This and That Archives

January 1, 2009

About Me

I'm a wine snob!

I admit it, and I consider it a compliment!

I love wine so much that if I had a chance to relive my life, I would be a winemaker. The winemaking process is magical to me and romantic too.

I think wine is a major part of each meal - well, maybe not breakfast, but maybe that too! So, I love trying new kinds of food and pairing the best wines with it.

And that leads to travel to taste those new foods that pair with those new wines. See a pattern here?

Oh! My name is Nancy, and Bill and I live with our dog Hoochie in the foothills of the San Bernardino mountains in Southern California. I am a CPA and work at home.

Happy 2009!


I am trying to start 2009 off with a bang . . . . . AND a blog!

I have thought of doing this for awhile, and I have been inspired by a lot of the Slow Travel bloggers, particularly Palma, whose blog is one of the most outstanding ones I have ever come across. Don't blush now, Palma!

What really lit a fire under me to begin a blog was our plans to return to Italy in September of 2009. I want to document the planning process like so many of you do and, frankly, I just get too lazy without an incentive like a blog to urge me on.

My first blog entries, though, relate to the Sunday Slow Soupers. I want to have a complete record of all of the wonderful recipes we have prepared so far and those we will prepare before we run out of "Soupers" in April. So, I have posted entries on all of the soups we have done so far.

I AM excited about this blog experience! It's a new year, and I am attempting new things, the first of which is this blog.

I hope you will enjoy the journey with me.


January 7, 2009

All about Me Meme

I saw this Meme on Marta's blog Postcards from the Trail
and thought "What a good idea". This will help my readers (hopefully I have some) get to know me a little bit better.

I was named after my cousin who was 13 when I was born. She probably had the pleasure of babysitting for me and my sister, born 16 months later. She was always called Nancy #1 and I was Nancy #2. Sadly, she recently passed away.
When I peeled onions for this week's soup - actually every time I peel onions. But also every time I think of the two pets we lost in 2008.
Yes. I have always written in a backhand style like my Mother did.
No, but my sister has four and she shares them with me.
Probably too much. I usually feel badly about it.
Nope, but I was 19 before I had them out.
No way Jose!
Trader Joe's High Fiber Cereal.
Yes, I think so - and stubborn too.
Usually something dark chocolate, but I also really liked the Roquefort-Honey ice cream we did with our Slow Scoopers group.
Physically, their eyes and smile - Totally, their sense of humor and humility.
Neither - I am an orange girl.
I procrastinate - I hate it but can't help myself.
My kitty who was my 24/7 companion.
Green plaid slippers.
A piece of orange-cranberry bread.
Bill is gone so the TV is off. I am just listening to the birds chirping outside. And, yes, I do have the window open a little to get some fresh air.
Orange, of course. Or purple as a close second.
Onions and garlic being sauteed.
Bill - he is out working today and called home.
Basketball. And golf too.
Reddish. Natural color is dark brown, but it is mostly grey now.
Cheese and chocolate.
Sappy endings for sure. I really don't like scary movies.
"24 - Redemption" on TV. We missed it the first time it was on but needed to watch it before "24" resumes this week.
I don't like hot weather, so winter (if that's my only other choice. I really prefer fall or spring because the temps are not too hot.
Hugs and then kisses!
Chocolate something (I am a real chocoholic)
"Bel Vino" by Isabella Dusi.
"The Mentalist" - I love Simon Baker!
Probably the ocean.
Beatles, but I wasn't a fan back in their heyday. I was more an Elvis fan than anything.
Italy. And that is as far as I want to go!
Numbers, I guess, being a CPA.
Minnesota, but I was just a little girl when we moved to California.


January 12, 2009

Fairbanks Ice Festival

A friend sent me an email today with these gorgeous "Photos taken and shared from the incredible ice sculptures submitted at the Fairbanks Ice Festival, Fairbanks , Alaska."

I just wanted to share them with you - they are breathtaking!












January 20, 2009

Historic Inauguration Day


Today is a day that will live in history - the inauguration of Barack Obama as President of the United States.


President Obama gives us hope for our country for the future, something we haven't had for quite awhile.


As Americans, we should be proud of this moment, but we also need to join together to support our President as he tries to solve the problems that will face him. He needs our support and our prayers for the task ahead.



February 5, 2009

One Book Meme

We bloggers share our ideas for blog subjects, especially during February when we post each day. Krista In and Out of the Garden posted about the One Book Meme a couple of days ago. She said she got the idea from Annie Churches of Venice. So, I thought I would post about it, and maybe some other blogger will see it and pass the idea along!

One book that changed your life:
Nancy Drew series - Way back in the old days, they showed me that women could be independent and do things just as well as men.

One book that you've read more than once:
Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand - I have loved all of her books, but especially this one. The hope of a better world, I guess. I even have the unabridged audio book set - about 60 hours, I think. Fun to listen to on a trip (by myself) in the car.

One book that made you laugh:
Several of Marlena De Blasi's books had some very amusing episodes.

One book that made you cry:
Bridges of Madison County and Somewhere in Time (Christopher Reeve & Jane Seymour) - Both are sad love stories.

One book that you wish had been written:
I saw at least one other blogger say it was their own family history, and I agree. My Mom wrote down a bunch of her historical family stuff, but my step-dad did not, and now we will never know because they are both gone.

One book that you wish had never been written:
I don't believe in censoring books, so I would say none. There are some that probably shouldn't have been written because they are not in good taste, but everyone is entitled to read what is interesting to them.

