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July 31, 2015 Edition Shapes, curves, and lines make up our world, but we often don’t notice or acknowledge them. Going through life on autopilot or in a state of distraction causes many of us to miss out on seeing some of the truth of what’s in front of our eyes. For example, this echeveria plant has an interesting ruffled appearance and a nice medium green color. But when using the power of black and white photography, the elements of the plant are stripped down to their essence. The dramatic shapes, curves, and lines of the plant now stand out and beg our eyes to take note. So, the next time you’re out and about, stop and look at something around you. In your mind, imagine what that item would look like if it were in black and white. You may discover that you appreciate it in a different way.

#1 – The Power of Black and White

100+ Awe-Inspiring Black & White Photographs

Berenger

The dramatic power of black and photography can be seen 100 times over in 100+ Awe Inspiring Black & White Photographs. Which photo is your favorite?

#2 – Display Those Photos
Creative Ways to Display Photos Taking photographs is one thing, but displaying them is another. If you store photographs in shoe boxes like me (bad, bad, bad idea!), get them out and and try using one of the creative ideas from Buzzfeed’s 27 Unique Photo Display Ideas That Will Bring Your Memories To Life.

#3 – Architectural Winners
The Coolest Buildings on the Planet, According to Architecture Fans Architects play with lines, shapes, and forms for structural and interesting effects. To see some incredible award-winning architectural designs from around the world check out, The Coolest New Buildings On The Planet, According to Architecture Fans.

#4 – Sweet Black and White
Chocolate Icebox Cakes Not everything in the world of black and white is austere. Take this icebox cake for instance. Layers of chocolate wafers and whipped cream, make for one sweet treat. Click here for the recipe.

#5 – Clothes or Souls?
“When you photograph people in color, you photograph their clothes. But when you photograph people in black and white, you photograph their souls!”
Ted Grant

Now go and spread joy!

 

Nectarine Gelato

Nectarine Gelato Nectarines often take a back seat to the king of summer fruit, the peach. But according to the University of Rhode Island Landscape and Horticultural Program, Fresh peaches provide respectable amounts of the antioxidant Vitamins A and C in addition to potassium and fiber. Nectarines provide twice the Vitamin A, slightly more Vitamin C, and much more potassium than peaches. And, if that’s not enough, a vendor at a farmers market recently suggested to my husband that he use nectarines instead of peaches to make “peach” gelato. He said, “Nectarines taste more ‘peachy’ and have more fragrance.” Step aside fuzzy peaches, a new king has been anointed!

Nectarine Gelato
Adapted from a recipe found on MangiaBenePasta

INGREDIENTS
1½ cups heavy cream
1½ cups whole milk
1 cup sugar
1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
1 to 1-1/3 cups of nectarine purée

DIRECTIONS
1. In a medium saucepan, combine the cream, milk, and sugar. Cook over medium heat until the mixture comes to a simmer.

2. Remove from heat.

3. Scrape the vanilla seeds into the milk, add the bean, and let sit for 30 minutes. Strain into a clean bowl discarding the vanilla bean.

4. Stir in the nectarine purée.

5. Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or overnight.

6. Transfer to an ice cream maker and freeze according to manufacturer’s directions.

Makes a little over one quart

LINNELL’S NOTES
1. My husband tripled the recipe, so that we could give away some of the gelato as gifts. To do that, he used 3 to 4 cups of nectarine purée.

2. To that tripled recipe, my husband added 1/2 cup sugar and juice of half a lemon to the nectarine purée. These amounts are dependent on the sweetness of the fruit.

Enjoy!

July 24, 2015 Edition “Stop right there! Don’t take another step!” I called out to my dad. He stopped suddenly, looked around for signs of potential danger, and then looked at me as if I’d lost my mind. “Why?” he replied impatiently. During a walk to the beach with my family, I noticed words etched into the sidewalk. As I read the words, I saw that my dad was on the verge of stepping on them. The moment was too perfect; I had to interrupt his stride. At his feet, scrawled in the concrete, were the words, “WE LOVE YOU GRAMPA.” Surrounded by his family for the weekend to celebrate his birthday, I couldn’t pass up an opportunity to capture our love for him more “concretely.”

