Saturday, February 26, 2011

Let's Eat

For some reason the Cooking Devas have been talking to me a lot lately. Recipe ideas just fling themselves into my head out of nowhere, and there's nothing to do but write them down and then try them out. Last night I made the best Fettuccine Alfredo ever. No kidding. And totally vegan and healthy. This morning I tried out some oat scones made with quinoa flour. Another success! Then a salad stood up and yelled, "Make me! Make me!", so Rick is as the store getting what I need for that, as well as a savory variation on the scones that I want to try with a good "Carribbean" black bean soup that surfaced last week. Here are this morning's scones. Beautiful and tasty!

This is crazy and amazing. A new channel for inspiration and creativity. And there's also a seedling of an idea for a book mixed in too. I know I've threatened that before, so don't hold your breath. I have no idea how to write a book. But I'll do some recipe sharing here once I perfect some of these a little bit, and remember to write down what I did so it's repeatable. I tend to cook by the seat of my pants, so some meals only happen once, but I'm being more observant now. Stay tuned, my friends. Vegan or not, you will love this food. As your Vegan Ambassador, you have my word.

Daily Bling...
Fearless Bling Necklace and Earrings. Yum!

Friday, February 25, 2011

Dog Days

The other day, before I had The Bike, I walked to the mailbox at the end of the road. There are lots of neighbors with barking dogs, and most of them are in fenced yards. But one family has a habit of getting puppies at regular intervals, letting them run loose for several months, and then putting them on a chain for the duration of their lives. These people have two chained dogs now, on opposite ends of the yard, with tiny, flimsy shelters and no sign of food or water. These dogs are mean, as you might expect, and lunge to the ends of their chains whenever someone passes by.

There's a younger dog there too. He's a cute brown lab mix, under a year old, and he's been running loose for months. When I walk by, he runs after me, barking and bristling, but when I turn around he skitters off, afraid of me. The other day, the kid who lives there was in the yard, yelling at the dog to leave me alone, so I stopped and asked if the dog would bite me. His reply was, "He shouldn't", which I found to be honest, but not very comforting. But I bent down and held my hand out for a sniff, and to my surprise, the cute brown dog let me pet him. I thought, great, we're friends now, and finished my trek to the mailbox.

Yesterday I decided to ride The Bike down to get the mail. As I passed the Dog House, the two on chains snarled and lunged, and the little guy came after me and ran alongside me for a ways before giving up. I meant to toss him a cookie, which I had in my bag, but didn't quite trust myself to ride one-handed yet. On the way back I was ready for him. I had a cookie in hand, ready to toss, but when I got to him this time, he ran beside me barking, and then... he bit my ankle. Fortunately I was wearing heavy boots, so I wasn't hurt. But dang! This kind of doggie behavior is just not acceptable!

The owner and the kid saw it happen, and both ran out to round up the dog. I stopped the bike as soon as he bit me, knowing if I faced him down he'd run for home, which he did. The owner was thoughtful enough to ask if I was alright, which I was, and I went on my way home.

The whole thing disturbs me for a couple of reasons. First, I don't really like the idea of being chased and bitten by dogs. But the real problem for me is, now they'll probably put that poor little guy on a chain for the rest of his life, and this just makes me crazy. I don't want to start some kind of neighborhood feud, and I understand that there are a lot of things I don't understand about Taos locals and a culture that is not my own. But really... this inhumane treatment of animals is just wrong on so many levels. Can I do something about it? I doubt it. People have been trying for years to get various animal ordinances into place, but the truth is, most people don't care, and there isn't money for enforcement of any kind anyway.

So I guess I have two options: Get some pepper spray and go about my business, or go all the way around the block to get to the corner where the mailboxes are, avoiding the Dog House completely. That's probably my best bet. It will turn a half mile round trip into about a mile and a half, which is better exercise, and part of the reason I want to ride a bike in the first place. This is the wild southwest, after all, pretty uncivilized at times. And I'm the "tourist" trying to fit in here, even after ten years. Still, there are a lot of loose dogs on any route I'll take, so I guess I'll get some pepper spray too. Sigh... There is no simple answer...

But there is Daily Bling...
This chain is super long, and every link is hand forged and polished steel. It's edgy and elegant and wonderful to wear. It took me three days to make, and I think I have to keep it... unless someone wants to pay me a lot for it, like enough to buy a new bike that can outrun a dog.

Thursday, February 24, 2011


Before we headed out on the road with our trailer (getting close to two years ago now), we sold most of what we owned, and traded two smaller vehicles for one big-ass truck. It made sense at the time. 

