone else’s!
I found a listing on Craigslist that is helping me get my garden fix without having property myself. A nice woman who lives about 20 minutes away has a large front and back yard, planted with both flowers and edibles. She even has a small flock of seven chickens – something else I hope to have some day. For her privacy, I’ll refer to this nice gardening lady as C.
C was in search of someone to help her with her yard – what luck for us both! In exchange for helping her out, I’ll get to learn from an experienced gardener and plant enthusiast. I’ll also reap some tangible rewards – goodies of C’s choosing that will come from her yard and/or chickens.
I met C for the first time last week, and we started with a tour of the property. I got to meet her hubby, two darling doggies, and the chickens (no rooster). We got to work that very day! We worked in a small section on the front edge of her yard. While many of the plants in that section are flourishing and blooming, some bulbs were spent – like the daffodils and freesias.
The daffodil leaves are still green, but they’re laying flat and were a bit of a mess. Rather than cut the leaves back now, like we did with the freesias, C had me braid the stems of the daffodils. (See photo at top) This way the leaves are tidy and out of the way while the bulb stores a bit more of their plant-y goodness in preparation for next year’s bloom. Once the greens are dried out the braids can be cut off quickly and easily.
We also dug up several small freesia bulbs that had multiplied and were taking over. They were crowding out mini roses and other plants, so C and I used a trowel to loosen the dirt before digging through with our gloved fingers. Geez – there were dozens! We also pulled out some grasses and weeds that didn’t belong, and when we stopped working the section looked much tidier. C let me take some of the bulbs we pulled out for my father-in-law. He has quite a green thumb.
She also gave me some Aztec Lily bulbs and six fresh eggs her chickens had laid. Lucky me! The eggs were beautiful, in a range of colors and sizes. The egg yolks are much bigger and are a much deeper golden yellow than store bought eggs – even when compared to cage-free eggs. The eggs were scrumptious, and I’m definitely a fan of C’s flock. :]
We focused on the front yard again during my second visit. We started by trimming and thinning a thicket of wisteria that grows in a planter that divides C’s driveway from the property next door. Sweet Pea vines also grow in the thicket, but we just wove those lovelies back into the mix.
The rest of our time was spent pulling the dried leaves off of bulb-based plants. The plants in question surround two small trees that live in two earthen squares on their front sidewalk. Day lilies reside in each of the four corners of the planters, and “Naked Ladies” fill in the rest. These “Naked Lady” plants belonged to C’s grandmother back in the day, and have been transplanted onto her property. I think that’s so sweet. I love the idea of plants being shared by multiple generations. The plant blooms in July with no leaves on it – just the “naked” flower stem. Thus the name…
My special treat for helping C that day was a gorgeous bouquet of flowers that she cut fresh from her yard. The bouquet contains several types of roses (at least six different varieties), calla lilies, and Peruvian lilies. The photo below is a closeup of the bouquet taken a day after I brought it home. The gorgeous red and white rose is known as a Betty Boop!
I still want a garden and chickens of my own, but am so glad I’ve met C and get to spend some time learning and helping her. My next “gardening appointment” is set for Thursday, and I’ll happily be putting on sunblock, a wide-brimmed hat, and some gardening gloves – ready to learn by doing.
I have no idea how long my “garden apprenticeship” last. I do know that while this arrangement is just scratching the surface in terms of what I’d like to learn and do, it is a start. I’m glad I thought outside of the box instead of just moping about what I don’t have. Taking chances and trying something – anything – can lead you to something unexpectedly wonderful. Like braiding daffodils…
Greetings! Today I’m sharing a new book with you, published by the folks at New World Library. The book is Making Your Creative Mark, by Eric Maisel, PhD – something that I think will interest a number of you. Not only will I share a bit about the book, I’m also offering a giveaway since NWL was nice enough to send me a giveaway copy. Woo hoo!
Mr. Maisel is an esteemed creativity coach and a prolific author. He’s written over 40 books, including both fiction and non-fiction, but his specialty is helping artists of all kinds (visual artists, musicians, actors, etc.). He coaches internationally, trains creativity coaches, and lectures internationally, and has created a book that contains nine keys to achieving your artistic goals.
Here’s the text from the book’s back cover:
Writers, painters, singers, filmmakers, musicians, craftspeople, and actors confront daunting challenges every day. It is hard to produce new work, find success in the marketplace, manage relationships, and keep spirits up. Many doubt that solutions to these very real problems exist, but they do, and world-famous creativity coach Eric Maisel has compiled them in this book. You will learn how to:
* make sense of the challenges of your personality, the challenges inherent in creative work, and the challenges of culture and marketplace
* quiet your overactive mind
* increase motivation and avoid blocks
* engage in practices that create and reinforce meaning
* align self-talk with goals, avoiding negative loops that block creativity
* identify stressors and implement stress-management techniques designed specifically for artists
* maintain emotional intimacy and healthy relationships in the midst of the creative process
* claim your identity as an artist
* rekindle passion for your art and feed that flame during dark days and dry spells
Intended for professional artists and those aspiring toward professional status, this book offers the nuts and bolts of sticking to a successful and fulfilling life in the arts.
