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July 24, 2009

Gratitude Friday - Be Positive

I am following in the footsteps of my Slow Travel blogging friends in posting about Gratitude Friday. This all began with Diana Baur of Creative Structures, who made a wonderful post last Friday about things she was grateful for and her follow-up today. She asked that anyone who reads her blog also do a Gratitude Friday post about the things they are thankful for.

The whole idea behind this is to concentrate more on the positive things in our lives instead of the negatives. Such a good idea in a world where the headlines dwell on the bad things happening much more often than the good ones.

So, anyone who is reading this, I challenge YOU to begin making Gratitude Friday posts, linking them to Diana's blog. This could be catching - wouldn't that be wonderful!

OK, down to business. Gratitude - it's a word that has many connotations. I went to my go-to source for information, Wikipedia (for which I am grateful), and this is what they said:

Gratitude, thankfulness, or appreciation is a positive emotion or attitude in acknowledgment of a benefit that one has received or will receive. The experience of gratitude has historically been a focus of several world religions, and has been considered extensively by moral philosophers such as Adam Smith. The systematic study of gratitude within psychology only began around the year 2000, possibly because psychology has traditionally been focused more on understanding distress rather than understanding positive emotions. However, with the advent of the positive psychology movement, gratitude has become a mainstream focus of psychological research.

So, we are right there in the "mainstream" with our gratitude entries! Good for us! And good for any of you who joins us!

Just so this post doesn't get too long, I will start my Gratitude Friday with just a couple of things that I am extremely grateful for and save some of the others for next Friday.

I am grateful for my family - Bill and our dog Hoochie and my sister JoAnne and her children. I never had any kids, but JoAnne has always shared her kids with me, and I am thankful for that.

I am grateful for my health. All the money in the world cannot buy you good health and allow you to do the things that you want to do in life.

Anne Murray made a recording way back when (I think 1983) about "A Little Good News", and I will sign off with that.

July 31, 2009

Gratitude Friday - Home Sweet Home

Another week has rolled by (it's funny how fast they go as you get older), and this is my second post about Gratitude Friday. Diana Baur of Creative Structures got us started on this two weeks ago, so I am one week behind the original posters.

When I sit at my computer, I have a view of the backyard. Bill decided I should have something nice to look at because I spend so much time there. While the goatboys were around, there was no sense in planting a lot of stuff because they would eat it.

So, this week I am grateful for:

The roses that Bill is planting right outside my window. He even got some of my very favorite roses, Double Delight.

The patch of strawberries right next to the roses. The plants are beautiful and green. Not many strawberries so far - I think Bill is eating them as soon as they get red.

Our tomato plants are looking very healthy. We've had a few ripe cherry tomatoes and three larger ones so far, but there are lots and lots of green ones coming. I love, love, love summer tomatoes, so I am really grateful for the bounty we will have soon.

All of the herbs that we have growing all around the house - basil, cilantro, chives, garlic chives, thyme, tarragon, and one of my favorites, pineapple sage. I love being able to walk out the back door and clip the herbs I need.

Bill takes such good care of the yard and the garden and loves doing it. I am so grateful for that!

There were several songs called "Gratitude", but this one seemed the most appropriate.

August 7, 2009

Gratitude Friday - Italy Trip

Gratitude Friday was inspired by Diana of Creative Structures, and it has really caught on!

It's less than a month until we leave for Italy, so this week's gratitude is focused on our trip.

1. I am grateful that I was able to get FF tickets in business class, but only on the way there. On the way back only coach was available,

2. I am glad we will have a couple of days to spend in Milan because we haven't been there before. Likewise for Torino. It's always exciting to visit new places in Bella Italia!

3. We have been to Lake Como before, but we loved it so much, we are returning to the same hotel (Albergo Lenno) and will revisit some of the same places. New places are exciting but so are beloved old places!

4. I am REALLY grateful that we will have the opportunity to stay at the Baur Bed & Breakfast for 10 days and visit the beautiful Piedmont area while we are there. I am SO excited!

5. The wine and the food are a big part of any trip that we take, so I am thrilled that we will be able to experience all that Piemonte has to offer.


August 14, 2009

Gratitude Friday - All Our Birds

Our Gratitude Fridays continue . . .