#1 – Ageless Graffiti
Senior Citizens Learn to Graffiti According to Merriam-Webster, “writing or drawing made on a public structure without permission” is graffiti. That means the etchings in the sidewalk could be considered graffiti. Is graffiti always a bad thing? That’s not so, in sections of Portugal. In an attempt to “banish ageist stereotypes through the art of graffiti,” an urban art workshop called Lata 65 brings together senior citizens and well-known street artists. Read the article and take a look at some of the artwork that comes out of this unique creative workshop by clicking here.

#2 – The Power of One
Great Invention: Shoes That Expand Imagine buying shoes for your children that grow with your children’s feet and last for years. Kenton Lee, “a normal guy with an idea,” designed a sandal-like shoe that does exactly that. His invention The Shoe That Grows can grow 5 shoe sizes and last at least 5 years. These leather and compressed rubber shoes protect the feet of children in Kenya, Rwanda, Uganda, Nicaragua, Guatemala, Peru, Columbia, Vietnam, and Laos and prevent the children from having to go barefoot. One person with one idea is helping children around the world.

#3 – The Hubbub About BookBub
BookBub: Free EBooks BookBub is a daily email service that finds free or discounted ebooks for its subscribers. It provides readers with opportunities to sample new authors and discover new books. Since readers can specify genres of books they are interested in, BookBub sends out emails with titles matched to readers’ preferences.

#4 – You Have Today
Interview with Tom Rath Don’t dwell on the events of yesterday and don’t fantasize about tomorrow; today and the present moment need your attention. Susan Cain shares her interview with author, researcher, and speaker Tom Rath on her blog Quiet Revolution. Mr. Rath’s philosophy of life resonates with me. Click on the link above to read the entire interview. Here’s one of my favorite quotes from it:

The broader learning for me, after battling cancer for a couple of decades, is: you have to do something today that will continue to grow after you’re gone. I may have a more constant threat to my mortality than the average person, but in reality the only thing any of us can count on with extreme certainty is that we have today to do what matters most.

#5 – A Bit of Perspective
“My granddaughter came to spend a few weeks with me, and I decided to teach her to sew. After I had gone through a lengthy explanation of how to thread the machine, she stepped back, put her hands on her hips, and said in disbelief, “You mean you can do all that, but you can’t play my Game Boy?”
Author Unknown

Now go and spread joy!

IMG_4339 (1) With its flavorful crispy-browned bits and moist tender strands, what’s not to like about pork carnitas? Better yet, what’s not to like about a recipe that makes preparing pork carnitas easy? When life gets hectic or if you’re cooking for a crowd, just place a pork shoulder into a crock pot and let it slowly cook in aromatics and seasonings of fresh orange juice, jalapeño pepper, onion, garlic, salt, and pepper. You can freeze the cooked meat for a later date or go ahead and crisp it up in a frying pan for immediate serving.

Pork Carnitas (Mexican Slow Cooker Pulled Pork)
Recipe from RecipeTin Eats

INGREDIENTS
5 lb/2.5 kg pork shoulder, skinless, bone-in (4lb/2kg without bone) (Cook’s Note 3)
1 onion, coarsely chopped
1 jalapeño, seeded and ribs removed, chopped
1¼ tbsp table salt OR 2 tbsp kosher salt or sea salt flakes (Cook’s Note 4)
1 tsp black pepper
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 oranges, juice only

For Rub
1 tbsp dried oregano
2 tsp ground cumin
1 tbsp olive oil

DIRECTIONS
1. Rinse and dry the pork shoulder, rub in salt and pepper.

2. Combine the rub ingredients and then rub it all over the pork.

3. Place the pork in a slow cooker (fat cap up).  Top with the onion, jalapeño, minced garlic (don’t worry about spreading it) and squeeze over the juice of the orange.

4. Cook on low for 8 to 10 hours or on high for 6 hours.

5. The meat should be tender and falling off the bone. Remove from the slow cooker and let cool slightly. Shred the pork using two forks.

6. Skim off the fat from the juices remaining in the slow cooker and discard the fat. If you are left with a lot more than 1½ to 2 cups of juice, reduce it (either in the slow cooker on the sauté setting with the lid off or in a saucepan). Set aside.

