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Archive for August, 2009

DSCN3785

Peanut post-bath :D

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Sundays are grrrreat!

This is the front of the house to show you the natural color of the wood; pretty - yes; sustainable - no

This is the front of the house to show you the natural color of the wood; pretty - yes; sustainable - no

Last night we slept with the door to our deck wide open; though it certainly brought on a chill from the cool mountain air overnight, I love having it cool when I sleep and staying cozy under piles of blankets and down comforters.  Getting up requires donning long sleeves, fleece PJ’s, and fuzzy slippers so that you can shuffle over to the stove to put on a hot pot of water for coffee (I much prefer french press or percolator to an electric coffee maker – call me an authentic snob if you will *wink*).  A usual Sunday breakfast was made with eggs and turkey bacon and we commenced the day with a game of fetch with the dogs.  Ah, lazy Sundays.

I started reading Mother Earth News’ “Guide to Country Skills” and dreamed of creating a homestead, having a plentiful garden and greenhouse, keeping chickens for fresh, daily eggs, goats for milk and pest control, yada yada.  I know I’ll get there someday…now I just have my training wheels on, so to speak, and am slowly learning the tasks that will prove helpful down the road. 

David sanding

David sanding our deck; he just recently stained the back of the house a warm honey and cedar color

David is now sanding the deck (we made a poor decision when we first bought this house and chose to get a poly coat instead of a true wood stain because we liked the natural color of the wood; well, at 8,300 feet in altitude, we are that much closer to the sun, not to mention we have full sun exposure being on the southwest side of the mountain range, so all of the wood on our log home and deck has dried and quickly sunburned in the 3 short years we’ve been here).  As such, we made the decision to strip/sand/stain the whole house ourselves as its MUCH cheaper than the $4K-$7K our neighbors were quoted for someone to do it professionally *ouch*.  So, David has taught himself how to undertake this project and he has done an incredible job.  He says that it keeps him busy while I’m away each week and come Friday night, I know I’ll surprised by his progress. 

Since there is only one industrial sander and I couldn’t do much to help, I took to the kitchen and made my favorite and EASY no-knead bread recipe that allows you to make enough for 8 – 1lb loaves (and you can keep the dough in the fridge up to two weeks, just take what you need every few days and bake a fresh loaf) and it tastes just like the artisan loaves you get at the corner bakery!  (The recipe can be found under my “Recipes” link to the right)

rising bread

Big ol' bowl of rising bread

Mmm...fresh baked bread!

Mmm...fresh baked bread!

Additionally, while I was in the baking mood and had flour spread all over my countertop anyhow, I decided to make some homemade dog treats.  As those of you who know us, our 3 dogs are like our children and we love to spoil them, especially with treats.  David is particularly fond of being the Santa of treats and with 3 dogs times several treats a day,well…it ends up being several buckaroos out of our pockets (especially since I won’t allow us to get those awful, made-from-China-with-every-kind-of-byproduct-thrown-in treats they sell in the conventional stores, and thus we opt for all-natural treats, which go fast in our house and add up dollar wise).  I whipped out my favorite dog treat recipe from the “Chef Fido’s Dog Biscuit Cutter and Recipe Kit.  Frankly, you can find these recipes for free online, you don’t need to buy a kit and you can use any cookie cutter or shape you choose.  I used a small heart cookie cutter I had in my pantry, the size of a 1/2 dollar (since I lost the dog bone cookie cutter the kit originally came with!), and it ended up yielding me close to 300 cookies!  I froze them on cookie sheets until they got hard enough to throw into ziploc bags; this way I can take out and bake only a portion at a time to keep them fresh.  I store in a glass container (Mason jars work great as do re-used pickle or pasta jars).  As you can see, this recipe makes a ton o’treats, for a fraction of the cost and with natural ingredients that you can feel good feeding your pups!  Woof!

