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Archive for May, 2014

Taos Pueblo The juxtaposition of adjacent buildings creates an invitation to admire the scenery. The angles of the walls tease me to look beyond the structures, to scan the snow-dusted mountains. After a moment of gazing, the view becomes a philosophical “big picture” concept; I sense a message being conveyed: Dare to step beyond the walls. Something wonderful is waiting to be discovered by you. Go beyond your boundaries to find it. You may wonder, “Has she lost her all her marbles?” No, Mother Nature just has a way of making me reflective and introspective.

#1 – Lateral Thinking Puzzles
Not everything is as it appears. Try to think outside of the box. Challenge your preconceptions with these lateral thinking puzzles. Lateral Thinking Puzzles

#2 – Know What To Regrow
8 Vegetables That You Can Regrow Again and Again When it comes to dealing with your kitchen vegetable scraps, do you choose to trash them or compost them? Well, here’s an additional option for you to consider. From Healthy Body Now comes this list of 8 Vegetables That You Can Regrow Again and Again.

#3 – TIRED of Art?
Incredible Sculptures Made From Tires South Korean artist Ji Yong Ho (or Yong Ho Ji) sees the connection between man and his environment. He repurposes tires in an extraordinary way. Using old tires and other materials such as wood, steel, styrofoam and synthetic resin, he creates large  sculptures of animals and humans, realistic and fantastical. The Cafesjian Center for the Arts says this of his work: Tires are a medium that translate what the artist means to express most sufficiently. The black tires are reminiscent of industrialization, which includes industrial material, industrial wastes, and even environmental pollution. He focuses on mutated animals and especially on artificial mutation. His works seem terrorizing and strong but the truth is that they are fragile and unstable. Yong Ho Ji’s intention is to send a message of warning on environmental destruction and a human-caused threat to itself. Click on the following links to see more of his work.

Novomade
Twisted Sifter

#4 – Hut with A View
Solvay Hut Near the top of the Matterhorn in the Swiss Alps is a ten-bed hut with an incomparable view. Don’t even think about vacationing there. It can only be used for emergency purposes. Built in only 5 days back in 1915, the Solvay Hut is an example of something seemingly impossible made possible.

#5 – Angelou For Inspiration
Inspirational Quotes from Maya AngelouTo honor the life of Maya Angelou, I present you with several of her inspirational quotes.

“You are the sum total of everything you’ve ever seen, heard, eaten, smelled, been told, forgot – it’s all there. Everything influences each of us, and because of that I try to make sure that my experiences are positive.”

“You can only become truly accomplished at something you love. Don’t make money your goal. Instead, pursue the things you love doing, and then do them so well that people can’t take their eyes off you.”

“Try to be a rainbow in someone’s cloud.”

“I’ve learned that you shouldn’t go through life with a catcher’s mitt on both hands; you need to be able to throw something back.”

“One isn’t necessarily born with courage, but one is born with potential. Without courage, we cannot practice any other virtue with consistency. We can’t be kind, true, merciful, generous, or honest.”

“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

Go now and spread joy!

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Pistachio Shortbread Cookies A package of pistachio shortbread cookies sits in a basket near a cash register in a New Mexico restaurant. I debate whether or not to buy them. On the con side of the debate, eating cookies goes against my desire to lose weight and they seem a bit pricey at three small cookies for $3.99. However, on the pro side, I am on vacation and only a crazy person attempts to diet while traveling. Plus, my hubby and I need something to munch on during a long drive back to our hotel. Dilemma solved. I buy the cookies and eat them in the car, but that only creates a new dilemma. Because the cookies possess an exquisitely buttery taste and a wonderfully crunchy texture, I crave for more.

Back at home, I search for an easy pistachio shortbread cookie recipe that will satisfy my cravings. Found it. Another dilemma solved. That is, until my next trip and my next craving!

Pistachio Shortbread
Adapted from Epicurious

INGREDIENTS
1½ cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup (1½ sticks) chilled unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1/2 cup natural unsalted pistachios, lightly toasted, chopped
1 large egg yolk
3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

DIRECTIONS
1. Mix flour, powdered sugar, and salt together in a food processor.
2. Add butter, pistachios, egg yolk, and vanilla.
3. Pulse the mixture until a moist ball forms. Transfer dough to work surface. Divide dough in half.
4. Form each dough half into 8 x 1¼-inch log (if dough is too soft, chill until firm, about 30 minutes).
5. Wrap logs in plastic; refrigerate until firm, about 4 hours. DO AHEAD: Can be made 5 days ahead; keep chilled.
6. Preheat oven to 325°F.
7. Slice logs into 1/4-inch-thick rounds, rolling log after every few slices to retain round shape.
8. Place rounds on ungreased baking sheets, spacing 1-inch apart. Bake shortbread until barely golden, about 18 minutes.
9. Cool shortbread on baking sheets.
10. DO AHEAD: Shortbread can be made up to 4 days ahead. Store shortbread in airtight container at room temperature.

