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Posts Tagged ‘traveling’

Miniature Rose Several dozen rose bushes reside in my garden and, just like my children, I appreciate each one of them for their unique qualities and gifts. But, unlike my children, I have a favorite. With blossoms smaller than a penny, but just as pretty as their full-sized counterparts, this micro-miniature rose bush captures my fancy with its petite stature and amazing hardiness. In a world where everything is super-sized, don’t forget to appreciate the little things in in life.

#1 – The World of Miniatures

Video screenshot, Who Lives There, c Art+Practice.

Video screenshot, Who Lives There, © Art+Practice

After watching a four-minute documentary on Dawn Reese, a miniature artist and dollhouse builder from Ohio, I was reminded of my fascination with the world of miniatures and of my own small childhood collection. If you’ve ever been intrigued with teeny tiny things or played with dollhouses, you’ll enjoy watching Who Lives There. Both the video and additional information about Dawn Reese can be found in a well-written article on Yatzer.

#2 – October Food Fest
Apple and Browned Butter Tart It will be no small feat to keep yourself from salivating as you peruse through the photos of BuzzFeed’s 31 Delicious Things to Cook in October. What will be even more difficult to do, will be to decide which recipe to try first! Mash Potato Cheddar and Chive Waffles or Pumpkin Bread Pudding with Dulce de Leche?

#3 – Travel Tips
40 Travel Tips to Help You Travel Smarter, Cheaper, Safer . . . Little tips can make a big difference when traveling. Flashpacker Family shares this list of 40 Tips to Help You Travel Smarter, Cheaper, Safer, Lighter . . . and my guess is that there’s at least one tip in it that you haven’t thought of before.

#4 – Less Is More
In this short TED video, writer and designer Graham Hill suggests that less can mean more in life. Watch it and see if you agree.

#5 – It’s the Little Things
“Everyone is trying to accomplish something big, not realizing that life is made up of little things.” Frank A. Clark

Enjoy life and spread joy!

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Carpenter Bee Bzzzzzz-bzzzzzz-bzzzzzz . . . bzzzzzz-bzzzzzz-bzzzzzz . . . ah-choo! A large black bee darted quickly in and out of squash blossoms. If a bee could sneeze, I imagine this one would, because it was covered from head to tail in pollen (click on the photo to see all the pollen). After hearing gardeners complain of low vegetable yields due to lack of pollination, I’m happy to have this bee in my garden. However, I’m not so thrilled to learn that it’s a carpenter bee, the type of bee that burrows into wood!

#1 – The Ultimate Packing List
If you are planning on doing some serious traveling, you will want to check out The Ultimate Packing List for Full-Time Travel by the Professional Hobo. She lists what she takes, why she takes them, and where you can purchase these items.

#2 – The Second Time Around
Repurposing Ideas If you have imagination, most things can have more than one life or one purpose. Some of the ideas in the article Creative Ways to Repurpose & Reuse Old Stuff I’ve seen before, but that’s probably because they are really great ideas and have been well-circulated. Thanks to creative people who continually find new ways to reuse things!

#3 – A Slice of Time
Chinatown Sunset, 2013 by Fong Qi Wei Photographer Fong Qi Wei places an emphasis on time in his collection of work called Time is a Dimension. His photographs reveal landscapes, cityscapes, and seascapes during a 2 to 4 hour period, rather than just a moment in time.

#4 – Shelf Life
This infographic reminds me of my daughter. On occasion she’ll call to ask if I think a particular item in her refrigerator or pantry is okay to eat beyond its stated date. If you, too, are confused with all the dates marked on food packaging, then make sure to read the section at the bottom titled, “What’s the Deal With Expiration Dates?”

The Shelf Life of Food

#5 – Life
Life is full of beauty. Notice it. Notice the bumble bee, the small child, and the smiling faces. Smell the rain, and feel the wind. Live your life to the fullest potential, and fight for your dreams.
Ashley Smith

Have a great weekend!

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Liquid Amber Leaves High in the sky, the sun created a leafy shadow play for me as I sat under the verdant canopy of a Liquid Amber Tree. As the overlapping leaves moved with the breeze, dark and light patches of green danced across them. Studying the contrast between the angular shadows and the backlit leaves, reminded me once again of the supreme artistry of Mother Nature.

#1 – Art in Trees
Wang Yue Tree Art Wang Yue, a Chinese art student paints on unusual surfaces. Instead of painting on canvas, she paints on tree hollows. Passersby must do a double take when they walk by one her pieces of art. Read more about the artist and view more examples of her art by clicking here.

