Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Giving Thanks

There are so many things to be thankful for! Food, shelter, warmth; friend, family, good work (& renumeration for that work!) . . .

This afternoon my son will pick me up for Thanksgiving at his 'country retreat' (so I'd better get packed, hmm??) & I'm picking up some extra veggies - the 'holiday harvest order' from my CSA. I was conservative, our receptionist mentioned getting pounds of potatoes & carrots, etc. I'm only getting more of a few things before they take ~ 2 month break (& have a baby!)
My son & his wife are planning on some gluten free yummies - will be fun to see what they come up with!

One of the veggies I've really enjoyed this fall is squash (or pumpkin) - which Katie & Casey suggest baking small to medium squash whole (prick several holes in it first!) - which is SO easy!! I've been baking it while I roast other veg, & then cut it open, scoop & wash the seeds (pulling off most the strings), lightly salt & bake them a little longer. My granddaughters BEG for squash seeds 'Por favor!'

The four year old told me 'my brain tells me I need to have more!' & I told her that they're good brain food! So if you are making pumpkin pie, consider getting a nice local squash or pie pumpkin, & baking it yourself!

I've also been enjoying fresh pomegranates, which are so yummy & nutrient packed. Look at the SIZE of this one!
They are so easy to eat - just score the skin lightly, break off a section, & break out the little juice packed seeds! You can sprinkle them on salads (I keep intending to do that) or just eat them by the handful. A few years ago I read a suggestion to pop the seeds off in a bowl of water, if you're doing a lot, & don't want your hands stained. For eating out of hand, I just do a small amount & don't worry about it! MMM - I need to get a few to take to my son's!

Happy Turkey Day!!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Eat the Fridge - Step 1 - CLEAN the fridge!

Over on her blog, Suzie suggests 'eating (from) the fridge' this week, as we prepare to load our plates (& fridges) over Thanksgiving. My fridge is bursting at the seams, as, though my daughter & I share veggies from our weekly CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) pick up, we are hard pressed to keep up with the abundance.

Fortunatly, much of the current 'share' are root veggies which keep a bit longer - like these lovely HUGE carrots!

As you can see, my fridge really needed a good clean out & scrubbing - so I began that process with the bottom shelf & veg. drawers!

I decided to switch my fridge storage from the ubiquitous plastic bags to non-reactive glass. My mom had a nice set of the rectangular containers, which are hard to find &/or expensive.

A trip to the Good Will yesterday garnered a bunch of large glass bowls ($1 - $4 each) which I washed up before starting on the fridge! Several of these are mixing bowls, & I got a couple of tall vases for the long stemmed kale or chard! Plus a glass salad bowl for lettuce.
I'll probably add some more, as I find the sizes & shapes that work best! I generally eat out of bowls or medium plates, so got down a stack of larger cobalt blue glass plates to use as covers. (I found a few domed covers as well)

I began with the bottom shelf & drawers - first step was to get everything out! That shelf also holds jars containing oils (some flower infused) for making salves & lotions.
I love the big stem of Brussels sprouts - (middle of the photo) they keep well on the stem (& save our farmers a lot of work!)

Ugg - seems like the shelves always need a good scrub! Fortunatly, hot water, some baking soda & 'elbow grease' took care of the shelf grunge pretty quickly, & the glass shelves are easy to remove & clean. Now to reload! . . .

But those brussles sprouts - I popped them off the stem, . . . hmm, maybe I should make Rattatoui with some of the sweet potatoes (which DON'T want to be refrigerated, so I store them in a shoebox!)

That means I need to get out the nice wok I picked up as well - & note the lovely wooden spoon (Yew) from my friend & spoonmaker Peter - like the little 'tea spoons' that I eat with, this is a favorite! Peter & Lorraine have been cooking with one for about 20 years.

The onions & garlic also come from the CSA, they try to provide aliums weekly in some form. I haven't had a wok for awhile - always enjoyed that large surface for stirfrying! (& am happy it's steel - didn't want aluminum, or 'non-stick' coating)

I simmered the onion & garlic skins while sauteing the veg (in coconut oil, natch!) & poured a little liquid over the veg, & added some Italian herbs before returning them to the cassarole & putting them in the oven for ~ 1/2 hour.
Now, back to that fridge! . . . . . . .

