Friday, August 23, 2013

Wearable words of inspiration

Recently I realized I have an affinity for jewelry with words. Not only that but three of my favorite pieces I purchased over the span of a decade at at my friend Deb's store, Simply Smashing Boutique, in Downtown Campbell, CA.

Just recently my friend Christina had set up a trunk show in front of the boutique. Then she posted she was there on Facebook. I had some free time so I dropped by because I'd noticed this "FEARLESS" pendant was part of the current collection of pewter tags. In light of my recent trip to Michigan to pick up The Glampette I was feeling pretty fearless (and a little fierce) so I had to have it.

A bracelet I purchased there years ago simply says "FOLLOW YOUR PASSION." I love it. It's a good reminder when I get muddled up in day-to-day living and lose sight of what's important to me.

Years before that I found this pendant at the boutique. It's a tiny sterling silver book. It's so cute the pages even open and turn. Inside it contains one of my favorite Aesop proverbs. . .

That's how I try to live my life. Some days I'm more successful than others, but I try.

This is the boutique. It's located at 241 B E. Campbell Ave. (map) right in the heart of downtown Campbell.

The  boutique offers all kinds of jewelry that might speak to you including earrings and necklaces made from Scrabble games, Bingo pieces, old typewriter keys, and guitar picks.

Origami Owl also offers other charms and their signature "Living Lockets" which are small glass lockets that you fill with your choice of tiny charms in the Origami Owl collection.

If you want to visit when Christina is there with a trunk show be sure to join the Simply Smashing Facebook page for all of the boutiques "Smashanista" updates. Or shop at Christina's Origami Owl online storefront at THIS LINK.

I'm always on the lookout for more of my favorite sayings. Two new quotes new friends have recently introduced me to that I love are:

“Live simply so that others may simply Live”
- St. Elizabeth Seton

"Forget not that the earth delights to feel your bare feet and the winds long to play with your hair."
- Kahlil Gibran

If you ever see them on a piece of jewelry please let me know :)

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

My August M Magazine Bay Area food feature is out!

Looking for new ideas of where to dine around the SF Bay Area? Take a peek at this. . .

Best Bites is the title of the August Issue of my food feature in M Magazine Bay Area. Featured are Eddie Papa's American Hangout (Pleasanton), The Plant (Burlingame location), Fins on the Hoof (SF Food Truck), Wagon Wheel Coffee Shop (Carmel Valley), Brown Chicken Brown Cow (Campbell), Gochi Japanese Fusion Tapas (Cupertino), The Naglee Park Garage (San Jose), Chocolate Lab (San Francisco), and Jimtown Store (Healdsburg).

These are some of my favorite restaurants! If you visit them I hope you enjoy their food as much as I do.

The feature includes the dish descriptions, addresses, phone numbers and web addresses to each of the restaurants I featured.

Or Click Here to view the entire issue.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Swiss chard, beet greens and beef: Oh Yum!

After my failure to thrive as a vegetarian experience I am still eating meat a few times a week. Twice a week I eat wild caught Alaskan salmon for its omega fatty acids and twice a week I try to eat 4 ounces of Prather Ranch beef. When I eat beef I do my best to consume it along with a leafy green to aid in my body's ability to metabolize the iron in the leafy greens as I was suffering from an alarmingly low ferritin level (7 instead of 60-70 micrograms per liter) and my naturopath said I was probably 2-3 weeks away from ending up in the hospital with anemia.

Now when they're out of beef cheeks I purchase one pound packages of Prather Ranch ground beef at my local farmers market. I saute it with some chopped onion then split the pound into four containers and pop them into the freezer. When I need a serving I simply move one to the refrigerator the day before to thaw for faster cooking. You could also add the frozen meat directly to a saute pan or pot of soup frozen as it thaws quickly in the presence of heat.

Here's my favorite part though... I walk out to my backyard and pick a few stems of Swiss chard to saute and mix with the meat. Swiss chard has proven to be exceptionally easy to grow. It's more pest resistant than the kale I've grown in the past and I love the bright colors of the stems as I planted white, yellow, and red chard (that I got from Cole Canyon Farm, also at my farmers market) this year.

And a happy accident. Some old beets I threw into my compost pile took off and now I have a steady supply of fresh beet greens to consume! I love beet greens more than the beets themselves so next year I'll plant more for sure.

The beauty of growing your own leafy greens is, if you're like me and cooking for one, you can use what you need and not have a lot of waste leftover or have to eat piles of them every day for a few days to use them up before they go bad.

I rinse them off and chop the stems into bite sized pieces.

I lay the leaves on top of each other and slice them too.

Heat a pan with oil on medium high heat.

Saute the chard and beet stems first because they'll take a little longer to cook than the greens.

Toss in the greens and saute.

What looks like a lot of greens uncooked flatten down once the heat hits and becomes a more manageable amount.

When the greens are almost done I toss in the pre-cooked, frozen ground beef and onions. The heat thaws them quickly. All I have to do is stir and add some salt and pepper to season.

This is what I end up. If I'm in a hurry or not too hungry I might eat it by itself. Or, for dinner I can toss it with some whole wheat spaghetti noodles tossed in a little butter or olive oil. For lunch I'll add it to lentil soup to make a lentil and beef stew. I've even topped it with a fried egg for breakfast. It's an easy, quick, and versatile meal base.

In recent years I've come to appreciate much more simple dishes, not because they're easier to make but because I'm enjoying the true flavors of the ingredients. Here are a few more of my favorite recipes I've created and already posted here on The Flirty Blog:

How to Make Smashed Potato Salmon Hash
A fast and easy, DIY, Baby Artichoke Pasta recipe
Easy Sauteed Kale and Campanelle Pasta with Balsamic Vinegar
• How to make oven roasted root vegetables
Cooking ahead and freezing individual portions of healthy, good for you food
• Oven Roasted Vegetables: Follow up with balsamic vinegar
Breakfast Brown Rice Porridge with kale and beet stems

Monday, August 12, 2013

A stunning sunset in Spokane, Washington

On a recent trip to Washington state to attend my 30 year high school reunion I was hoping to capture a spectacular sunset from High Drive on the city's South Hill. The drive is a cliff that overlooks a valley facing west. On the final day of my trip this happened as my parents and I were driving home from dinner...

It was stunning to say the least.

How to capture sunsets in photos? Hurry, shoot, wait, then shoot some more.

The hurry is because the sun moves very quickly as it sets.

You have just minutes to capture these moments as it begins to dip beneath the horizon line.

In my experience after the sun sets the sky is still colorful but rather flat. But if you wait a bit and zoom in this happens... The afterglow...

The colors intensify and the clouds will be edged in light that glows like a silver lining painted in colors that just kind of make your soul sigh. You realize there are still moments of beauty that happen all around us. We just need to slow down and pay attention so that we'll notice them when they do :)