We were all inspired by Diana of Creative Structures to post positive things we are grateful for instead of dwelling on all of the bad news we see on TV. Thank you again, Diana - I think all of this gratitude is catching!

This week I am happy and grateful for all of the birds who have been visiting us. I love watching them out my office window.

I am especially fascinated with hummingbirds. We have three feeders around the house, one of which is right outside my office window so I can watch them, up close and personal. Only problem is that there is a mean bird by this feeder, and he chases all of the other birds away.

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The other two hummingbird feeders are jammed though, so that's good.

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Then there are the other birds. Lots of little brown birds, blue jays, doves, woodpeckers and quail. Bill gets huge sacks of bird feed from our local feed store and keeps them filled. Here is how the "pecking order" works - the blue jays love the sunflower seeds, so they land on the feeder and scoop out the other seed onto the ground, looking for the sunflower seeds. The doves and quail (and sometimes squirrels and rabbits) clean up the seed on the ground. The balance of nature, I guess.

So, today my gratitude is for the birds - each and every one of them! Now we have to find someone to feed them while we are in Italy!

August 21, 2009

Gratitude Friday - Grateful but Sad

Another Friday and another heap of gratitude! Inspired by Diana of Creative Structures, along with a number of other bloggers, I have decided to focus on the good things that happen instead of the not-so-good.

First this week, I am oh so grateful that my parents' home in Paso Robles has been sold. Escrow closed last week. The new owner is a career military guy, so that would make our Marine dad very happy.

So, with a lump in my throat, I say goodbye to my folks' home - we had a lot of good times there, so it is going to seem strange going to Paso Robles and not staying there.

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August 28, 2009

Gratitude Friday

I'm sorry that I have kind of been MIA the last couple of weeks. So many things to do to get ready for a trip. Sometimes (Bill says) it just doesn't seem worth it. But once we get on the plane and arrive in Bella Italia, we will forget all of the hard preparation and ENJOY!

Today is another Gratitude Friday (started by Diana of Creative Structures), and I am eternally grateful that we are able to take this trip.

But, before I forget, Bill and I are both happy and grateful that his plumeria plant has finally bloomed! It has been five years since Bill got it, and he has nurtured it and fed it and hauled it inside the garage each night during the winter cold.

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And our brand new roses are blooming like crazy.

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And our tomatoes are finally getting ripe.

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All of this, of course, just as we are leaving home for three weeks, but we are grateful nevertheless!

September 25, 2009

Gratitude Friday - Glad to be Home!

We got home from our Italy trip late Tuesday night. It was a wonderful trip, and we saw so many beautiful sights. Ate a lot of great food. Drank some wonderful wines.

But I am so very happy to be home!

We missed our dog Hoochie so much - more than we had anticipated. And she was so glad to see us. Even after getting home from the airport at midnight and not getting to bed until 2 a.m., we got up early Wednesday to be at Hoochie's B&B when they opened to pick her up.

Home is where the heart is, they say. And I am home - where I belong.

And I am grateful for that!

October 9, 2009

Gratitude Friday - Happy that it's Fall

I know I have been kind of MIA this week. October 15th is the extension deadline for filing income tax returns, and I have been frantically trying to finish the ones that I have to do.

But, that doesn't keep me from being grateful today! Gratitude Friday was started by Diana of Creative Structures, who inspired us to write each week about things we are grateful for.

Today I am oh so grateful that the hot summer is over and the cooler fall is here. When we got back from Italy, it was hot! I mean almost 100 degrees. The A/C ran all day, but it did cool off at night. Now our high is about 80 degrees, and it is actually cold at night. I even turned on the heat one morning (because I had left some windows open overnight).

I am also excited about the soups and stews that go so well with the fall season. And, of course, the scrumptious red wines that go with the soups and stews. Yum!

Fall is here, and that makes me gratefully happy!

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October 16, 2009

Gratitude Friday - Glad that it's over!

Yes, I AM glad that it's over! No, I don't mean the week, like TGIF - I mean tax season.

Some people think that tax season ends on April 15th. Wrong! Lots of people file tax extensions and then have until October 15th to file their tax returns.