I’d include the recipe, but it has legal talk about copyrighting, so I’ll leave out, but can tell you that it includes oatmeal, milk powder, broth, flour, bacon grease and there are many similar recipes online for free…do a search!  I’ve tried many different kinds, some with cheese, some with peanut butter and so far, the dogs love ‘em all!  Happy baking!

Zoe sniffing some homemade bacon-flavored dog treats

Zoe sniffing some homemade bacon-flavored dog treats

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Super_Housewife_by_KopaBillAs many of you know, I’m on a quest to slow down life and that won’t occur in my current career choice.  Not that I don’t like my job, I do…but I like doing my own things more.  Let me be real frank, I want to be a modern-day housewife.  Now save the feminist backlash; I minored in Women’s Studies in college and while some might think my aspirations are a slap in the face of feminism, I argue not.  The women’s movement gave future generations, like mine, the choice to decide whether we wanted to climb the corporate ladder OR stay home.  That choice is key!  To read an excellent blog on this topic, see: http://misswink.blogspot.com/2009/04/put-pride-back-in-housewife.html

I followed societal expectations, got my degree, even got a master’s and had visions of becoming a powerful, highly regarded career woman.  It was a boost to my ego, I felt like I was crashing through glass ceilings and I’ve been very successful wherever I’ve landed, thanks to the staunch work ethic my factory-working parents instilled in me and my drive and ambition to be the best at whatever I do.  However, along the way, I realized that everything I did came at a cost – as does every decision we make.  My first boss out of grad school used to always say “You are what you are at the cost of what you are not.”  That saying has haunted me ever since. 

And so while I was conquering great achievements at work and putting my career first, I started to realize that my home life was suffering.  Since I was always in a management role, I have always been on salary which translates to you working really long hours that actually equate to less than the hourly rate of your subordinates if you divide your salary by your true work hours (and all the things that go into keeping up the role, as in professional clothing, nice car, as well as all the money spent on helping you to multi-tasks and reduce stress etc.). 

About 4 years ago, I put myself in a really bad spot – I took a promotion that put me one step below the VP level at a publicly traded company and I was traveling more miles than I do now (I was often waking up in a different time zone every other day).  The responsibility was overwhelming, the expectations beyond burdensome and the office politics absolutely crushing.  This was a position I worked my way up to, very quickly, for a company I loved.  And I was making beaucoup bucks – $30K more than the highest position I had ever been paid before.  Sure, we were “rolling” or so I thought, but at the same time, I was doing “retail therapy” like never before.  When I was home, we ate out almost every night as I was WAY too tired to cook anything, I bought more clothing to keep up appearances, bought a lot of “junk” on the weekends that I didn’t need because it lifted my spirits just momentarily and numbed me from my unhappiness.  During this position, David and I moved into the mountains and I was commuting almost 3 hours a day when I was actually staying in Colorado, I never spent time in our new home and the ultimate cost came when my physical health suffered: I started having chest pains daily, broke out in full body rashes and cried all the time.  I was an absolute wreck.  And so after 6 months of this, I made a very quick but absolutely necessary decision: I quit my job (but with lots of debt and no plans for the future).

The month that followed David and I determined that it would be best for me to do NOTHING, just decompress. 

  • I slept in (I, unfortunately, am one of those people that feel best when I’ve slept a full 10 hours a day!)
  • I decorated our home since it was still new and pretty barren (big mistake when I had lost an entire source of income and didn’t do the smart thing and save the big salary I was making previously)
  • I created new recipes everyday (I love to cook, it feels like creating a piece of art to me)
  • I tended to my domestic tasks (I, strangely enough, love to clean – it makes me feel calm when my surroundings are organized and uncluttered)
  • I just relished in being home (I am a true home-body)