TA DA!! OK, so the photo's grainy - but I now have the veg in glass bowls, only a couple of bags (celery root & a romanesco cauliflower) in one cripser drawer! Now on to the shelf above (some eggs, more oil, a few veg that are being consolidated, & the rattatoui is almost done! (added cauliflower, beet & carrot & baked ~ 10 min more)

Here's my bowl with the last of the rice n lentils from Tue in the bottom, the rattatoui, some quickly sauted chard, & a dolop of pesto, & cherve from one of the Playschool moms. I used a sprinkle of raspberry vinegar on the chard, which I sauted in the wok as the rattatoui was finishing. The spoon & chopsticks are from Peter, the bowl from a local potter.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Weaving a Website - Tutorial

I spent much of Saturday at my office with a co-worker, then on my own, working on our website!

This fall we started using an on-line appointment booking system, & wanted to add a 'buy now' button for our gift certificate sales, since our long lasting SNOW put quite a damper on GC sales last winter!
It took awhile, since I hadn't added a button to the site, & the box showed up on the page with the html code - was that right?? But when we 'previewed in browser' - there it is!! YEA :) (I've added buttons on the blog, & the process was similar)
The only button options read 'book now,' & Steph needed to disable the customer booking feature, as we're still learning the system ourselves! She set up the on-line appointment service, I'd done most of the work on our website.

A couple of years ago, 3 of us attended a Chamber of Commerce sponsered 'webinar' - why you should have a website, & some 'tips' on making it work for you & your business.
There were, of course, a few 'professionals' offering their services, for a hefty fee! & Nan (we sublet from her) wanted to hire a 'site building' group, but it would be several months before the 'star' site-builders (& most expensive) were done working on sites for the Library & a local city - & all she wanted was a SIMPLE SITE.
At that time, all we had was info on one page hidden in the Doctor's site - inc. brief bios of Therapists who'd moved on a couple of years before. (His Home page didn't even have a link to the info about us, tho we'd sublet from him for ~ 20 years at that time!) I had a link to that PAGE on my site, & grumped about getting the info updated (& maybe mention of us on his 'home' page??)

I'd had my own website for several years at that point (OK, several!), & had built one using Yahoo Sitebuilder, where I'd registered the domaine names. Sue (who attended the webinar) offered to help, Nan signed up for Yahoo sitebuilder (in process of registering the domain name) & we went to work.

Sue hadn't worked with the site & didn't like the templates, but had used office programs, so helped get it going from 'scratch' (no templates for her!) - grumbling all the way!! She had taken lovely photos of our locations for an ad, & knew how to import those, & how to use grids . . . our receptionist worked for that premier site building group for awhile, & had some ideas (& is great at proofreading!) She 'sent' us the logo, & we added it as a banner.

So for several years, we've had a 'pretty plain' site, with a rather garish green background, the logo, photos of the offices (at first 3, then 2), only 4 pages. Rather boring - but up & running, & Nan was impressed. When a phone book 'ad gal' ran some searches, she was also impressed, since I'd used the 'properties' feature to add info on each page.

Steph has done all the work getting the on-line appointment system going, (did I mention she's half my age? & that I was the first of the therapists to get my sessions into the online system?? :) Nan began talking about hiring someone to 'spruce it up' - meanwhile, could we get a link for buying Gift Certificates on the site??

So in the AM, Steph & I, working on laptops, got it done! I looked through the templates, & found one with a banner with one of our Logo elements, & put the info on how to order a GC on-line on that page, linking it into the other pages.
In the afternoon, I went back to the clinic, & worked on it some more - ta da!! [yes! It still needs some editing, lol]
In about 2 1/2 hours I'd transfered the info from the 'old' site to the 'new' pages & cleaned it up a bit. Steph, meanwhile, spent some time looking the site over, getting ideas for consolidating the info, so we'll be tweeking it more before the ads run. & I'm going to be looking at other sites, deciding what to incorporate on wesite 'round 2.'

Do you have (or want to have) a website??

If you're blogging, you already have most of the skills you'd need to build your own! Sure, it wmight not be quite as 'showy' as it might be if you hired a professional site-builder! But . . . do you really need one? Either way, you need to determine what info you want on your site - your 'who, what, when & where' info!!

I enjoyed using Yahoo - but send me your prefrences!!