To Freeze
Pour the juices over the pulled pork and store in Ziploc bags or airtight containers. Freeze in small batches for convenience. To use, defrost completely before following the next steps to brown.

To Serve
1. Heat 1 tbsp of oil in a large nonstick pan over high heat. Place shredded pork into the pan and press down and cook until the bottom side is golden brown and crusty.

2. Pour over the juices and serve immediately (if you are using defrosted carnitas, this is not applicable as the juices are already on the meat).

3. If you are reheating the carnitas, then flip and cook the other side briefly just to warm through. I really recommend only making one side crusty and leaving the other side juicy and moist.

Serves 10 – 12

Cook’s Notes
1. If you are using a piece of pork that is more than 1 lb/0.5 kg larger or smaller than the prescribed size, ensure you adjust the other ingredients accordingly.

2. To make this in the oven, add 1 cup of water to the braising liquid. Place in 325F°/160C° oven for 2 hours, covered, then roast for a further 1 to 1.5 hours uncovered. Add more water if the liquid dries out too much. You should end up with 1½ to 2 cups of liquid when it finishes cooking. If you make this recipe in the oven, you could skip the pan frying step because you will get a nice brown crust on your pork.

3. Use pork with the skin removed but leaving some of the fat cap on. The fat adds juiciness to the carnitas!

4. SALT – a few readers have commented that 2 tbsp of salt made it too salty. I made this again a couple of days again and paid careful attention to the salt. Then I instantly realized – I use sea salt flakes (it’s like kosher salt) and 2 tbsp of sea salt = around 1¼ tbsp of table salt. I have updated the recipe to be very specific about this. Ordinary table salt are the fine granules that you use in salt shakers. Kosher and sea salt flakes are larger, lighter pieces, “flake” like. So when measuring out tablespoons or salt, you need more kosher/sea salt flakes for the same level of saltiness as ordinary table salt.

LINNELL’S NOTES
1. I serve the carnitas with warm soft corn tortillas, shredded lettuce, diced tomatoes, lime slices, chopped onions, cilantro leaves, and Mexican crema.

2. Pork carnitas can also be used as an ingredient in quesadillas, enchiladas, tamales, tortas, and burritos.

3. If you like your carnitas more crispy, shred it more finely before frying.

Enjoy!

July 17, 2015 Edition Under silhouettes of tree canopies and a summer sky sprinkled with shooting stars, I swim laps in the dark tranquil water of my pool. My strokes, while unrefined, transport me back and forth, during what I call my hour of peace. House lights, patio lights, and even pool lights are flicked off. Only the stars, the moon, and surrounding ambient light illuminate my way. But for the faint strains of favorite music playing in the background, the quiet rippling of water soothes the tension of busy days. Every night while I float serenely on my back and admire the view above, I thank my lucky stars for having lived another day.

#1 – Stargazing
Star Gazing Calendar Decades ago, when I moved into my current home and when ambient light from auto malls, shopping centers, and the like did not exist, my husband, my children, and I would take advantage of our steep driveway and place sleeping bags on it to stargaze. Our driveway became our amphitheater to the sky. If you enjoy stargazing, don’t miss out on exciting upcoming celestial events. Here are 3 sites that will keep you informed. For a quick preview, click on the photo above to learn about events in July and August:

Astronomy Calendar of Celestial Events
Skywatching in 2015: 9 Must-See Stargazing Events
Weekly Stargazing Tips

#2 – Wet Workouts
Although swimming under the stars is one of my favorite things to do, I also use my swimming pool to get additional exercise. Below are two great videos that show a variety of exercises you can do in a pool.
Calorie-Burning Pool Moves:

Tighten Your Abs in the Pool:

#3 – Playing With Food
Carl Warner's Incredible Foodscapes What if the water in your swimming pool were really blue jello and the trees providing you that lovely little bit of shade were made of parsley and ginger root? Carl Warner, a London-based photographer creates incredible landscapes using food. In his world, loaves of bread create mountains, celery stalks form a verdant forest, and romanesco becomes undersea coral. The ingredients in these detailed “foodscapes” don’t go to waste either. He or his crew take the food home and eat it or they donate it to a homeless shelter.

