Colour. Polish. Nails.

For those of you that know me well, know that I love colour.  I dream in colour; colour makes me happy.  You also know I love nail polish and there are so many colourful options.​
 
I have dozens of bottles of nail polish and change my nail polish often.  I also change my color palette with the seasons (it is almost time to say goodbye to Summer). Spring brings pastels, light pinks and nudes while Summer is all about white, bold and neon.  Fall is more subdued with metallics, khaki, red oranges, browns, dark teals, blood red and fall greens while Winter brings out some darker tones: blacks, steel greys, navy, deep purple, garnet and icy blue.   My go to neutrals are always blue (never can get enough cobalt and sky blue) and red – always red!  Taupe is ever present if you should need a subdued look. You can choose a glossy or matte finish. Don’t forget there is always glitter, shimmer, holographic polish and layering just for fun!! The possibilities are virtually endless. But, be mindful of your audience especially in the professional world; neon and glitter are not for every occasion.
 
My all time favourite brand is Chanel. I just love their formula, colours and wearability.  Zoya is a close second these days, but there are so many brands available with many different price points. Don’t discount drug store brands.  You can have lots of fun with an inexpensive bottle of interesting holographs.  Some new brands to me and on my radar: Cirque Vice, Trust Fund Beauty and ILNP.
 
Good nail health starts with a good diet, vitamins and lots of hydration.  I generally soak my nails in warm olive oil a couple of times a month; have done it for years.  I use a cuticle oil at night; Essie has an Apricot Oil that is good and CND Solar Oil is another option.  I’ve been making my own with Essential Oils using a combination of: tea tree, lavender, eucalyptus, grapefruit and peppermint in a base of Vitamin E oil.
 
You need to take care of your polishes as well.  Store them upright in a dark cool place.  Clean the bottles after every use with nail polish remover and if the enamel is thick, thin it with a few drops of polish thinner NOT polish remover.
 
Don’t use your nails as tools; wear gloves when doing the dishes. Always use a base coat; your nails will thank you.  Apply thin coats and let each coat dry for a few minutes before applying the next one.  Use a base coat and reapply every day.  If your polish should chip and you don’t have the time to change it, apply a topper; e.g. glitter to the nail and maybe another random nail or two.  It buys you at least a day and gives you yet another look.  I would think nail art or decals could be a viable option as well. Using white or nude as your initial layer pops neon colours!
 
It might sound like this takes a lot of time, but actually it doesn’t.  I tend to change polish or give myself a manicure when I am reading or answering email.  Seeing my colourful nails during the day makes me smile; sometimes all that is needed! It’s always the little things.
 
Colour is a girl’s best friend.  Don’t be afraid to make a statement and to be bold with it.  Nail polish is just one way; there are so many others. Have fun!

Rules of Civility

I feel as if I woke up one morning and all the rules had changed.  The world had suddenly become filled with egocentric individuals with no regard for anybody but themselves.  The political climate has emphasised this certainly (truly non partisan) and has given permission for improper behaviour.  In reality this didn’t happen suddenly, it has been a progression over the years as electronics have taken over our lives and we must have immediate gratification as we remain glued to our screens unaware of our surroundings.

One has tolerance for nothing and nobody but themselves.  Mind you, I think that putting yourself in the number one position is healthy and wise, but not at the expense or without empathy & respect of others.  I notice committed relationships crumbling because one party thinks it is okay to suddenly disappear for days at a time for  unknown reasons. What happened to partnerships and team work? So many people are money driven that simple pleasantries have all but disappeared. Driving has become a game of roulette; you never know what somebody is going to do on the road – certainly, no more leisurely Sunday drives.  Nobody wants to put the time and thought into something before they act. There seems to be no boundaries for inappropriate expression. Take responsibility for your actions – what a concept – and one of the past. Think before you speak (remember that?).  I encourage you not to be that intolerant person; remember what your values are and get your inner compass back in sync. Don’t fall prey to this phenomena.

Maybe this is an age related observation.  The older you get the more you realise that time really is important and people in your lives do matter. What are you so busy doing that you can’t take time to let them know this? Live and be in the moment, take deep breaths, think of others, be true to yourself and keep your mind and spirit toxic free.  OM!

