{from the archives} Simplicity

Archive Date TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 20, 2011

Wouldn’t it be nice if we could all keep a little place in the corner of our hearts to hold the simpler times of our lives. How simple would it be to be eight again. Old enough to know how to ride a bike and get around the neighborhood, young enough to believe in Santa Claus  and in the goodness of the world around you. I wouldn’t mind going back in time to the days as portrayed in the television show, The Walton's  where all problems could be solved in thirty minutes including commercials. Uncle John and John-Boy always made everything alright with generosity of spirit and an open mind centered on the good that can be found in each and every person. 

I think it can really be as simple as that, as simple as centering on the good in each person. Well, maybe it’s easier when life is not so confounded. Our world is getting smaller and smaller, technology has opened so many avenues to connect. We are tweeting, emailing, face booking, blogging, sometimes while doing five other things, never fully present in one task, worried about the next thing, our jobs, our finances. We forget to connect with other people in the simple ways, a call to hear someone's voice, sitting down to write a friendly note, a visit to a neighbor, a touch, a smile, a human connection.
Technology can’t give us the human connection. The Walton’s had the human connection, each ready and able to be there for each other in a simpler way, a more connected way. Every episode was chuck full of relationship deepening, to take a phrase from the business world. Only relationship deepening in the business world is widely accepted as building on an existing  opportunity to sell multiple products. I’m thinking relationship deepening among humans is all about taking the time to learn and enjoy a person by centering on the good. Wouldn’t you want to share with family, friends, neighbors and  colleagues and clients in a more connected, centered and simpler way?
Technology doesn’t give us a warm fuzzy feeling but picking up the phone and hearing a friends voice does. How do you feel when you find a handwritten letter in your mailbox? I love the anticipation a handwritten note holds, the moments between taking it from the mail to the moment you sit down and slide the flap open, checking every detail of the envelope. When was the last time you stopped by your neighbors house to say hello? Sharing a moment together builds a remembered bond and don’t we all want to be remembered. Simpler times, simpler ideas help us to slow down and be human.
Stop now and center on the simple good in someone and see how it feels! 

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Just because it's over doesn't mean it should be forgotten!

Memorial Day has past ... but don't let your remembrance and thanks be limited to just one day. Take a minute now and send a Thank you card to a wounded soldier for their service and their sacrifice.
Go to Facebook and send a Wounded Warrior an email today.
Photo property of the Wounded Warrior Project


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A Winning Writer!

I'll tell you this ... waking up to be a winner is the best feeling anyone could experience!

A couple of weeks ago, I entered into a 'giveaway' that The Gracious Girl was promoting on her blog. In partnership with Sheaffer Pen, the prize was a Sheaffer® Calligraphy Maxi Kit. I have always loved calligraphy and of course, writing.
Back in the day, I was taught to write script with a Sheaffer Fountain Ink Pen at the lower school I attended. I remember changing cartridges and using a blotter ... Ha! a blotter ... I guess I am showing a bit of age. The only subject where the use of something other than an ink pen was required, was math class. If you brought in homework written with a cheap 'ball point pen', you would be reprimanded and told to re-do it properly. Ink pens had there value to us kids back then. When a cartridge was empty, we would rinse them out, spread the 'well' wider, let them dry and then use them as devices for passing notes in class. It was common to share cartridges if your neighbor ran out of ink in class so teachers did not mind that kind of interaction. So, the idea of using the cartridge for more nefarious acts spread.
Vintage Green Chrome Cap Set 2 Two Sheaffer Fountain Writing Ink Pen 

Sheaffer Skrip Permanent Jet Black Ink Cartridge 5-Pack vintage 
Well, the days of schools teaching children to write with an ink pen are gone. Few schools teach script and most schools do not even have ongoing penmanship practice beyond the basics of teaching a child to write. Children are being taught at younger and younger ages to use a computer to prepare their work for school. Personally, I think that's so sad because there is so much beauty in a well thought-out written piece, whether it is a note or letter, or even a tome.
Some years ago I found 'disposable' fountain ink pens at Staples and stocked up but they weren't as nice as a Sheaffer. I use ink pens for all sorts of things but mostly for personal note writing. I guess I just like ink on paper!!
So I was absolutely delighted to learn that I was one of the winners of the giveaway. That was May 16th, and it was a trifecta of a morning. First I found out about a new collaboration for which I was chosen, then I learned I was given an acknowledgement in my friends book which had recently been published and then I learned I won the calligraphy set in the giveaway ... all within a span of about two hours. How's that for waking up a winner!

