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April 20, 2010

Subway Free Breakfast Day

I'm not a big fan of Subway, but I am a huge fan of breakfast! Subway's hosting a free breakfast day on April 27th from 7A-11A with no purchase necessary. Get an English Muffin Melt and an 8 oz. beverage without even a coupon.

Let me know if you head out for this deal by leaving a comment on the blog!

April 19, 2010

Tim's Hard Lemonade

I don't generally like the taste of alchohol, so when I'm out, I usually order a White Russian, because it tastes like chocolate. But I had a wonderful beverage at a friend's house for dinner the other night: Hard Lemonade.

As if the universe was telling me to make some at home, a different friend dropped off two full shopping bags of lemons that same week. I begged the drink recipe and am archiving it here. I didn't take a picture of the tumbler before I downed it at dinner, so I had to illustrate this post with a photo of the lemons in my fridge. I'm off to my kitchen now, and I think I'll be sober enough to write again in another week or two. ;o)

Tim's Hard Lemonade

2 cups water
1 cup sugar
8 cups ice
4 ounces vanilla-infused vodka, such as Stoli Vanilla
1 cup fresh lemon juice
1 lemon, sliced into rings
1 lime, sliced into rings

In a small saucepan, bring water and sugar to a simmer. Cook until sugar dissolves. Remove from heat and let cool.

In a large pitcher, fill with ice. Stir in simple syrup, vodka, juice, lemon and lime slices.

*for kid-friendly version, omit alcohol.

April 15, 2010

Southern CA Spring Garden Show

The 21st Annual Southern California Spring Garden Show is April 22-25, 2010. It's one of my favorite places to go for new and unusal bulbs. A special feature this year is a section devoted to orchids. Held at South Coast Plaza in the Crate and Barrel / Macy’s Home Store Wing, it features

Free Admission and Parking

April 11, 2010

Claire's Therapy Dog Test: Delta Society

I had Claire certified as a therapy dog through Delta Society in the spring of 2008. It's already been two years, and her certification is coming up for renewal. So we'll be retested on May 15th. In order to knock our training up to the necessary level, I'm walking Chance & Claire separately for the next six weeks, so I have an opportunity to work with Claire individually. That's two hours of walking daily for me, and it's eating up a lot of blogging, gardening, and crafting time! But it will pay off in the end with a well trained and obedient pup who knows I'm in charge and is able to meet and greet lots of strangers, offering comfort and love to old or sick people.

(Claire on her first test day)

When we were first certified, I registered as a volunteer at the Motion Picture Country Home in Woodland Hills and took Claire there to visit the residents. We discontinued our visits when the price of gas skyrocketed. Since then they've decided to close the long-term care unit at the Country Home, and the morale there has understandably hit rock bottom, so I haven't wanted to go back, as much as I know we're needed. Claire's re-certification has renewed my interest in being a therapy team, so we may go back sometime this summer, probably after 4-H camp in July (I'll be a counselor & running the art barn).

Lots of people ask me what's involved with the test, so I thought I'd post the test requirements here. It's a pretty involved evaluation much like the Canine Good Citizen test. You'll have to click on the images to enlarge to a readable size for a step-by-step breakdown of the process. The test consists of two parts: the Pet Partners Skills Test (PPST), which evaluates whether the animal can be controlled by the handler and follow basic commands, and the Pet Partners Aptitude Test (PPAT), which is designed to simulate conditions that may be encountered on a visit and helps determine the most appropriate environment for the team to visit.

There's a financial component to certification as well, as a vet visit is required, along with a fecal test and full immunizations. Then there's the testing & membership fees of Delta Society themselves.

Have you ever gone through certification with a pet? Have you had an animal visit you or a loved one when you were sick or staying in a care facility? Please leave your comments on the blog--I'd love to hear them!

April 9, 2010

Another Night at the Griffith Observatory....

Sunset at the Observatory tonight: My friend Damian invited me on a night hike to the Hollywood sign, which starts near the observatory. It was so cold though, that we abandoned our plan in favor of dinner at the cafe at the observatory. The view made up for our lack of tenacity!