Joe’s Special

It has been awhile, once again,  since I have actually written a post.  I still have lots of ideas and will try to follow through with them in blog posts.  I don’t want to use the excuse of no time as we all know there is always time; it is just what we chose to do with it.  Some huge news is that I have become a grandmother since I last posted. I am beyond excited and am looking forward to spending some memorable moments with my granddaughter.  Yep, you guessed it, I can’t stop knitting.  Little garments are so addictive not to mention quick!  You all know how much I like instant gratification. This mini knitting has also rekindled my desire to make some sweaters for me.  Not, so instant gratification!!!

I am still devouring books – just loving reading right now.  My first long hike since the hip replacement (coming up on 5 months) is Sunday and I am so excited.  Looks like perfect weather, too.  Check in on Instagram for some photos.   The baking is still going strong and I am loving Tessa Huff / Style Sweet Ca at the moment.  Her book, LAYERED, has the most delicious cakes not to mention beautiful photography.  I am currently drooling over the various layered cookie recipes on her blog. I highly recommend it.

Some sadness and loss of friends. What is it ‘they’ say “it’s not if life throws you a curve ball, but when!”  It’s always a learning experience when something unexpected happens, but it is important to get perspective and practice acceptance.  Take things at face value and don’t let your ego get in the way.  Focus on what you can control which is often just yourself; not what you can’t. Ask the right questions  in order to understand why this change happened and keep an open mind. Meditate.  Mourn your loss, humour never hurts, be positive and remember my mantra KEEP MOVING. Life is an adventure.  It’s your adventure so don’t get derailed.  Breathe.

Dignity Health is running a sweet TV commercial with a human kindness theme.  It’s a great reminder.   Does being there for someone matter:  Yes.  You hold the power to heal.  Something to think about in today’s crazy world.  Make your space healthy not toxic. Think before you speak; be kind!

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Now you ask, “what does all this have to do with the title of the blog, Joe’s Special?”  Absolutely nothing. I cooked this dish for dinner last night and thought it would be an easy recipe to share. It’s comfort food: a hearty scramble of eggs, ground beef, spinach, mushrooms and onions. It originated in San Francisco in the 1920’s and folklore has it that a customer ordered a spinach omelet very late one night and asked the chef if he had anything else to add to it. Hamburger was added and Joe’s Special was born.  Over the years, many variations have been created using chorizo, spicy Italian sausage or omitting the scrambled egg and putting a fried egg atop each serving. I must admit that I haven’t experimented much other than using the fresher ingredients that are now accessible to us.   I have been cooking this dish for years and particularly like it for breakfast with a side of vine ripe tomatoes and avocado.

I am going to share my recipe which I must warn you isn’t exactly a recipe – think of it as a guide.  You can make no mistakes; just have some fun with you very own adaptation (trust me, it changes each time I make it). This is a quick, easy and healthy meal; I make it a bit more complicated by using three pans.  One will suffice.

Ingredients
Butter or canola oil
Mushrooms, sliced (8 oz)
Onion, chopped (1)
Garlic, chopped (4)
Baby Spinach  (6-8 oz)
Ground Beef, very lean ( 1 lb)
Worchestershire Sauce (1t)
Black Pepper
Salt
Nutmeg (1/8 t)
Eggs (4-6)
Hot Sauce

Put the mushrooms (I use a mixture of crimini and white) in a large skillet with butter letting them brown over medium heat.  No need to stir often.  Once browned the add garlic and  onions cooking  until translucent  (about 5 minutes).

While this is happening in the first pan, cook the ground beef with the nutmeg (careful, a little goes a long way, IMO) & worchestershire in a second pan. While the beef is cooking  whisk the eggs in a bowl with a little bit of water and the hot sauce (I love the Texas Pete brand).

Once the mushroom mixture is ready add the spinach in batches until wilted. Add the cooked burger (make sure it is cooked all the way through) to this mixture.  Season with salt and pepper to your palette.

In yet another pan scramble the whisked eggs with butter  and then add them to the vegetable-burger mixture and gently combine.

Serve with a crusty sour dough bread and Enjoy!!!

Walk 4.1.17

Whatever your fitness goal is for the day – 10K steps or simply to walk the dog – now is the perfect time of year to achieve it!  Trees and flowers are in bloom; the colours are fantastic.  Find your green and don’t forget your camera!