#2 – Re-purposing Books
As I typed in the title, “Re-Purposing Books,” I felt like a traitor. Books have always been sacred objects with one purpose to me, so the mere idea of dismantling them, didn’t sit well. But I suppose, if books are headed to landfills, they should be rescued and re-purposed. If you have old books which libraries and charities no longer want, check out these ideas before you throw them in the trash!

#3 – Eggs-amining Eggs
While making an omelet the other day, I noticed that some of the raw eggs had cloudy whites and some had clear whites. Wondering if the cloudy whites indicated something bad, I did a little research. It turns out that I had it backwards: fresher eggs have cloudy-looking egg whites and older eggs have clear egg whites. Read Egg Health Info: What You Don’t Know for more egg-related information.

#4 – Buckle Your Seat Belt

Stelvio Pass

Stelvio Pass by Damian Morys Photography

In the photo series 21 Roads You Have to Drive in Your Lifetime, you’ll see some of the most spectacular roads around the world. The photos will wake-up the travel-bug inside of you, unless you are prone to car-sickness!

#5 – A More Joyful Life
“So here’s the trick, the ultimate key to living an ecstatic life. The key to having a great life is noticing how great the life you’re having is. If you want a joyful life, notice more joy in your life.”
Jennifer Leigh Selig

Have a great weekend!

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Gardenia The scent of gardenias wafts through an open window and lingers in the room. I inhale slowly and let the intoxicating fragrance permeate my soul. I feel drugged and I can no longer focus on the task at hand. As a Marcel Proust-moment transports me from the present back to my past, I begin to hear the clanging of trolley cars and the hissing of bus doors opening and closing. In my mind, I see my mother bending over a very young version of me and asking, “Would you like to pick out a flower?” People push past us on the crowded street as I examine the buckets of flowers at a corner flower stand. My small hands reach for a large creamy-white swirl of petals. The sweet fragrance is nothing like I’d ever smelled before and I repeatedly sniff the blossom. “That’s a gardenia,” my mother says. I nod and guard my treasure as we board a bus for the ride home. My reverie ends with the ringing of my cell phone and I return to the present. Gardenias will forever remind me of my mother and of that time in my life, but even more than that, they are reminders to me of how little seeds can be planted deep.

#1 – Remember Fathers
With Father’s Day coming up, here’s a video tribute that triggers memories of all that fathers do:

#2 – Eat Your Words
Harry Potter Cake Books and birthday cakes can each be a source of fond memories. What if the two entities joined forces and became “book-cakes” or “cake-books”? If you love books and you love eating cakes, you’ll enjoy scrolling through the photos of 24 Incredible Cakes Inspired By Books.

#3 – Best-Value Destinations
One of my favorite travel memories happened while I was in Italy with my husband, my kids, and three of their friends. We had just finished touring the Galleria Borghese and were slowly walking back to our hotel. Somehow our conversation turned to skipping and how some people in the family couldn’t skip. Before I knew it my adult children and their friends were having a skipping relay race on the dirt paths outside the villa. I still laugh when I watch the video of the race! Create your own travel memories, but before you decide where to go, check out Lonely Planet’s Best-Value Destinations in Europe for 2013.

#4 – Make Gift Bows From Magazine Pages
Make gift bows using magazine pages to decorate Father’s Day and graduation gifts. How cute, colorful, and clever! Click here for the complete instructions. Make Bows From Magazines

#5 – Words of Wisdom
I hope that my achievements in life shall be these:
that I will have fought for what was right and fair,
that I will have risked for that which mattered,
that I will have given help to those who were in need,
and that I will have left the earth a better place
for what I’ve done and who I’ve been.
C. Hoppe

HAPPY FATHER’S DAY to all fathers and CONGRATULATIONS to all graduates!

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“Seriously, can’t you hold onto your own chew?” I say as I look into the child-like brown eyes of Buster, my 90-pound grand-puppy. For several minutes now, I’ve sat next to him holding on to one end of his chew stick and watching him gnaw and tug on the other end. “Grandma’s got to get back to work now,” I say. He lets out a low bark, because I momentarily put his chew back down on the ground. “Such a spoiled boy,” I say to him as I gently pat his head. “Some of my friends get to babysit their grandchildren, but I get to watch you,” I say to him sarcastically. Buster cocks his head as if he is trying to understand what I’m saying. He then takes his chew and holds it between his giant paws and a few gnaws later, he looks up at me, as if to say, “See, Grandma, I can do it all by myself!”