One book you're currently reading:
Confession time - I really love Nicholas Sparks' romance novels. I had gotten At First Sight but then discovered that True Believer was the storyline that preceded it (is that considered a prequel?). So, now I have both of those to read. Sometimes I can hardly put them down until I am finished.

One book you've been meaning to read:
Back to Nancy Drew or Little Women. I want to see if I am still as entranced with them as I was so many years ago. I would also love to have a new Dan Brown book to read.

February 10, 2009

Snowed In - SoCal Style

It had snowed all day yesterday (to my delight) - about 4 inches. When we got up this morning, it was 21 degrees, so everything was frozen. Bill could barely get the front gate open. Our unmaintained private road was so slick that the trash guy tried to drive down the street and just left. It was a snow day - SoCal style!

I know this is a minor weather blip to all of you East Coasters, but it doesn't happen too often here in Southern California. After all, we are only 45 minutes from Palm Springs!




And here is the horse we feed:

March 1, 2009

I have a confession!

Yes, that's right - I have a confession to make!

When I promised to post every day in February, I thought "How am I going to do that with tax season beginning?" For those of you who don't know, I am a CPA and am basically chained to my desk from about February 1st thru April 15th.

I decided to do February posts about the 2004 Mediterranean cruise we went on, along with the pre-cruise and post-cruise sightseeing we did. Most of the text was written (I had emailed my family and friends), and all of the pictures were in an album on Ofoto. So, it was pretty easy to do.

So, we have now completed our February blogging and March looms ahead. I want to try to continuing posting on a daily basis, but I have to find some subjects that are easy to put together and not too time-consuming.

Sunday Slow Soupers, of course, goes to the middle of April, so that is one day planned.

I may try a few Memes too - I have seen several on other blogs that look interesting.

I may even start blogging on the 2006 trip we took to Italy. Once again, I have the text for most of the entries written from the emails I sent at the time, and my photos are once again on Ofoto (now called the Kodak Gallery).

But, if I miss a day here and there, please forgive me. I will give it my best shot, though - you can count on that!


March 2, 2009

Meme - Still Things I Want to Do!

I saw this on Palma's blog awhile back and thought it sounded like a neat idea. She said to pass it on, so that is what I am doing!

The ones that are marked "*" are the ones I have done.


*Started your own blog
Slept under the stars (but I have wanted to)
Played in a band
*Visited Hawaii (but not since the year that Elvis died in 1977)
*Watched a meteor shower
*Given more than you can afford to charity
*Been to Disneyland/world (not lately though)
Climbed a mountain
Held a praying mantis
Sang a solo
Bungee jumped (yikes - not me!)
Visited Paris (my next non-Italy trip)
*Watched a lightning storm at sea
*Taught yourself an art from scratch
Adopted a child
Had food poisoning
Walked to the top of the Statue of Liberty
Seen the Mona Lisa in France (one of these days)
Slept on an overnight train
*Had a pillow fight
*Taken a sick day when you’re not ill
Built a snow fort
Held a lamb (I would like to)
*Gone skinny dipping
Been to a Broadway show in NY
Ran a Marathon
Been in three states at once
Ridden in a gondola in Venice
*Seen a total eclipse
Hit a home run
*Been on a Cruise
Seen Niagara Falls in Person
Visited the birthplace of your Ancestors
Seen an Amish community
*Taught yourself a new language
Had enough money to be truly satisfied
*Seen the Leaning Tower of Pisa in person
Gone rock climbing
*Seen Michelangelo’s David
Sung karaoke
Seen Old Faithful geyser erupt
Bought a stranger a meal at a restaurant
Visited Africa
*Walked on a beach by moonlight
Been transported in an ambulance
Had your portrait painted
Gone deep sea fishing
*Seen the Sistine Chapel in person
Been to the top of the Eiffel Tower in Paris
Gone scuba diving or snorkeling
*Kissed in the rain
*Played in the mud
*Been to Grace Kelley’s grave in Monaco
*Gone to a drive-in
Been in a movie
Visited the Great Wall of China
*Started a business
Taken a martial arts class
Swam in the Mediterranean Sea
Visited Russia
Served at a soup kitchen
Sold Girl Scout cookies (no, but I have bought LOTS)
Gone whale watching
*Gotten flowers for no reason
Donated blood, platelets or plasma
Gone sky diving (no way Jose!)
Visited a Nazi Concentration Camp
Bounced a check
Saved a favorite childhood toy
*Visited the Lincoln Memorial (long ago)
*Eaten Caviar
Pieced a quilt
Stood in Times Square
Toured the Everglades
*Been fired from a job (it's a long story)
Seen the Changing of the Guards in London
Broken a bone
*Been on a speeding motorcycle
*Seen the Grand Canyon in person
Published a book
*Visited the Vatican
*Bought a brand new car
Walked in Jerusalem
*Had your picture in the newspaper
Read the entire Bible
Visited the White House
Killed and prepared my own meat
*Had chickenpox
Saved someone’s life
Sat on a jury
*Met someone famous
*Joined a book club
*Lost a loved one
Had a baby
Seen the Alamo in person
Swam in the Great Salt Lake
*Been involved in a law suit
*Been stung by a bee

March 4, 2009

Who Reads your Blog?

I know I am not the only one who wonders who reads their blog.

First and foremost, of course, are all of my fellow Slow Travel bloggers, especially during February when we vowed to post every day.

But, other than that, I wonder who comes to my blog and how they get there.