 

U.S. Senate Bean Soup

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This is one of my favourite cold weather soups – there are a few days left of winter and our nights are still cold so you have time to make some.  This recipe is from The Complete Book of Soups and Stews by Bernard Clayton, Jr. The recipe served in the Senate today does not include mashed potatoes, but does include a braised onion.
It is an easy recipe to follow.  I only modified it by using a baked potato and lightly mashing it, getting the meatiest  ham hock I could find, shredding the ham from the bone once it was cooked and adding carrots and extra celery when the soup was finished both for colour and crunch.  It makes a good amount and freezes well.  It is always such a delight when you open the freezer to scout something for lunch and you find this soup.  Enjoy!

U.S. Senate Bean Soup
Serves 6 to 8

The U.S. Senate has come to stand for many things in this Republic.  One is its bean soup.  There is also a bean soup served in the House of Representatives but it lacks both the prestige and taste of that of the Upper House.  Between the two, however, cooks ladle out gallons of 8-oounce servings each day in the 11 dining rooms on the Hill.

I had my first bowl of Senate bean soup in 1940 as the guest of Senator Charles M. McNary of Oregon.  I was a brand-new Life Magazine correspondent in the Capital and he was then the running mate of Republican Presidential hopeful Wendell Willkie.  I don’t recall what  we talked about but I have never forgotten the soup.

Senate bean soup can be served on any occasion that warrants a hot, steamy, filling and thick soup such as an Election Eve party or a modest precinct gathering.

1 pound dried white beans, Great Northern or navy
water to soak

1 meaty ham bone or 2 smoked ham hocks
3 quarts water, to cook
3 medium onions, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
3 stalks celery, finely chopped
1/4 cup finely chopped parsley
1 cup cooked mashed potatoes, or 1/3 cup instant potato flakes
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
salt, to taste, if desired
snippets of parsley or chives to garnish

Soak beans overnight.
Drain and place them with the ham in a large (5 quart) soup kettle. Add 3 quarts of cold water. Bring the water to a boil, reduce heat and simmer over low heat for 2 hours. Skim if necessary.

In the meantime chop the onions, garlic, celery and parsley,  When the beans and meat have cooked 2 hours, add the chopped vegetables and the potato to the pot.
Simmer for 1 hour longer or until the beans are tender.
Season with salt and pepper.
Remove the bones and meat from the soup.  Dice the meat into 1/2 inch pieces and return to the pot.  Discard the bones.  Reheat to serve

This is a hearty, robust dish and so it should have hearty, robust service – from the pot at the tale, and ladled into heated soup bowls.  Garnish with snippets of parsley or chives.

ALTERNATIVE: The House version: Only beans, ham hock and seasoning.  The beans are bruised with a spoon or ladle to  barely cloud the soup before serving

Fermented Food

Fermented foods have been made since Neolithic times. Fermented vegetables begin with a method of preservation that enhances the nutrient content of food known as lacto-fermentation.  Natural bacteria feed on the sugar and starch in the food creating lactic acid.  The bacteria also produce vitamins and enzymes that are beneficial for digestion.  It is believed that fermented foods can lead to a stronger immune system and an increase in antibodies.

I have been making sauerkraut from green cabbage for years.  But almost any vegetable can be fermented either alone or by creating a mix of different kinds.  You can also experiment by adding spice and herb combinations.  The best news is that you don’t have to make mega quantities – small batch canning is a great concept.  You can find many ideas and recipes on-line.  Have fun with it! 

Polar Opposites – Socks

Don’t you think that these will make the perfect SF Giants socks?  The yarn is from indie dyer, Amy Lee’s company Canon Hand Dyes (colour way: Double Double Toil and Trouble). I just love them and they make me smile!

If you are interested in learning how to knit, there are several on-line tutorials and books.  But, don’t forget your local yarn store!

Happy Valentine’s Day

LOVE

The power of the heart is the power to love; to care and nurture all life forms.

May we all support each other no matter what differences we may observe from the outside. May we all remember that we come from the same place and are all part of life itself. When we are born, it’s the love that counts. When we truly live, it’s the love that counts. When we die, it’s the love that counts.

May all hearts be honored as we put aside our difference and just love one another.

This is from Lydia’s Foods’ Newsletter.  Such a perfect sentiment for today!

HAPPY VALENTINE’S DAY

Hike – 2.12.17

I’VE GOT MY MOJO BACK!  It’s been 7 weeks since I’ve had my Brooks trail running shoes on and have been hiking on the trails.  There was a break in the weather and it was absolutely gorgeous outside!  I encourage you all to get outdoors.  If this isn’t part of your normal pattern, add distance slowly.  I promise you won’t regret it and the Vitamin D is good for you!

KEEP MOVING!