Long Time, No See!

Hey Folks! 😀

Gosh, it’s been a long time – almost a whole year! 

I apologize for disappearing for awhile. You know the saying “when life hands you lemons“? I had felt like I was being pelted with lemons machine-gun-style for awhile. Yikes! I’m not terribly good at sitting around feeling sorry for myself for very long; so of course I took those lemons and I made lemon meringue pie! Err… actually a few other varieties of pie, but there WAS meringue involved. 😉 

So, I had taken a bit of a sabbatical from blogging, but NOW I have so many really happy things to share! 😀 

Here’s the basics: 

– Halloween 2013 was a blast! I plan on posting a few Halloween craft ideas as we get closer to October. 

– I’ve been playing wilderness explorer! 😀 “Caw caw! The wilderness must be explored!” You can expect some awesome nature adventures to be shared, with more to be had in the future. 🙂 

– I’m still cookin’! I have a variety of really tasty treats that I’d like to share recipes for with y’all. I caught the “layer cake bug“! Once I figured out a few little tricks layer cakes became this really easy way to make nice looking desserts. 🙂 Stay tuned, there will be chocolate! 

– I’ve added woodcarving lessons to my artsy-crafty fun time! I never realized how much effort is put into carving, and the results have been very satisfying. 🙂 Oh, and I joined the local art club – it’s been steadily feeding my inner creativity junkie for awhile now – I’ve got lots of artsy-craftiness to share. 🙂  

– I started dancing the Argentine tango! Seriously, I cannot even express how excited I am to share my love of tango with you guys! It’s so beautiful, so classy, and so much fun! <— See the repeated use of exclamation points? That’s because that’s really how excited I am about tango! 😀 If you ever want to feel like a hyper-feminine, sultry warrior princess with elegance oozing out of your pores then GO DANCE TANGO

– Life has just been pretty fantastic lately. I’m building some lovely friendships, and adding some extra volunteer time to my schedule. I’ve been making sure to give myself time with all the things I love, singing, science, and silliness included. 🙂 

Alright, are you ready for the grand finale? 

The BIG news! 

I am in a relationship with THE real, live, honest-to-goodness Prince Charming! 

I had thought that Prince Charming was simply a fictional character. Nope! He’s real AND he’s my boyfriend! 

This man is really amazing, and I am so very glad I get to enjoy his company. He’s smart, and funny, and handsome, and… can you say smooth? He dances tango with me! I get to feel this awesome combination of comfort, excitement, and happiness when I’m around him. 

There’s all these wonderful things he does that make me feel very loved. Like, the other day he tells me that he noticed that I like peaches so he got some peaches for me. He noticed that. I didn’t make a big deal out of peaches or anything, he just pays enough attention to realize that I like peaches. Maybe that seems like a small thing, but that’s a pretty big deal to me, to have someone just decide to pay attention. 

I woke up to a little love letter next to my pillow the other morning, and it made me feel warm and fuzzy inside. ❤ Also, the man can cook! He fixed me a salmon dinner the other night. 😀 He’s really the best kind of gentleman a girl could ask for, he opens doors for me, he brought me sunflowers (my favorite flower), and he seems to have a knack for saying exactly what I need to hear.

Sunflowers

I can have intelligent conversations with him. He talks nerdy to me and THAT is a huge turn on! Did I mention he’s a scientist? Oh, and he’s so handsome! He makes me smile a lot, and he makes me laugh these great giggle fits. He’s my person where I know that there will never be a dull moment. We are grand masters at killing time together. He says that we “kill time with machetes” because we’re so good at it when in each other’s presence. Psshh… time never stood a chance with us! 

Don’t even get me started on the cuteness factor! The cuteness… the sweetness… the all around adorableness… 

*Happy Sigh* 

He is pretty amazing. 🙂 I promise not to be too “lovestruck teenage girlish” when I talk about him; but just for the record, in case you didn’t figure it out already, I am pretty head over heels for him. 😛 I think I’ll keep him. 😉 

I hope to be on WordPress on a semi-regular basis again. 🙂 Life has been getting pretty busy, but I do miss blogging and the blogging community. So, see y’all again soon! 

Cheers, 

Rachie 

Forgiveness

AwesomeFactOfLife-EveryoneHasFlaws

I am constantly trying to work on my own personal growth. I take a good close look at my own flaws so that I can learn from them and hopefully change them or gain a new perspective. Recently, I’ve come to the realization that not all “flaws” are bad. We’ve all become who we are for a reason. Sometimes we obtain coping mechanisms that aren’t necessarily the best tools to use, and each person’s personality is going to evolve at its own pace.

Where am I going with all this?

I titled this blog “forgiveness” because it is intimately connected with my own flaws. I’m not very good at forgiving other people, and I feel this is probably connected to not being very good at forgiving myself. I can hold the smallest mistake over my own head for years. It will often be something tiny that was completely unintentional, and I will go back and apologize for things that other people don’t even remember.