So, being a tax preparer, I finished tax season yesterday. It was a close call this year - guess I shouldn't have taken a three-week trip to Italy in September. Oh well, it was worth it!

This is Gratitude Friday, and I am grateful to be a free woman again!

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October 23, 2009

Gratitude Friday - Patti's Anniversary

Gratitude Friday was started by Diana of Creative Structures to encourage us to appreciate the good things in our lives rather than dwelling on the problems.

This week I am grateful for the continuing good health of my sister's second daughter Patti. October 21st marks the 9th anniversary of Patti's heart/lung transplant at Stanford University Medical Center.

Patti was born with an inoperable congenital heart defect, and she wasn't expected to survive past her teens. She was put on the transplant list in 1998 for both heart and lungs - her lungs, which included no true pulmonary arteries, had been compromised by her failing heart. Her health was declining by 2000, and she had to carry a portable oxygen tank with her a lot of the time.

After 16 months on the waiting list, a matching heart and lungs became available on 10/21/00 and Patti's transplant surgery was performed. Here she is 30 minutes after the surgery - her sister Kathleen is watching over her.

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This photo was taken in the first 24 hours - they have her up eating jello.

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For two months she had to live in an apartment close to Stanford for her follow-up care. My sister stayed with her there to be the resident nurse.

This photo was taken early in 2003 and shows Patti with celebrated transplant physician Dr. Norman Shumway and Patti's own doctor, James Theodore, who was extremely proud of her progress. Both doctors have since died. Here is the story of that day.

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And, miraculously, at one of the transplant gatherings, Patti even met the family of her donor. It was a bittersweet moment for all of them, but Patti has kept in contact with them and has even visited their home. Can you imagine meeting the person who has your loved one's heart?

Another miracle in this story was the fact that two years after her transplant, Patti ran in the Maui Marathon and raised over $6,000 for the benefit of the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. She was never allowed to exert herself physically during her growing-up years, so this was truly unbelievable to everyone who knew her.

I am so proud of my niece - she has been through a lot and has had the courage to press on. She is my hero! And I am grateful for the heroes in my life!

Go to page 2 to read the San Jose Mercury-News story on Patti when she ran in the Maui Marathon.

Continue reading "Gratitude Friday - Patti's Anniversary" »

October 30, 2009

Gratitude Friday - Italian Dogs

Our Gratitude Fridays began in July when Diana of Creative Structures inspired us to write weekly about the things in life that we are grateful for.

Coincidentally, my post this week is based on our visit to Diana's B&B in Acqui Terme, Italy. I am grateful for the dogs we met while we were there.

There was Max, of course, the wonderful and beautiful mascot of Baur Bed & Breakfast. He greeted us when we arrived and was always around to say hello.

We knew we would be meeting Max, of course, but we had no idea about meeting another wonderful dog when we went on our winetasting at Diana and Micha's friend Domenico's place. His dog is called Kika, and she joined us around the dining room table for the winetasting. She loved the sausage we were eating with our wines.

Here is Bill with Max before the two of them took one of their walks. Max liked having his ears rubbed.

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And here is Bill with Kika at the winetasting.

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Dogs are wonderful friends to have, and we are grateful for the Italian dogs that we met on our trip.

November 6, 2009

Gratitude Friday - Auto Club or ???

It's hard to be a woman driving a long distance alone. Especially when the car decides to have a problem.

On my way back from Paso Robles yesterday, I had a flat tire on the 210 freeway just past Pasadena. I had an inkling that there was a tire problem before I left Paso because the tire was way down low, and I filled it with air when I got gas in Paso.

Flat tire just past Pasadena and Arcadia, but I wasn't sure which exit I had passed when I called the Auto Club. I stopped right by a call box on the freeway, and I gave them the call box number, but they couldn't determine the location.

Finally a tow truck pulled up in back of me and a very nice young man changed my tire after we unloaded all of the stuff out of my trunk that I was bringing back from Paso.

I asked him if he needed my Auto Club card, and he said he was NOT from Auto Club but was from a free service called the Metro Freeway Service Patrol, operated on Los Angeles County freeways. Luckily, I had not yet crossed into San Bernardino County, although I was very close. The driver wouldn't even accept the money I tried to give him.