About a month in, though, came the stark reality that we were living way above our means – I was still spending entirely too much, our savings was depleting at a rapid pace and I was starting to feel my like I failed my former self.  My identity, previously, had been so tied up with work.  My career ranked up there as my top priority, with my identity as a woman, wife, sister, etc. trailing far behind.  The job market was tough, I was not able to find many companies that would even consider me and my self-esteem tanked.  I went into panic mode because of our financial situation and with each rejection or lack of response, depression set in.  At one point, shortly after Christmas, I was having a particularly dark morning and crying excessively and David said something to me that stopped me dead in my tracks, something I’ll never forget.  He said “Why does your happiness and sense of fufillment need to come from your work?  Why can’t it come from being with me and the dogs?  Isn’t that enough?  Work is just work, it’s just something we do.  I wish we would be enough to make you happy.”  That last line he said to me in his own tears as he walked out the door and it hit me so hard.  It really made me take a long, hard look at my life, my ego, and my identity with my career.  He was absolutely right.  I was trying to find happiness in my work identity and not with the simple things in life that truly matter. 

About a month later, I found a quote that to this day I have hanging on my fridge:

Judge your success by the degree that you’re enjoying peace, health and love. – Rule #304, Life’s Little Instruction Book

From that point on, I had a major shift in my thinking.  I won’t say that I completely dumped my initiative and desire to be successful; that’s a difficult switch for someone like me to turn off.  But I have changed my thinking so that I realize now that family, friends, and taking care of yourself comes first…work is something that pays the bills, but should be somewhat engaging so your skills aren’t being wasted.

merrygoroundFor the past year, however, I’ve been dreaming about leaving the workforce altogether.  I’ve been drumming up my business plan and working on the things that I truly enjoy and that can bring a small source of income while utilizing my skills.  I’m tired of being away from home or having to commute almost an hour to get to any job if I’m local, I miss the domestic tasks that grounded me, I miss having a game of chess with my husband.  Life is just getting too busy.  So I’ve decided I’m going to step off the “merry-go-round-on-meth” way of life that we’ve all become so accustomed to and live life on my own terms.  I know this decision isn’t for everyone, but it is for me, for us.  And this time we’ve done our homework, we’ve done financial planning and we’ve lived off of one income for the last year so we could take mine to pay off debts, build our retirement accounts and start saving again.  We’ve made a LOT of adjustments to our spending habits; have reduced cable and cell phone bills by more than half, have stopped “shopping” for things we don’t need, stuck with both of our 100,000+ mile vehicles (even though it’s awfully tempting to buy new cars) and have donated more (some call it karmic cash, we like to think of it as attracting good things while helping others; see: Law of Attraction). 

By not complicating our lives with material things, we’ve found more ways to enjoy the simple things: reading a book, listening to soul-enriching music, watching the stars, playing in the dirt (read: gardening).  These are the things that make me so truly happy.  But right now I only get that on the weekends due to my ridiculous travel schedule as of late.  Some could argue, like my well-meaning mother, that I should just leave this job and find another full-time position.  Once again, I’d still get stuck in that rat race and I want to start doing things on my own time, on my own terms.  Lucky for me, I do have a spouse that absolutely supports my decision (he’s no dummy, he knows that me being home means that he won’t have to deal with all the household tasks that he hates and has been left with because I’m never here; and frankly, who wouldn’t want to have a homemade meal waiting for them everyday)?

In preparing my parents for this transition, they’ve been a bit leery, my mother more so than my father.  My dad knows that I’ve always been the non-traditional one in the bunch, that I was always chasing after my own dream and not anyone else’s – though clearly I did get caught up in the societal expectations for a while until I matured and realized that it’s not about keeping up with the Jones’, but it’s about what makes me and my family happy and healthy.  I think my mom worries that we’ll run out of money; surely we’re going to build our nest egg more as emergency money, but we’re already living on one income quite comfortably and I plan to still bring in sources of income, just in a more non-traditional way. 

I know this isn’t the “safe” road, but I’ve always been a risk-taker and while I’ve sometimes I’ve traveled down a path only to quickly put the brakes and happily reverse out, I’ve learned that everything always works out and that there is great reward in taking care of your own needs.  As the ubiquitous sayings go, “no guts, no glory” or “no risk, no reward.”