Let me pause here for a moment:

I have a very good long-term memory. Past health issues have turned my brain into Swiss cheese on a few occasions, but for the most part I have an unusually good memory. I have memories back to the day I was born. Memories of things that are never shown in family photos or written anywhere, and that my family can confirm. This came in really handy when I was in school because I hardly ever had to study. I don’t get to pick and choose what to remember. I remember a lot of really wonderful things, but also remember not-so-pleasant life experiences in vivid detail. Needless to say it makes things a bit complicated.

Unpause.

Often times others will have already forgiven me for something that I have continued to beat myself up over. What I’ve found is that I can give myself permission to forgive myself if I learn from my shortcomings. Trust me, learning from my own mistakes is easier said than done. Has anyone else ever had the experience of making the same mistake over and over before you realized it was a mistake? This is why it is important for me to look at my own flaws. I can’t improve or fix things if I don’t acknowledge what’s broken.

This is how the cycle of forgiveness works for my own flaws.

I purposefully and consciously choose to look at my own flaws OBJECTIVELY. I must look at my faults objectively so that I don’t get caught up in negative self talk.

I decide to figure out why I have a particular flaw and if it might actually be useful for anything in my day to day life. Is it a defense mechanism or a coping mechanism?

If it serves a purpose I aim to use my “flaw” more constructively so that it may become a strength. If I feel that it is not healthy for me I will work on completely changing my perspective. More often than not I find that my “flaws” serve a purpose and wind up trying to find a better use for them.

One of my biggest flaws is that I have trouble with forgiveness, and it’s not healthy for me.

I believe that my habit of over-trusting people in the first place is part of this circumstance.

I want to walk into every relationship with the people in my life believing that their intentions and motivations are completely pure of heart. I want to believe that everyone is genuine and trustworthy. Along with this belief I end up over-extending myself in my personal interactions and will sometimes wind up disappointed with people. I will overlook glaring flaws in others in hopes of their good qualities shining through. I want to make it clear that I do not believe this optimistic attitude is a flaw. There have been plenty of times that I’ve been thankful for this perspective and it has been beneficial to my life. Being optimistic is not a flaw, over-extending myself and over-involving myself with people is my flaw. A new acquaintance may very well be pure of heart, and they may very well be genuine and trustworthy; but, this does not mean that I am obligated to extend anything more than common courtesy until I have better experience with them. It is my belief that everyone deserves common courtesy – people deserve respectful manners right away.

Let me also make it clear that I do not regret going over and above common courtesy for people even when they end up disappointing me.

“Over-trusting” people is an instance where I must carefully examine my perspective and learn to use this character trait more constructively.

I’ve found that I like giving of myself. I like doing wonderful things for other people. It makes me happy to make others happy, but I’ve learned that you can’t count on people to be appreciative or to show appreciation. It seems like some people have a sense of entitlement and they take people for granted very easily. I’ve learned that give-and-take can find a happy balance in most relationships, but that I must give purely to give, and without expectation of receiving even common courtesy in return. It is so pleasant when people take the time and energy to show they care, but this isn’t something I can simply expect from people.

All relationships are a two way road – whether it’s someone you bumped into on the train or a soulmate that you’ve been with for decades and anyone in between. Your interactions and feelings about that relationship are a combination of both of your words and actions – theirs AND yours. I must remind myself of this because I know I have a tendency to place the entirety of blame in a bad situation on either the other person or squarely on myself. I must remember that it IS a two way road, and we are both responsible for our own parts of things.

I have found that I have two methods for forgiving people.

It may simply be a toxic relationship. In those cases I must remove myself from the relationship to be able to view the other person objectively. This is often one of the hardest choices to make. I have to take that step away from people so I can simply see them as another person struggling with their own flaws. I know myself enough to know I have trouble coming to that level of peace if their choices continue to negatively effect my life. I don’t need to ask them to change. I don’t need to hate them, and I don’t need to hate their flaws. I take that big step away and they can’t hurt me anymore. Then I can see them as simply another human struggling with their own pain, and that is so much easier for me to forgive. This type of forgiveness is reserved for extremely toxic relationships, and not my preferred method.

Most of the time a decent relationship will go through toxic circumstances. Everyone handles stress differently, and everyone handles life’s “downs” differently. Relationships go through ups and downs just like individuals. I’m talking about all relationships: lovers, friends, siblings, parents, children, and acquaintances. Someone will eventually have a bad day, you will eventually disagree on something, and your priorities will fluctuate over time. I’ve found that some friendships will grow apart, and grow back together, and grow apart again. I do not have to remove people from my life if we simply don’t have the same priorities at any given time, but for my own health I choose to surround myself with people that share my priorities, aspirations, and dreams. Sometimes a disagreement will hurt my feelings, or someone else’s bad mood will rub off some bad-vibes-ick into my life. Sometimes I will unintentionally hurt other people’s feelings, or my bad mood will rub off some bad-vibes-ick into someone else’s life. Forgiveness for these types of circumstances is based on mutual respect and a desire to mend things. It requires communication, and sometimes even negotiation, but will eventually come to a reasonable solution. A reasonable solution may be as simple as an apology, or more complicated like taking steps toward major life changes. If I value a relationship I will step up to the plate and be completely willing to do my part.