I received the package in the mail and of course, I had to savor it. As far as I am concerned the best part of receiving something personal in the mail, is the anticipation experienced during the walk from the mailbox to your comfortable chair where you inspect the mail and savor the surprise.
Isn't it great receiving fun things in the mail?

With a gracious note too!
I had to try it out right away like a kid in a candy store! Have a look at all the goodies inside the box.

There are three pens, each with a different nib grade (fine, medium, broad), and a nice assortment of ink colors. An instruction booklet is included, which I found very helpful!

Inside the box

Instruction Booklet
Instructions well done!

Practice makes perfect! 
That saying has been drilled into my head, by teachers and family and now I constantly say the same to my son.

Thank you Mindy!

How do you think I did??

Try your hand at calligraphy with a Sheaffer Calligraphy set and see how you do. Check out Sheaffer Writing Instruments. Not only do they have beautiful Fountain Ink Pens but also smooth Roller Ball Pens, Ball Point and Ball Point / Pencil Sets.
Stop by The Gracious Girl's blog published by Mindy Lockard ... 'Mindy is a nationally recognized etiquette expert and the founder of Mindy Lockard Gracious Living.'

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When life give you lemons .... what are you going to do?

Photo source Unknown
Lemons have been used since around the 1st century. It's thought they originated in Asia but no one seems to be sure. At least Wikipedia isn't sure.  In the Americas, lemon seeds arrived with Columbus through Hispaniola but know knows, maybe the seeds found their way with Don Juan de OƱate y Salazar into Mexico and up into the southwest. Anyway ...
Then, someones mama got to working in the kitchen and discovered lemonade.
Photo source Internet Images

...and over the years, we've found, there isn't a better way to cool down by the pool or in the yard than with an ice cold glass of homemade Lemonade and no, I'm not going to tell you to spike it.
This is the recipe, I've been using for some time now. I like it a bit tart but if you like it sweet, you can adjust the sugar.

My Homemade Lemonade
1 1/4 cups sugar
1/2 cup boiling water
5 cups cold water
1 1/2 cups fresh squeezed lemon juice
Grated rind of one lemon
Stir the sugar and the boiling water together to make a simple syrup.
Add lemon juice, cold water and the lemon rind. 
This should make about 8 glasses of Lemonade

Refrigerate until it's ice cold.
Serve over ice in a tall glass. Drop in a fresh strawberry slice if you have it on hand and garnish the rim with a slice of lemon.

OR, for the kids and when you are having guests ...
Photo source Internet Images
Pour the prepared Lemonade into as many Mason Jars as it will take, drop two slices of lemon (cut in very thin rounds because it will look pretty) into each jar. Cap tightly and put in the freezer until the lemonade is almost slushy. Fill a large bucket with ice, and place the jars into the ice to keep chilled.

The kids and the adults will love to have their own jar full of icy cold Lemonade.

**You can make additional pitchers for refills.


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The Rums not gone! Ready up for memorial day weekend ...

Image source unknown
We're sliding into Memorial day weekend, the official start of summer. With the nice weather we've been having I started my summer a few weeks ago. If I could have summer 12 months of the year, I'd be a happy lady.