Besides, I don’t think I’ll stop working altogether; I think I’d like to keep a PT gig in a health food store as I love this industry and want to stay current (not to mention the nice discounts on the products and freebies you get!); plus I have all my little ventures I want to explore: selling my goods at farmers markets and online, perhaps some freelance writing/photography, etc..  The beauty of spending less is that you’re not tied to your work, you’re not a slave to your job.  I realize that this is not for everyone and I do recognize that I’m very lucky to have a spouse that supports me emotionally and us financially.  And so while I’m not ready to jump off said amusement park ride just yet, I’m no longer sitting down but am holding onto the bar with one foot on the ride, one foot and arm swinging out, getting ready to leap.  Oh the adventures I’ll be able to tell you about then!

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On the road again…

balanceLeaving tomorrow morning for another trip to New Mexico…and becoming acutely aware of how importance balance is.  There is a Finnish proverb that I love that reads something along the lines, “Happiness is somewhere between having too much and not enough.”  Basically that one extreme or another is not good for the soul and the ever-elusive “balance”, that “somewhere in the middle” spot is key.

In the terms of work-life balance, the pendulum has definitely swung in the direction of work, with very little life.  I’m becoming keenly aware that it’s the end of summer and I didn’t enjoy much of it; didn’t really vacation anywhere (except for two long weekends related to work travel), didn’t get to spend much time at home, on the deck eating popsicles or reading a good book.  Weekends have been spent catching up on sleep mostly, loathing Monday morning travel and wondering how much longer I can keep at this pace when my goal is to live a more meaningful, geared down life focused on time at home.  There’s that duality again.

I was lucky to spend this entire week in Colorado, which I desperately needed.  But it’s been a double-edged sword: the more I’ve been home the more I’m convinced I want to stay put.  The conundrum, however, is that when I’m working several weeks in CO, I look forward to travel to somewhere else to change up the scenery.  There’s that balance piece again.  Too much or too little of anything will do you in.

I’ve been doing a lot of soul-searching lately, trying to figure out when my journey will take me in a different direction and I know that I am the only one that can make that decision, to make that leap.  Meantime, I’ll make it a point to create balance where I can, turn off the computer more, and work fewer of those marathon days.  So while I can’t change the fact that my job is requiring more and more travel, I will focus my sights on a new mantra: No one can balance your life except for you, so make it a priority.

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DSCN3779Long lost are the glass bottles for milk, replaced by cartons and plastic gallon jugs.  I’m no saint, I do opt for gallon jugs when I’m home for a while, however am grateful that I’ve found a local Colorado company that does sell reusable milk jugs – Farmers All Natural (that you pay a deposit on, rinse out once empty and return back to store for the deposit back – the company then sterilizes the containers and reuses them).

However, very few places have this option, so here are some ideas on how you can extend the life of plastic milk jugs before you retire it to the recycling bin:

  1. protect seedlings in the ground- once your seedlings have sprouted or if you’ve recently transplanted them into the ground and are looking to protect them from frost, weather, critters, etc, you can simply cut off the bottom of the milk jugs and place jug over your seedlings; secure in place by affixing to ground with dowel or stake that can slide through the jug handle and straight into the ground (or you can poke a hole in the bottom of the handle and slide over top the stake/dowel; use the transparent jugs to keep over the plants long-term so the sun can get through and remove cap to allow for airflow; the white jugs can be used temporarily for frost but don’t allow for sun to get through, so keep in mind when determining what your purpose is
  2. as a scoop or pail – keep the lid securely fastened to the top; cut out the bottom, invert the bottle and now you have a perfectly good scoop with a handle
  3. save energy – a full freezer runs more efficiently than an empty one;  the frozen items help to insulate and keep everything frozen in a self-sustaining way.  Keep some empty gallon jugs handy and whenever your freezer starts to get low, fill up your containers 3/4 full and stick in the freezer to help reduce energy; when you need to fill up your freezer, take the jug(s) out, let them melt and water your plants with the leftover water!
  4. keep your cooler cool- along the same lines as the idea above, you can take one of those frozen milk jugs and put inside your cooler (instead of buying those blue gel packs) and keep your food cool without having the hassle of having ice cubes melt all over your food
  5. water your garden lightly – poke tiny holes in the bottom and set in your garden to allow for water to slowly trickle out to your plants over the course of several hours - save time and reduce the chance for evaporation (especially if done in early morning or late evening)
  6. mark your garden- cut strips down the long side of the jug and using a permanet marker, label your plants in your garden
  7. outdoor rinsing – spending the day out in the yard/garden?  Fill up a jug with water and leave outdoors for rinsing hands/feet when working outside so you don’t end up getting your home dirty just trying to get to the sink/tub
  8. piggy bank – if you save a lot of coins, here’s a way to store them in a crash-proof container, especially good if you have kids (can also be cut open if coins get stuck at the opening (which sometimes happens in glass jugs and tough to remedy); encourage kids to decorate!
  9. store bulk goods – hate keeping flour and sugar in those flimsy paper bags they sell them in?  Store these items and other items like grains and beans in cleaned and dried milk jugs – can then be easily poured out of jugs when needed for convenient handling and measuring
  10. for small paint jobs – cut the jug in half below the handle; keep the top half, invert it (obviously a screw top is a much better option to a pop off top) and use to hold smaller amount of paint that you can transport with you while doing touch-ups or small paint jobs

Do your part to help our Earth by reducing waste and finding useful ways to reuse everyday items.  Remember, Reduce first, Reuse next, Recycle last!

Go green and save cash at the same time!

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simple prosperity

Simple Prosperity: Finding real wealth in a sustainable lifestyle by David Wann

Okay, so this really isn’t a true book review.  This book reads like a story, a personal biography of the author’s choices to live more simply and to cherish life.  Because of the ease of reading, I didn’t jot down bullet points or notes specific to the layout of the book but instead took down quotes he listed that I was particularly fond of.  So, in lieu of a book review, I’m giving you little sound-bites of what this book professes:

Life…is not for sale… – David Wann

If you have a garden and a library, you have everything you need – Cicero

Fear less, hope more, eat less, chew more, whine less, breathe more, talk less, say more, hate less, love more and good things will be yours – Swedish proverb

There is nothing nobel about being superior to some other man.  The true nobility is in being superior to your previous self – Hindu proverb

In order to reduce consumption, we’ll need to be less obsessed with controlling life – David Wann

Time isn’t money – it’s life – David Wann

The point of life is not to slave away for years until the age of 65 and then say ‘Phew, glad that’s over!’  Rather it is to make sure that we do not die withan our music still in us – Lance Secret

Speed  is irrelevant if you’re traveling in the wrong direction – Gandhi

This author lives in Golden, CO in a co-housing community he helped to create.  He is also the co-author of the more serious and widely acclaimed “Affluenza” book and DVD.  Simple Prosperity is a nice, easy read and motivational guide for those looking to increase their social capital rather than their economic capital.

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Time for transition?

mother-art-solar-birthingsI took a long nap today and experienced a profound, recurring dream: that I was a pregnant.  Now stop right there.  I am NOT pregnant, nor plan to be, but this is the 3rd pregnancy dream I’ve had in the past couple months.  Sure I’ve had pregnancy dreams in the past, but the frightened kind where I would awake with a sense of relief that it was just that, a dream.  So these new dreams puzzled me as they’ve been happy, joyous dreams, though I still awake with certainty that that I don’t want children.  David too has been giving me that raised-eyebrow look as if to say, “is there something you want to tell me?  Has something changed?”

In the past two dreams I had, I was in the pregnancy phase, 2nd or 3rd trimester, but the dream I had today involved delivering two children, by myself and it was an easy passage.  No pain, no hardship…a very peaceful and happy transition.  So when I woke this time, I decided I needed to look this up.  What I found was very powerful and made perfect sense.

According to dream analysis I found on many sites, pregnancy dreams signify not the birth of a human, but the gestation of ideas and the birth of a life changing event. 