Well, Sitemeter helps to answer that question. Sitemeter keeps track of blog activity and (most of the time) shows how people got there.

My results were kind of surprising.

Other than my Slow Travel friends, the most "hits" I got were for the blog entry I made on the Fairbanks Ice Festival. Go figure!

Second, I think, was the blog entry I made about James Dean.

Third, to the best of my recollection, was my entry about the Apple Gorgonzola Salad.

These all seemed to be Google or Yahoo seaches. I couldn't find any Sitemeter statistics for YTD hits on particular entries, so this is just my estimate of the results. A lot of the hits for the first and second choices were from foreign countries.

Interesting, huh?

Addendum 3/5/09:
Just this morning, I got hits on my blog from France, Austria, and Chile, and they were all Google searches for James Dean! Amazing!

March 7, 2009

Food & Cooking Meme

This came from Amy, who got it from Annie. I like it because it is all about FOOD!


What is your go-to ingredient?
It has to be pasta - so many possibilities, from simple olive oil and herbs to complicated sauces.

What nationality of food do you like the best?
I don't even have to think about that - Italian, of course! Such a wide variety of regional cuisine.

What’s your favorite meal of the day to prepare?
Just like Amy (who I stole this meme from), it is dinner, when you can drink a glass of wine while you are cooking.

What is/are your signature dish? (What dish are you ‘known’ for?)
I guess it must be my Apple Gorgonzola Salad. I make it every year for Slow Bowl in Paso Robles, and people still seem to like it.

What is your favorite comfort food?
Mac & cheese, beef stew, and chocolate. Go figure!

What cooking shows do you watch?
Iron Chef America, Top Chef, Hell's Kitchen, Chopped, and Throwdown with Bobby Flay.

Your top three favorite cookbooks are:
Dolce Italiano, The Perfect Scoop, and various Food & Wine cookbooks.

Your must-have kitchen accessory is:
My new little KitchenAid mini chopper. It is so handy!

Do you ever eat fast food? If so, what?
Not too often, but I do like fresh crispy french fries.

Most memorable meal you’ve had while on vacation:
French Laundry in Napa Valley and Picasso in Las Vegas - Both have tasting menus that are out of this world.

What restaurant do you want to eat at that you haven’t yet?
I Caffi in Acqui Terme, thanks to Jerry and Palma. We plan to go in September.

What’s your favorite dessert?
Chocolate souffle.

What scent in the kitchen do you love?
Garlic and onions cooking - Bread baking.

What ingredient(s) do you avoid/dislike?
Clams and eggplant. Bill loves them both.

What’s your secret splurge at the grocery store?
Jumbo crab legs when they are on sale.

What’s the most decadent dish you’ve ever had?
At the French Laundry restaurant we opted to upgrade one course to Kobe beef. We didn't know until we got the bill that the "upgrade" was an additional $75.

What’s your favorite midnight snack?
Cold pizza.


March 16, 2009

41 Odd Things Meme

This came from Kim, who got it from Lisa.

1. Do you like blue cheese? Yes, I LOVE it!
2. Have you ever smoked? Way back when I was young, I tried it, but I never got the hang of inhaling properly, so it was kind of a waste. I am just as glad I never acquired the habit.
3 . Do you own a gun? No.
4. What flavor Kool Aid was your favorite? Green (Lime?)
5. Do you get nervous before doctor appointments? Yes, especially when it involved needles. I think I am more nervous about going to the dentist because of the injections.
6. What do you think of hot dogs? I only eat them about once a year.
7. Favorite Christmas movie? It's a Wonderful Life, like a lot of people.
8. What do you prefer to drink in the morning? Coffee
9. Can you do push-ups? Never tried it, so probably not.
10. What's your favorite piece of jewelry? My Mom's wedding ring - I wear it when going somewhere she would be interested in seeing. Sort of keeps her with me.
11. Favorite hobby? Slow Travel and now my blog.
12. Do you have A.D.D.? I don't think so.
13. What's one trait you hate about yourself ? Procrastination, like a lot of you.
14. Middle name? Anne with an E.
15. Name 3 thoughts at this exact moment? (1) How many more tax returns can I do tonight? (2) Will drinking wine make me too sleepy to work? (3) Where are those Girl Scout cookies when I need them?
16. Name 3 drinks you regularly drink? Coffee, Wine & Water (I need to drink more of that).
17. Current worry? Money
18. Currently hate right now? I hate the state of our economy and what has happened to nearly everyone's investments.
19. Favorite place to be? Italy, of course! If not there, I do love being at home.
20. How did you bring in the New Year? In bed sleeping. Boring, huh?
21. Where would you like to go? Italy, but I have to wait until September.
22. Name three people who will complete this? My sister and her two daughters.
23.Do you own slippers? Lots of them because I wear them every day when I am working at home.
24. What shirt are you wearing right now? A Curves shirt, which is my usual attire.
25. Do you like sleeping on satin sheets? Nope, I had some years ago, and I hated them.
26. Can you whistle? No - I have tried all of my life.
27. Favorite color? Most definitely ORANGE!
28. Red or white wine? I like it all - red or white - after all, I am a winelover!
29. What songs do you sing in the shower? No singing in the shower - if you could hear me sing, you would thank me.
30. Favorite Girl's name? I don't have any kids, so I never had to choose a name. I actually can't think of a favorite.
31. Favorite Boy's name? See answer to #30.
32. What's in your pocket right now? Dog treats - Hoochie demands them several times a day. I have broken them into small pieces because she gets them so many times a day.
33. Last thing that made you laugh? George Clooney impersonating Andy Rooney on Dateline last night.
34. Worst injury you ever had? Having never broken a bone (knock on wood), my worst injury was when I tripped trying to get to the telephone and hit my head on a bookcase. Sliced my head open right above my eyebrow, but I didn't want to go get it stitched up. Got a neighbor to go get some butterfly bandages - I still have a scar, but not too bad.
35. Do you love where you live? Yes, living in the country suits me. But, I don't like all of the encroaching development that surrounds us.
36. How many TVs do you have in your house? 4
37. Who is your loudest friend? I only have quiet friends.
38. Do you have any pets? Hoochie - Boxer/Mastiff mix.
39. Does someone have a crush on you? Don't I wish!
40. Your favorite book(s): Atlas Shrugged, Dan Brown books (I've loved all of them), Marlena De Blasi's biographical books, and all of Nicholas Sparks' romance novels.
41. Favorite Sports Team? Yankees since I was a little girl - the Lakers in more recent years.