So to start off this weekend, I have another cocktail recipe for you. This time it is compliments of Flor de Cana (Spanish for "sugarcane flower"). If you are a regular reader of my blog, you'll know this is the rum I was asked to review and write about.
A note from Sofia
The rum arrived just in time to celebrate my nephews college graduation. The request of the day was for a classic mojito since the weather was perfect, the music just right and the Ladies & Gents delighted.
We made the cocktails in quantity by using a bit of math with recipe below.
My first impression of this rum was that it was flavorful and smooth. Expecting the harshness noticed with many rums currently on the market, I was pleased with Flor de Cana's easiness. My sister and I declared it a 'Ladies Rum' though ALL of the Gents imbibing declared it to be a hit! 
All thumbs up for Flor de Cana 7 Year Rum!!!!
My sister enjoying herself.
Flor de Cana has been in production since 1890 by Compania Licorera de Nicaragua and they have one of the largest stocks of aged rum in the world.Using only 100% natural ingredients, they never add accelerants to speed the aging. Of course I couldn't be happier to hear that since I am opposed to the use of anything I have no idea about, namely accelerants in my cocktails. If it doesn't sound natural, I don't need it.
Bronze Medal winner in the 'San Francisco World Spirits Competition 2011' and received a "Excellent, highly Recommended rating in the 'Ultimate Cocktails, Spirits & Wine Blast New York 2010' among several other awards.
Try this traditional Mojito. It is the recipe we used and enjoyed!

Classic Mojito
1 1/2 oz Flor de Cana 7 Year Rum
1Tbs superfine sugar
Lime Wedges
4 Sprigs of fresh mint
Club soda

Muddle superfine sugar and lime in a mixing glass. 
Muddle mint leaves,* 
Slap the mint leaves in your hand and add it to the mixing glass (This brings out the flavor from the veins better and does not cause any harshness or vegetal flavors)
Add Flor de Cana and ice.
Using a cocktail shaker, give it a good shake.
Strain into a tall glass with more ice and top with club soda.
Garnish with a sprig of mint.
*If you do muddle, please do it gently so you don't end up with bits and pieces or 'green' flavors which can ruin your drink.
Now, feel some island flavor and quick ... cha-cha away from the bar !!!
Now, if you are concerned with calories, you can try the
Skinny Cocktail
1 oz Flor de Cana 7 Year Rum
2 oz White Cranberry Juice
1/2 the juice of a fresh lemon
Mix it up, add ice, serve in a highball glass, garnish with a half strawberry.
Total 93 Calories - How could you go wrong!

Find out where you can get Flor de Cana rum on their websites store locator. Of course you must be a legal age to enter the site. You can also follow them on twitter @flordecana ...
And if you are interested in more recipes for your summer parties with 
Flor de Cana, go to their website and click on cocktails. I'll be experimenting some more since I like to tweak recipes to my liking. As I do, I'll let you know.

Now go on ... have a great holiday weekend!

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A dash of art ... Teil Duncan

I was browsing Pinterest for some inspiration at lunchtime. I was actually looking for hairstyles since I am desperately in need of a cut. Well, I completely forgot about my hair when I found the art work of Teil Duncan.
All images copyright Teil Duncan 

All images copyright Teil Duncan 

All images copyright Teil Duncan

All images copyright Teil Duncan
... and have a look at her blog for an inside look!

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New design wanted ...

Well, I am almost at the end of my calling cards so I've been looking around at new designs. The card I carry now is a very basic Crane & Co. calling card with only my name on the front ... very traditional. I wanted it that way so I could add the contact information I choose to give that particular recipient. I don't always share all details with all people. Actually if you look back to the history of calling cards, you'll find that most cards only carried the persons name and plenty of room for them (or the recipient) to make notes.
My personal card
Now though, I think I would like to find something different but still keep it somewhat traditional. Perhaps my name and a small design or watercolor background on front with contact details on the back. If I can create a nice design, I'd like it to eventually be the header for this blog which means I want it to capture the essence of what I feel when I think about beach walking in the desert. 
But what is Beach Walking in the Desert?
The title came to me in stages ... This blog was at first titled just Beach Walker. You see I spent a great deal of time walking on some beautiful beaches in my time and I was living by a beach when I started this blog back in 2008. Yet many years of my life were spent living in the high desert, a place to which I will soon return. Thus, the addition of a whole other thought, the desert ... each a separate thing yet in my mind, they became a whole thought.
Does that make any sense? Probably not, but there's more!
 ... it seems my life is that of a beach walker ... finding treasures as I go, capturing moments in time, being drawn to complete opposites, each powerful in it's own way and yet loving each. So, it makes sense to me. The sensual feelings associated with a beach are the same feelings that can be associated with a desert. The heat of the sun common to both.
So with all that said, I played around with a app I found online and came up this:
The back of the card would have all my contact details
I think the colors give a sense of heat and sun but it's not just right somehow, it's missing the point. The red is too red perhaps. The yellow, too yellow. Should it be more coral or is the bottom tan/grey swirl just right for the whole card? Should it be a design and not a watercolor background?
...or should it be something completely different?
What do you think? ... Can you make a suggestion? Click on comment below and let me know!

