Wednesday, May 4, 2016


Monday, May 2th starts Screen Free Week, which means that thousands of people will turn off their TV’s, video games, hand held devices and computers. Yes, computers have become necessary tools, but they’re also a major distraction that suck up hours upon hours of our daily lives. So reset your screen addiction and dust off your creative thinking skills!
Here are 100 ideas to get you going!
  1. Call a friend you haven’t talked to for awhile.
  2. Read a guilty pleasure novel.
  3. Tidy up your garden and then share extra perennials with your neighbors.
  4. Start gathering up extra stuff for a garage sale or thrift store run.
  5. Write a letter to an elderly family member.
  6. Go to sleep earlier.
  7. Invite a friend over for an afternoon of chatting and snacks.
  8. Assemble extra meals for your freezer.
  9. Go for a bike ride.
  10. Start a journal.
  11. Put on your favorite music from high school and belt. Out. Those. Tunes!
  12. Finish up your craft projects.
  13. Choose one room in your house to clean, declutter and redecorate using stuff you already own.
  14. Plant some edible seeds. Don’t have a garden? Many veggies such as lettuce and radishes grow well in pots.
  15. Go see some live entertainment. Local community theater is usually affordable enough to be a treat but not a wallet buster.
  16. Pick up an instrument and practice, practice, practice.
  17. Bake a delicious treat, and then share the bounty with your neighbors.
  18. Go outside with your kids and kick a soccer ball or shoot hoops.
  19. Send an unexpected gift to a child.
  20. Pull out your mending pile and bring your wardrobe back to life.
  21. Put your best sheets on your bed and then take a nap.
  22. Write down your goals for the summer.
  23. Offer to babysit for a friend, and then plan some fun screen-free activities for the evening.
  24. Set up a still life and draw it, even if you’re normally not an artistic person.
  25. Drive your car to the fanciest neighborhood in town and go for a walk among the mansions.
  26. Bring a notebook to a coffee shop and do nothing but doodle to see where your mind goes.
  27. Bake bread and then relax into the smell.
  28. Pull out your board games and play into the night.
  29. Have your neighbors over for an informal potluck.
  30. Take all your blankets and pillows and build a kick-ass fort with your kids. Eat dinner in there.
  31. Set up a lemonade stand.
  32. Lay a blanket out in your backyard and stargaze.
  33. Pull out your piles of paper to organize, shred and file.
  34. Take a long hot bath while listening to your favorite music.
  35. Go to the library and ask about free activities for adults.
  36. Pet your dog/cat/guinea pig/unicorn/ferret.
  37. Take advantage of any sunny days to wash your bedding and hang them on the clothesline.
  38. Take an old friend out for coffee/wine/dessert.
  39. Read aloud to your kids, even if they think they’re too old for it.
  40. Go to your favorite thrift shop and photograph the weirdest stuff you can find.
  41. Put a fresh coat of paint on a tired old piece of furniture.
  42. Use your gym membership.
  43. Recreate your favorite restaurant meal at home.
  44. Visit a museum in your own town.
  45. Take another nap.
  46. Find all the gift cards you’ve received through the years and treat yo self.
  47. Prepare a meal to bring to the parents of young children. Trust me, they need it.
  48. Pull out your comic books and catch up with Archie, Spiderman and Buffy.
  49. Open your windows and air out your house.
  50. Drive to the country and stop at all farm stands.
  51. Make your own postcards and mail them to far flung friends.
  52. Read an autobiography.
  53. Get a book of craft projects from the library and attempt creating something.
  54. Make a flower bouquet from your own garden, even if it’s mostly greenery.
  55. Hula hoop/jump rope/play hopscotch.
  56. Go for a hike.
  57. Wash all your sneakers and shine all your shoes.
  58. Trade clothes with a same size friend.
  59. Visit with an older family member and learn what they did instead of watching TV.
  60. Go on a picnic.
  61. Call a friend who’s going through hard times to let her know that you’re thinking of her.
  62. Treat yourself as you would a guest and prepare yourself a sumptuous feast.
  63. Go window shopping in your favorite district, but leave your money and credit cards at home.
  64. Finish a home improvement project.
  65. Volunteer at a pet shelter/school/food pantry.
  66. Go swimming with a friend.
  67. Go to your local beauty school and treat yourself to a new haircut.
  68. Declutter and reorganize your closet in a way that’s pleasing to the eye.
  69. Buy yourself something completely indulgent from a bakery.
  70. Go find a local body of water. A river, pond or ocean will restore your spirits.
  71. Light a fire in the fireplace and pour a glass of wine.
  72. Take another nap.
  73. Write a short story.
  74. Go to your nearest track and do some power walking.
  75. Surprise your family with a fancy dessert on a weeknight.
  76. Give yourself a manicure or pedicure.
  77. Go to an author reading at your favorite book store.
  78. Bust out that deck of cards for an hour or two of gin rummy, poker, solitaire or go fish.
  79. Do an anonymous good deed for a stranger.
  80. Find some live music to enjoy.
  81. Sit at an outdoor cafe and people watch.
  82. Offer to help a friend for a couple of hours with whatever she needs.
  83. Plan a day trip and explore your own state.
  84. Dump out one junk drawer and get it clean and organized.
  85. Borrow a friend’s dog and take it for a nice long walk.
  86. Dedicate one day to all your boring errands to get them over with.
  87. Trade magazines with a friend, and then bring the whole stack into bed.
  88. Spread a sheet on your living room floor and dump out all of your Legos and start creating.
  89. Challenge your kids to create their own board games, and then be willing to play the games.
  90. Plan a date night with your sweetie.
  91. Take a nature walk in your own neighborhood and take close up photos of the plants and flowers.
  92. Stare into space and let your mind wander.
  93. Read the actual newsprint version of your local newspaper.
  94. Write a letter of appreciation to your mother as a mother’s day gift.
  95. Sign up for a one day class in an area of interest.
  96. Sleep late on your days off from work.
  97. Go to a comedy club and laugh your ass off.
  98. Pore through your cookbooks and find new recipes to try.
  99. Do things that would normally be outside of your routine.
  100. Take another nap.
- See more at:

Friday, April 22, 2016


Fresh sage leaves
Other herbs or flowers like lavender, roses, thyme, rosemary, or eucalyptus (optional)

Cotton twine
Heat-proof dish

Make a bouquet of sage: Use about 8 to 10 sage leaves to make a small bouquet, keeping all of the stems together. You can also incorporate any other long-stemmed herbs or flowers you have on hand. Pretty much any flower or herb that dries well, or even small cuttings from pine or cedar trees, will work. If you're using other herbs or flowers, bundle these first, then wrap the sage leaves around the outside of the other stems.
Cut a piece of cotton twine: Measure and cut a piece of cotton twine about eight times as long as your bundle.
Tie the bundle: Gather the ends together and tie a knot with the twine about 1/2 inch up from the stem-end of the bundle. Leave the twine long on one side, with a short tail (about 2 inches) on the other side.
Wrap the twine around the bundle: Start wrapping the long end of the twine around the bundle. Keep the wrapping pretty tight, like you're making a cigar, because the twine will loosen as the herbs dry and shrink up a bit.
Wind the twine the other way: When you reach the end, wind the twine back the other direction, crisscrossing the twine already on the bundle.
Tie off the twine at the end of the bundle: Wrap any extra twine around the base and tuck the ends under the wrapping. This creates a nice handle when you're ready to light the incense.
Air-dry the herb bundle: Find a cool, dry spot to hang the herbs and let the bundle air-dry for 2 to 3 weeks. Make sure the bundle is completely dry before burning.
How to use: When the herbal incense is ready, hold the handle end and light the other end until you get a flame going. Blow out the fire and let the herbs smolder. Place the dried herbs in a small heat-proof bowl or dish and enjoy bringing the scents of the outdoors inside.