March 21, 2009

ST Readers & Bloggers - Thank you!


Just a little note between my 2006 trip episodes. They will continue on Monday (we have soup tomorrow, of course).

I have been trying to continue with everyday blogging after we finished our February challenge. So far, I have been successful, using old trip notes and photos.

I am a little challenged at this time of year, being a CPA with lots of tax returns to prepare. Hopefully, my 2006 trip episodes will last thru April 15th. Then I will be on my own and will have to be a lot more creative.

Readers, thank you all for sticking around to read my blog. I have really enjoyed doing it and seeing all of your comments.

ST bloggers, thank you for continuing to visit my blog. I may not do as well in visiting your blogs until after April 15th. I also notice that my sidebar has eliminated some of your blog links when the February Bloggers challenge ended. When I get the time, I will figure out how to add all of you back in again. I think having links on other blogs is really important, so I will be happy to have any and all of you listed on my blog!


March 28, 2009

Five Fabulous Things!

Well, I have been tagged by Palma of Palmabella's Passions as having a Fabulous Blog! Wow! I am honored - thank you, Palma!


So, now here are five things that I consider fabulous.

l. BILL & HOOCHIE, our boxer-mastiff mix:

2. WINE, particularly big red wines from the Paso Robles area. A couple of favorites are Eberle Reserve Cabernet and Justin Reserve Tempranillo.

3. CAMBRIA, CA, just south of Hearst Castle. A nice little artsy beach town - I always thought I would live by the ocean someday, and this would be the perfect place.

4. EAGLES MUSIC - It just makes me happy!

5. Last but certainly not least is ITALY and all that it offers. VILLA BALBIANELLO on Lake Como was our favorite villa. It was fabulous, there is no doubt about that!

Now the hard part will be tagging five more Fabulous Blogs. Lots of blogs have already been tagged as fabulous, so I hope I am not tagging them a second or third time. But, come to think of it, that would be a tremendous compliment to have so many people think your blog is fabulous!

Jerry at Jerry's Thoughts, Musings, and Rants! I am sure Jerry's blog has probably already been tagged by someone, but it is one of my favorites and I check it out nearly every day.

Diana at Creative Structures. I dream of living Diana's life in beautiful Piemonte.

Jane at Casey, Italy and Other Good Stuff. I love Jane's stories about Casey and living in Italy.

Kim at What I Really Think. Kim has shared her journey since being diagnosed with breast cancer, and she has been an inspiration to all of us.

Soultravelers3 - A family of three from Santa Cruz, CA, who are blogging as they travel around the world. Lots of great adventures.

April 20, 2009

10 Years Later - Columbine Tragedy

Today marks the 10th anniversary of the Columbine shooting tragedy. I remember that day like it was yesterday - such a senseless atrocious thing to happen to young people with their whole lives ahead of them. Many similar tragedies have happened since then, but I still remember this one.

Wikipedia gives the details.

All of the programs on TV yesterday emphasized the Columbine survivors and how they have moved forward with their lives. I am really glad of that, and I hope with all my heart that it is true. Here is a story of a few of them: Columbine students strive 10 years after massacre.

I guess certain dates just strike a chord with us - April 20th is important to me because it is my birthday.

Stay tuned for tomorrow's episode - another much different April 20th remembrance.

April 21, 2009

Another Kind of April 20th

Yesterday's post was about the Columbine tragedy that happened on April 20th 10 years ago. Today's post is about a different kind of April 20th - Santa Cruz 420, to be exact.

I have probably led a sheltered life because until about five years ago, I had never heard of the celebration that happened every 4/20 at 4:20 p.m. on campuses around the country (and the world). And this has been going on since the early 70's!

Here is Wikipedia's history of the event.

University of Colorado at Boulder has huge crowds every year - 10,000 last year, it was reported.

At the top of the Wikipedia page is this photo titled "Santa Cruz 4/20 celebration at Porter Meadow on UCSC campus in 2007".

It's funny they should show this particular photo for this particular year because that was the year I decided to attend! Yes, it was my 65th birthday, and I wanted to go to this infamous event at least once.

It was quite incredible, actually. I expected a couple hundred people walking down from the campus buildings into Porter Meadow. But the people kept coming and coming, like little ants from all over. I think it was something like 5,000 people there! All very orderly. Only one police officer spotted, just watching the crowd.

