Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Quentin Quail and family

Look how busy it's been in our garden this spring and summer! We've had a few California Quail families and such cute little babes! Hope you like the photos:

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Everything is tickety-boo

I'm on vacation!  Just been in Vail, Colorado for a few days with friends enjoying the mountains and now I'm flying down to Sanibel Island, FL to spend some time with family and enjoy the sea and sand.

So EVERYTHING is tickety-boo! I'm having a wonderful time. Hope you are too, wherever you may be.x
Thursday, July 26, 2012

The attitude of gratitude

Most weeks on Sundays, I write a post entitled "everything is tickety-boo", which lists some of the things that have happened this past week that have made me feel good.  It is really an expression of gratitude.

In my other blog about my jewelry "inside the artisan" I used to write a similar blog post entitled "a bird in the hand" which again, was about appreciation.

I write these blogs as a review for myself of the good things in the week and to let the people that I mention know that I appreciate them, but also to encourage you to reflect on the things that you grateful for.  Expressing gratitude can have a big effect on our quality of life.

In a 2005 study concerning gratitude by Seligman et al., study participants were randomly assigned to one of 6 intervention groups designed to improve the participant's overall quality of life.  Out of the six conditions, the longest lasting effects were caused by the act of writing "gratitude journals" where participants were asked to write down three things they were grateful for each day.  These participants' happiness scores also increased and continued to increase each time they were tested periodically after the experiment.  The greatest benefits were usually found to occur around six months after the intervention began.  This exercise was so successful that although participants were only asked to continue the journal for a week, many of them continued to keep the journal long after the study was over.

So why not give it a try. Give it a go for a week. Before you go to bed, write down three things you are grateful for that day. It doesn't have to be long. Just three quick bullet points. See how you feel.

There are even apps for iPhone and iPad that let you write down your three gratitudes each day or take a photo of them.  Look at Gratitude Rock, Gratitude Diary or  Thankfulfor, plus there are others too.

Or if you write a blog, you could start a once weekly gratitude post.  I hope you'll join me. We have a lot to be grateful for.
Monday, July 23, 2012

Recipe for healthy gluten free granola

I hope you'll enjoy the following recipe. It is to create a healthy low fat, low sugar, gluten free granola. The recipe shows you how to create a plain granola and then each morning you can add additional fresh ingredients such as fruit, nuts, seeds, etc to create the taste you desire at that time.

1 cup GF rolled oats
1 cup GF puffed brown rice - I use Erewhon, unsweetened
1 small carton (4oz) unsweetened organic apple sauce

1. Preheat the oven to 375F
2. Mix the oats and rice together and stir in the apple sauce, to thoroughly combine.
3. Spread on a baking sheet and bake for 10 minutes.
4. Remove from the oven and stir well, bringing the edges into the center
5. Return to the oven for another 10 minutes.  If it is dry and crispy, remove. If still a bit soft, stir and put back in for a couple more minutes.  Watch it carefully as the edges may burn.
6. Cool and store in a jar for a month.

It isn't sweet but the addition of fruit sweetens it enough for me.  If you prefer, you could add some stevia as sweetener.  My favorite way to eat this is with raspberries and blackberries and a little unsweetened almond milk.

It has a much lower fat and sugar content than granolas you buy - check the labels.

Let me know what you think.
Sunday, July 22, 2012

Everything is tickety-boo

Here is this weeks list of the things that made me feel tickety-boo:

  • friends birthdays and spending time thinking about them, even though we couldn't celebrate together
  • being home alone for a few days and enjoying the peace, but then having hubby come home after his golf vacation
  • talking regularly to a friend. Although our conversations are trying to resolve an issue together, I appreciate that us working together on it, means we are spending more time chatting together.
  • a fun party in the city
  • enthusiastic students at a fermented foods cooking class
  • learning new techie things!
  • picking a fresh nectarine off the tree and eating it while it was still warmed by the sunshine
  • eating our first figs of the season from our tree. It's quite rare for us to get early figs - our main harvest is  September/October, so this was a lovely sweet treat.
I hope you've had a week of feeling tickety-boo too.
Friday, July 20, 2012

Allergy Free Song

For all those gluten free and food allergy people who are feeling miserable today, you may enjoy this little rendition from Les Miserables "One Grain More"!  Just ignore the last bit.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Cauliflower crust pizza

I came across a recipe for a cauliflower pizza crust the other day, so thought I'd give it a go.  To be honest, I have never been a great fan of pizza and then after stopping eating gluten all those years ago, I just rarely bother or even think about it.