The Ceremony 

The use of dried white sage however, is a 2,000 year old Indigenous American practice. The shamans used dried sage plants on their fires as a ritual of calling upon ancestral spirits. Any conflict, anger, illness or evil was absorbed by the sage smoke to be released or cleansed from the energy field of a person.

Next, sweet grass would be burned to call forth the energy of peace and love. This ancient shamanic mystical ritual is a simple one to incorporate into your daily or weekly routine, or any time you feel like you might need a little aura polishing. You can never really smudge too much!

Some ideal (or necessary) times to sage smudge your aura and/or space would be:

When you move into a new living space
When you begin a new job or start your own business
Before and after a guest enters your home
Before and after a yoga or healing session
Before meditation
After an argument or any illness
Upon returning home from crowded situations
And here is a simple 3-step sage smudging ritual to try:

1. Use loose dried white sage or a white ceremonial sage bundle (aka wand), which is usually bound together by a thin string. You can find sage bundles at your local herb shop or health store, Wiccan/pagan bookstore, metaphysical store, and even some yoga and healing arts centers. Or, if you have a sage plant, you can make your own — just bundle and tie it, and then hang upside down in cool dark space until it is completely dried out.

2. Next, place it on any heat-proof burning surface like an Abolone Shell — a traditional vessel used by Indigenous American people that represents the element of water. Light the bundle by holding a flame to it until it begins to smoke. If a true flame appears, shake the bundle gently or blow until it is just embers and smoke. I often find that I have to re-light my sage bundle a few times during the ritual process. If you are burning loose leaf sage, the best method is to use a charcoal burning disk inside of a censor or small cauldron.

3. Once you have a nice smoke going, use you hand or a feather to direct the smoke over your body from your feet up to your head, then back down again. As you do this, visualize the smoke taking away with it any negative energy from your life, any darkness or malady.

If you feel comfortable with this incantation, repeat the following:

"Air, fire, water, earth. Cleanse, dismiss, dispel."

The sage ceremony lifts the veil between the everyday and the sacred. As you say your incantation, you are shifting energy at will.

Once you have smudged your body, begin to move through your space. Wave the smoke into all corners, across doorways and into shadow spaces. To maintain the atmosphere of ritual, keep repeating the incantation in your mind as you diffuse the smoke.

Once the space is cleared, allow the sage bundle to either burn out or gently press it out in your heat-proof shell or container. You can even bury the remaining smudge in your garden to really feel the completeness of the cleansing ritual. Once buried, the sage has done its work in completing the elemental cycle. Ideally, you should try to use a new smudge for each cleansing.


Okay, it's not completely out of thin air, rather out of scraps that you would normally throw away....

Here's how -

Celery: Cut the bottom inch off a stalk of celery and place it in a bowl with the cut side facing up. Put a little bit of water in the bottom of the bowl, and place it in a sunny place. After a few days, roots and leaves will start to form. At this point you can either plant outside in the garden or transfer to a larger pot.

Potatoes or Sweet Potatoes: Use about a quarter of a potato (a piece with two root eyes is ideal). Either keep it inside to watch and ensure it sprouts, or place directly into the garden, eye side up.
If you keep it inside, let it dry out for a day to reduce the chance of mold. Place toothpicks into both sides of the potato piece, then place it on top of a glass of water. The toothpicks will hold some of the potato above water, but the eyes should be submerged. The roots will grow into the water and the leaves will grow toward the top. When there are enough roots, transplant into the garden.

Ginger: Use a piece of ginger with a knob, or one with an arm sticking out of the main body of the root. Soak the root overnight, then bury it in a pot of rich soil with good drainage. Be sure to keep the soil moist. Ginger does best in the shade or as a houseplant. It cannot tolerate cold weather or drought. If given the right conditions, ginger is easy to grow.