I realize that I am young, and I hope that I will continue to evolve and develop my opinions on forgiveness. This is just what works for me at this point in my life. I am fairly outgoing, I have a large family, I’ve made many good friends, and hundreds of acquaintances over my life. I’ve only encountered around a dozen toxic relationships with people that I simply must let go from my life. I have many people in my life that I respect with differing priorities than my own – we interact every once in awhile, and I can see wonderful things happening in their lives. Then I have a decent size group of people that I interact with regularly. I care a lot about these people, and these are the established healthy relationships that are completely worth going through the ups and downs together.

My biggest challenge with forgiveness is acknowledging those toxic relationships and removing myself from them. I often feel like a toxic relationship is a failure on my part, and I attempt to mend things that aren’t in a position to be fixable. Things get really complicated when there’s a group of people or a lot of mutual friends. Sometimes a few of the people are a toxic relationship, and others simply get caught up in the toxic circumstances. Unfortunately I haven’t found a magic wand that simplifies these complexities. I simply try to continue to show my appreciation for those I care for, and do my best to avoid those that aren’t good for me. Life isn’t black and white or cut and dry. The problem with this is that it leaves an opportunity for those people to continue to negatively effect my life. I will often be able to remove myself from a toxic relationship, and through mutual relationships still find myself negatively effected by a person’s actions. This makes it very hard for me to view people objectively and completely forgive. I’m still working on this. Someday I hope to experience a better way to learn forgiveness, but this is how I am growing for now. I do my best to allow myself to be angry when it’s appropriate to be angry and try not to carry that anger around. Ultimately, I think I will feel pleased with myself if I can learn to forgive more easily, and not allow myself to be negatively effected in the first place. Until that day I will continue to do my best to view myself and others as just people going through life and doing the best they can with their own challenges and struggles – I will continue to learn forgiveness.

The Invitation

The Invitation

It doesn’t interest me
what you do for a living.
I want to know
what you ache for
and if you dare to dream
of meeting your heart’s longing.

It doesn’t interest me
how old you are.
I want to know
if you will risk
looking like a fool
for love
for your dream
for the adventure of being alive.

It doesn’t interest me
what planets are
squaring your moon…
I want to know
if you have touched
the centre of your own sorrow
if you have been opened
by life’s betrayals
or have become shrivelled and closed
from fear of further pain.

I want to know
if you can sit with pain
mine or your own
without moving to hide it
or fade it
or fix it.

I want to know
if you can be with joy
mine or your own
if you can dance with wildness
and let the ecstasy fill you
to the tips of your fingers and toes
without cautioning us
to be careful
to be realistic
to remember the limitations
of being human.

It doesn’t interest me
if the story you are telling me
is true.
I want to know if you can
disappoint another
to be true to yourself.
If you can bear
the accusation of betrayal
and not betray your own soul.
If you can be faithless
and therefore trustworthy.

I want to know if you can see Beauty
even when it is not pretty
every day.
And if you can source your own life
from its presence.

I want to know
if you can live with failure
yours and mine
and still stand at the edge of the lake
and shout to the silver of the full moon,
“Yes.”

It doesn’t interest me
to know where you live
or how much money you have.
I want to know if you can get up
after the night of grief and despair
weary and bruised to the bone
and do what needs to be done
to feed the children.

It doesn’t interest me
who you know
or how you came to be here.
I want to know if you will stand
in the centre of the fire
with me
and not shrink back.

It doesn’t interest me
where or what or with whom
you have studied.
I want to know
what sustains you
from the inside
when all else falls away.

I want to know
if you can be alone
with yourself
and if you truly like
the company you keep
in the empty moments.

By Oriah © Mountain Dreaming
from the book The Invitation

^ I recently saw this on a Facebook status update from the “Wild Woman Sisterhood” and I thought it was just beautiful!

Here’s a link to their page: https://www.facebook.com/WildWomanSisterhood

The drawing is a sketch I did a few weeks ago. I think a lot of the plants around my house would make adorable skirts. Her tutu is an upside down seed pod from the plant “Nigella” or “Love Is In The Mist”.

Hope to catch up with the blogging community soon.

Ciao ciao,
Rachie

Mystery Photo Revealed & A Favorite Memory

Mystery Photo Revealed & A Favorite Memory

Okay, I got really hung up with life lately. Sorry! I’m very late with this post!

It’s fluorite!

Yes indeedie, it is!

Fluorite “fluoresces” like a boss under a black (UV) light.

Other fluorescent rocks and minerals include: agate, amber, calcite, gypsum, opal, quartz, ruby, and talc.

Fluorescent materials actually absorb light and re-emit it for us to enjoy.

This is different than bioluminescence in which a living organism actually produces light. Most people recall memories of fireflies when you talk about bioluminescence. I have had some lovely firefly experiences, but that isn’t the first thing I think of when I think of bioluminescence.

The first thing I think of is plankton!

Not Spongebob’s nemesis, but the little bitty flora and fauna spanning the surface waters of our oceans.

My family and I were sailing at night off the coast of California when I had my first experience with bioluminescent plankton. My dad was on night watch, and Mom and I had tucked into our rooms for some rest. I’d woken up in the middle of the night, left all the lights off in the bathroom, went “tinkle”, and flushed the toilet with sea water. When you’re out on the ocean you don’t want to waste fresh water on things like flushing the toilet.