And promptly at 4:20 p.m., they all lit up. A huge cloud of smoke wafted over the meadow. We were kind of on the outskirts of the crowd and out of the smokey area. Being the oldest people there, no one offered to share any of their stash with us. Oh well!

It was truly amazing, and I am so glad to have gone.

Here is a report on yesterday's event in Santa Cruz. Although the school administration tried to put a damper on things, it seems to have gone on as usual. After all, it IS a tradition!

May 16, 2009

I'm a Kreativ Blogger!


I have been named by Brenda (BGE on Slow Travel) of That's my story...and I'm stickin' to it! as a Kreativ Blogger. I am honored that Brenda chose me!

There are duties that go along with this designation - I must write about 7 things I like plus I must nominate 7 other bloggers for this award. Well, here goes . . .

Things I like:

1. Family and Friends - The most important thing a person can have.

2. Pets - Not having any children, my pets have always been extremely important to me. They love us unconditionally, and I love them the same way.

3. Travel - Although I started my international travel a little late in life, I now have the travel bug.

4. Wine - I couldn't decide if food or wine should come first. Wine makes the food taste better, and food paired with the right wine is something wonderful.

5. Food - A lot of people just eat to live. But, like a lot of the foodies on Slow Travel, I live to eat!

6. The ocean - I always thought I would eventually live at the beach (I've always loved hearing the ocean), but unless I win a Lotto jackpot, it probably isn't going to happen.

7. I LOVE 7's - They have always been my favorite numbers. Lucky? Maybe.

I am not sure which of these bloggers have already been named Kreativ Bloggers. I read a lot of blogs and love them all (for different reasons), so I am just going to throw out the names of a few of them (in alphabetic order).

1, A Journey of 1000 Miles Begins With... (SandraC)

2. As The Seasons Change (scg)

3. Baked Alaska (Cindy Ruth)

4. Candi's Corner: Wanderlust and Passions (Candi)

5. Casey, Italy and Other Good Stuff (Jane)

6. Churches in Venice (AnnieNC)

7. Creative Structures (Diana Strinati Baur)

Oh my gosh, I only got thru the C's alphabetically! That just shows how many good blogs I read!


May 19, 2009

Food Tasting Meme

This is kind of like some other food memes I have seen but has quite a few foods I have never heard of. The only things I would NEVER eat are goat and horse because I consider them pets!

Copy this list into your blog or journal, including these instructions.

  • Bold all the items you've eaten.
  • Cross out any items that you would never consider eating (or eating again)
  • Optional extra: Post a comment linking to your results.
  • To make the filling out of this form and generating the HTML for it a bit easier, [info]reddywhp has played around with some PHP. Go to and fill it out there. After filling it out, you will be given the code to copy and paste into your blog.

    1. Venison
    2. Nettle tea
    3. Huevos rancheros
    4. Steak tartare
    5. Crocodile
    6. Black pudding
    7. Cheese fondue
    8. Carp
    9. Borscht
    10. Baba ghanoush
    11. Calamari
    12. Pho
    13. PB&J sandwich
    14. Aloo gobi
    15. Hot dog from a street cart
    16. Epoisses
    17. Black truffle
    18. Fruit wine made from something other than grapes
    19. Steamed pork buns
    20. Pistachio ice cream
    21. Heirloom tomatoes
    22. Fresh wild berries
    23. Foie gras
    24. Rice and beans
    25. Brawn, or head cheese
    26. Raw Scotch Bonnet pepper
    27. Dulce de leche
    28. Oysters
    29. Baklava
    30. Bagna cauda
    31. Wasabi peas
    32. Clam chowder in a sourdough bowl
    33. Salted lassi
    34. Sauerkraut
    35. Root beer float
    36. Cognac with a fat cigar
    37. Clotted cream tea
    38. Vodka jelly
    39. Gumbo
    40. Oxtail
    41. Curried goat
    42. Whole insects
    43. Phaal
    44. Goat's milk
    45. Malt whisky from a bottle worth $120 or more
    46. Fugu
    47. Chicken tikka masala
    48. Eel
    49. Krispy Kreme original glazed doughnut
    50. Sea urchin
    51. Prickly pear
    52. Umeboshi
    53. Abalone
    54. Paneer
    55. McDonald's Big Mac Meal
    56. Spaetzle
    57. Dirty gin martini
    58. Beer above 8% ABV
    59. Poutine
    60. Carob chips
    61. S'mores
    62. Sweetbreads
    63. Kaolin
    64. Currywurst
    65. Durian
    66. Frog's Legs
    67. Beignets, churros, elephant ears or funnel cake
    68. Haggis
    69. Fried plantain
    70. Chitterlings or andouillette
    71. Gazpacho
    72. Caviar and blini
    73. Louche absinthe
    74. Gjetost or brunost
    75. Roadkill
    76. Baijiu
    77. Hostess Fruit Pie
    78. Snail
    79. Lapsang souchong
    80. Bellini
    81. Tom yum
    82. Eggs Benedict
    83. Pocky
    84. Tasting menu at a three-Michelin-star restaurant
    85. Kobe beef
    86. Hare
    87. Goulash
    88. Flowers
    89. Horse
    90. Criollo chocolate
    91. Spam
    92. Soft shell crab
    93. Rose harissa
    94. Catfish
    95. Mole poblano
    96. Bagel and lox
    97. Lobster Thermidor
    98. Polenta
    99. Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee
    100. Snake

    May 23, 2009

    The End of an Era

    I'm excited like a little kid! No, George Clooney isn't coming to visit. And, no, our trip to Italy is not until September.