Green Onions: Cut off the bulb and roots (the white end) and place it roots down in a glass of water overnight. Replant outside or in a large pot the next day, and it will start growing quickly.
Leeks: Cut off the bulb, just like you would with green onions, and place it in a shallow glass of water. Change the water and wash the roots once a week. Harvest fresh leeks when they’re big enough to eat.

Romaine Lettuce: Cut off the bottom inch of a head of romaine lettuce. Place it roots down into a shallow glass of water, and new leaves will grow from the top.

Garlic: Plant a single clove of garlic root side down (flat end) into a few inches of potting soil. Once shoots start sprouting, cut them back so the bulb will be able to grow, and eventually you will have a fresh garlic bulb. Use a clove off the new bulb to start growing another for later.

Monday, July 20, 2015


Summer is the perfect time for day dreaming so why not start listing those daydreams so that you can one day make them a reality? Here are my ideas for my personal bucket list -

  1. Go Ghost Hunting with a paranormal team
  2. Visit Disneyland Florida, Universal Studios and the Wizarding World of Harry Potter
  3. Buy a house
  4. Have high tea in London
  5. Sit on the steps of Versailles and kiss under the eiffel tower in France
  6. Have lunch at a trattoria in Italy
  7. Go camping with my family and make smores and hotdogs around the campfire
  8. Plant vegetable & herb garden in my own garden in my own house
  9. See the Nutcracker ballet
  10. Learn digital art
  11. Go on a vintage shopping road trip
  12. Attend a pottery workshop and make a teapot
  13. Have a personal library reading room
  14. Make a gingerbread house from scratch
  15. Slow dance under the stars
  16. See a Shakespeare play
  17. Ride on an elephant
  18. Attend a Masquerade Ball
  19. Go on a cruise in Greece
  20. Have a romantic picnic on a beach around sunset
  21. Wear a lei in Hawaii
  22. Finish my book and get it published
  23. Do a foraging course
  24. Plant a tree in memory of my dad
  25. Relax in a hot tub under the stars
  26. Go to a pick your own farm with my family and ride a hayride
  27. See the Northern Lights
  28. Achieve my ideal weight
  29. Stay at the Grand Lido in Jamaica and go snorkeling
  30. Fly first class
  31. Go on a Disney cruise
  32. Sleep in a castle

Monday, June 29, 2015


I am all about free, especially in summer where so many activities can be enjoyed.  Here's my to do list of free activities this summer - hopefully they will give you some inspiration as well....

1. Go for a hike — anywhere!
Walking in nature frees your mind and spirit

2. Read in a lawn chair
Grab a great summer novel and enjoy a few hours of sunshine and reading.

3. Picnic
Just grab some snacks or sandwiches and an old blanket and go sit and enjoy nature at a favorite park.

4. Indulge in a free museum day
Check to see if any museums offer free days a week or a month and go early to enjoy art and culture for free.

5. Scavenge for cool found objects and incorporate them into your home's decor
Natural items such as seashells, driftwood, branches, and leaves can be used in many different ways to update your decor.

6. Head to the library for fun
Along with looking for great new books to read, there's always the magazine section where you can page through magazines you'd never buy yourself (but love reading nonetheless), and dvds and audio books available for rental.

7. Play board games that usually collect dust
Do you have some board games collecting dust somewhere in your home? Grab some snacks, some friends or your kids and plan a board game party. 

8. Give yourself an at-home spa day
Check online and use recipes from everyday things you have in your pantry for scrubs, masks, etc

9. Learn how to make something from scratch
Do you buy hummus or cookie dough or other convenience items?  Check out some recipes online or at your local library and learn to save money by making from scratch recipes.  

10. Organize those forgotten areas
Everyone has those forgotten areas - maybe boxes in the garage or basement perhaps?  Organize your items and either relabel so you know what is in the boxes or sell or donate the items.

