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The Circle of Life

Out of perfection nothing can be made. Every process involves breaking something up. The earth must be broken to bring forth life. If the seed does not die there is no plant. Bread results from the death of wheat. Life lives on lives. Our own life lives on the acts of other people. If you are lifeworthy, you can take it. Joseph Campbell

When my children were young, we taught them through the Montessori method. They did experiments, created art, made their own play dough. It was as much fun for me to teach them as it was for them to learn.

One of the aspects of doing all the different activities that contributed to them being grown, is our red wiggler box. We had a box of red wiggles that was visited every night. We collected the coffee grounds, left over coffee, shredded paper, apple cores, banana peels in our little closed bucket under the sink. At the end of the day after the kitchen was all clean, we would walk our little bucket up to the worm box and one of the children would add the scraps and paper to the worm box. After all these years we still have a worm box on the farm.

We have three of them now. I give some of the worms to our chickens, and help create environments for the chickens to have more yummy food through the circle of life. We have a few ducks, and I have a shallow kiddie pool for them. Everyday, the kiddie pool is filled with enough water for the ducks to splash around. They do their business in the pool. I dump the pool in the straw that has already been used by the goat, so now I not only have the mater from the goats, chickens, and pool water to make an insect soup. The chickens get yummy meals of grubs, earwigs, and other microorganisms that have now been created from the environment. In a few months I will then add all this old straw to the compost pile, which will then give me a rich consistency of soil that I can use on the farm.

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The chickens have a great time search for the right insects. I move the kiddie pool around, so that insects have a little time to develop.

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The water is clean for at least a couple of hours before the ducks start enjoying it too much.

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The payoff for our family, and our dogs eat an omelet in the mornings.

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Water…

Empty your mind, be formless, shapeless – like water. Bruce Lee

Even as a young person I loved the water. I couldn’t wait to learn to swim. When we would go to see family in other states, especially in the summer all of us children were in a pool, lake, or pond. I remember like it was yesterday when I learned how to push off the side of the pool wall and glide across the water. I loved how the water engulfed me and rose overtop my body. It was exhilarating! My aunt was a beautiful swimmer, and she was the one that taught my sister and I the beginning aspects of swimming. My sister and I spent hours pushing off the side of the pool. I remember how we would wait for a small piece of wall space in the pool to open up so we could practice. We would be in the pool until our lips were blue, and our teeth were chattering. Our mom would advise us to get out of the pool since we were so cold. We would say as our teeth were chattering away “We are not cold”, but of course we were. Laying on the hot cement pool deck would warm us to the perfect temperature to go back in the pool to do it all over again.

My sister and I talked our parents into swim lessons the next year. I remember how I thought it was harder than it looked. How do people make it look so easy? When we would go back to see family we were a little better than we were the year before. My sister even decide to swim with her a cast on her arm. She really almost drown in the deep end of the pool. If it were not for our aunt that taught us the art of pushing off the wall, my sister would not be here today. As she was going under the water I remember that the last thing to go under the water was her cast. She really was trying not to get it wet. Boy, did her arm itch after it was dry…good thing she found a comb that she could fit between the plaster cast and her arm.

I finally learned how to swim well. Admittedly, my stroke looked more like a call for help than someone trying to swim. Once I got the high school, I was a appalled when the swim coach told me that I was only in intermediate swimming. I even had to stand on the tiled floor of the deck and practice my stroke by looking up at the wall, and following the grout line with my middle finger. It really did help. Honestly, I didn’t know how I looked when I was swimming. I thought I looked super graceful and like an Olympic champ. Now, I had someone telling me how much I looked like I was about to drown.

I went on to being a lifeguard, obtaining my Water Safety Instructor Certificate, Synchronized Swimming Certificate, Coach Certificate, Adapted Aquatics Certification, I had almost every certification in aquatics one could get, except SCUBA. Being in the water was so freeing. Overcoming the cold was always my biggest obstacles once I became a teenager. To this day, I hate cold water, unless I am drinking it. Once in the rhythm of swimming my mind feels free. It’s so liberating!

As I start a new chapter of my life, I have had some time to be grateful for my family outings to other states, spending time with my cousins in the pools, lakes, and ponds. Being grateful for my aunt, taking the time to show us how beautiful and fun pushing off the side of the pool can be.  Sometimes the love for something so simple can change your life, being in the water made me the person I am today. The memories of being a lifeguard, teaching so many aquatic classes, those memories are ones I cherish so much. It really brings a smile to my face every time. This only reinforces the desire to have swimming again be a part of my life. 86EE6B83-87D6-4AE9-B3E6-557000CB5724

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Giornata Wines

Recently, I was out on an excursion, and visiting wineries. It is something I have not been able to do as often as I would like to do. Plus, the rumor is that we have over 200+ wineries here in Paso Robles alone.