    The reason I am excited is because of something big and white, and it's in my kitchen! The refrigerator! I moved into my house in June of 1980 - that's almost 29 years. And, I still have the same refrigerator!

    I am not sure how long refrigerators are supposed to last, but I expect ours to die any day now. It has served us well, except for a few small problems.

    But, I started lusting after the new four-door fridges with the two-door freezer on the bottom as soon as they came out, maybe a couple of years ago. And now we are getting one!

    This all began when our microwave went kaput this past week. We can't live without a microwave, but I wanted to upgrade to a convection microwave. I have never had one, but I just hate to turn on the regular oven in the summer because it heats up the air-conditioned house so much. So, I figured that a convection microwave oven would solve that problem.

    So, we went shopping at Home Depot after I had pre-shopped on their website. We found the one we wanted, but the sales girl whispered to us that we should wait because they were having a 10% off sale for Memorial Day weekend.

    While we were there, of course, I looked at all of the refrigerators and saw my dream one in person. Pretty expensive at $2,500, but 10% off made it better. Bill went back today to order it and was told there was also a manufacturer's discount, so the fridge came in at less than $2,000.

    So, Wednesday is D-Day - or actually LG and GE day. I will post an update after the fridge and microwave are installed.

    Here is my faithful 1980 fridge in its last week of service.


    June 2, 2009

    45 Lessons Life Taught Me


    I received this email a couple days ago from a friend. It's one that is supposed to be forwarded to others, but I figure that I am "forwarding" it to lots more people this way!

    This is something we should all read at least once a week. It kind of helps you get your priorities straight.

    Written By Regina Brett, 90 years old, of The Plain Dealer, Cleveland , Ohio

    To celebrate growing older, I once wrote the 45 lessons life taught me... It is the most-requested column I've ever written. My odometer rolled over to 90 in August, so here is the column once more:

    1. Life isn't fair, but it's still good.

    2. When in doubt, just take the next small step.

    3. Life is too short to waste time hating anyone...

    4. Your job won't take care of you when you are sick. Your friends and parents will. Stay in touch.

    5. Pay off your credit cards every month.

    6. You don't have to win every argument. Agree to disagree.

    7. Cry with someone. It's more healing than crying alone.

    8. It's OK to get angry with God. He can take it.

    9. Save for retirement starting with your first pay check.

    10. When it comes to chocolate, resistance is futile.

    11. Make peace with your past so it won't screw up the present.

    12. It's OK to let your children see you cry.

    13. Don't compare your life to others. You have no idea what their journey is all about.

    14. If a relationship has to be a secret, you shouldn't be in it.

    15. Everything can change in the blink of an eye. But don't worry; God never blinks.

    16. Take a deep breath. It calms the mind.

    17. Get rid of anything that isn't useful, beautiful or joyful.

    18. Whatever doesn't kill you really does make you stronger.

    19. It's never too late to have a happy childhood. But the second one is up to you and no one else.

    20. When it comes to going after what you love in life, don't take no for an answer.

    21. Burn the candles, use the nice sheets, wear the fancy lingerie. Don't save it for a special occasion. Today is special.

    22. Over prepare, then go with the flow.

    23. Be eccentric now. Don't wait for old age to wear purple.

    24. The most important sex organ is the brain.

    25. No one is in charge of your happiness but you.

    26. Frame every so-called disaster with these words ’In five years, will this matter?'

    27. Always choose life.

    28. Forgive everyone everything.

    29. What other people think of you is none of your business.

    30. Time heals almost everything. Give time.

    31. However good or bad a situation is, it will change.

    32. Don't take yourself so seriously. No one else does.

    33. Believe in miracles.

    34. God loves you because of who God is, not because of anything you did or didn't do.

    35. Don't audit life. Show up and make the most of it now.

    36. Growing old beats the alternative -- dying young.

    37. Your children get only one childhood.

    38. All that truly matters in the end is that you loved.

    39. Get outside every day. Miracles are waiting everywhere.

    40. If we all threw our problems in a pile and saw everyone else’s, we’d grab ours back.

    41. Envy is a waste of time. You already have all you need.

    42. The best is yet to come.

    43. No matter how you feel, get up, dress up and show up.

    44. Yield.

    45. Life isn't tied with a bow, but it's still a gift.


    June 3, 2009

    Out with the old - In with the new!

    A week or so ago I wrote about the new refrigerator and convection/microwave oven we had ordered.

    Well, they have arrived, and I am STILL excited!

    The refrigerator arrived first, a couple of days ahead of the oven (which needed an installation appointment). I felt kind of bad when they took my old fridge away for recycling - it had been here since I moved to my house almost 29 years ago, and we had been thru a lot together. But, life moves on.

    The new fridge is just beautiful. Two bottom freezer drawers to try to organize things. I truly had no idea what was in the old freezer until I took it out, but I made a list as I put it back in, so that should help.


    As you can see, I saved some of my refrigerator magnets to put on the new one - they are mostly the travel ones I have collected.


    On Saturday the installer came to put in the convection microwave oven. I haven't learned how the convection part works yet (guess I have to study the book), but I am really looking forward to not lighting the big oven this summer.


    June 11, 2009

    Today's Fun - A Life Line Screening

    I know I have been kind of AWOL from my blog lately. I just haven't had any good ideas for blog posts, so I may skip a day now and then.


    I hadn't had a Life Line Screening before, but we got a mailing that they were offering it at a church just down the street, so Bill and I both made an appointment. Today was our day.