Topics include The Mind Key, The Confidence Key, The Passion Key, The Freedom Key, The Stress Key, The Empathy Key, The Relationship Key, The Identity Key, and The Societal Key. In addition the book contains an Artist Plan and a Refresher Course of 97 Creativity Tips.
To enter the giveaway, simply leave a comment here on this post sharing one (or more) of your creative endeavors, whether it’s cooking, creating art, singing, etc.
The winner will be drawn at random, and will be announced here on my blog on May 9, 2013. Good luck!
Congratulations, Sandra Strait! You won a set of Bic Mark-It Permanent markers! Please contact me with your mailing address so I can send them off to you.
Thanks to all who entered. I enjoyed reading your comments with your favorite colors, marker tips, and your feedback on my giveaways.
Speaking of giveaways, stay tuned – I’ll be announcing another giveaway later this week. Back to back – woo hoo!
Warm and colorful regards,
It’s time for a giveaway, and this month I’m giving away a set of Bic Mark-It marker pens!
Markers are always good to have around the house for labeling boxes, addressing shipping envelopes, and so on. And if you’re an artsy or craftsy person, this set will be even more appealing. It has 36 colors to choose from. Nice! I decided to purchase a set for myself, and also bought a set for this giveaway since I love my readers. :]
The package says they’re fine tip markers, but they can definitely mark with a thicker line if you hold the pen a bit more to the side. Here are some of the product details for these markers:
To enter the giveaway, simply leave a comment on this blog post with at least one of the following:
1. Your favorite color
2. A tip you may have for using markers in art/crafts, or around your home
3. Share which giveaways you’ve been most excited about here on my blog (gift cards, books, art/craft supplies, etc.)
The winner will be drawn at random, and will be announced this coming Tuesday, April 30th – so enter today!
This is a noteworthy year for me in many ways. Not only will I be entering my fourth decade soon, I’ve recently published a book. And, after having been laid off earlier this year, I’m looking for my next employment opportunity. Suffice to say that much of my life has been turned on its head in one way or another. And since I’m already upside down, so to speak, why not use this time to make some real, positive, and lasting change?
I’d been wanting to focus intently on improving my overall health for some time, and decided there was no time like the present. So, to that end, I’m working on overhauling my health, nutrition, and exercise, and have made some headway. I thought I’d share some of what I’ve been up to, in case you find it helpful.
I’ve been fighting my weight for most of my life. But before I go on, please know this is more about overall health than it is about weight and weight loss. Yes, I’m heavier than the medical community says is healthy. Yes, I’d like to trim down and be a bit less “squishy”. However, what I’m most concerned with is fueling my body well. With being strong, fit, and healthy. I want to live an active life without limitations, and that includes good food and some treats. If I can do all that at a size 14/16, so be it. I know from years past that I’ll never be smaller than a size 10 anyway – that’s where I start looking too thin. :]
Getting back to fighting my weight, it’s been peaks and valleys. Gain weight, lose weight, gain weight, lose weight. And though there might be years in between each gain and loss, it’s been ongoing since high school. I’ve probably gained and lost a significant amount of weight at least six or seven times over the years, which is not only annoying – it’s not healthy. Repeated weight gains and losses take a toll on one’s body.
Mark Twain said, “If you always do what you always did, you’ll always get what you always got.” Amen, Mr. Twain! I’ve been using that quote as a bit of a guide, and have been trying to do things a bit different lately. Rather than participating in a diet program, or guiding myself through a diet that focuses on low-fat and fewer calories, I’m starting at the very beginning: with nutrition.
I’ve been doing some reading, and it’s both confusing and eye-opening. Confusing because there are hundreds of books on diet and nutrition, and many of them contradict each other. Eye-opening because so much of what we’ve been told about nutrition is wrong. For example, for decades folks were told that margarine was healthier than butter. That liquid vegetable oils like corn oil are healthier than the animal fats people used to cook with. It’s now coming to light that the opposite is true. Certain oils are good (olive, avocado, coconut), but a lot of the oils used today are truly bad for us. Much of the “food” in the grocery stores is manufactured by the food industry with the goal of making something that will last longer on the shelf and bring the manufacturer more money, rather than promote good health. How do we know what to eat? Who do we trust?
Thus far I’ve read five different books on nutrition, whole food, and our agricultural system, and am going with areas of consensus amongst the authors, with my personal observations, and with my gut instinct. First and foremost, I’m focusing on eating whole foods and eliminating processed foods as much as possible.