Makes about 60 cookies

LINNELL’S NOTES
1. I rough chopped the nuts before adding them to the food processor. If you desire larger chunks of nuts in these cookies, you could add whole nuts to the processor. However, keep in mind that chunkier nuts might make it more difficult to slice the dough.

2. I lined the cookie sheets with parchment paper.

3. I chilled the dough logs for 2 hours and they were firm, but easy to slice.

4. These cookies tasted better and had more crunch when they were baked to a light golden brown versus until “barely golden.”

5. Before serving I decided to dust them with Baker’s sugar (ultrafine granular) for a sweet and pretty finish.

6. I only got 44 cookies from this recipe.

Enjoy!

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Birds Flying High: Santa Fe Sunset The sun gives off a golden glow as it lowers itself in the sky. This glow creates a striking contrast to the mountains, turning them into a dark amorphous shape. With bright light reflecting off cirrus clouds, the sky resembles a Martian atmosphere. Birds flying by add focal points to an already interesting sunset. So, when is a sunset not just a sunset? The answer: When you take the time to notice it.

#1 – Soar
Blue Santa Fe Sunset Just minutes after selecting my lead-in photo of birds flying across a sunset, I accidentally came across the lyrics of Christina Aguilera’s song Soar on my computer. The first three stanzas of the song powerfully remind us to be true to our authentic selves, to listen to our hearts, and to forge our own paths – good thoughts to share during this graduation season.

When they push when they pull, tell me can you hold on?
When they say you should change can you lift your head high
And stay strong?
Will you give up, give in, when your heart’s crying out that it’s wrong?
Will you love you for you at the end of it all?

Now in life, there’s gonna be times when you’re feeling low
And in your mind insecurity seems to take control
We start to look outside ourselves for acceptance and approval
We keep forgetting that the one thing we should know is

Don’t be scared to fly alone, find a path that is your own
Love will open every door it’s in your hands, the world is yours
Don’t hold back and always know, all the answers will unfold
What are you waiting for, spread your wings and soar

Songwriter(s): Aguilera, Christina; Hoffman, Robert D; Holley, Heather
Copyright: © MUSIC OF WINDSWEPT
© POP FUTURE MUSIC
© UNIVERSAL MUSIC – CAREERS
© XTINA MUSIC

#2 – Sing Your Song
My Song by Kristen Jongen Here’s another inspirational interpretation of the need to “sing your own song.”
Author, speaker, and artist Kristen Jongen shares her “Courageous Poetry and Art to Feed Your Soul” on her site Soul Soup.

#3 – Birdbnb
Airbnb Birdhouse Ad Campaign Modeled after actual homes listed on Airbnb, an online platform for travelers looking to find a variety of lodging experiences, these birdhouses were featured in an ad campaign called Every Traveler Deserves a Home. See photos of the original homes and their birdhouse look-alikes.

#4 – Travel Tips
24 Travel Tips That Will Change Your Life Forever Flying high in the sky . . . on an airplane? Wherever and however you travel, it helps to be organized and prepared. 24 Travel Tips That Will Change Your Life Forever lists ideas, some familiar and some I’ve not seen before, that make traveling easier. You’ll wonder why you didn’t think of some of them first!

#5 – Fly Free
“Your wings already exist. All you have to do is fly.”
Unknown

Go now and spread joy!

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Thai Barbecue Chicken Think Thai. Think of some of the most aromatic and flavor-packed ingredients that go into Thai cooking – lemon grass, ginger, coriander, and fish sauce. Think about expanding your barbecue repertoire. Think about the option of grilling outdoors or baking indoors. Think about a perfect dish to serve at a summer party. Think about eating juicy pieces of delicious chicken. Need more encouragement? Click on the photo to enlarge it. Okay, stop thinking now. Go out and buy the ingredients to make your own exotic Thai barbecue chicken for dinner tonight!