Last weekend for the "Let's Make a Comet" Demo....sure looks like fun!

Zocalo: Picturing Food at the Getty

I attended an interesting lecture last night called "Picturing Food" at the Getty museum, set up by Zocalo Public Square in conjunction with Getty's exhibit of food photography culled from their collection.

Rather than a study of food styling, this was a discussion of food in/as art through history, and the type of dialogue that ensues from the images. The panel was narrated by Evan Kleiman of Good Food, and included Darra Goldstein, founder of Gastronomica.

Since I went to Russia after high school, I've been a fan of Darra's cookbooks on Russian foods, and just recently exchanged her book The Vegetarian Hearth on PaperbackSwap. It was one of the first cookbooks I bought myself some fifteen years ago, so seeing her in person was a bit of a thrill. She struck me as very professorial.

The images were striking, and the venue was exceptional. I sat in the first row of the balcony, with a bird's eye view. Projected onto a screen behind the panelists, the images were right in your face at some eight to ten feet tall.

My personal favorites were "Memphis," the inside of a freezer circa 1970s, and "Untitled Joy of Cooking," the pantry shot also circa 1970s.

Here's Zocalo's recap of the event. They have some interesting public issue forums and discussions, so I always keep an eye on their calendar.

April 3, 2010

A Day Without Shoes

My dad is a diabetic, so from him I've learned the importance of foot care. A local shoe company is sponsoring a day to shed light on a simple way to help others. A Day Without Shoes is April 8th, 2010.

From their website:

One Day Without Shoes is the day to spread awareness about the impact a simple pair of shoes can have on a child’s life. On April 8th, we ask people to go the day, part of the day or even just a few minutes, barefoot, to experience a life without shoes first-hand, and inspire others at the same time.

Through everyday encounters with domestic poverty, we are reminded to appreciate having food and shelter, but most of us all but forget about our feet. Food, shelter, and shoes facilitate life's fundamentals. Imagine a life without shoes; constantly aware of the ground in front of you, suffering regular cuts and scrapes, tending to infection after each walk, and enduring not only terrain, but heat and cold.

The problem is large, but the solution is simple. Wearing shoes and practicing basic hygiene can prevent both infection and disease due to unsafe roads and contaminated soil. By imagining a life barefoot, we can all contribute to the awareness of these conditions. On April 8th, communities, campuses, organizations, and individuals are banding together to walk barefoot for One Day Without Shoes.

I personally am challenging you to clean out your closet on this day, and donate all your unneeded shoes to a charity in your area. And I challenge you to make this a family activity as well.

April 2, 2010

Viewing Advertising is Paying Off

A while back, I wrote about opening up new income opportunities through online surveys, friend referrals, and internet searches on sites such as Opinion Outpost, You Data, SwagBucks, & My initial comment was that "My biggest hesitation is that I'll accumulate points but forget to redeem them or 'check-out.' Without an automated payout system, I expect this can be a big time drain. But, that's part of my responsibility in doing the work on the site, and I'll just have to stay on top of the various reward systems."

I've been using YouData now for over six months. They routinely pay about a dime a week into my paypal account. Not much cash, but again, it's something for basically nothing.

I do allow RewardPort to send solicitations to my email that direct me to various webpages. For clicking on the link in the email, I recieve a few points at a time. I then immediately close the web window, without taking time to review essentially any of the offers. Tonight I've redeemed points for my first giftcard -- a $25 Starbucks card that will be a real treat for me.

I also know many people that use these sites to acquire gift cards not for themselves, but to use as gifts, a great way to fit gifting into a tight budget without feeling like you're lessening what you give to sensitive recipients like close family members, who may not share your value system or expectations.

Of all the sites I've been referred to, these are what work best for me. Do you use any of these sources for income, treats, or gift giving? Please share your tips and results in a comment on the blog. I'd love to hear about your experiences!

April 1, 2010

Spring in My Garden!