Imagine my half-dazed-midnight-potty-run shock when I saw a bunch of glow-in-the-dark specks swirling down the toilet!

My first thought was that there might have been some kind of chemical leak in the pipelines. Hey, I was tired, and I didn’t know that much about these kinds of things at the time.

I climbed up to the cockpit to tell Dad about the “glowy stuff” in the toilet when I saw the same “glowy stuff” blanketing the water near our boat. It was so amazingly gorgeous! Dad had been paying more attention to steering than the water near the boat and hadn’t noticed it – when I pointed it out we made the connection about flushing with sea water.

So, imagine this: out in the pitch dark on the Pacific Ocean with only the steaming lights on the sailboat. The sky is lit up with billions of stars, a brilliant moon, and an arm of our Milky Way streaking across the sky. The water is smooth with small gentle waves without any crests – not only is it reflecting that gorgeous sky but it’s filled with billions of tiny plankton all swirling in the water and glowing on their own.

Now, that’s enough to take a person’s breath away by itself, but then I noticed the dolphins. Yes, the dolphins came up and swam alongside either side of the boat. This is a fairly common behavior for dolphins in the area, but it just made the whole thing a completely stunning experience.

I hurried below deck, woke my mom up, and we all sat in the cockpit watching the dolphins for awhile.

Fireflies are lovely, but my opinion is that it’s all about the plankton.

Alright folks – hopefully I will be back with more posts in the near future. Until then, have a cookie for me, and laugh about something ridiculous.

Mystery Photo & Halloween Prep

Mystery Photo & Halloween Prep

Time For A Nerd-Out

“I’m all over the world, but not a traveler. I often find myself wrapped up in laboratory equipment, but I’m not a scientist. I dress myself in many colors, but I often wear blue in the dark. What am I?”

Let me just clarify that “in the dark” means under UV light – and yes, yes I did sit around in the dark with my camera and a UV light trying to get a good shot – not as easy as I thought it would be.

I have comments and stuff I need to attend to – I’ve been in and out of a bit of a brain fog lately – I will get to them soon. I’ve been puttering around in between projects and napping fending off a Summer flu bug. I’m getting better! Hooray! Although, I feel more naps are necessary.

Have I mentioned that I’m a Halloween fangirl? Halloween is my favorite holiday, then comes Christmas, and Thanksgiving, and St. Patrick’s Day, and Easter. I can’t say I’ve ever had an especially wonderful V-Day so it sits kind of low on the “favorite holidays” list. However, Halloween should be twice a year – we need more excuses to play dress-up in mass besides comic con.

So, I’ve got the lay-out of decorations for the front yard drawn out, and I’ve been gathering supplies. The good news is I have most of what I need and my shopping trip will be short.

By the way, if you have a “Target” store near you, I’ll just give you the heads up that their “dollar spot” has had canisters of glow sticks around Halloween time the past few years. Yes, you read that right, “canisters” – 10 glow sticks for a dollar. I highly suggest using these to pass out to trick-or-treaters. They come in a variety of colors with connector snaps so you can make bracelets out of them. There’s something about a lot of little kids running around in the dark that feels like an accident waiting to happen. I choose to combat that feeling by handing out light-up awesomeness so the kids are at least a little bit more visible to their parents and street traffic. I’ve had parents tell me what a great idea the glow sticks are and thank me for passing them out. Plus, they’re a big hit with the kids – everybody always loves the “glow stick” house. Make a mental note: Target – trick-or-treater prizes – 10 glow sticks for a dollar.

I’ll be sharing my Halloween arts and crafts on here as I put everything together. My theme this year is “Mad Scientist’s Laboratory” to go with my costume.

I’m not going to be your stereotypical mad scientist – where’s the fun in that? My outfit is going to have a bit of a steampunk spin to it – and you are promised some big time costume make-up and/or face paint. I started making the skirt today. A twin size flat sheet, some safety pins, a ball of twine, and 30 minutes later I had an antique-y, steampunky ruffled skirt! I have to take it apart and re-do it with stitching, but I’ll post a tutorial on how to put it together.

So, get ready for this hypothetical Halloween world I’m about to give you a preview of – we’re going to pretend that this laboratory is capable of taking chromosomes from men and implanting them in genetically absent host eggs to make babies.

Now, imagine if Phileas Fogg and Mr. Hyde made a classy, brilliant, and slightly disturbed baby. Then Victor Frankenstein and Dr. Who made a troubled alien monstrosity. Then those slightly disturbed and monstrous products got together and made an elegantly crazed super genius… An elegantly crazed super genius with a conscience from those underlying Fogg, Dr. Jekyll, and Gallifreyan genes. That’s what I’m going to be for Halloween – an elegantly crazed super genius with a conscience.

Or at least that’s what I’m shooting for…

I like to go with creepy costumes, but I try to tone down just how scary they come across. It feels really bad when you’re smiling and handing a 3-year-old dressed like Batman a piece of candy and they’re crying in fear. Since handing out trick-or-treat candy is my favorite part of Halloween I’ve decided to stick with creepy, but not “too creepy”.