Barbecue Chicken
The Cook’s Encyclopedia of Thai Cooking

INGREDIENTS
1 chicken, about 3 to 3½ lb, cut into 8 to 10 pieces
Lime wedges and fresh red chillies, for garnish

For the Marinade:
2 lemon grass stalks, roots trimmed
1 inch piece fresh ginger root, peeled and thinly sliced
6 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
4 shallots, coarsely chopped
1/2 bunch coriander (cilantro) roots, chopped*
1 tbsp palm sugar or light brown sugar
1/2 cup coconut milk
2 tbsp Thai fish sauce
2 tbsp light soy sauce

DIRECTIONS
1. Here’s how to make the marinade: Cut off the lower 2 inches of the lemon grass stalks and chop them coarsely. Put into a food processor with the ginger, garlic, shallots, coriander, sugar, coconut milk, and sauces. Process until smooth.

2. Place the chicken pieces in a dish, pour over the marinade and stir to mix well. Cover the dish and leave in a cool place to marinate for at least 4 hours, or leave it in the refrigerator overnight.

3. Prepare the barbecue or preheat the oven to 400°F. Drain the chicken, reserving the marinade. If you are cooking in the oven, arrange the chicken pieces in a single layer on a rack set over a roasting pan.

4. Cook the chicken on the barbecue over moderately hot coals or on medium heat for a gas barbecue, or bake in the oven for 20–30 minutes. Turn the pieces and brush with the reserved marinade once or twice during cooking.

5. As soon as the chicken pieces are golden brown and cooked through, transfer them to a platter, garnish with the lime wedges and red chillies and serve immediately.

Serves 4 to 6

LINNELL’S NOTES
1. Instead of cutting up a chicken into parts, I opted to use chicken wing parts.

2. *The cookbook author notes that “Coriander roots are more intensely flavoured than the leaves, but the herb is not always available with the roots intact.” According to Fine Cooking, “If you can’t find any cilantro root, substitute chopped cilantro stems with a few leaves mixed in.” I read in several places that an appropriate substitution is two cilantro stems for each root, since coriander stems are not as potent as the roots.

3. My marinade looked greener than the photo in the cookbook – I added too much cilantro.

4. Palm sugar is sold in hard-packed cakes at Asian markets. Grate the cakes to measure and use.

5. I let the chicken marinate in the refrigerator overnight and for an additional half-day.

Enjoy!

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Ghost Ranch A gust of wind snatches a reprint of a famous painting away from the hands of a tour guide and forces it to tumble end over end across the dusty ground. With the wind behind it, it blows away like a dried sagebrush. It’s as if the spirit of Georgia O’Keeffe is blowing through her beloved Ghost Ranch. She drew inspiration for many of her paintings from the rugged land around her. I take it all in – the blue sky, the billowy clouds, the colors, shapes and lines of the land. Viewing the incredible geological formations, I can’t help but share her infatuation with the part of New Mexico she called her home.

#1 – Flowers and Fashion
Fashion Designs Using Flower Petals Like Georgia O’Keeffe, Singaporean artist Grace Ciao derives creative inspiration from flowers. She uses real flower petals to illustrate her fashion designs. See more of her design work on BuzzFeed.

#2 – Powerful Pairings
The Most Powerful Food Combinations Can healthy food be made even more healthy? Many nutritionists claim that when certain foods are paired up with other specific foods a food synergy is created. The Most Powerful Food Combinations, an article for Men’s Health, lists 14 examples of food synergy and explains why the combinations work. Here are the combinations, but do yourself a favor and read the individual descriptions in the article:

1. Tomatoes and avocados
2. Oatmeal and orange juice
3. Broccoli and tomatoes
4. Blueberries and grapes
5. Apples and chocolate
6. Lemon and kale
7. Soy and salmon
8. Peanuts and whole wheat
9. Red meat and rosemary
10. Tumeric and black pepper
12. Garlic and fish
13. Eggs and cantaloupe
14. Almonds and yogurt

#3 – Luxury Train Tours
Luxury Train Tours I bet touring the world by train does not conjure up notions of romance for many of us. After reading See the World Inside a Romantic Rail Car With These 6 Luxury Train Tours, some of us may change our minds. Chase the Aurora Borealis on the Arctic Explorer or visit the supposed birthplace of Dracula on the Danube Express. The fees for these wondrous trips are steep, but we can always dream. Can’t we?

#4 – Kubrick on Life
Stanley Kubrick Quote In a Playboy Magazine interview, after the release of his movie 2001: A Space Odyssey, director Stanley Kubrick discussed his views on why life is worth living. Here’s a portion of that interview as presented in Brainpickings:

Playboy: If life is so purposeless, do you feel it’s worth living?