Wow! I had never heard of such a thing! But, I was very glad to see that tow truck. Auto Club called a few minutes later to say that they still hadn't found me, and I told them it was OK because another tow truck HAD found me.

So, today I am thankful for free services that arrive in the nick of time!

November 13, 2009

Gratitude Friday - Back Online

Like a lot of other Slow Travel bloggers, the last couple of days have been an on-again off-again situation in accessing my blog. Internet Brands (which owns Slow Travel) has had major network problems which filtered down to the Slow Travel website and all of the blogs it hosts.

Yikes! I feel so isolated! Luckily, Slow Talk has not been affected, so we were able to commiserate with other STers and get updates on the network problem.

I am wondering if Friday the 13th has anything to do with it . . .

It is about 4 pm PST as I write this, and we are up again, for awhile at least. And for this I am grateful!

November 21, 2009

Gratitude Friday - A Day Late

This has been a LONG week! A good part of the week was spent without blog access. Just like last week, Internet Brands (which owns Slow Travel) had major server problems which affected all of the blogs hosted by Slow Travel.

In California we are pretty dependent on our cars, so when we are without our wheels, we feel isolated and alone. Same thing when our internet access goes down or our blogs cannot be updated.

Woo Hoo! We are back up and running! And I am grateful for that.

Gratitude Friday was started by Diana Strinati Baur of Creative Structures. Diana inspired us to write about the good things in our lives rather than dwelling on the not-so-good. Thank you, Diana!


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November 27, 2009

Gratitude Friday - Thanksgiving

I can't let Gratitude Friday go by without posting about what we are thankful for this year.

As we ate our Thanksgiving dinner, Bill and I talked about what the last year had brought us (the good and the bad) and what we felt most thankful for.

We both came up with the same answer - we are thankful for our wonderful Hoochie dog. She is the glue that makes us a family!

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Gratitude Friday was started by Diana Strinati Baur of Creative Structures. Diana inspired us to write about the good things in our lives rather than dwelling on the not-so-good.

December 4, 2009

Gratitude Friday - Before the freeze

Gratitude Friday was started earlier this year by Diana of Creative Structures. She encouraged us to look for the happy and positive things in our lives and not dwell on the negative things.

So, this week I am thankful for the lovely herb garden that Bill has planted and nurtured this past year. A lot of them die out when the weather gets below freezing, so we have been covering them up each night to protect them as long as we can. Also our citrus trees.

This is the area of the herb garden that we have been covering. These plants will grow back next spring, but I wanted to keep them going as long as I can, at least until the Christmas cooking is over.
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This is my favorite herb of all - pineapple sage.
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Another couple of sage plants.
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And here they are - all covered up with an old car cover.
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December 18, 2009

Gratitude Friday - Italian Treasures

I've been a little uninspired lately in posting on my blog, but I have decided to change all that today! After all, it IS Gratitude Friday!

Today I am grateful for the wonderful treasures we brought home from Italy in September. In Piemonte the wine and the food are spectacular, so those were the only things I was interested in bringing home.

First, the wine, of course. No Barolo, but we bought some Barbaresco and Nebbiola and Dolcetto in Alba and at the regionale tasting room in Barbaresco.

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You may be interested to know how we got all of this wine back home safely. I intended to bring some bottle bags along with us, but we ran out of room in our luggage. So Bill went to the supermercato in Alba before we left for the airport to find something to pack the wine in. And he found socks! Long athletic socks. And they worked perfectly! We wrapped each bottle in two socks and then taped them up.

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The food items I bought in a wine shop in Alba were kind of unusual. The first was a bottle of Truffle and Barolo Sauce (I am going to use it on our Christmas roast). Also a jar of Cremadi Parmigiano Reggiano con Tartufo. Lastly some dried porcini mushrooms. Yum!

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Gratitude Friday began earlier this year by Diana of Creative Structures. Thank you, Diana, for inspiring all of us!

December 25, 2009

Gratitude Friday - Christmas, of course!

When Christmas falls on a Friday, it's only logical that I am grateful for the holiday. In addition to the religious significance, it means a gathering of family and friends to celebrate the joy of the season, with good food and holiday cheer.