Alright, this is the end of my 3 AM sleep deprived blog post.

Wherever you are in the world I hope you’re having a fantastic day!

You can leave any guesses about the mystery photo in the comments and I’ll post a follow-up blog with the answer in approximately 1 week.

Nerdy, Geeky, and Dorky! Oh my!

Part of building my own self esteem back up is taking a good look at what I like about myself. I’m settling in to a certain sense of comfort with my own weirdness. I’m happy to say that I have multi-faceted weirdness, and it suits me. First of all, let me get my personal definitions out on the table.

nerd:

(noun)

– a person with a wealth of practical knowledge about a variety of subjects

– an innovator and life-long learner

– a person with a wealth of knowledge of a particular practical subject (e.g. a computer nerd, a physics nerd, etc)

“Frank teaches himself astronomy on the weekends, knows about the history of the Mayans, and is building a Tesla coil in his garage; Frank is such a nerd.”

“George is the computer wiz around here. If you need help with your computer go see the computer nerd.”

See also:

nerdy (adjective)

nerding out (verb) – engaging in nerd activities

geek:

(noun)

– a person with a wealth of trivia knowledge (e.g. a “Star Wars Geek”, a “Lord Of The Rings Geek”, etc)

– a fan of a specific genre

“Sally just designed a new set of elf ears for her cosplay outfit, she is such an awesome geek.”

“The sci-fi convention is going to be crawling with geeks.”

See also:

geeky (adjective)

geeking out (verb) – engaging in geek activities

dork:

(noun)

– a person of a silly nature – they are often awkward, but completely comfortable in their awkwardness

– a person who purposefully goofs off just for giggles

“Jack and Jill went merrily skipping through the streets together wearing top hats, what a cute pair of dorks.”

“Dorky is the new sexy.”

See also:

dorky (adjective)

dorking (verb) – engaging in the action of oddly poking or noogie-ing another person’s tummy, often a Pillsbury-Doughboy-esque tummy poke that has been perfectly executed if the other person says “hoo hoo”!

I’ve been getting better acquainted with and defining my own style of nerdy, geeky and dorky lately. Someday I hope to be crowned “Queen Nerd-Geek-Dork”, and to be given an epic poof stick as my royal scepter.

poof stick:

(noun)

– any stick used in a wand-like manner along with the words “POOF! You’re…”

“Rachie tapped the little garden gnome with her poof stick and yelled: ‘Poof! You’re awesome!’ At which point the little garden gnome came to life, danced a jig, and learned to bake cookies.”

On a side note: I’ve been looking at all these recipes for fudge lately, and it occurred to me that there should be some kind of amazing annual event centered around this delicacy called “Oh Fudge!” – Wouldn’t that be awesome? If there is such an event already I must find it and plan a pilgrimage in that direction.

The word “nerd” is used as a broad umbrella term in the following Weird Al video. Let me just say that I find this video not only hilarious, but heart-warming in that it makes me want to do the epic hippity hoppity groove that Donny Osmond is getting on in the background.

If you share my love of awesome awkwardness I highly suggest the buddy pair “Rhett and Link” on YouTube. I hope they get a Comedy Central show someday, or maybe we’ll get a whole “buddy movie” out of them. Here’s a little song that tells the story of how these two best friends met – it’s called “Profanity and Unicorns” (there’s no profanity in the video).

They also gave the musical drive-thru phenomena a new spin with the “Taco Bell Folk Song”.

Last, but certainly not least, they also gave us this compilation of the best road trip songs.

That’s it for now because I have to go frolicking through the flowers.

Cheers,

Rachie

ABC Awesome Blog Content Award – The Illustrated ABC’s of Rachie

Hello there folks! I have to say I am gratefully shocked at the lovely awards I keep getting. It takes me a little while to post responses to them, and I apologize. I am making a conscious effort to work through them one at a time. My brain has a tendency to get lost down the rabbit hole! I want to thank Dianna at Thoughts of Yaussiechick for giving me the ABC Award! She’s amazing, and I highly recommend shooting over to her blog if you’re looking for new blogs with awesome people to make friends with.

abcAward

The rules of this award are:

  1. Add the ABC logo to your blog. (You can find the logo above.)
  2. ABC about yourself using one word or phrase (you don’t have to do pictures).
  3. Nominate however many blogs you wish.
  4. Let the recipient know via a link in their comments.

Now, I’ll admit that a lot of my “letters” aren’t about me, but they’re about things in my life – that counts!

A is for Apple Seeds

In March I started some apple seeds from store bought apples.

AppleBonsai

B is for Bonsai

I’ve read that store bought apple seeds probably won’t create delicious apples because of the grafting of grocery produce fruit trees. I am going to attempt to make these little guys into bonsai-scapes over the next several years.

WireTraining

C is for Cupcakes

These are the mocha cupcakes I made for a party.

Frosting

D is for Didgeridoo

I got my didge awhile back, and I’m finally getting a knack for it!

Didgeridoo

E is for Emma

Emma is my sock puppet! I’m working on some short videos to upload of her. You know how I’m all rainbows and unicorns with a sprinkle of sunshine? Emma is where I channel my inner saucy bitch. She’s hilarious, a tad bit inspirational, and I love her.