Kubrick: The very meaninglessness of life forces man to create his own meaning. Children, of course, begin life with an untarnished sense of wonder, a capacity to experience total joy at something as simple as the greenness of a leaf; but as they grow older, the awareness of death and decay begins to impinge on their consciousness and subtly erode their joie de vivre, their idealism — and their assumption of immortality. As a child matures, he sees death and pain everywhere about him, and begins to lose faith in the ultimate goodness of man. But, if he’s reasonably strong — and lucky — he can emerge from this twilight of the soul into a rebirth of life’s elan. Both because of and in spite of his awareness of the meaninglessness of life, he can forge a fresh sense of purpose and affirmation. He may not recapture the same pure sense of wonder he was born with, but he can shape something far more enduring and sustaining. The most terrifying fact about the universe is not that it is hostile but that it is indifferent; but if we can come to terms with this indifference and accept the challenges of life within the boundaries of death — however mutable man may be able to make them — our existence as a species can have genuine meaning and fulfillment. However vast the darkness, we must supply our own light.

#5 – Make Your Unknown Known
Georgia O'Keeffe “Whether you succeed or not is irrelevant, there is no such thing. Making your unknown known is the important thing.”
― Georgia O’Keeffe

Go now and spread joy!

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Citrus Gazpacho A trip to the American Southwest and blistering hot days prompt me to explore the world of chilled soups. After eating at Cafe Pasqual’s, a James Beard America’s Regional Cooking Classics award winner, in Santa Fe, New Mexico, I left a few pounds heavier. Not only did I eat every bit of food that was placed before me, I also toted home two of Cafe Pasqual’s cookbooks in my suitcase. In one of the books, Chef Katharine Kagel shares a much-requested recipe for a refreshing citrus-flavored gazpacho.

Citrus Gazpacho
Recipe from Cooking with Cafe Pasqual’s

INGREDIENTS
4 large ripe tomatoes
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
2½ cups freshly squeezed orange juice
Zest and fruit of 1 orange
Zest of 1/2 and fruit of 1 pink grapefruit
1/2 cucumber, peeled, seeded, and diced
1/2 yellow bell pepper, stemmed, seeded, and diced
1/4 medium red onion, diced
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Cayenne pepper

DIRECTIONS
1. Fill a large saucepan with enough water to cover the tomatoes. Place over high heat and bring to a full boil. While the water is heating, use the tip of a sharp paring knife to score a small X on the bottom of each tomato, just piercing the skin.

2. Put the tomatoes into the boiling water for 20 seconds. Use tongs to transfer the tomatoes to a large bowl filled with ice and water. (This will stop further cooking.) Allow the tomatoes to cool for a few minutes, remove them from the water, and peel their skins with either a paring knife or your fingers, starting at the scored end. Discard the peel.

3. Core and dice one tomato and reserve it. Slice the other tomatoes in half crosswise, and squeeze out the seeds. Remove the cores. Put the tomatoes into the container of a blender.

4. Place the garlic, vinegar, orange juice, and orange and grapefruit zests into the blender with the tomatoes and whirl. Transfer the puree to a serving pitcher or a serving bowl and add the cucumber, bell pepper, red onion, and olive oil.

5. To prepare the fruit, use a paring knife on a cutting board to cut off both ends of the grapefruit and orange so that the fruit can securely stand on end for cutting. Starting from the top of the citrus, slice off all the peel and pith, following the contour. All the fruit will now be exposed. Cradle the fruit in the palm of your hand you aren’t using for slicing, and use the paring knife to cut loose each fruit segment from the inner side of the membrane. Angle the long side of the blade between the fruit and the membrane toward the center of each segment, cutting in a V configuration. No membrane should be attached to the fruit segments.

6. Add the fruit segments to the gazpacho mixture and stir.

7. Add the salt, pepper, and cayenne to taste.

8. Chill well before serving.

Makes 6 cups

LINNELL’S NOTES
1. I couldn’t find pink grapefruit at my local market, so I used a red grapefruit instead.
2. The recipe didn’t indicate when to add the reserved diced tomatoes, so I added them in with the cucumbers, bell pepper, and red onions.
3. I added 1/8 teaspoon of cayenne pepper.
4. Chef Kagel notes in her recipe, “The trick to this recipe is to cut all the diced ingredients into uniform dimensions.”

Enjoy!

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20140508-222235.jpg Rolls of canvas fabric provide points of interest on an overcast day. Narrow, wide, bold and subdued bands of colors mingle with one another in joyful harmony. The fabric of our lives should be similarly constructed where every color or aspect of it complements and creates harmony. When each aspect of your life – like your career – can stand alone, that’s great; but when all are woven together and balanced, they create something strong, interesting and unique. What does the fabric of your life look like?

I’m on the go right now, but I am still finding bits of joy to share with you. And yes, a post written on the go needs to be tout suit, plus short and sweet!

Go now and spread joy!

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