But for some reason, the idea of using cauliflower instead of a dough base, was intriguing to me.

I adapted the recipe slightly and used just three ingredients - cauliflower, egg replacement (Orgran) and non-dairy cheese.  You use one cup of riced cauliflower, the equivalent of one egg and 1 cup of cheese.  The full description using dairy cheese and egg is given in the link above.

Cooked riced cauliflower
Cauliflower with egg replacement and non-dairy cheese
I loved it! And it stood up to being a finger food too.  I topped it first with a layer of a parsley and pistachio pesto I'd made the previous week. We have lots of parsley in the garden right now, so I was looking for a way to use it up, and came up with this recipe for parsley pistachio pesto! Basically its just parsley and pesto whizzed up with a little bit of lemon juice!
Parsley and pistachio pesto

Then I cooked some peppers and mushrooms and added them on top, with some avocado and a little more cheese!

Even with all these toppings, the crust was firm enough to be handled.  I really did enjoy it and decided to try making it again with the remaining riced cauliflower but this time substituting the cheese out to make it even healthier. I tried instead to add another egg replacement, but that didn't work, and then I tried adding some psyllium husk powder to bind it, which was better, but just didn't quite make it!  The cheese not only adds great flavor, but also holds it all so that it can be a finger food.  

So the dish ends up being mainly vegetables and some cheese.  Let me know if you give it a try.  Hope you like it. 
Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Nectarine Harvest

Our nectarine harvest started last week.  It took us by surprise actually.  John was walking by the tree and noticed a few on the ground and so felt them - and they were soft and ripe!  We have two nectarine trees and this first one yields very green nectarines, not the usual white or orange ones.  Apparently, all nectarines used to be green in color but they were cross bred to create the more common cultivars with a more yellowish orange color.   The green color of ours means they don't look ripe, but my, are they juicy and sweet! They are the kind you need to eat over a sink, and free stone too.

But they all come at once, so since that first warm, heated by the sun nectarine, we've been eating a few every day.  That first day I made a lovely nectarine slaw with red and white cabbage, apple and nectarines. The dressing was lime and ginger and then I topped with my home grown red cabbage sprouts. It was delicious.

Since then, I seem to put nectarine in just about every dish I make! Amazing how versatile it is when you have lots of them to use!  Nectarine salsa I think was one of my favorite, after this ginger slaw.

Now we'll have to keep a careful eye on the other tree which tends to ripen just a little bit later. I hope it's not when we are away....

Nectarines are low in calories (about 50cals each)and a good source of vitamins A,B, C & E, lutein and antioxidants.  1 cup of nectarines also supplies 2.4g fiber, 1.5g of protein, plus calcium, magnesium, potassium, iron, folic acid, and Vitamin K.

What's your favorite way to enjoy nectarines?

Monday, July 16, 2012

Make the switch to non-dairy

I was interested - and excited, to read Mark Bittman's article in Sunday's New York Times, entitled "Got Milk? You don't need it!"

You should read it. Please, take a couple of minutes and click on the link above.

We have been fooled by the Dairy industry for long enough.   Milk is not good for us - even skimmed milk - for the reasons Bittman mentions, but also because it is considered to be a cancer promoter in more than just prostate cancer, as highlighted in the China Study, by T. Colin Campbell.

And we won't all get osteoporosis because we don't drink it.  Levels of osteoporosis are highest in those countries where milk is drunk!

