lifestyles

“Shade Grown, Organic Coffee Gives New Meaning to ‘Feeling Good,’” WestSound Home & Garden Magazine, Winter 2006

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Devoted coffee drinkers whose day doesn’t start until they get their first cup of brew know what it’s like to miss their morning ritual. Maybe yours entails sitting down on the sundeck, inhaling the addictive aroma and letting the particles slowly work their way through every molecule of your body. Maybe, as the java perks up your brain, you give your body a jolt by practicing your James Brown moves and belting out, “I Feel Good.” Or maybe you live by the motto, “So much to do, so little time,” and you get your fix at the corner coffee shop on your way to work.

No matter how you do it, imagine if you just sit there, peacefully indulging in your caffeine bliss, and at the same time helping make the world a better place. But don’t get all steamed up about it: You don’t even have to trade the time spent going to the PTA fund-raiser, watching “American Idol” or weeding your garden for any of that “save the world stuff” (though most people wouldn’t mind trading the weeding for it). Making a true difference in someone else’s life — and the life of our planet — is as simple as drinking the right cup of coffee.

 

“Magical Places: Every Woman Needs a Playhouse,” WestSound Home & Garden Magazine, Spring 2006

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In an ordinary residential neighborhood in Bremerton, surrounded by mostly ordinary homes, there is a little magical house that may belong in a storybook rather than someone’s yard. You would almost expect to hear “Hi-Ho, Hi-Ho!” and see the Seven Dwarfs march out.

In spring and summer time, the little house is so overgrown with plants and colorful blooms, that it actually seems to blend in with the garden — a piece of garden art in its own right.

This little darling is called “Ms. Vicki’s Potting Shed,” and Ms. Vicki is really not Snow White in disguise — she’s the wife of Wally Carlson, who has been building the charming playhouses for a few years.

 

“Girls’ Night Out with Bunco,” WestSound Home & Garden Magazine, Fall 2007

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They come from different backgrounds — homemakers, teachers, dentists, bankers, retirees. They come in all ages, sizes, and fashion senses. But they have one thing in common: They are bunco girls.

Where men have their poker nights, women have bunco nights — monthly affairs where no men are allowed, where good food, conversation and relaxation are the focus, and the game of bunco… well, bunco is mostly the excuse to get together.

Unlike poker, which requires strategy and decision making, bunco takes no brainpower. Winning is all about the luck of the draw (or rather, the dice), or perhaps about whose shoes are the luckiest that day.

 

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“Food for the Gods: Taking a Bite Out of the Mystery of Chocolate Making,” WestSound Home & Garden Magazine, Fall 2009

From the early days of the Mayans, who called it “food of the gods,” through the 16th century when Europeans prescribed it as a drug for various ailments, and to today’s multibillion-dollar industry, chocolate has evolved into a universal extravagance. Equally effective for treating a grumpy mood, sending a sweet apology and — if we are to believe research — for getting a healthy doze of good-for-the-heart antioxidants, chocolate rules.

This seductive (some would say, addictive) indulgence has held various mysteries through the years. For example, why did the Aztecs find cacao beans so precious that they used them as currency? (One cacao bean could buy a tomato or an avocado, and a hundred beans were worth an entire turkey.) Why does chocolate literally melt in the mouth? What’s the secret to that sharp snapping sound? And is chocolate really an aphrodisiac?

 

“Gone in 60 Seconds: Autocross Brings Racing to the Masses,” Port Orchard Life, October 2008Forget golfing.

According to some locals in the know, there is a much better hobby in Puget Sound.

Called autocross, it’s a sport equally available to drivers of spitfast Porsches, economy Hondas, and family-style station wagons. It brings together Microsoft programmers, lawyers, truck drivers, and, yes, retired grandmothers.

On the surface, it sounds simple: Drive on a course. Try to avoid about three dozen strategically placed cones. Finish in less than 60 seconds. No special skill or training required (except a drivers’ license).

It may not be Formula One, but autocross racing is every-bit as adrenaline driven. To spectators, it’s just the sight of a fast car swerving around multiple tight corners. For the drivers, the heartbeat accelerates as fast as the car, as they navigate the sea of cones during what feels like the slowest minute of their life.

Read complete story at KitsapSun.com.

Beautiful Memories: Scrapbooking Craze Hits Belfair, North Mason Life, March 2010
Chris Lund and Jodi Seward don’t know each other that well, but on a recent Saturday, they spent nearly the entire day across from each other, pouring over their family photos and surrounded by an organized chaos of paper, glue, scissors and tools of all kinds. It was one of those cluttered workspaces where everything had its place and purpose — and it looked a little bit like a trip back to kindergarten for a crafts project.

Lund and Seward are scrappers. It’s a bit of strange term that pegs the throngs of enthusiasts who take every opportunity to fuel their hobby of scrapbooking—creating beautiful layouts of photos with the help of paper patterns and various embellishments.

For the true scrappers (in most cases, women), just sitting at home working on their projects in solitude is not enough. To ensure a swift getaway from the piles of laundry waiting to be sorted, little hands tagging at their pantlegs for attention, husbands asking what’s for dinner, or any other typical household interruption, these creative hobbyists organize “crops,” get-togethers for several hours where they can sit in peace, scrapbook, chat –and sometimes enjoy some food and even (shhh…) wine.

And it’s far from child’s play. Scrapbooking is a nearly $3 billion (and growing) industry that has boomed over the last decade—and some estimate it has a higher percentage of penetration per household than America’s No. 1 pastime, golf!”

Read complete story at KitsapSun.com

Words of wisdom I try to live by

“I couldn’t wait for success, so I went ahead without it.” ~Jonathan White

“The greatest danger for most of us is not that our aim is too high and we miss it, but that it is too low and we reach it.” ~Michelangelo

"It's never too late to be what you might have been." ~George Elliot

Creative writing break: From the Essays file

Memories

Memories are like birds.

They fly, fast and free, with their wings spread open.
They are swarming, loud.

Once in a while, they stop still.

They nest in our hearts.

Unlike a bird's nest, memories are less exposed to the world. They are concealed deep inside our hearts and soul, often time stuffed there by a mind that does not want to remember a painful sensation.

Other times they are lively and ecstatic, laughing out loud or just smiling contentedly.

These are the memories that we put into pictures and keepsakes in order to capture them into something more material, something more feasible that we can touch and see over and over again, something that would live through generations to tell the happy story.

Those are the memories of a first bouquet, wedding bells, first charming baby smile, the long gone dear friend…

They are the memories we try to hang on to, try to grasp them with our fingers and clutch them in our fists… too precious to let go.

Among them is a picture of the sunset and a tree in full bloom.

What is the soul trying to tell by captioning these serene moments onto the glossy paper? Are these part of the memories that will be shared with generations to come, or are they just a trace of lost happiness, an attempt to recreate a smile of the nature itself?

(1998)

a few of my favorite quotes

“To live a creative life, we must lose the fear of being wrong.”
~Joseph Chilton Pearce

“Whether you think that you can, or that you can't, you are usually right.”
~Henry Ford

“I couldn't wait for success... so I went ahead without it.”
~Jonathan White

“Life is either a daring adventure or nothing.”
~Hellen Keller

“It's never too late to be what you might have been.”
~George Elliot