EMMATHEBRAVE

F is for Fortnight Lilies

One of my favorite flowers in my front garden.

FortnightLily

G is for Grasshopper

We’ve had these cute little grasshoppers in our garden lately. They’re friendly and this one rode around on the hose while I watered my plants.

Grasshopper

H is for Havarti

One of my favorite ways to have a burger! Havarti cheese burger with “drunken mushrooms” and roasted red pepper on sunflower seed bread with black rice. We call mushrooms that have been sauteed in wine “drunken mushrooms”. Love me some drunken mushrooms.

HavartiSauteedMushroomRoastePepperHamburgerwBlackRice

I is for Ice Cream

Should “I” ever be for anything beside ice cream? This is my “Campfire Sundae” creation. Take a regular small waffle cone and stuff it with chocolate, marshmallows, nuts, and anything else you’d like to be all melty with goopey wonderfulness. I suggest a few chocolate chips in the point at the bottom followed by marshmallows. I like to put the marshmallows toward the bottom because then they don’t overflow so much as they expand when heated. Once you’ve stuffed your cone, cover it with foil – you only need to cover the top half. Place it on a BBQ, hold over a campfire with tongs, or broil on high for about 2-5 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside while you scoop your ice cream (rocky road is my favorite). Carefully remove the foil (it will be hot), and turn your cone upside down on the ice cream so it looks like a delicious “hat”. Ta da!

IceCreamAwesomeness

J is for Jam

I made pink plum jam with the plums from my plum tree!

PlumJam

K is for Karaoke

I love karaoke! I’m told I’m decent at it and it’s a self esteem booster for me. I usually don’t have any trouble getting up on a stage and singing in front of people I don’t know; however, I’m headed to an audition tomorrow and I’m feeling a little nervous. I don’t expect to win, I just want to have fun and show myself I can get up there and sing. Wish me luck! Here’s one of my favorite karaoke jams.

L is for Lana and Linus

I have two puppies that I absolutely adore. Lana is a shelter puppy that I adopted when she was only a few weeks old. They made me wait a week before adoption so they could run all the medical and temperament tests. I visited her every day until I could take her home! She’s so smart!  Linus is my sweet little boy that I got from Furry Friends Rescue. He’s such a joy and he even smiles!

Lana

LanaB

Linus

Linus Smile

Lana and Linus Tucked In For Bed

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M is for Moon and Mangoes

I took this picture with my camera during the recent “super moon”. I adore the moon. It’s such a peaceful reflection of the day to gaze up to at night. Sometimes I like to whisper to her. I love growing mangoes! They’re one of the most fun plants to watch grow. When they first sprout they look like a crazy “Tim Burton-esque” kind of plant. Every time they grow new leaves they start white, and turn red, and finally green when they’re fully grown. It’s like watching a rainbow grow. 🙂 Plus they have really large fun and funky seeds.

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N is for Naked Ladies

Don’t get too excited – I’m talking about the flowers! I installed a puppy play area for our dogs and the outside of the little fence is lined with these naked lady flowers.

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O is for Ophiuchus

Ophiuchus is my star sign in the sidereal zodiac – in the usual Western zodiac I’m a Sagittarius. Ophiuchus is the only star sign based on a real person. It’s the sign of the “healer” and is depicted as a man wrestling a serpent (think like the serpents found intertwined on the medical cross symbol). Some of this sign’s personality traits include being a healer (doctor, massage therapist, etc), having high aspirations, having vivid dreams, interpreting symbols, being lucky, wise, peaceful, and attracting a lot of jealousy. If you were born between November 29th and December 17th you are also an Ophiuchus!

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P is for Pomegranates

My pomegranate tree is loaded with ripening fruit! They’re just starting to turn red and we’ll harvest them in October. I’m planning on making pomegranate molasses.

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Q is for Queen

The band “Queen” that is! They gave us “We Will Rock You”, “We Are The Champions”, and “Bohemian Rhapsody”. I’m a big fan of Bohemian Rhapsody – it must be sung with friends, and as intensely as possible. Plus, Bohemian Rhapsody was performed by the Muppets, and you know I can’t get enough Muppets!

R is for Roses

My Dad loved tending roses, and I think this is something he inherited from his mother.  I suppose I have a bit of a green thumb, and I’m getting better at the roses. There’s definitely an attraction to them. Here’s a few of the varieties I have in my garden.

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RoseWhite

RoseRedOrange

AngelFaceLavenderRose

WaterDropletsRose

WaterDropletsYellowRose

S is for Sunflowers and Swords

Mostly sunflowers! Sunflowers are my absolute favorite flower! I love them, and I love lots of varieties of them! Hooray sunflowers! 😀 They make me happy and I’ve taken lots of pictures of them! Also, I’m carving a set of swords to practice Escrima with from palm fronds.

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Sunflowers In Love: They faced each other and leaned into each other a little more each day until it looked like they were snuggling each other.

DaphneandYabbaDoo

SunflowerKiss

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PalmFrondSwordTip

Oh, and squirrels! S is also for squirrels! Meet Biscuit, Mama Scone, and Rex – they’ll be featured in a series of stories I’m writing.