Here are some 'how to begin' thoughts-
a Tutorial on Weaving your own Website:
  • Choose a name for your site, & register your 'domain' (you may have a site available thru your e-mail provider - that's how I built my first site) & sign up for a hosting service (you may need help with this part - I have 'geeky' son & former hubby as my 'tech' guys!)
  • Check out other sites! Bookmark ones you like, & jot down ideas (on paper or in your 'office' prog) Ask friends to send you to their favorite sites. Check out the sites of other bloggers
  • Go thru the tutorial (if available) on your site-host
  • Go thru the templates & pick some you like - play with putting some basic info on different ones. The one I used for our site was listed as 'charities' & came with a blue or brown banner - I wouldn't have thought to look there, so be open to checking other categories than 'your' service!
    (I use 3 different templates on my site, one for each main category - harp, (music) wedding harp (flowery) & healing (yoga)
  • Write, write, write! Write about things you think you might want on your site! Think 'who, what, when & where' - what info do you want on your site?
  • Gather pictures! Use your camera, use your phone, look online . . .
  • REGOGNITION: If you have a logo, consider putting it on your site! We use our logo on each page, & the new banner I chose has one of the logo elements prominently displayed. If there's a key phrase, use that! Use this on all your business cards, flyers, website, business facebook page, etc
  • WHO: info about yourself, your training, your background ('about us')? You can have pictures here,
  • WHAT: There are two places for this - your HOME page ('index') is the first page people (usually) see - make it pop! Give a 'who, what, when, where' overview, then get to the details on the pages.
  • & WHAT services or products do you offer? What makes you stand out as unique? What is your special training? ('services')
  • WHERE are you located? Is yours a physical location, or are you set up for on-line orders? Do you have an Etsy shop, or do you want to sell through your site? ('location') This week I intend to put 'yahoo map' links on our 'locations' page.
  • WHEN: are you open for business? (we didn't put that info on our site, as we have two offices with different hours) When did you begin? How long did you train for what you do?
  • CONTACT: How do you wish to be contacted? We have our phone numbers & our physical addresses, & I put the City & State on each page, as well as in 'properties.' How many times have you gone to a website & found no info on where they're located? It doesn't matter if you merely provide services on-line - but if you have a physical location, put the city!! ('contact-us')
  • LINKS: These are certainly optional, but fun! I love to link within the page - & do that a lot on this blog! (like this one on the bennies of magnesium, which I also put on my personal website) If you refer to colleagues, you might put links to their pages. I have links to the gents who made my harps on my own website, & links to the the clinic website. Check to be sure your links work, & update them when you need to!
  • Networking systems like Facebook - you can have a 'business' page (I am working on Nan on this one - 'we could have a blog' 'we could have a business Facebook page' . . . ) I just found a friend request from a favorite Mineral Make-up business - YES!
  • PHOTOS: You can insert photos at any point - I took some clues from scrapbooking, & play with captions & background 'paper' (text boxes that I choose a background colour for, & place behind the photos with the 'arange' button.
  • UPDATE OFTEN: This was one of the 'hints' at the webinar - play with your site, add stuff, search it yourself!! Get your friends to search it - that brings it to the 'top' of the que when others are looking for it!! I have been bored with the clinic site for awhile, & felt I didn't have the freedom to play with it that I do with my 'own' site - so it was nice to hear 'we need to update it' . . . Even if you have someone else build your site, see if you can learn how to do updates yourself!! Get in the habit of checking your site monthly, & seeing if there's something you need to change or ad!
  • Your BLOG: is one possibility for updates - I notice more & more businesses have links to their blogs on their site.
  • WHAT'S NEW?: This is another optional page - & one where you can feature what's going on. Are you volunteering for an event? (We offer massage for an annual event, & donate Gift Certificates to fundraisers) Did someone join you? Do you have new items on Etsy? You can also Blog about these things!
  • TABS: I have my tabs on the side, & when I shifted the info to new pages, brought the site up & tested them out - a few linked to the old site (I'd used names like 'local2' for the new locations (local) page - & didn't get some of the new links in! Quick to change - but you need to do it!
  • The more smoothly your website flows, & the more attractive it is, the more fun it will be to list the address on your business cards, flyers, in your ads, etc :)
Last - have fun with it!! Please send me any links to your favorite sites!

Friday, November 13, 2009

Laughing all the Way - Joy Diet week 8

This summer a galfriend visited who is 'certified to teach Laughter Yoga' (how silly is that!?!) Folks all over the world are joyously engaged in this energizing activity.

She gave a brief history, then had us do various 'exercises' (mental & phys) to generate laughter, & commented that even 'fake' laughter generates the same lovely endorphins & other 'feel good' hormones!

Like several others, I rather skimmed the chapter, but found plenty of opportunities to smile & laugh. Today was a classroom day at 'playschool,' & I found myself popular with the kids (& fortunatly, my 4 yr old granddaughter was willing to share me!) a hand held here, a make-believe game or 'paint with me' = 'will you come put a puzzle together?' etc all morning.
At one point, one little girl began painting on the 'paint wall' (rather than on PAPER pinned TO the wall) & came to story circle with purple paint on her nose & chin!! Three little girls, inc my granddaughter, scrubbed the wall & paint tray with MANY towels & had a grand time doing it!