As possible as a pregnancy prophecy may be, usually the meaning of these dreams is not found in a literal event. This should not however, lessen the impact or meaning of the dream as pregnancy dreams are extremely potent. They are telling us that something important is coming; something life-altering is forming in our being. When we think of pregnancy in symbolic terms the dream is much easier to decipher.

If you are close to delivery, this usually means that something you’ve been planning or thinking about is close to materializing in the waking world.  If you are giving birth…it could mean that there is something you want to bring into the world which will be as life changing as giving birth. Whatever it is, the good news is that it is a natural event, something spontaneous and filled with life.
Look at your life and see if there is something that needs some nurturing, some part of yourself that means a lot to you, but you haven’t been taking care of–a project, a relationship, anything. Ask yourself why this isn’t being addressed, ask yourself what is more important tha[n] your own creation.

Pregnancy dreams, like real life pregnancies are harbingers of change, creativity, and new life being brought into the world. Treat your life as you would treat yourself if you were pregnant and wait for the miracle you’re already creating to manifest in your waking world!

http://www.bellaonline.com/articles/art18080.asp

As many of you know, I’m on a journey to simplify my life and my current situation is anything but.  I’m always in an airport, then in a car, jumping between store locations, working 12-16 hour days and staying at my hotel long enough to sleep and do it all over again.  This has been the picture of my entire summer and I feel like I”m at a breaking point.  Weekends have been spent catching up on sleep and trying to work on projects that will propel me into the next phase of my life: starting up my photography website, researching small business start-ups, writing and submitting pieces and photos for publication, growing lavender on my property and making goods to sell at farmers markets some day.  The creative projects I’ve been dreaming up and working on have been simmering for a long time, but have come to a rapid, rolling boil as of late and I can’t help but wonder if the universe is repeating back to me one of my favorite quotes: Leap and the net will appear.

As you can imagine, there are a lot of crazy things going through my head: would I be crazy to leave a job I like (most of the time) for the unknown when so many people have no job (I could be doing a benevolent act by creating a job for someone else, I could argue)?  What about the money, from loss of income as well as capital required to start a new business venture (we’ve crunched numbers and have thankfully paid off our debts and could comfortably live on David’s nearly guaranteed government salary, but the capital would still need to be acquired)?  What about the loss of identity to having a jet-setting corporate career life (as much as I bitch about it, there is a sense of power and importance when in such a type of position, but at what cost – I’m never home, I never see my husband or dogs and life on the road is lonely and frustrating more often than not)? 

If my dreams are truly representative of a transition, then I should be relieved, because my dreams of pregnancy and birth (something that would normally make me panic in a concious world) express feelings of happiness, ease, and support by friends and family in my sleeping psyche.  I’ve known along that this transition was in the works, but I planned for it a couple years down the road.  Now I’m left to wonder if the time is now, if the messages are encouraging me to make said leap right now.  It’s exciting yet frightening all at once.  

There have been subtle messages I’ve been receiving that have signaled to me that a change is coming for me at work, so I think I might just wait it out and see what’s on the horizon.  When I was a doula, I used to encourage my moms, that although it would be downright painful to be patient at the end of their term, that they would be quite uncomfortable in their current situation and want the baby to arrive already, that they needed to find the courage to wait.  When baby is ready, I would tell them, he or she will let you know; trying to rush the baby before s/he was ready would surely spell complication during the birthing process and the transition would be hard not only on mom but baby as well.  So perhaps I need to follow my own advice and be patient for that pivitol moment but be ready to leap forward, without inhibition, with my new “baby.”

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I love, love, LOVE Santa Fe

Red chilis tied together - the quintessential image of the Southwest

Red chilis tied together - the quintessential image of the Southwest

Well, that about sums it up!