#1 – Reusables!

Organic Cotton Rounds

I won’t be able to reuse my dinner napkin, because Buster ate it. Besides buying cloth napkins instead of paper napkins, here are 10 Things You Didn’t Know You Could Buy Reusable.”

#2 – Free Travel Ebooks

Traveling is so much easier these days, thanks to ebooks. No more lugging around heavy guide books from city to city! Here are some sites that offer free travel guides. Just download a book to your electronic device (laptop, iPad, etc.) and GO!

Bookboon.com – Textbooks and business books, too
Hostelworld.com – Pocket guides
ebook3000.com – Great variety of books
Tripadvisor.com – Free guides to members

#3 – New Art Amongst Old Art

Takashi Murakami

In this series of photographs, the Palace of Versailles provides an interesting backdrop to “manga-inspired sculptures” by Japanese pop artist Takashi Murakami. It’s an unusual juxtaposition of old and new that allows spectators to see the contrast in styles and to appreciate each style for what it offers.

#4 – Folding a Suit

This tip will come in handy next week when I mail my oldest son the suit he’s going to wear at his brother’s wedding. Watch the video to see how Jacky Tam of British Tailors in Hong Kong folds a suit and a dress shirt, so that they arrive in wearable condition. This a good tip for traveling, as well!

#5 – Happiness
A man once told the Buddha, “I want happiness.” The Buddha replied, “First remove the ‘I’ – that’s ego. Then remove the ‘want’ – that’s desire. And now all you are left with is, Happiness.”
Unknown

Have a great weekend!

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It’s the middle of summer already and a couple of 100+ degree days are coming my way. All this heat must be good for something, right? I’m taking advantage of the heat by drying my laundry in my oven-of-a-garage. I have five large drying racks out there and my laundry dries quickly and without wrinkles. Heat brings good and bad news for me; on the one hand, my vegetable garden is thriving in this weather, but on the other hand, it’s too hot to turn on my oven, so no baking for awhile. Haven’t yet convinced my husband that solar cooking is safe!

#1 – Desk Travels
Even though my international travels are done for the year, I can still see other parts of the world. The internet is filled with breathtaking snapshots of wonderful worldly sights, that for the most part, most of us will never see in person. Here are two photo essays that transport you to amazing sights without the need to leave your seat: The World’s Most Spectacular Roads, Vol. 2 and the World’s Most Extraordinary Swimming Pools.

#2 – Daily Limits
I’ve mentioned this before, but one of my favorite monthly reads is the Nutrition Action Health Letter. Once a month it provides easy to read, relevant articles about nutrition and health. For example, are you aware of what the daily limits of sodium, saturated fat, and added sugar are for a basic 2,000-calorie diet? With today’s dining-out lifestyle it’s easy to exceed those limits. In an issue of the Health Letter there was an article called How Many Sugars? that provided a breakdown of several no-no ingredients found on menu items from popular dining spots. Here’s a quick look at daily limits and a sample menu item from the article:

Daily Limit of Sodium: 1,500 milligrams.
One McDonald’s Sausage, Egg, & Cheese on a Croissant contains 1,250 milligrams.

Daily Limit of Saturated Fat: 20 grams.
One Dunkin’ Donuts Coffee with Cream Coolata contains 22 grams.

Daily Limit of Added Sugars: 25 grams or 6.5 teaspoons.
One Starbuck’s Green Tea Blended Creme Frappuccino with whipped cream has 13 teaspoons.

Choose wisely when you dine out!

#3 – Thumping Watermelons!
According to several sources (my local newspaper, produce guides, and my dad, a former grocery store owner) to select the best watermelon you must consider these characteristics:
1. Shape – Look for a symmetrical shape (no flat sides or dents)
2. Weight – Since watermelons are over 90% water, select ones that are heavy for their size.
3. Sound – Several sources recommend lightly thumping the melon with your knuckle and listening for a hollow sound.
4. Appearance – Besides being firm and having a dull-colored skin, look for the spot where it sat on the ground. This area should be creamy yellow and it indicates the melon was vine ripened.

#4  – Mindless Computer Doodling
Sometimes when I have writer’s block, I look for interesting ways to refocus. I found this site that allows you to spend endless, mindless minutes doodling. The fun part is that the colors change on their own as you scribble and the squiggles move constantly. All you have to do is move the finger icon/cursor around. After doodling for a couple of minutes, I was back to writing!