Biscuit

BiscuitHappy

Mama Scone

MamaScone

Rex

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He likes the squirrlie-snacks so much that he got some on his face while voraciously eating.

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T is for Tomatoes

I’m growing beefsteak and cherry tomatoes! Not ripe yet, but soon!

BigTomatoes

CherryTomatoes

U is for University of California Berkeley

This is one of my favorite places in Northern California! Can you blame me? What about Southern Cali? Pshh, University of California Santa Barbara is one of my favorite places there! 😀

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Mark Twain/Samuel Clemens Statue

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V is for Vintage

I’m a little bit old school, and it’s an older school than me. Does that make sense? I love old music, retro fashion, and paraphernalia from a time long before I was even born. About three to five decades before I was born actually. When I “play dress-up” I often go for a vintage look.

VintageRachieSmile

W is for Watermelon Cake

Have you seen those pins floating around on Pinterest for “Watermelon Cakes”? No? Here, have a look. I’ve seen this pin over a dozen times on my Pinterest feed. It’s a watermelon cut into a cylinder, “frosted”, and decorated with fruit and nuts to look like a cake. I decided to make a little single serving slice with Cool Whip, strawberries, bananas, and almonds. I cut the strawberries into little hearts. Why? Because it’s freaking cute! That’s why!

WatermelonCake

X is for X-Ray

I actually have a jpeg of an x-ray of myself. Woohoo! I can cover “X” no hassle! I even smiled for the camera! :-B Hi!

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Y is for Y

I love this Sesame Street song about the letter “Y” with Norah Jones. I love the song, and I particularly love this version. You can’t go wrong because it teaches “Y” vocabulary words, AND “Y” shows up at the end to yodel with Norah and Elmo.

Z is for Zelda

No, not the video game character. This is my Gramma Zelda and her husband Papa John. Papa John passed away before I was born, but Gramma Zelda lived with us during my childhood. I’ve been told I look a lot like her. She still plays an important role in my life even though she’s passed. She used to always tell us “where there’s breath, there’s hope, and you’re still breathing”!

GrammaZelda

Whew! The whole alphabet! Did you make it? That was long!

On to the nominations!

To the nominees: don’t worry about posting a response. I’m highlighting your blog, that makes me happy. If you want to nominate more people go for it – just sit back and take a compliment otherwise! 😛

Please don’t nominate me back! I’m very flattered, but I am going to put receiving awards on pause until I can give proper acknowledgement to the ones I’ve already received.

I’ve chosen 9 nominees because the number 9 has been in my life a lot lately.

1 – “Digging History” – First I’m gonna send you over to James at “Digging History”. He scours the wilderness (or the beach, riverbed, creek, etc) with his trusty metal detector! If that isn’t cool enough on its own, he also cleans up the area while he’s out there, then takes pictures of his “treasures” and posts them for us to have a looksee.

2 – “KnitXpressions” – Now, go have a look at “KnitXpressions”! Seriously, how talented is this lady?! I absolutely stink at knitting and I’m impressed with her creations and creativity. Plus, she shares practical knowledge so if I ever try to knit again she’s one of my first stops to read up on things.

3 – “NOAA’S Marine Debris Blog” – The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Blog dedicated to Marine Debris. They clean up our oceans AND they have a WordPress Blog! Not only that, but they take the debris they gather and turn it into renewable energy! Let’s just stop right there and give them a round of applause.

*Applause*

4 – “Arthur In The Garden” – Want stunning garden photos and good gardening advice? Then go check out Arthur, his garden, and occasionally some other gardens. He even throws in some great recipes here and there. I want to try the blueberry jam!

5 – “Tes Wroblewski’s Sketches and Stuff” – Tes is a very talented artist from Northern California – and not just sketches! Go. Look. Be amazed. She’s a blogspot blogger so you’ll have to add her to your RSS feed manually to follow her creative creations.

6 – “Grow Your Innerself” – A hefty helping of peace and positivity. Such a sweet soul! Head over to “Grow Your Innerself” for some motivation and encouragement to “be the change you wish to see in the world”.

7 – “The Better Man Project” – Go say “hi” to Evan, over at “The Better Man Project”. As he puts it:  “The world needs better men. This blog is simply about my journey to become a better man and the things I run into along the way.” Way to lead by example!

8 – “Animating Your Life” – Now go over and visit Rob at “Animating Your Life” for some art and introspection. You’ll always find some food for thought from this “inspirational speaker, playwright, college prof., father of two and…ART ADDICT”.

9 – “Tuesdays With Laurie” – I saved a special blog morsel for last. Laurie blogs on writing, life, and self discovery. One of my favorite posts from her is the challenge of a “Six Word Story“. Can you write your memoir in six words?

That’s it for now, folks! I’d like to extend my appreciation and gratitude to my readers for their patience with my delayed posting lately. Have a beautiful day everyone!

Now For Something Completely Different

Now For Something Completely Different

You won’t find me posting a whole lot of religious stuff anywhere online. This will be a rare happenstance. I just needed to get this out.