So let's stop drinking milk and using dairy products, and stop encouraging our children to drink it.  You may well feel better for it. Drink water instead, or delicious nut or non-dairy milks.  And yes, you can find soya and non-dairy cheeses too, and yoghurts and ice creams and......Here's my current favorite non-dairy milk:

Or make your own! It's easy :-D

Switching from dairy to non-dairy products is a huge step forward in taking care of your health.
Sunday, July 15, 2012

Everything is tickety-boo

Here are the things that have happened this week that made me feel that life is tickety-boo!  Hope you had plenty too:

  • my parents are settling in well in their new home. They moved only a couple of weeks ago, and are already finding lots to do and meeting new people and their home is all sorted!
  • anticipation of my upcoming trip to see my sister, bro-in-law and nephews in Sanibel
  • trying new recipes - like cauliflower pizza! More on that later.
  • singing at a retreat from 9 - 3 on Saturday and loving it!
  • having the support of like minded people - particularly those in Camerata
  • a lovely luncheon at Kendall Jackson for their grape growers.  It was so delightful and interesting too to hear about the latest on wine sales and the industry etc
  • sharing our home with people for a different luncheon - even if it did get up to 97 degrees and we were eating outside!
  • sunshine and cool nights
  • the first fruits of our nectarine harvest
  • having so many quail families with all their babes living in our vineyard
  • new recipe books!
  • how about just books!  I loooooove books, as Mr Amazon will tell you :-D
  • missing family.  Yes, it seems odd that missing people should make me feel tickety-boo but it does.  Having special people in your life is what is important, even if you aren't together all the time.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Laughter is the best medicine - One man, Two guvnors

A few weeks ago, we watched the National Theatre Live HD broadcast of "One man, Two guvnors".  It is one of the funniest things I have seen in years.  We all laughed so much and ended up exhausted at the end of it. It is a play starring James Corden (Tony award winner) and as it begins you think it's going to be a silly farce...and it is, but it is also so much more.

Watching it really is like get a huge dose of the best medicine available.  It's a couple of hours of nothing else entering your head and pure silly entertainment.  You feel so good during and afterwards!

If you have the opportunity to see it live - it's now playing in Broadway, as well as continuing in London at the Theatre Royal (but with a different cast), or look out for the National Theatre broadcast.

The play is by Richard Bean and is an English adaptation of Servant of Two Masters, an Italian comedy from 1743 by a Venetian playwright Carlo Goldoni.

It is set in Brighton in 1963 and follows Francis Henshall who becomes employed by two men. Francis tries to keep them from meeting, in order to avoid each of them learning he is working for someone else.  And then the silliness begins - with plenty of involvement from the audience too (rather more than expected the night we saw it!).  James Corden is just incredible.

If you see, you will love it!

And in the meantime, do something this weekend that makes you laugh! You'll feel good :-D
Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Dirty Money

Here is a video describing the results of a study that looked at fecal bacterial contamination of banknotes obtained from different food outlets in different countries!

Sadly, the USA had the highest contamination of E. coli.  May you want to check next time you buy food to see if money and food are being handled by the same person!

Thanks to for the news!

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Restaurant review - The Counter

We went to Corte Madera on Saturday and tried out a new(to us) restaurant - The Counter.  It is in Corte Madera Town Center and I highly recommend it.  It has food to suit just about every one.

It is basically a burger bar - a build your own burger bar.  You have a menu with lots of components for burgers and you select the ones you want:

First off, the burgers aren't all beef.  They have veggie/vegan burgers - which is what I had - Gluten free too and hand made at the restaurant.  It was brown rice based with a good flavor.  Other options for burgers are turkey, chicken and the special on Saturday was Halibut, which my hubby had.  The meat is hormone and antibiotic free.

You then chose the size of burger you want - 1/3, 1/2 or 1lb.

Next comes cheese options, if you so desire.  12 different cheeses, including goat cheese and brie!