I've had a lovely music & dance filled week as well (square dancing with the gkids on Sat, a lovely concert Fri PM - Jamie Sieber on electric cello . . . dance classes, etc)

Peruse the other blogs for some fun videos, inc a 'candid camera' type bit at Starbucks!

Friday, November 6, 2009

Dance n Play - Joy Diet week 7

I love to dance - have I mentioned that before?? (tee hee!)

Now part of the 'story' Beck asks us to rethink - my mama, who loved to swing, run, skip, swim, PLAY, had polio when she was 9, back in 1921. Her grandma Laura, who lived here in the valley, decided she needed 'state of the art' care, & brought her over to live & receive treatment at the Shriner's Hospital. Unfortunatly, at that time, 'treatment' involved a number of surgeries on her hips, knees & ankles, so she walked with braces, then crutches throughout her life (till @ 85, when she began using a wheel chair!)
Plucky lady, who came back home & rode her pony to the top of near by Black Butte, when her gal friends hiked it, camped, did crafts, kept her own home, went to secretarial school so she had a job during the depression, etc. But she couldn't easily skip or swing . . . while a classmate who also had polio recovered more 'naturally' (no surgery) became the 'star' basketball player in their HS! She was never bitter, but did 'wonder' if she might also have walked with a slight limp, & been more 'normal' with the family's 'natural healing ability!'

. . . I took piano lessons, but not dance growing up, did a bit of waltzing around the living room with my dad when we watched Lawrence Welch - & never good at ball sports, I 'hated' PE, & didn't think of myself as enjoying exercise.

In my late 20s, I went to the 'adult exercise class' taught by a world class ballet teacher with my sister-in law, & tho not dressed for it (I was in jeans!) took the class - & LOVED it!
I soon began commuting (an hour each way) to take class a couple of times a week, my hubby & kids joined me (My daughter went on to take a Dance Minor in college) & within a few years, we were actually GOOD at this dance stuff!!

I began taking Tai Chi a few years later when studying massage, as my mentor felt it was a good way to incorporate good body mechanics into my work, & also something I could teach at some point.

Dance - belly dance, ballroom, ecstatic (free form), jazzercise, hula, & most recently square & round dance are all fun ways for me to exercise & always put a smile on my face. All 3 granddaughters will perform in our studio's anual 'Nutcracker' this year, with the older two having 'special' roles! The youngest prefers free form, but 'needs' her grounding in ballet (which she enjoys at times)

So my week of 'play' included:
Sat: 'Mom's group' (social) Ballet, Trick or Treating with the in-town grandkids on Main Street, & a Halloween party with my friends (172 kids!) - & two of my friends made 'gluten-free' desert - apple pear crisp, & pumpkin roll!
Sun: Playing harp for a Harvest Festival our church sponsored (which inc G F chili, cornbread, & a repeat of the apple pear crisp)
Mon: Square & Round Dance lessons at the Grange
Tue: West Coast Swing class (1st in a series, & my first time with this dance) & picking up my veggie 'share' from my CSA
Wed: [Worked' at the Playschool the 4 year old attends - so playing with a group of 16 kids & 4 other adults - I taught one of the moms to Hula Hoop (she hadn't for years - & it's hard for folks to 'get' that we need to use the bigger, heavier hoops!) Sister Circle (in town 'Women's spirituality book group')
Thur: Water Aerobics, Sister Circle 'two' (just beginning, as the other's 'full'), watching the granddaughters rehearse for Nutcracker, & dinner with both my kids & the girls (# 1 & only grandson was home with his mom) - & the 4 year old was disappointed we didn't get to the Ecstatic Dance . . . so invited me for a sleep over :)
Today: This AM I'm checking out that Water Arthritis Class that I may help teach (didin't last week with sick grandbaby) there's a concert tonight at a friends country venue, with friends driving

- This was a pretty 'normal' week for play - so as others have mentioned, I already play a lot!!

Last night the youngest granddaughter invited me to cuddle with her/spend the night, & I was restless. Having seen mention of Tarot readings available thru a friend blogger's Etsy shop, began brainstorming on "what could I do??" & thought of some Astrology 'bite size' sessions, info on cycles that I find helpful, & some of my friend call occ & say 'could you give me that 'Pattern of Response' list again??' Or "could you help me with the Year at a Glance? Or 'tell me again about Chiron' . . .
My former hubby read charts so well, & I loved reading the books, looking at the chart, sharing my own insights - & over the years have done some mini-readings. Sooo . . . stay tuned!