All the hate swirling around in various religions is exhausting!

Here’s a brief background on me. I’m a cradle Catholic, and completely fascinated with science. I had the opportunity of being able to start college when I was 12 years old, and A LOT of exposure to various sciences. So, when I was still very young and “knew everything” I spent a couple years identifying myself as an Atheist. I’m inherently a very spiritual person so that didn’t last very long. To be perfectly honest, the more I learn about science the more I can see miracles woven into our universe and our everyday lives. Just because you learn about something and come to understand it doesn’t make it any less miraculous. I don’t think spirituality is intangible or beyond the realm of what might someday be empirical. Protons and neutrons were beyond our comprehension of empirical at one point as well. I think it stunts our growth as a society and a species to try and put such strict finite parameters on a world where we at least have a concept of infinity. What happened to pushing open new doors? Where’s our explorer spirit?

That said, I have a healthy respect for all religions. I grew up watching my Dad completely and undeniably rooted in his own faith and yet able to learn about other belief systems with a respect for other faiths. I’ve grown up in California, and this state is completely blessed with diversity. You wanna learn about Hinduism? No problem! Buddhism? Let’s get to it! There’s a plethora of first hand experiences to be had that can only amplify your personal spirituality whatever that may be. This is one of the ways I honor my father. God isn’t about right and wrong, good or bad, reward and punishment. God is about love, and growth – knowledge, and gratitude. If you are learning, if you are growing, if you are grateful and coming from a place of love then concepts like “right and wrong” become obsolete. We are not cattle or dogs to be trained, we are humans gifted with abstract thought and we’re completely missing the mark if we don’t use it.

Did you know that the root meaning of the word “sin” didn’t mean to do something evil? “Sin” originally meant that you missed the mark, there was a mistake made, and more practice was needed to get it right. Yes, we’ve all made mistakes – it’s the fact that we keep trying to improve and learn new ways to interact that makes us special.

When my father passed away they sent a chaplain right away to speak with us while we were at the hospital. He was very obviously rushing things because he’d been called out in the middle of his dinner. He had crumbs on his sweater and explained the whole mid-dinner thing when he brushed them off. I was horrified that a person in his position could be so rude with a grieving family. I spent a few years studying to be a chaplain. I’ve learned about so many religions and my personal take on things is that they aren’t that different.

Each religion has different names for things that aren’t really that different. I’ll use English as an example – assume all parties in this hypothetical example speak English. If I ask people from different faiths about their beliefs they will use different words and I’ll hear them all in English. You can stop right there and say “these are different words, they must be different things”. Where does that get us? Imagine those different words all mean the same thing. They’re not actually different words. They’re different languages. They’re cultures, and societies expressing themselves and unfortunately getting lost in translation. English is an extremely limited language in that there are many things we have only one word for – just that single way to express a thing or a concept. Other languages around the world have numerous words for the same things so they can be expressed in an array of all the facets it can possess.

You know what unites the major belief systems around the world including Atheists? We all have a creation story. From the Mayans, to the Egyptians, to the Pacific Islanders we all care about that from which we came. Why do you think that is? I say let’s use Occam’s razor on this one. William of Ockham gave us the logic that “the simplest answer is usually the correct one”. Why do we all care about where we came from? Where we came from must be a pretty important place if we’re all hard wired throughout the generations to think about the topic. It doesn’t matter to me what you call the place, or how you define it for yourself, or what you’ve labeled it – the point is that it’s the same place – a place of infinity with infinite ways to be expressed.

One other thing unites us… one thing we never seem to give enough credit.

Love.

Every single human being knows what love is.

You can call it love, you can call it amour (French), elsker (Danish), liebe (German), szeret (Hungarian), ความรัก (Thai), amore (Italian), الحب (Arabic), В прошлом месяце (Russian), or the translation of love in any language you like. It’s still love – you “feel” it. It’s a concept that we can see in actions, hear in words, touch in gentle caresses, and taste in kisses and food.

What’s the secret ingredient?

It was made with love.

More than that, love has the deepest blessing of being something we feel with our soul.

It is our gift and our grace.

That love inside of us is where we connect.

That is where we find God in this world.

That is how we live Divinely guided lives in this world.

We are meant to feel and express the full spectrum of emotion.

Yes, be angry, be sad, and it’s okay to be upset.

Feel them, know them, understand them.

I’m betting you also know you probably don’t like how those emotions feel.

So focus on joy.

Focus on affection.

Focus on exhilaration, and awe, and curiosity.

Focus on love.

“Love thy neighbor as thyself.”

First learn to love thyself thoroughly through the understanding that you are a living, breathing, walking, and more importantly, thinking miracle in this world. At your very core, in the atoms you are composed of from the calcium in your bones to the protein in your muscles – from the gifts of thought, and communication, and love you can bestow upon others in this life – from your unique talents and everything that is you from head to toe YOU ARE A MIRACLE.

Love thyself as that miracle first, then “love thy neighbor as thyself”.

As you can imagine I didn’t bring up this topic for nothing. It is to emphasize my opinion of what’s really important. This blog post is about growth, and peace, and love. Please focus on expressing things of that nature if you feel you want to comment.