Since it was just Bill and me (and Hoochie, of course) celebrating, we concentrated on the food and holiday cheer. Since we had just eaten turkey for Thanksgiving, I wanted to have roast beef for Christmas. Our menu included:

Filet Mignon Roast with Horseradish Sauce - I also tried making Popovers/Yorkshire Pudding, but they didn't turn out so well. It has been more than 20 years since I have attempted making them, so I can see that I need a lot more practice.
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Mashed Yellow Potatoes with Roasted Garlic and Cheese
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Roasted Veggies - Turnips, Carrots, Parsnips, Leeks, Garlic
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Arugula Salad Mix with Orange Cranberries, Blue Cheese, Pecans & Avocado with Orange Vinegar & Toasted Almond Grapeseed Oil
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Holiday Rice Pudding with Raspberry Sauce - I have been eating this dish since I was a little girl. It was originally my aunt's recipe, and we always had it on Christmas Eve.
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We had a California sparkling wine with the salad and dessert (Laetitia Cuvee M) and a wonderful Justin Isoceles Reserve with the rest of the dinner.
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I am so very grateful that we are able to have such a wonderful dinner to celebrate the Christmas holiday.

January 1, 2010

Gratitude Friday - A Brand New Year

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Another Gratitude Friday and a brand new year! What more could I ask for? A clean slate for 2010 - No mistakes yet, no regrets, no opportunities lost.

And today is the first anniversary of my blog's debut. And what a year it has been! I have loved sharing my thoughts and adventures with you, my readers!

Gratitude Friday was begun by Diana of Creative Structures to encourage us to count our blessings instead of dwelling on our problems.

So, I wish you all what I wish for myself - health, happiness, and great food and wine!

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January 8, 2010

Elvis - The Original!

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Today is a special day - the 75th anniversary of when Elvis (the only one known just by his first name) was born. He was the original Elvis and the performer by which all others are measured. Here's Wikipedia's bio.

I was 13 when Elvis came on the scene in 1955, and it was love at first sight. For the rest of my life I have been attracted to dark-haired slightly "bad boys" (like James Dean) because Elvis was the ultimate man in my eyes.

On August 16, 1977, I was in Hawaii on the island of Kauai at the very hotel where Elvis filmed "Blue Hawaii" when we heard the news that he had died. I was devastated. The rest of the trip was a complete waste because I sat by the TV and cried.

I was lucky enough to see Elvis perform in Las Vegas twice, once in the early 70's when he was in his prime and once in 1976 when he was not.

I was even lucky enough to talk to him and get his autograph in Las Vegas. My husband and I were at the old Aladdin Hotel (where Elvis and Priscilla were married) when I saw him standing at the bar with his whole entourage. I walked right up to him (I was surprised that no one stopped me) and asked for his autograph. He was very nice about it and, needless to say, I was thrilled beyond belief!

Elvis had a lot of looks during his career, but the one I liked the best was in his 1968 Comeback Special - the black leather outfit and smaller sideburns than in the jumpsuit and cape performances.

Of all of Elvis' music, I think my favorite songs are his spirituals because you can tell that he loved to sing them. I always tell people that when it is my time to leave this earth, I want to be listening to Elvis spirituals, and one of my fondest wishes is to hear him sing those songs again in Heaven.

Continue reading "Elvis - The Original!" »

January 22, 2010

Gratitude Friday - A Snow Day!

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Here is what we awoke to this morning - a beautiful snow day! We really didn't expect it - the temp was 40 when we went to bed last night, and it was 34 at 6:00 this morning when we got up, but there it was. And it keeps coming down - at least 6 inches when we got up, and it has been snowing all day, so it is probably a foot or so.

I know this is small potatoes for you East Coasters, but hey - this is Southern California!

I put on my Ugg boots (for the first time) and walked to the end of the driveway to take pix. Here are a few shots.

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These are the views out of my office window:
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Our electricity went off about 8:00 a.m., so I had to wait for it to come back on to make this post - it only took Edison 8 hours to figure it out!

So, today I am grateful for this unexpected Snow Day. Gratitude Friday was started by Diana of Creative Structures.

January 29, 2010

Gratitude Friday - I still love Elvis!