My friend kindly loaned me her husband for the day last weekend, and we got a ton of outdoor projects accomplished. While I weeded, planted tomatoes and bulbs, my friend brought his lawn mower over and mowed the yard, helped pick out termite treatment, replaced watering system parts, and generally overhauled my outdoors. I took some pictures to share with my folks, and to catalogue what had gone where in the garden, so I thought I'd share them here.

The pictures of the tomatoes I planted were taken from left-right in the garden, so in the middle of the summer when I've forgotten which is which I can look back and tell what's what. I like to show how small they were when I started, because by the end of the season they'll likely be ten to twelve feet tall! The first seedling is in between the artichoke and the first climbing rose I recently planted on the fence between our property and the apartment complex to the east.

That first one was "Gardener's Delight," one of two new (to me) experiments this year. It's a cherry type. Next is my one large sized tomato, "Pineapple Hawiian." Since it's the only big one, I wanted to make sure it did well, so I planted it near the end, where it will get the most light.

Then there's the Isis Candy, which is my old standby sweet cherry tomato.

Next to that is "Sungold," my other standard fave.

Then there is a "Sunsugar," which is pretty similar to the Sungold, but I want a nice mix of sweet cherrys this year, so I couldn't resist.

Lastly is "Jenny," my second new experiment and also a cherry tomato. So if it gets too much shade being on the end, at least my other experiment might do well, getting the most sun. It was also the biggest seedling I got this year, being more than a foot tall. I was able to bury it a little deeper than the others, so it'll have a great root system.

Here's the full side garden from the gate end. I had to pull a dead rose that I've yet to replace. And the daylilies look all squished down because I had to power wash them to get rid of a bug infestation that was just starting.

I tried to take some good ones of the daylilies to show my friend Jacque, who sent out huge starts last summer when my folks drove out to see me. This is the first chance I've had to show her how they've taken. And you'll see a couple dahlias that have popped up from last year. I put in about twenty yellow freesia bulbs in this bed over the weekend too. Hopefully those will pop up before my mom comes to visit me in about a month. This is the daylily on the far right:

The middle daylily from Jacque:

The daylily from Jacque that went in on the far left:

The artichoke is much bigger than last year--I actually think it's two of them next to each other now. And the daylily in this one is that "Millie Schlumpf" that I got at the SLC Pioneer Park farmer's market last June.

I've got a couple of great amaryllis blooms right now, and a few more blossoms that haven't opened up yet. I interspersed a ton of gladiolus bulbs into this bed over the weekend.

I replaced this pot....It'd been dead for a long while. It's right at my front door. And since my friend helped me fix the timer on the watering system in the front, I can use that hose to water again, so it stands a chance at survival.

The back bed next to the washer as it looks right now....My calla lilies are flowering wildly this year, after three or four years of dormancy! I think they love the light in this bed.

And my Bird of Paradise has a new bloom after several years of blight as well. I had the BoP in a pot on the balcony of my last apartment but was so irregular in its care that it got some sort of sickness. When I moved to the guesthouse, I gave the Bird to my neighbor, who specializes in cacti & succulents. She rehabbed my tropical then returned it to me, so I put it in the ground.

I put in all the kalanchoe before my parents came to spend last Thanksgiving with me, and they are sure going strong. I appreciate the year-round color they inject to my landscape.

The tower of mulch that I'll have to spread one day this week....fifteen bags of cedar! It will mask the smell of my neighbor's dogs pooping in the garden.

My herb garden today. The sage is flowering. I should have clipped them to promote bushier growth, but I'm enjoying the pretty color.

The nicely trimmed yard after my friend's mowing job....We added an above-ground watering system that hooks to my garden spigot. My friend also helped me re-seat the fountain so that it is more level to the ground. And we put down a bunch of grass seed in the thin spots too.

The berry patch with the newly potted mint. I broke the teacup. ;o(

The new mint pot in bright sunny colors....

Cauliflower doing well....

Strawberry blossoms!

The first ever raspberry (or blackberry?) blossom since transplanting to this garden!

My Babcock White Peach bud!

Panamint Nectarines!!!

The canna bed on the side of the back house is just beginning to wake....

I can't wait to see if I can bring any of the fruit to full term this summer. I'll invite you over for the first bbq!
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