Allow me to back up a bit.  I really enjoyed “Old Town” Albuquerque as well.  You see, I’ve been “hanging around” ABQ for a couple weeks now for work and have thoroughly enjoyed the people, the food and the climate.  However, I’ve been residing and working on the side of town that is urban sprawl – and frankly strip malls look pretty darn similar from one state to the next.  I had heard about Old Town and knew that this pristine, yet somewhat ancient location (well maybe not ancient, but over 300 hundred years old) was the place to visit in Albuquerque.  Since my husband was coming into town to meet me “on the road”, I decided to make it a virginal trip for the both of us.  The tiny, neighborly streets, home to hundreds of galleries, jewelery shops and restaurants started off quiet but all led to the Plaza, the focal point of the area.  Since we only had about 4 hours to visit, we skipped the galleries in favor of the Folk art shops, the ones where old pieces of worn out tin and roadside wood were shaped into beautiful pieces of art, ornaments and other trinkets, pottery was painted in rich, ornate patterns of bright yellow and blue, and every type of artistic interpretation of the cross you could ever imagine (even I not being religious was very drawn to these beautiful Christian artifacts) adorned the walls.  I was in my glory and it took an incredible amount of restraint not to open up my wallet to the shop owner.

We stopped at a smaller side plaza to enjoy a live concert of traditional Mexican music complete with women in the large, swishy, colorful dresses dancing in unison to the music.  After some time, we made our way to the St. Clair Winery and Bistro.  We had read about this locals favorite in our Fodor’s travel guide and enjoyed local wine, cheeses, chocolates and crostinis.  It was a loud, lively joint but understandably so.  This was the first decidedly “Americanized” meal we’d had as we enjoyed authentic chorizo burritos for breakfast, Persian fare for lunch and New Mexican the previous night.  Back to our hotel we went with full bellies and lighter wallets.

web carrotsThis morning, we got on the road at 10am, made our way up to Santa Fe 50 miles away and was greeted by a dual Farmers Market/Artist Market when we first got into town.  I just love Farmers Market and always try to support them when I can.  I have always espoused that the Boulder Farmers Market couldn’t be beat, but it had finally met its match.  This was the ultimate Farmers Market – with outdoor, tented vendors and an indoor Tue.-Sat. market.  It was gorgeous, it was lively, it had everything from produce to goats cheese to handmade scarves to fresh floral bouquets and everything in between.  It was a cornucopia for the sights…the colors vibrant, the smells of fresh herbs lingering in the air, the street musicians swaying the crowds.  Speaking of which, it was downright crowded, but I was in hog heaven and fortunate that the vendors allowed me to capture their produce with my camera (see my site www.greenearthimages.com for more views of the farmers market - click on “around town” – pages 3 and 4).

New Mexico Museum of Art

New Mexico Museum of Art

From here we drove to the Plaza, also the hub of activity for Santa Fe.  This place reminded me of the hippiness of Boulder, the art culture of Vail and the pedestrian friendly layout of San Gimignano in Tuscany – all without any pretentiousness!  We admired the galleries from afar as we wanted to cover as much ground as possible with our limited time to tour and instead walked ’round and ’round, all streets leading us back to the Plaza, a wide open park perfect respite for sitting back and resting our weary feet.  The mix of Native Americans dressed in traditional wear, Hispanic locals and white foreign tourists made for fun people watching.  The sky was without a cloud in sight, but unlike the stifling heat and constant sweating we dealt with in Old Town the previous day, the weather was idyllic: sunny (but not hot) and breezy.  For lunch, we checked out a couple of very crowded restaurants but happily settled with the street vendors adorning the park.  These weren’t just hot dog vendors, but vendors that offered fresh, local fare such as fajitas, chili rellenos,  grilled corn on the cob, fresh squeezed lemonade - all right there and at very reasonable prices!  Yes, this was delightful. 

Ice cream soon followed and we made our way to the beautiful St. Francis cathedral where we admired the adobe structure, beautiful sculptures and labyrinth.  I had never walked a labyrinth but was always curious to do so.  These directed mazes on the ground are said to be metaphors for life’s spiritual journey and are used as a tool for meditation and prayer.  Though my dizzying efforts did not enlighten me in any conscious  way, I still enjoyed the peaceful walk and delighted in the completion of the maze (guess I was missing the whole point of the “journey”).  David and I spent the rest of the afternoon daydreaming about moving to Santa Fe, something we do every time we visit an enchanting locale.