Another Gratitude Friday, and I am looking back. Back to January 8th, which would have been Elvis's 75th birthday. I started a post then but didn't finish it until now.

In honor of his birthday, I have put the post back where it belonged (on Jan. 8th), but here is the link.

Elvis Birthday Post

Graceland West - Elvis in Palm Springs


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Gratitude Friday was started by Diana of Creative Structures.

February 26, 2010

Gratitude Friday - Fabulous French Macaroons

Another Friday - another something to be grateful for!

Now this may seem like a small thing and not too important, but being a food lover (especially sweets), I realized that I had never tasted a Macaron (French Macaroon).

I had my chance this past week, though, when I visited a client in Palm Desert and was given some wonderful, mouth-watering Macarons. They were made at a French bakery there called French Corner Cafe & Bakery.

Oh my! It is hard to describe the delicate Macarons that just melt in your mouth. I was really kind of sad to eat them because they were so beautiful!

My photo doesn't do justice to these beautiful sweet pieces of pure heaven! There was even one with avocado cream filling, but I ate it in the car on the way home, so it didn't get into the picture. Oh, in case you are wondering, Bill did get to share a couple of them, although I considered eating them all before I got home!

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Gratitude Friday was started by Diana of Creative Structures.

May 7, 2010

Gratitude Friday - Meeting Domenico

Diana of Creative Structures started Gratitude Friday to encourage us to see the good in our lives rather than dwell on the not-so-good. And, coincidentally, the thing I am grateful for today was arranged by Diana during our trip to Piemonte last September.

It was a winetasting tour of the Acqui Terme area, conducted by Diana's husband Micha. I blogged about it here. The highlight of the day was a winetasting at the home of Domenico Botto, a small wine producer there. Here I am with Domenico.

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Sadly, Domenico passed away in March, a tremendous loss for all who knew him. Both Diana and Jerry wrote tributes to this amazing man.

I am so grateful that we had the chance to meet Domenico and share some of his wonderful wines. It is a memory that I will treasure.

May 14, 2010

Gratitude Friday - Spring has Sprung!

Yes, it is finally spring in Southern California! A little late, for sure, but it is finally here. And I am grateful for that!

The roses - I LOVE the roses! These are the roses I planted when I first moved to my house almost 30 years ago. Bill planted a new rose garden for me this year right outside my office window, but these roses are some of the original ones.
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The strawberry patch is growing great! Bill has found a few ripe strawberries so we could sample them, but there are lots of them coming soon!
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And then there are the herbs! I love having fresh herbs in the garden, ready to harvest when I am cooking. Some years we start fresh each spring, growing the herbs from scratch. But, we took care to cover the herbs when it was going to freeze this past winter, so we have a headstart this year.
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One last shot of the herbs right in back of the house. It is so convenient to go out and pick them quickly when I am cooking.
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I am very, very grateful for spring and all of its gifts!

Gratitude Friday was begun by Diana of Creative Structures.

May 21, 2010

Gratitude Friday - Spring, Part 2

Somehow last Friday, while doing my post about the joys of spring, I forgot to take a photo of our huge artichoke plant.

We have had it for a couple of years and had a few artichokes last year, but this year's crop is a bonanza! The plant is taller than I am and is loaded with artichokes!

Yes indeed, I am grateful!

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June 4, 2010

Gratitude Friday - Gone but not forgotten

I am a little late in posting today. I was going to blog about pets past and present, but something more important happened today to change my post.

You may recall that last year I wrote about Our Borrowed Horse. Royal has been a part of our lives for several years. Until a couple of days ago, he would arrive at our back fence as the sun was coming up because he knew he would get carrots. Then a couple of other times a day he returned for more carrots. He would announce himself by whinnying a little bit. Yes, he did love his carrots!

We hadn't seen him for two days, so Bill and I just drove over to his owner's house to make sure he was OK. Our friend Royal had to be put down yesterday because of a stroke. He lived to the ripe age of 30, though, and he brought pleasure to a lot of people, including us.

That is where Gratitude Friday comes in. Although we are so very sad that he is gone, we thank our lucky stars for the time we got to spend with him. RIP dear Royal.