    We signed up for the five test package for $149.

    1. Stroke - Cartoid Artery Disease

    2. Stroke - Atrial Fibrillation

    3. Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm

    4. Peripheral Arterial Disease

    5. Osteoperosis

    They had about 10 technicians calling people in for the different tests. Very organized. It took about an hour for all the tests, with a little waiting between each. Quick and painless. I like those kinds of tests!

    Obviously, these tests are not a substitute for regular annual checkups, but they can alert you to a problem you didn't even know you had so you can follow up with your own physician.

    We will get a written report in about three weeks. I thought it was well worth the price, and I would do it again!


    July 1, 2009

    I'm Way Behind!

    I have a confession to make! I am way behind - with everything!

    I haven't made the Curds Our Whey assignment for June - soft goat cheese - and I LOVE goat cheese.

    I haven't done the work that is sitting on my desk. My poor house desperately needs to be cleaned.

    What in the heck is the matter with me? I wish I knew.

    I can't seem to get motivated to do anything, including my blog. I have had a mental block about posting, just no inspiration at all.

    I just wanted you to know why I have been MIA from my blog. But I promise I will do better, so don't give up on me!


    July 14, 2009

    Artichoke Blooms

    We are all familiar with the artichokes that we prepare at home or eat in a restaurant. But, how many of us have seen the beautiful artichoke blooms that emerge when the artichokes are past their prime eating-wise.

    We have some artichoke plants in our garden, and they produced dozens of artichokes - many more than we could eat or give away. So, now the blooms have taken over - and they are beautiful! The bees love them. The plants themselves are huge, much larger than I expected them to be (4-5 ft tall).

    Wikipedia has a pretty good article on Artichokes. Although the orgin of the plant is unknown, this is currently where they are grown:

    Today, Globe Artichoke cultivation is concentrated in the countries bordering the Mediterranean basin. The main producers are Italy, Spain, and France. In the United States, California provides nearly 100% of the U.S. crop, and approximately 80 percent of that is grown in Monterey County; there, Castroville proclaims itself to be "The Artichoke Center of the World", and holds an annual festival at which artichoke ice cream is served. The cultivar 'Green Globe' is virtually the only kind grown commercially in the U.S.

    I have never been to the Artichoke Festival in Castroville, CA, but it sounds like fun. It was held in May, so we have missed it for this year, but there is always 2010!



    November 11, 2009

    A Salute to our Veterans


    Today on Veterans Day I want to honor all of our veterans - past, present and future.

    November 11th was named as Armistice Day in 1919 and was known by that name until 1954 when it became Veterans Day.

    It is the day we salute all of our veterans and the wonderful job they do to protect our country.

    My Dad, Earl Gillians, was so proud to have served in the U.S. Marines - he was at Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, and was also at Iwo Jima when the flag was raised.

    Thank you, men and women of all of the armed services - we are proud of you!


    January 20, 2010

    It's a Fluke!


    I want to say it is a fluke, but now I see that a fluke can be many things, including a flatfish.

    My fluke is an improbable occurrence, something I would never have imagined.

    It is only 9 a.m., and my blog has had over 2,000 visits already today. OMG, how did this happen?

    I checked my Sitemeter detail and see that all of the hits have been to one blog entry that I made a year ago, Fairbanks Ice Festival.

    I know, I know - it's that time of year when people are interested in attending or at least seeing photos from the ice festival. But that is not what made me wonder.

    When I checked the referral website, they all seemed to be coming from a voyeuristic website with pictures of naked ladies all over it. I quickly looked for a link to the ice festival and could find none. I was kind of embarrassed to be on that website, so maybe I missed it.

    So, I think the Fairbanks Ice Festival post has officially passed the James Dean post for most visits!

    PS 1/21/10 - Yesterday's visitor total was almost 4,000. Today the same post (Fairbanks Ice Festival) has been mentioned by someone on another website (not the voyeur one), and it has produced almost 400 visits. My ordinary daily visit total is about 50. Go figure!

    PPS 1/24/10 - My hits have slowed down but are still way more than usual. After the 4,000 day and the 400 day, I have gotten about 120 the last couple of days. It's still the Fairbanks Ice Festival they are looking at. I found my website link on a European website. I know it won't last, but it's fun right now!

    January 23, 2010

    Here Comes the Sun!

    Finally, after a week of rain and snow, the sun is out!

    It's a spectacular view now that we can see the snow-covered mountains.

    I may not have mentioned yesterday that we live in the foothills of the San Bernardino mountains at about 3500 ft. We get a little snow nearly every year, but for us this was one of the biggest snowfalls we can remember.

    Here's what the mountains look like this morning:



    Remember our borrowed horse, Royal? I wrote about him here last year. He is out in the sun today just soaking up those rays. We always think about him as being white, but he looks like a pretty dirty white against the snow.


    April 19, 2010

    I'm B-a-a-a-a-a-c-k!!!

    Whew! I'm glad that's over! Income tax season, I mean.

    Last year I tried to split myself into two parts - one that blogged regularly and one that did tax returns. This year I tried a different approach - I only blogged about once a week for the Sunday Slow Suppers, and I kept my "nose to the grindstone" as far as work was concerned.

    And the results were amazing. I completed 30% more tax returns than I had in the prior year. I guess I am not one of those people who can multi-task successfully. I need to concentrate on one thing at a time.

    So, I am back blogging. I did back-date my Easter Sunday dinner post, so check that out. I promise I will be around more and will be checking out my Slow Travel buddies' blogs too.