I called to make an appointment to visit with Brian and Stephanie Terrizzi to talk and taste some wines. Their winery is located in Tin City. A little district that is becoming a little hub of activity. The wonderful couple also own a Etto, a pasta shop full of wonderful Italian goodies. They even have a selection of their Giornata Wines, for sale at the shop, in case you don’t make it over to the winery. The two of them are very passionate about their wine and food.

When I arrived at the winery, I was talking to Brian about wine and production, as well as Italian foods we love. Stephanie came in about 20 minutes later, and we talked about growing food organically. She is a strong advocate of not wasting water, no pesticides, and keeping the land clean. The two of them were so engaging and I could have stayed so much longer, but we all have lives to live too. They were very gracious to me as I talked, listened, and sampled their wine.

One of my favorites was the Falanghina. I have never tried a Falanghina wine…ever, so I really didn’t know what to expect, but guess what? This is exactly why people need to try different wines…the tasting room is called a “tasting room” for a reason. IMG_2509

Here is how I perceived the wine… it is a mouth watering joyful experience, with subtle hues of stone fruits, apple and pear with a mineral finish. The alcohol is subdued, while the flavors of the grape are allowed to sing in exaltation! It was my favorite! I purchased a bottle, and the family had it with our dinner. 

The winery isn’t open everyday, so check the website for more information about both the winery and pasta shop. Brian and Stephy19

This is in the winery area of their building. Brian and Stephanie are in front of their egg, which is an inert vessel.

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Give Us The Gold

“Nothing is impossible. With so many people saying it couldn’t be done, all it takes is an imagination” Michael Phelps

We have been giving everything we have to the winery. San Marcos Creek Vineyard and Winery has not even been known to the people of the county of San Luis Obispo. We have attended events, entered contests, given blood sweat and tears to every single day.

We finally got a little pay off from this journey when we entered the Los Angles International Wine Competition. We got 2 gold medals!! We scored a 95 out of 100 points, and Best in Class. Our Cabernet Sauvignon has been described as velvety smooth, fruit forward with dusty tannins.

Here is our bottle wearing her hardware…IMG_9635

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Templeton Farmers Market

“The farmer is the only man in our economy who buys everything at retail, sells everything at wholesale, and pays the freight both ways.” John F. Kennedy

Recently, I was at the Templeton Farmers Market. I loved seeing all the farmers there selling what they grow on their farm. I haven’t got to the point that I can sell my wares at a Farmers Market, but I did have our wine there to taste for that day.

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Before I actually set up, I was walking around the outside of the perimeter of the park. When I look at the prices of items that are for sale, I just can’t believe that the prices were pretty on par with super market prices.

 

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The Groves on 41

I met Jennifer when I first came down here to SLO county. She is one of the warmest most genuine people you will ever meet. Being around her, you just feel like you may be family. She and I have been telling each other how we were going to get together. In fact, we had to make plans a month in advance. We are business owners, and our days are filled with making our businesses stronger.

She and I finally got together. I went to the Groves on 41, and she showed me the property. The last time I was there, I was there for a party, and did not get a private tour. Jennifer took me around to the their vacation rental, wedding venue, and into the groves.

Being out in the groves was fun. It was super muddy that day, and she and I were talking as we were walking. She was educating me about olive trees, and things to look for in the grove. As she talked, and we walked, we also were picking off the fruit that was still on the trees. I felt as though I left with a whole new understanding about olive groves. We also agreed to carry their line in the tasting room.

Here are some of the photos from the day…

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Hidden Hills

When we were in our “dream building” phase, one of the things we wanted was an olive grove, and we finally found it. Hidden Hills gave us everything we wanted in an olive grove, we have olives, and a vacation rental. The olive trees are now being taken care of, and lovingly be watched, pruned, watered, and then in November…they will be harvested.

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The property has a wonderful history too. The place was built as a bed and breakfast. There was a keeper of the house that grew a garden, and the beds are still on the property. There is a gentleman’s orchard with apple, pear, plum, and nectarine trees. There is a green house, and it was once was filled with the fragrance of basil, vanilla, and flowers. The attendant of the house used to put fresh flowers in each of the rooms, and the cottage. There is a chicken run with hen houses. The attendant would gather eggs from the hens each day.  He made fresh dishes that were made from the food that was gathered from “Hidden Hills“. These are all aspects I love.

The goals for the place…get the olives in great shape for the fall so we can go back to having “Hidden Hills” as a label. We will then be able to sell the olive oil in the tasting room. Fix the barn, and have an intern trade housing for maintaining the gardens, greenhouse, and chickens. Gathering the fresh items to give to each of the vacation rentals. Each of the baskets would include olive oil, wine, fresh herbs, chamomile, lavender, homemade soap, homemade lotion, honey, eggs, and bouquet of flowers. Maybe even a postcard of the property.

There is also a pool, spa, and outdoor kitchen at the property. If you would like to stay at the property, make sure you go to Paso Robles Vacation Rental.