Monday, June 22, 2015


People around the world have been creating tea gardens for as long as they have been drinking tea. In China and Japan, the tradition dates back not just centuries but millennia. Eastern cultures have long appreciated the psychological and spiritual importance of creating contemplative places for sipping tea. In Europe, tea gardens are also a venerable tradition. For hundreds of years the English, famous tea drinkers, have cultivated herbs in formal and cottage gardens and appreciated their harvest in that most celebrated of cultural rituals, afternoon tea. In our frenetically paced modern lives, making time for growing herbs and savoring herbal infusions may seem like an anachronism, a quaint throwback to a more unhurried age. But we need such time-tested tonics, places to slow down and enjoy nature's bounty, seemingly more than ever. 

Harvesting and Drying Herbs

Most herbs should be harvested just before they bloom. Choose a sunny day and harvest in the morning, when the herbs' oils are strongest. Never pick herbs when they are wet; wait until the morning dew has evaporated. Don't leave cut herbs out in the sun; take them into a shady area to sort and tie into bunches.  In cold-winter areas the last harvest should be six to eight weeks before the first hard freeze to give perennials time to harden off new growth. At your final harvest, cut annuals to the ground and cut back perennials to about two thirds of their height.

To dry herbs, tie the stalks into small bundles with string or twine and hang them up. You can also spread the herbs on screens or in baskets. Leave small or needlelike leaves like those of thyme and rosemary on their stems, but remove large leaves from stalks. Place the bundles, screens, or baskets in a dry, well-ventilated place out of the sun, such as a shed or attic. Depending on the climate and humidity, drying can take from a few days to two weeks. Check the herbs every day; if you leave them too long, especially in humid weather, they will turn brown.

Alternatively, you can use your refrigerator to dry herbs. Simply place small bundles of freshly harvested herbs in paper bags, label them, and place the partially closed bags on a shelf. The fridge-drying process is slow—about two weeks, depending upon the thickness of the leaves—but worth the wait. In the cool environment and relative darkness of the refrigerator, herb leaves retain valuable essential oils and more chlorophyll. You can completely dry the herbs in the fridge and then use them from the bag as needed. Or, remove all excess moisture and store them in a cool, dark place.

A fully dried herb will crackle and crumble when rubbed between your fingers. If the leaves are not crisp, they still contain some moisture. To remove the last bit of excess moisture and completely dry the herbs, finish them in the oven. Preheat the oven to its lowest temperature, but definitely under 200°F, and then turn it off. Spread the herbs on baking sheets and place them in the warm oven for about five minutes. Repeat if necessary.

Once the herbs are completely dried, strip whole leaves from the stems and pack them in clean, dark-glass jars with tight-fitting lids. (Incompletely dried herbs will get moldy and spoil.) Don't crumble the leaves as you pack them or you'll release their essential oils.

Design Tips
Tea gardens should be places for relaxation and reflection. The sense of calm can be accentuated by creating a feeling of enclosure in the garden. This can be accomplished with traditional hedges, trellises or wooden fences, or even rows of good-sized plant specimens in pots.  Make room in your garden for a tea table and chairs or benches where you can sip your freshly brewed herbal tonic.
Tea paraphernalia used as garden ornament can add an entertaining touch. For example, try edging a bed with some old teaspoons or mismatched saucers turned on end. Or attach old teacups to garden stakes and use them as plant markers.  As in any garden in which plants are intended to be eaten, be sure to grow your tea garden organically.

The perfect design, in my opinion, is shaping your tea garden into the shape of a teapot as below:

Plants Featured in This Garden
Plants Featured in This Garden
Aloysia citriodora, lemon verbena
Matricaria recutita, German chamomile
Melissa officinalis, lemon balm
Mentha aquatica, orange mint
Mentha spicata, spearmint
Monarda didyma 'Cambridge Scarlet', red-flowered bee balm
Ocimum 'Mrs. Burns' Lemon', 'Mrs. Burns' Lemon' basil
Rosmarinus species, rosemarys
Salvia elegans, pineapple sage
Salvia species, sages
Stevia rebaudiana, stevia
Thymus x citriodorus 'Aureus', golden lemon thyme