    Life is good!

    April 20, 2010

    Another 4/20 Comes and Goes

    Last year I wrote about my 2007 birthday on April 20th. My niece Patti was born on April 21st, the day after my birthday, and I went to Santa Cruz to celebrate with her. So, this was the first time I had actually been in Santa Cruz on 4/20.

    As I reported in my blog post last year, my sister and I attended the annual 420 event on the UC Santa Cruz campus.

    So today I decided to check and see what was happening this year at UC Santa Cruz. Here is what Fox News reported, from the school's point of view, of course.

    And a TV news report about the school's plans to discourage the gathering.

    It looks like the turnout was about 1,000, down from about 2,000 in 2009. There were way more people than that in 2007 when I was there - we thought as many as 10,000. So, I guess the school is whittling down the participation with their campus access rules. Here is the newspaper story.

    May 3, 2010

    60 Minutes Last Night - Jose Andres

    We usually watch 60 Minutes on Sunday evenings. The "big story" last night was the first interview with Conan O'Brien since his departure from the Tonight Show.

    It was a good interview, but my favorite 60 Minutes segment last night was about Jose Andres, the chef-owner of numerous U.S. restaurants, including The Bazaar in Los Angeles.

    Chef Andres trained under Spanish chef Ferran Adria of famed El Bulli restaurant near Barcelona. Here is an informational site about El Bulli and Ferran Adria.

    When we went to Spain in 2004, I tried in vain to get reservations for dinner at El Bulli, but no such luck. Wine Spectator reports that El Bulli will close for two years (2012-2014), so I will probably not ever get the opportunity to go. It would have been an amazing experience. The next best thing, I guess, would be to go to The Bazaar in Los Angleles. After all, Jose Andres learned his craft from Ferran Adria!

    If you missed the interview, here it is:

    Watch CBS News Videos Online

    May 19, 2010

    Iris Festival - This time a local one


    The last Iris Festival we attended was in Florence in 2006. We scheduled our time in Florence so we could be there during the days that the Iris Festival was being held. Here is the blog entry I wrote about it last year.

    That was then and this is now! Last weekend the Yucaipa Iris Festival was held in our area. We have a lot of irises on our property, and they are almost finished blooming, but we decided to go anyway. After all, they were also holding a gem show and a CAR SHOW! Classic cars - I LOVE classic cars!

    This car immediately caught my eye (I wonder why) - a 32 Ford.

    Bill is checking out this white beauty - a 48 Chevy convertible.

    And here's a 27 Chevy 4-door sedan.

    Three beautiful vintage trucks.



    And look at these two (Sorry, I didn't write down the info on them).


    But, like the first one, this one caught my eye and was my very favorite of the day - a 37 Ford coupe.

    Continue reading "Iris Festival - This time a local one" »

    May 31, 2010

    Memorial Day 2010


    This Memorial Day, while honoring the soldiers who have given their lives for our country, let’s also take a moment and thank those who do return, and offer them our gratitude and the opportunity to have full and productive lives.

    Our troops make sacrifices that most of us can hardly imagine. They leave behind their friends and family and put their lives on the line for us every day.

    You can help support our troops, lift their spirits, and honor their service by signing up with the USO right now.

    This message came from the USO website.


    July 4, 2010

    Happy 4th of July!


    I want to wish a wonderful 4th of July to all my American friends and a belated Canada Day to my Canadian amigos!

    Here's Hoochie enjoying the holiday.



    October 17, 2010

    I'm b-a-a-a-c-k!

    I know that I have kind of been MIA lately. Mostly, I have just not been inspired to blog. No ideas - no inspiration.

    But I am turning over a new leaf because I want to get back into my blogging routine. Probably not every day, but at least two or three times a week.

    Bill and I have spent a lot of time recently on canning projects, so I will write about those this week.

    See you soon!

    February 20, 2011

    Snow for President's Day!

    I know, I know - four inches of snow is just a blip in the life of my East Coast friends. But, in Southern California it is a big deal - particularly in late February.

    We had heard that the snow level was going down to 2500 feet this weekend, but when we went to bed last night, there were just a few flurries. This morning there's about four inches on the ground (I measured it with my little ruler), and it is beautiful.



    Here's my neighbor Alice's house:

    December 29, 2011

    New Year's Resolutions (again)


    Why is it that almost everyone makes resolutions for the new year? And, most of the time, breaks them not long after January 1st.

    A major portion of them are about losing weight and eating healthier. Check - that's one of mine again this year. I want to lose at least 10 pounds before Bill and I go to Paris in May. That way I can try every flavor of Macarons I see!

    But, just as important, I want to get back to blogging. Like a lot of people I got "writer's block" about six months ago. Heck, I didn't even finish blogging about Venice when I was there. I am going to remedy that and finish my trip blog posts.

    See, if I promise to do that here in writing, I will have to follow thru. And following thru is important in life.

    August 5, 2012

    August 5th is a Sad Day

    This my favorite photo of my folks - it was taken in front of the fireplace in my home many years ago.


    Both Vi and Earl Gillians died on August 5th - Vi in 2005 and Earl in 2006. I miss them both every day and always will.

    What I didn't realize until just recently was that August 5th was also the day that Marilyn Monroe died, and today is the 50th anniversary of her death. We were all so shocked when we heard of her passing - such a waste of beauty and talent.

    Here are a couple of stories which reminisce about Marilyn and her death:,0,1930274.story

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