#5 – Set Sail
“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”

– Mark Twain

Set your sails this weekend to explore, dream and discover!

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It’s all about the food. Sometimes the best way to learn about a country and its culture is to learn about its food and its cooking traditions. Lucky for me, my daughter, who was a student in Greece for nearly five months, was not only my tour guide to the ancient sites, but also my culinary guide.

From dining in little tavernas that speckle the narrow side streets of Athens to eating fresh-caught fish off the coast of Santorini, I was introduced to the exquisite textures and flavors of Greek food. Sampling inch-long baby okra cooked in a light tomato and onion sauce, devouring tiny fried whitebait fish – head, tail, spine and all, and spreading pureed dried yellow peas on bread, were just some of the opportunities I used to discover the gastronomic resources available to the Greeks. I learned that some of the varieties of legumes we eat today are the same ones once eaten in ancient times.

And because the sun shines most of the year and very little rain falls, Greek tomatoes and peppers are exceptionally sweet. The freshness of Greek ingredients cannot be denied. Most foods are simply delicious because they are prepared with fresh and few ingredients. Very few over-processed foods ever made it to my table while I was in Greece.


Scorpion fish or grilled octopus, anyone? The seafood in Greece was as good as I had anticipated. The subtle lobster-like flavor of the Scorpion fish and the chewy texture of the fresh octopus were both delicious, but it was the fried calamari that really got my attention. Maybe it was the freshness of the squid or the very lightest dredging of flour or the addition of exactly the right amount of salt, but this Greek version of fried calamari was by far the best I’ve ever tasted!

The Greeks love their sweets. The sweet scent of freshly baked pastries found me following my nose into more than one local bakery. Even before I left home, my daughter had warned me about this temptation. I’d heard her stories about Bougatsa me Krema and was looking forward to my first taste. It did not disappoint. How could warm layers of buttery, thin phyllo sheets filled with creamy custard, and sprinkled with confectioner’s sugar and cinnamon be disappointing? Before the introduction of sugar, ancient Greeks used honey to sweeten their food. Thick, creamy, Greek yogurt and honey is a traditional treat and Greeks like to make sweet syrups from honey to pour over their cakes and fried sweets. Many Loukoumades or Greek donut balls coated in a honey-syrup called out to me.

Now back at home, I wanted to try my hand at making the memorable Bougatsa me Krema and I found a recipe online. Flakey, buttery and filled with custard – mine was pretty darn close to the deliciousness I experienced in Greece! I share this temptation with you.

Bougatsa me Krema or Creamy Custard Phyllo Pastry

-Courtesy of Nancy Gaifyllia of About.com with comments by Linnell-

Prep Time: 1 hour

Cook Time: 30 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour, 30 minutes

Ingredients:

* 4 1/4 cups of whole milk

* sliced peel of 1 lemon

* 1 1/4 cups of granulated sugar

* 3/4 cup of semolina (durum wheat flour which I found in my local grocery store)

* 4 eggs

* 1/4 teaspoon of vanilla extract

* 12 sheets of commercial phyllo dough

* 6 ounces of butter, melted

For the topping:

* confectioner’s sugar

* ground cinnamon

Preparation:

Warm the milk and lemon peel in a saucepan. Stir in semolina with a wooden spoon until the mixture is thoroughly blended and thickened. In a mixing bowl, beat the eggs, sugar, and vanilla until light and add to the pan, stirring over medium-low heat until it reaches a creamy custard consistency. Remove from heat, take out and discard lemon peel, and allow it to cool completely. Stir occasionally to keep the custard from forming a skin on top.

Preheat oven to 350°F (180°C).

Lightly brush a baking pan (13 X 9 X 2 or equivalent) with butter. Line the bottom of the pan with 8 sheets of phyllo, brushing each sheet well with the melted butter. Add the custard filling. Fold the excess phyllo that overlaps the pan in over the custard. Top with the remaining phyllo, brushing each with butter. Use a scissors to trim the top sheets to the size of the pan. Spray the top lightly with water and bake at 350°F (180°C) for 30-40 minutes, until the top is golden brown.

Remove from oven, sprinkle with confectioner’s sugar and cinnamon while hot, and serve warm.

Serving tip: In Greece, Bougatsa is cut with a pizza cutter.

Enjoy!

Adventures in Greece – to be continued . . .

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