Yo Ho Ho and a bottle of Rum ... Fun in the sun!

Spiked Lemonade Sweet TeaPhoto: Jennifer Davick; Styling: Lydia DeGaris Pursell
Back when I first started my blog it was kind of different from what it is now and I remember a dear friend saying to me "Do you realize you have more cocktail recipes than you have food recipes?" I hadn't realized it but she was right, I did have more imbibing going on back then and maybe I'm thinking "nothing wrong with imbibing, I should continue that."
Well, she'll probably roll her eyes when she reads here that I've been contacted by a 'spirits' company and asked to review some recipes for a new brand of rum. I'll tell you all about it in coming stories. I'm hoping I'll receive the samples in time for the second party of the summer coming up this weekend ... my nephew's graduation! Fun in the sun ....
Source: Unknown/Internet
Try this recipe for Spiked Lemonade Sweet Tea. It appeared in Southern Living magazine's May 2011 issue and is really delicious. Makes for a wonderful backyard drink.
3 cups water
2 family-size tea bags 
1 cup loosely packed fresh mint leaves (from your garden?)
1/2 cup sugar 
4 cups cold water
1/2 (12-oz.) can frozen lemonade concentrate, thawed (or fresh, yum!)
1 cup bourbon or spiced dark rum
Garnishes: fresh sugarcane, fresh pineapple slices 
1. Bring 3 cups water to a boil in a 2-qt. saucepan. Remove from heat, add tea bags, and stir in fresh mint. Cover and steep 10 minutes.
2. Discard tea bags and mint. Stir in sugar until dissolved. Pour tea into a 3-qt. container, and stir in 4 cups cold water and lemonade concentrate. Stir in bourbon or spiced dark rum just before serving. Serve over ice. Garnish, if desired. of course!!!
... and, use a beautiful Collins glass! If you have the time, chill it first!
SL May 2011 Issue
Here are just a few past stories, some with recipes, that have something to do with imbibing.

Summer cocktails

Derby time! Do you have a pick?

2012 Drink to try … with Pendleton Whisky

Wine, wine, wine!!!!

Need I say more ….

Whiskey Dijon BBQ Sauce

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Coyote songs in my head

As I get ready to return to my soul's home, I'm remembering some of the things that gave me great satisfaction living there. So many memories, so many life lessons.
Today, I'd just wanted to share a post I wrote in 2010 about living on the ranch. You can find the original and other stories about New Mexico under the tags Short Story and New Mexico. I hope you enjoy!
The coyotes song ... In the shadow of a mountain, I learned to respect what is plain to this world, the land, the weather and the wildlife. It’s hard to even believe as I sit here just 23 miles north of New York City that I was ever dug down in the canyon, work clothes and boots under the high sun. What I remember most vividly is the cattle coming down the road pretty fast and O flying across the pasture on his bay. My heart beat faster than I knew it could. It was the first time I had seen such a sight being just a transplanted city gal. I ran as fast as I could to get back to the house, over the fence without a care for my being, just wanting to get out of the way.
When I first went to that place, I didn’t really know what to expect. I didn’t know that I would have so much learning to do, about life, about myself. I thought I knew it all, after all I had been around the block a few times and finding myself in the high country of New Mexico was a choice. But learn I did and now I hold those lessons dear as I look back and wait for the moment when I can return.
I learned to wave at every truck that came down the road ‘cause that’s what you did and ‘cause your neighbors were important people. I learned it was too far to town to forget something at the market. I learned which wild weeds and herbs were valuable, what could be used in teas and cooking. Incredibly, I learned how to pull sap from a pinon tree. I learned it was called tremintina and that it had more uses than you could imagine. I learned how hard it could be to keep up with a quarter acre garden. Just wasn’t as easy or as pretty as Martha Stewart said it would be. But food grew and I learned how to put up for the winter and share with the ranch ladies nearby.
In giving, I did some receiving. I was taught how to make fresh tortillas from scratch and how to cook a pot of beans to perfection. I learned how to roast chili and preserve it till the next harvest.
I learned that you don’t mess around when the sky looks fierce, better to head on in or run the risk of being stuck in mud. I learned that chopping wood is back breaking work but worth it to heat your home. The warmth that a wood stove gives is like being wrapped in a security blanket.
I learned that some things in life are free, like the Christmas tree you cut from your property or the snack you have right from the apple tree down the road. The best thing that was free was the view, the beautiful mountains, the horses running in the pasture, the sunsets over the mountain, the way the dark just slipped down the canyon, the stars in a completely black sky and the song of the coyotes at night.
Being in that place was purposeful and even though I sometimes felt isolated and often longed for the lights and the doings in the city, it was good for me. I remember that place fondly and on most nights if I listen hard enough, I can hear the coyotes sing.