And then it's toppings.  Four are included in the price.  The choices include things like asparagus, sprouts, roasted corn and black bean salsa, tomatoes, onions, carrot strings, lettuce, artichoke hearts,olives, cranberries etc.  Yes, plenty of healthy choices.  There are also some premium topping for $1 more - including guacamole, avocado, fried egg, sun dried tomato or bacon.

Next up is a sauce such as harissa, balsamic vinaigrette, BBQ, mayo etc.

And finally you choose a bun such as multigrain, pretzel, gluten free, or no bun at all and the burger is served in a bowl with organic lettuces.

The meal was delicious. I had the vegan gluten free burger in a bowl with organic lettuce, asparagus, corn and black bean salsa, sprouts, and roasted red peppers.  No cheese.

If all this choice is too much (there are 312,210 different combinations!), they do have some signature burgers already decided for you!

Yes, you can have a very unhealthy meal with a whopping 1lb beef burger with cheese and egg and onion rings and fries etc, but you can also select a healthy delicious option too.

The Counter is a franchise - the Corte Madera restaurant was the first one - so check out other locations and see if there is one near you.  I was pleasantly surprised and we both really enjoyed our lunch.
Monday, July 9, 2012

Activity monitoring app - Endomondo

I came across a new app for my iPhone this past week. It's called Endomondo.  It keeps track of different types of exercise-related activity, such as biking, hiking, running, walking, kayaking, i.e. sports that cover a distance. Endomondo utilizes GPS to track your route and time etc.

You start the session by picking your sport.  There are options for different goals to select such as distance or time etc. You then press "start" and once you are on your way, you'll receive speed, distance, pace and calorie information on your phone's display with a map too.  You'll also get audio feedback, for example, telling you when you have walked one mile and how long that mile took you.  You can customize what is shown on the screen and the audio you get.

I downloaded the free version and found it motivating when it told me how long I'd taken to do my first mile.  For the second mile, I wanted to pick up the speed a little and improve on that - so it was good feedback.

All your workouts are saved so you can then compare them and see how you are progressing and they are uploaded to for you to review.

I've blogged before about my fitbit and how much I love that.  Endomondo won't replace that, as fitbit measures my activity all day. But endomondo is great for further information on a particular workout/exercise routine.

And of course, there is functionality for you to connect with your friends too and see how well they are doing!  Let me know if you give it a try. Better yet, tell me your endomondo name and we'll connect that way!
Sunday, July 8, 2012


I was interested to read an article in last week's Sunday New York Times, entitled "The Busy Trap".  The author, Tim Kreider, talks about the now typical response you get when you ask someone how they are doing - "Really busy" or "So busy".  It is said as a kind of boast, yet disguised as a complaint.

Most people, it seems, are busy.  But the majority of that busyness is self-imposed. We aren't talking about people with three jobs here, but rather people who make choices of things they want to do, alongside their work and other obligations.

It seems that part of having that busyness is that it blocks us from emptiness.  By being busy, we see our lives as being important and not trivial.  We do so much, so that has to be good.

So what about you?  Is your self worth linked to your busyness? Can you sit down and read a book and not feel guilty? Do you take a walk after dinner and look at the flowers, or lay on the lawn at night and look at the stars? Perhaps instead you are busy emailing, being a taxi service to your kids, or taking work home?  What about finding time to connect to friends?  When they call, are you just too busy?

Try it this week.  Try just not being busy for sometime of each day.  Linger over breakfast talking with the family, or read a book or do a jigsaw puzzle, or meet a friend for a drink, or..... Let's not fall into the busy trap and let our self worth be based on how busy we are.
Sunday, July 1, 2012

Everything is tickety-boo!

Sorry I haven't been blogging lately.  The photos here may well explain!  Little Evelina has been staying with us - along with Craig and Chui.  Evelina is such a sweetie - and you can tell just how sweet she is by her fruity outfits:

miss watermelon

miss strawberry

And miss peachy!

When you are with her, she makes you feel like Everything is tickety-boo!

Hope you have someone in your life that makes you feel tickety-boo too :-D

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