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Honey Healing

One of the first weekends we were living in the country, this happened…

I was taking both of the dogs (Cane Corso females) for a walk. Since we were new to the country I did not want to trust to just let them out in the yard. Now, our yard is 42 acres. There are coyotes and other animals around here. I was gazing at the stars when all the sudden Sadie pulled really hard, and I did not let go. I was pulled across the rocks like I was a rag doll. I screamed, and Sheba stopped. Sheba stayed right by my side, and Sadie was running after what ever it was that was near our house. I limped back into the house with Sheba.

I went upstairs and washed my legs with soap and water. I had to take a wash cloth to get all the debris that was embedded in my legs. My left leg looked a lot worse than my right leg. It burned like hell…it was really painful. I took some honey, and put it all over the wounds, and took another wash cloth that was damp and kept it over the wound.

I kept the wound clean every day, and also added honey to it every day. By the third day it was really looking so much better. By two weeks it was healed. I believe I was in less pain, and it healed faster with the honey.

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Red Velvet Cupcakes with Nutella

Over Valentines Day weekend I was in charge of Red Velvet Cupcakes for the Pleasant Valley wine Trail, since we are a part of the trail. Everyone had something they made and then paired with a wine. We paired our cupcakes with our Late Harvest Zinfandel. I heard nothing but good things, so I was very happy that it was warmly received.

I made 100 cupcakes on Friday night, and then another 100 on Saturday night. I used the recipe that was passed down from my Great Aunt Nelle. She was a great cook, and it was said in the family that she asked about the recipe one time when she was visited the Waldorf Hotel. I later learned that many southern women told the story about asking for the recipe from the Waldorf. She was a traveler, and was a fantastic cool. I never questioned the story!

My Great Aunt used to make Red Velvet Cake for my dad every year on his birthday. It was his favorite cake. She also would make a mayonnaise cake that was so delicious. Although, I remember that she didn’t like to say the name around me, it made me sick to think of mayonnaise being used to bake a cake. When we would love something that she made, she would give an index card with the recipe to my mom. We would cherish those recipe cards. There was a special wooded box that we kept them.

Never the less, here is the recipe for the cake…

  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 ½ cups olive oil
  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1  teaspoons baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 ½ pounds canned beets, drained and pureed
  • 1 tablespoon red food color
  • 1 teaspoon cocoa powder
  • 1 cup buttermilk, at room temperature (I make my own by adding vinegar, and waiting for 10 minutes, 
  • 2 tablespoons red food coloring (1 ounce)
  • 1 teaspoon white distilled vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Start preheating your oven to 375, drain and puree your beets. If you don’t have buttermilk in your fridge, I never do…Add one tablespoon of vinegar or lemon juice to your cup of milk.

Meanwhile, add your dry ingredients together, add you eggs, beets, food coloring, vanilla, vinegar, olive oil and finally, the buttermilk. Mix until all the ingredients are wet.

Add the paper cupcake holders to the cupcake pans, fill up the cupcake papers about 1/2 full. This will make about 18 cupcakes. They will take about 25 minutes to bake.

While your cupcakes are baking, you can make the frosting…

8 ounces of cream cheese (softened)

1 Stick of butter (softened)

4 cups of powdered sugar

1 teaspoon of vanilla extract.

Blend your ingredients together to make the frosting. I used a pastry bag for the first time last week when I made these for Valentines day. I had to end up asking my husband to take the pastry bag away from me, since mine didn’t look good. His looked lovely!

Now, if you want to add the Nutella, it does taste delicious, but it is time consuming. We took a melon baller, and scooped out the center. After each one was done, we then added the frosting. Like I mentioned earlier, my frosting job was a little frightening, so I had my husband make them look pretty.

 

 

 

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Closer to the Holidays

My kids are on the verge of becoming truly independent. As we approach the holidays I am reminded that not to long ago we were attending all those school performances. There were years when my kids just did not want to go to the performance or one was sick, and I never pushed them into going. The performance went on without them, and they would cuddle up on the couch and just relax. I hope that when they are older and have their own children they will use a page out of my parenting book. LOL

With so many school events,  volunteering, and other family functions it easy to forget that the kids need some rest. When my children were little, and they needed a day off of school, I gave it to them. We called it a “mental health day”.  Sometimes they would tell me “I just need a break.” Then I would ask them if they needed a “mental health day”, a day they could relax, read, or just get catered to for a day.

As much as I loved the school performances, I also didn’t want my kids to feel pressured into doing one more thing that was supposed to be fun. I get that it is a community event, and we all interact within the community. We also need a break, and these days the pressure to be a part of the community doesn’t end once we are home. We also have an online social presence.

So, as we get closer to the holidays, if I am not here, I am at work or spending time with my beloved family. I hope you all treasure every moment you can with your family too, and listen to your children…don’t over burden them with too much hustle and bustle. img_8757