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OK! Really ... I really, really do love summer!
Jack Rogers 'Santa Fe'

'The Strangers on Montagu Street' ... Karen White does the unexpected!

Stayed up into the wee hours of the morning to finish a favorite authors book. I have read just about all of Karen White's books enjoying her imaginative stories and easy style. That the books happen to be set in the South adds the right amount of spice and history I like.
The Strangers on Montagu Street is the third in the Tradd Street series about Melanie, a hyper-sensitive, OCD woman who can see ghosts and Jack, the charming southern guy with a past. The two are always on the wrong page at the right time adding history to their mostly on the rocks relationship.
Having loved the first two books in the series, I eagerly awaited the third ... however for reason I can't put my finger on, the book sat in by TBR (to be read) pile for quite some time until Sunday afternoon when all was quite. I read throughout the afternoon and into the evening and again the following evening and into the wee hours of this morning loving the story and being pleased at the new twists in Melanie and Jack's relationship, excited at the introduction of a new and interesting character.
Then POW ... smacked right in the head on the very last page ... I was shocked! Thrown for a loop ... never once expecting that ending.

Now, I'm sure there will have to be a fourth in the series because we must know what happened, why and how it will all play out in the holy city. I don't know how I feel about the ending and I don't want to be a spoiler so I'll leave it to you to decide. I just know that getting to the ending will be an enjoyable ride and the ending, no matter how shocking, will make you want more.

Read Karen White's Guest Post on this blog about her writing Paranormal Chick Lit.

Karen's next book is due out June 5th ...
For Ava Whalen, a new marriage and a move to St. Simons Island mean a new beginning. But she she doesn't realize is that her marriage will take her on an unexpected journey into the deep recesses of her past that will transform her forever... ~~From Author's website


Summer cocktails

Photo from Garden & Gun Margaret Houston
Summer is just around the corner! Time for me to pick my summer drink and this year I an reaching back to an earlier time and I'll order up a cool Planter's Punch.
Many would like to take credit for concocting the drink but it seems Charleston holds right to ownership, even though the cocktail has a long history. I think I'll allow my Charleston this nod even though ownership may belong elsewhere.
The recipe below is from the Peninsula Grill ... with an added twist I picked up from Robert F. Moss's blog. Seems when I was living in Charleston, I failed to know that Grand Marnier was a favorite 'shooter' among the locals. Understandable since at my age, I doubt I'd be found doing shooters in public (in private? that's a whole 'nother story). 

Have you picked your summer drink?
Charleston  Planter's Punch
1 ½ oz. Myers’s Rum
¾ oz. freshly squeezed orange juice
¾ oz. pineapple juice
dash of grenadine
--For an interesting twist add a dash of  Grand Marnier 
Shake well and serve over ice in a Collins glass. Garnish with an orange slice and cherry.