#4 – Naturally-Flavored Water
10 Natural Flavored Waters Why drink plain water when you can sip refreshing naturally-flavored water? Check out the tantalizing combinations in 10 Natural Flavored Water Recipes.

#5 – Lose to Find
Swimming Inspiration

Now go and spread joy!

Southwest Quinoa Salad

Southwest Quinoa Salad Like Superman, quinoa possesses super powers. Well, maybe not, but quinoa is an excellent source of protein and it contains all eight essential amino acids. If you’re looking for a tasty way to prepare this “superfood,” look no further. Boasting the southwestern combination of corn, peppers, beans, cilantro and lime, this colorful and nutritious salad might disappear from your plate “faster than a speeding bullet.”

Southwestern Quinoa Salad
Recipe From Quinoa 365: The Everyday Superfood by Patricia Green & Carolyn Hemming

INGREDIENTS
2 cups water
1 cup quinoa
1/3 cup olive oil
1/3 cup fresh lime juice (about 2 to 3 limes)
4 tsp apple cider vinegar
2½ tsp ground cumin
1 tsp finely minced jalapeño, Fresno or Mirasol pepper (optional)
1¼ cups frozen corn kernels, thawed
1 cup diced red bell pepper
One 14 oz can black beans, drained and rinsed
1/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1/4 tsp salt

DIRECTIONS
1. Bring the water and quinoa to a boil in a medium saucepan. Cover, reduce to a simmer and cook for 10 minutes. Turn the heat off and leave the covered saucepan on the burner for another 4 minutes. Fluff with a fork and allow the quinoa to cool.

2. Whisk the oil, lime juice, apple cider vinegar, cumin and jalapeño (if using) in a small bowl.

3. Place the cooled quinoa in a large bowl. Stir the dressing into the quinoa.

4. Toss in the corn, red pepper, black beans, cilantro and salt.

5. Serve immediately or cover and refrigerate in a sealed container for up to 3 days.

Serves 4 to 6

LINNELL’S NOTES
1. Quinoa naturally has a bitter coating of saponins. As a matter of habit, I always rinse quinoa in a strainer under cold running water prior to cooking to remove any residual saponin. Some brands of quinoa state that they are pre-washed.

2. I added some fresh ground black pepper.

3. I also added a pinch of sugar to counterbalance some of the combined acidity of the vinegar and lime juice.

4. I prefer serving this salad chilled. It seems more refreshing that way.

Enjoy!

July 10, 2015 Edition Buster dashes through the opened front door, runs past the kitchen filled with delicious aromas, and heads straight to the back door. He longingly stares through the glass panes of the door and then begins to bark loudly. Buster wants to go swimming. No gentle licks of hello or nudges to be petted; he is a dog on a mission. Playing fetch with his water bumper in the pool brings him so much joy. Dogs appreciate the simple things in life. We should take lessons from them.

#1 – Simply Genius
This cooking technique found on GoodHomeDIY is simply genius. The onion ring not only holds the egg in a round-shape while cooking, but it also imparts additional flavor. Round-Shaped Eggs

#2 – Must Read
Looking for some good books to read? It can be as simple as checking out Buzzfeed’s list of 53 Books You Won’t Be Able To Put Down. Must Read Reading List

#3 – Box Templates
Making your own boxes may not seem like a simple process, but it brings such a sense of accomplishment when you are finished and have a beautiful box perfectly suited for its contents. Take a look at the variety of box and bag templates offered for free on Template Maker. Template Maker

#4 – Look Me In The Thighs
Women's Thighs: One Word 25 brave women between the ages of 20 and 70 bared their thighs and then, using one word, described them. This is not a desirable or pleasant task for most women, but the descriptions by these women are simply honest and revealing. Read 25 Women Bare Their Gloriously Unretouched Thighs — And Describe Them In One Word and immediately start appreciating your thighs more.

#5 – The Simple Life
To find the universal elements enough; to find the air and the water exhilarating; to be refreshed by a morning walk or an evening saunter . . . to be thrilled by the stars at night; to be elated over a bird’s nest or a wildflower in spring — these are some of the rewards of the simple life. ~John Burroughs

Now go and spread joy!

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