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Continue reading "Gratitude Friday - Gone but not forgotten" »

June 25, 2010

Gratitude Friday - Lakers Win!

I have been remiss this week in not blogging about my favorite basketball team, the Los Angeles Lakers, who just won the NBA Championship - a back-to-back win, having also won the 2009 championship. Needless to say, I am grateful and proud of those Lakers!

Here is the blog post I wrote last year when they won.

And here is last year's victory parade post.


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July 2, 2010

Gratitude Friday - The First Tomatoes

They're here, they're here! What you say? The first homegrown tomatoes of the season are ripening and are almost ready to eat!

You will probably think I am strange for getting so excited about tomatoes but, frankly, I don't eat tomatoes in the winter. They may look red and rosy, but they are just tasteless. I would rather do without.

So, now that summer is here, I have been waiting for the first tomatoes to ripen. In about a month we are going to get slammed with ripe tomatoes. We followed a recommendation from Chris at Best Trip Ever, who wrote about a nursery in Northern California that she always purchases her seedlings from, Natural Gardening Company. So, we got 24 plants, mostly tomatoes but some other veggies too. Counting the tomatoes we bought locally, we probably have almost 30 plants.

I told Bill he is going to need to sell some of them at a Farmer's Market or something. But I am going to enjoy the overabundance. Last year we missed out on some of the tomatoes when we went to Italy the first of September. Not this year!

So, since it is Gratitude Friday, I am very grateful that the tomatoes are here!

This is our first try using a Topsy Turvy planter. A cherry tomato called Sweet Million. Just a few red ones so far, but lots of green ones on the vine.
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July 9, 2010

To Venice with GrapeHops

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Yes, it's true! And I am SO excited!

I am doing the Venice tour next May with Shannon and Kim of GrapeHops Tours!

Bill and I did go to Venice for three days in 2006, but there was not enough time to experience all that the city has to offer. Plus the fact that there was a vaporetto strike while we were there, so we could not visit some of the outlying islands. Well, those little glitches are going to be remedied next May.

Shannon, my Slow Travel buddy, is an expert on Venice, having made many trips there and even lived there for a year. She loves the place! And I know that love will be contagious as she shows us "her" Venice.

And her Venice includes eating in places off the beaten track and drinking local wines - LOTS of local wines. Right up my alley! Shannon knows so much about the food and wine of Venice that she co-wrote a book called Chow! Venice, where she writes about all of her favorite haunts.

Our friend Palma has even signed on to be my roommate - what fun we will have! Maybe we can convince some other STers to join us.

I have already made airline reservations with FF miles - I knew I had to do that early to get seats in Bus or First. I will be arriving in Venice three days before the tour begins and staying three days after. I haven't made definite plans for those days yet, but there are lots of possibilities.

Anyway, I just had to share the good news. It's always fun to have a trip to look forward to. So, let the planning begin!

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July 23, 2010

Caffe & Two of My Favorite Things to Eat

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One of the food blogs that I follow on Bloglines is Serious Eats. I usually just scroll down the day's entries (there are always quite a few) and then follow the link to ones that sound interesting. But yesterday there were TWO interesting (at least to me) blog posts, one about coffee and one about peanut butter and dark chocolate. They two kind of go together, don't they?

The title of the first one is Translating Coffee Menus: Different Names for 'Coffee Plus Milk'.

This post was kind of interesting to me because I never know which coffee to choose when I go to Starbucks or some other coffee house. So, I always order the same thing - Non-fat Cappuccino, mainly because I didn't know what the other coffee terms mean. Well, I have now been educated!

The second post was about two of my favorite "foods", peanut butter and dark chocolate. I think I have mentioned before that I don't very often have peanut butter in the house because I eat it right out of the jar. Well, the same goes for dark chocolate, although I fool myself into thinking that dark chocolate has health benefits.

Peanut Butter and Chocolate: How Dark Is Too Dark? was also enlightening to me. A taste test was done with different strengths of chocolate, from milk chocolate to extremely dark choclate. Two peanut butters too, one plain and one sweetened. Very interesting comments.

And, because it is Gratitude Friday, I am thankful that I can have peanut butter and dark chocolate with my cappuccino this morning for breakfast!

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