This recipe I give to thee,
Dear brother in the heat.
Take two of sour (lime let it be)
To one and a half of sweet,
Of Old Jamaica pour three strong,
And add four parts of weak.
Then mix and drink. I do no wrong —
I know whereof I speak.
~From the August 8, 1908 edition of The New York Times


Ohhh! It's The Gracious Girl

One of the things I still love is the written letter. Who doesn't like to receive a handwritten note in the mail?!? There is a certain pleasure in it.
It's the moments between seeing the letter in your mailbox and finding a comfortable place to sit and read that are the most exciting. In those moments you have a faint expectation. In those moments you wonder what lies inside as you carefully inspect the handwriting on front and back.
If you are like me, you will try to extend those moments. Put everything aside, perhaps prepare something to drink and settle in a comfortable chair with your letter.
I have been following The Gracious Girl blog written by lovely Mindy Lockard for quite some time. I am enchanted by all things gracious, lovely and mannerly. I'm not all of those things all of the time, but I do try.
My mom purchased my first set of stationery for me when I was a young child and I learned the importance of a well written note. It's kind of sad that so many people choose other methods of communication ... notes on Facebook, texting, email and twittering. I've succumbed to the ease and immediacy myself but I am making an effort to refrain. Even as I make that admission, I'm happy to report that I have put quite a bit of effort into making sure my boy minds his manners and knows how to write a proper note. He gets the importance ... and for a 14 year old boy, that's a good thing.
So it pleases me that The Gracious Girl is carrying on and making note writing interesting and fun, adding a touch of calligraphy. In this video, Miss Mindy cleverly shows us how to DIY! Check out her site to see how she partners with Sheaffer pens and Crane & Co stationery to build interest in the art of writing.

... and next time you are out, stop by your local stationery shop and pick up a box of note cards. I'm pretty sure a friend of yours will be excited to hear from you ... just because.
Crane & Co Limon Green Stripes Note


Why this morning hurts so much

As a mom you wish for only the best for your children. Each morning when you wake, your first thought is of your babies, no matter how old they may be. Well, at least for me it is!
I can certainly remember what life was like when I was childless but I can't imagine my life now without my child. Even with his kid foibles, I wouldn't trade my boy for anything imaginable and everything I do takes consideration of his well being. I just couldn't imagine it any other way.
That's why this morning hurts so much. I received a call from my dear friend telling me about another friend whose 21 year old passed away this weekend ... one day before Mother's Day.
I didn't know the young man, nor do I know the mom but I do know the dad. He was a childhood friend with whom I just reconnected with on Facebook after so many years. I'm starting to be leery of Facebook these days. In the time since I joined with the idea of reconnecting with old friends and staying in touch with current and new friends, I have learned of friends whose spouses have passed away  too young, and friends who have passed away suddenly, other friends who are failing in health and now of my friend's son. There can be pain when you reconnect with your past.
More than that, there is a certain kind of pain you feel when you learn a child has died. As a mom, the pain burns deeply making you feel the loss even more so and you count your blessings, you make thanks for every moment you have with your own. 'Cause life is short and you never know what can happen next.
It's hard not to think about the loss to the world ... the what could have been. Perhaps God felt this young man had already given his talent and gift to the world and now it was time to go home. I'm sure my friend and his wife wouldn't agree, most parents wouldn't. What I do know though is that his spirit will continue to live on in those who knew of him,  and in all who experienced his love, his talent, and his gift.
My heart weights heavy this morning for my friend and his family and I pray they will find the peace needed.
Word Photo by: SheridanFrenchBlog



 "When you are a mother, you are never really alone in your thoughts. A mother always has to think twice, once for herself and once for her child."  ~Sophia Loren, Women and Beauty


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Mother's Day

Do you have a blog post for Mother's Day?

Share your link in a comment so we all can check out your post and your blog ...


Stamp it Made in America

Cowgirl Dirt Cosmetics ... Did you know that all of our cosmetics are made right here in the USA?
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  • Natural: contains no toxic chemical, artificial preservative, dyes, nano particles, talc, or parabens.
  • Organic: contains the highest quality organic oils and extracts."
Click HERE to start shopping!


Red Truck

Wouldn't it be fun to own this truck ...
From Pinterest