The Labyrinth at St. Francis Cathedral

The Labyrinth at St. Francis Cathedral

For dinner, we referred to our trusty Fodor’s guide and went off the beaten path to a small, somewhat hidden restaurant favored by locals for its good, authentic New Mexican cuisine.  In case you’re wondering what the difference is between Mexican and New Mexican, I can pretty much sum it up in two words: green chile.  Seriously, green chili is everywhere and on everything and there’s a reason – it’s local to this state (think Hatch chili – Hatch, New Mexico) and it tastes fantastic!  I am, admittedly, a wimp on the spicy factor.  My french Canadian/New England roots mean I grew up with meat and potatoes and the hottest thing I ever had was mild salsa in a jar, or worse yet, Taco Bell taco seasoning!  It wasn’t until I moved out to Colorado that I really explored spicy food and my palate, though certainly more developed, hasn’t quite acclimated to the chili peppers of the Southwest.  The locals version of mild is equivalent to “ass-burning” hot in my book!  But I tell you, I will go through pain to enjoy the flavor of green chilis.  I just make sure I keep plenty napkins nearby for my draining sinuses and plain tortillas chips to round out the residual chili oils coating my mouth.  I read in our travel guide that this restaurant, La Choza, had a peculiar soup on the menu but worth trying: green chili clam chowder.  I’m not kidding.  I wrinkled my brow trying to understand why anyone would mix the two, but the New Englander in me who grew up on clam chowder had her interest piqued and let me tell you, it was fantastic!  It was a traditional white clam chowder (not hotel-restaurant-thick, but true chowder in all its milky brothiness), with a hint of heat and the smoky, complex flavors of the green chilis.  Wish I had ordered a bowl.

Instead of pushing it and trying to trek some more, we decided to head back to our hotel so we could unwind, get a good night of sleep and plan to get up early to enjoy a hearty breakfast and a walk along Canyon Road, another hub of artistic activity.  Though David will only be with me until tomorrow afternoon when he flies out I am much luckier in that I’ll be here for another full week, so perhaps I’m just getting started!

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Southwest love…

web sun

 

Don’t have time to blog at the moment, so I’ll just give y’all a sneak peak.  Loving Albuquerque…exploring Santa Fe tomorrow!  There’s something about the Southwest that just captivates me…something magical, can’t quite explain!

 

web church

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Weekends = simple living in my book.  I don’t leave the house unless I have a very compelling planned event.  Being on the road all the time means that I miss the simple pleasures of sleeping in my own bed, having my favorite pillow(s), even being in my own shower – where I don’t have to worry about the cooties of the hotel shower curtain (believe me, I’ve seen enough Dateline specials in my time, so I’ve had to train my mind to repress any thoughts of what could have happened in that hotel room, shower or bed – it’s really a road warrior survival technique). 

I even miss cooking when I’m on the road; so this morning, I started a big pot of homemade chicken soup because there is something about chicken soup that does seem to help you feel better – could be a medical reason or a self-fulfilling prophecy, but I don’t care!  If it tastes good and I feel better, that’s all that matters to me.

I love sitting out on our deck and with a really great view of the mountains, abundant pine trees heating the air and hummingbirds coming to visit our feeder every few minutes, I’d be silly to not soak in the peace and quiet when I am home and the weather complies.  This is why, after all, we moved to the mountains; it isn’t always convenient having to commute everywhere, but it’s our little slice of heaven.

Here’s a view of everyones take of laziness this Saturday afternoon:

Peanut soaking up the sun with her ducky

Peanut soaking up the sun with her ducky

Sierra in her favorite place: our bed

Sierra in her favorite place: our bed

Zoe - always with a toy, this one a squeeky football

Zoe - always with a toy, this one a squeaky football

Under the umbrella, David helping me with my work computer and me blogging to you all

Under the umbrella, David helping me with my work computer and me blogging to you all

 

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