(I’m only using butter, olive oil, coconut oil, and avocado oil for meals at home)
Here are some of the books I’ve been reading, in case you’d like to do some research of your own:
In Defense of Food by Michael Pollan
Practical Paleo by Diane Sanfilippo
The Perfect Health Diet by Shou-Ching Shih Jaminet & Paul Jaminet
The Good Food Revolution by Will Allen
Why Women Need Fat by Lassek & Gaulin
Something I read in one (or two) of the books really resonated with me: it’s very possible to be both overfed and undernourished. I was a good example of that. I was eating too much of the wrong things and wasn’t providing my body the vitamins, minerals, and fuel it needed. The healthy foundation wasn’t there, so my body kept asking for more food in search of what it really needed.
So, at this point I’m not counting calories. I’m simply focusing on eating healthy foods (with the occasional deviation) in reasonable portions. I figure it’s most important to be eating the right kinds of foods since a typical Western diet – and dieting – haven’t worked for me.
Eating healthfully can be more expensive and more time consuming, but what costs you time and money now will likely save you time and money in the long run. Nowadays we spend a smaller portion of our incomes on food than in decades and centuries past, but our healthcare costs are also higher because we’re sicker – so there’s not much of a savings. Many of the illnesses that run rampant today are directly related to our broken food system, and that’s a shame. I’ve embarked on this adventure to see if I can’t turn that tide in my life.
I don’t have all the answers, and still have plenty of questions. I’m not exactly sure where this road will lead, but I know in my heart and in my head that eating mostly whole foods makes the most sense, so here I go. I know I’m making better choices and am fueling my body better – whether or not that will be reflected on a scale remains to be seen. And though I’m dedicated to this new way of doing things, I’ll still indulge in some things that aren’t good for me from time to time. Just not all of the time. :]
Please let me know if you have any questions, dear readers. I’d be glad to hear from you and to respond…
*Please note: I am not affiliated with or advertising any products listed in this post, am just sharing what I’ve been reading/using/eating.Tweet
Such a tiny bloom
About the size of a dime.
Your beauty awes me…
Have you spied any tiny treasures in nature recently, dear readers? Do tell!
I opted to make muffins for this month’s recipe, and these Orange Cranberry muffins are tangy, fresh and sweet! Inspired by a muffin I really enjoyed at Panera some time ago, I found this recipe on foodnetwork.com. I particularly like that the recipe calls for dried cranberries, as it can be difficult to find fresh or frozen cranberries if it’s not fall or winter. These muffins are yummy on their own, but would also be tasty with butter or fresh whipped cream.
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
Put the cranberries and orange juice in a small saucepan, and bring just to a simmer over medium heat. Remove berries from the heat, and set aside to cool and plump.
Lightly brush a 12-muffin tin with butter. Sift the flour, baking powder, and salt into a medium bowl and set aside.
In a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, or with an electric hand-held mixer in a large bowl, cream the butter, orange zest, and 2/3 cup sugar until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Remove the bowl from the mixer.
Fold the flour in 3 parts into the butter mixture, alternating with the milk in 2 parts, until just combined. Fold in the cranberries. Do not over mix. Divide the batter evenly into the muffin tin and sprinkle the tops with sugar. Bake until golden brown, about 25 minutes. Cool muffins in the pan on a rack. Serve warm.
Yield: 12 muffins
Note: I liked the dried cranberries, but will probably try fresh cranberries next time. Please keep in mind that you’ll want to increase the measurement of cranberries if they’re fresh, since fresh berries take up more room in the measuring cup than dried…
I recently took a trip out to Joshua Tree National Park for the day, and wow – what a sight! It was my first time there and I was gobsmacked. My eyes and brain worked overtime to take it all in and process it. I think I would describe it as a Salvador Dali-esque landscape because it looks kind of surreal. What was so darn strange about it? I mean it’s just a plain ol’ desert, right? Wrong. The trees and rocks are crazy!
The trees are (naturally) Joshua trees for the most part. Twisted, “hairy”, and spiky, they were everywhere! These crazy, odd-looking trees spread out across the landscape as far as my eye could see. And while you might not think rock formations would boggle my mind, they did. In direct contrast to the smooth, flowing rock formations I saw years ago in Zion National Park, these rocky wonders were spectacular in their own way. Instead of a large formation comprised of a few larger pieces and some smaller pieces, many of the rocky formations looked as if thousands of rocks had been gathered and carelessly piled up.
From macro shots of plant life to sweeping shots that drank in the horizon and the sky, I happily wandered, examined, and captured images.
I’m generally not much of a desert girl – given that I wilt in the heat and burn after about 5 minutes in direct sunlight – but I loved my time at Joshua Tree National Park. I hope to return, and will plan on staying longer next time.
Have you ever been to Joshua Tree National Park? Are there any other National Parks you particularly love? I’d love to hear about your adventures and favorites…