Back in Taos now, it makes much less sense. Rick uses the truck for work, in his growing Rent-a-Rick handyman business, so most of the time, I'm sort of stranded here at home, with nothing in walking distance except the mailbox, which is about a quarter mile away at the end of the road. I'm going a little stir crazy, but it's just not possible for us to buy me a car at this point, things being what they are and all. So the other day I started mumbling that I wanted to get a bike. Rick thinks it's a bad idea to ride around town, and he's probably right. But I can't be stuck here without wheels of some sort, and the dirt roads are too rough for roller skates.

At dinner the other night with our friends Deborah and Thomas, I mentioned my bike idea, knowing they would approve, both being avid cyclists themselves. And low and behold, Deborah offered to lend me her old bike, a very groovy vintage purple number, with a sparkly seat, a built in head light, and an airplane fender ornament. It's beautiful, and probably about as old as me.

Next morning, Rick checked the inner tubes for leaks and filled up the tires. I gave it a quick windex bath, hopped on, and headed down the road. Amazingly, it was just like... riding a bicycle. It all came right back to me, even though it's been years since I owned a bike. I felt like I was in high school, riding my old "witch bike" with the wind in my hair. Of course I know I have to have a helmet now, which makes me kind of grumpy. But I found some very cute ones at Nutcase, and ordered the "Blackdana" model yesterday. Until it arrives, I promise not to go out on the real streets in traffic.

I went for a short ride yesterday afternoon, just "around the block", which is about a mile of mostly dirt road, and includes a section of the old El Camino Real, which once went all the way to Mexico City. One thing you don't notice in a car, that you do notice on a bike, is gradual hills. It looks flat around here, until you bump into the mountains, but oh, no... The earth is definitely not flat around here. I got to the end of my street, and turned right, onto the paved part, thinking I had an easy stretch ahead of me. But between my, um, slightly older body, and the rather heavy one speed bike, I almost had to get off and walk it to the top of the slope. But being a very determined sort of person, I huffed and puffed and made it on the bike. Then I came home and hit the internet again, this time in search of a more modern cycle to wish for, with perhaps three speeds and a lighter weight. Deborah suggested I check the Nirve website, and that's where I fell in love. I see myself on a beautiful beach cruiser. No mountain bike for me, thanks. I have no intention of doing mountain riding of any kind. I want something stylish and comfortable, just to get me around town. I have my eye on the Lahaina, in teal...

Although the Island Flower, in Black Plumeria would really go better with my helmet...

Such a hard decision. But there's really no hurry. A bike like this is about as out of reach right now as a car. But I'll keep wishing and working, and for now, I'm so happy to have the elegant old Purple Passion to pedal to the mailbox.


And now, some Daily Bling...

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

I'm Late, I'm Late, I'm Late

So busy today I can barely remember to breathe...
A quick Daily Bling, and tomorrow I'll tell you about my BIKE!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Bean-Wah Burgers

I've been craving a good vegan burger lately, but the frozen ones always leave me, uh, cold, and all the recipes I've tried have been not-quite-right in one way or another. But last night Inspiration struck in the form of a bowl of leftover quinoa...

If you're not familiar with quinoa, it's a small, round super-grain. It has all the essential amino acids, making it a complete protein, it tastes good, and it cooks up much like rice, but in only about 15 minutes. It's pronounced keen-wah, not qwi-noah, which is a handy thing to know when you want to impress your friends with your new discovery, or ask for it in the grocery store. Buy it in bulk in most any natural foods section. Be sure to rinse it well before you cook it, or it will have a bitter taste. Use 2 cups water to one cup quinoa, bring it to a boil, cover, and simmer on low heat for 15 minutes, or until all the moisture is absorbed. Easy!

To make last night's Bean-Wah Burgers, I opened and rinsed a can of black beans, and mashed them with my potato masher in a big bowl. Then I added quinoa, oatmeal, potato starch, ketchup, garlic and onion powders, salt and pepper, and a dash of Spike. Measurements? Sorry! Didn't use 'em! Just mix it all up till it looks and feels  right. The ketchup gave it enough of a meaty look that I actually hesitated before tasting it. Then I ran through my mental checklist: no egg, no meat, nothing icky. Tasting it uncooked is OK! 

Formed into patties and cooked in the frying pan in a bit of oil, these were delicious! I ate mine without the bun, because I'm off wheat for the time being, but Rick slapped his between two slices of Ezekial Bread, with all his favorite burger embellishments, and had nothing to say but "Mmmm, Mm, Mmmmm!" till he was finished. With a side of sweet potato fries, I'll bet even your most meat-headed friends will love these.

And now for your Daily Bling...

Monday, February 21, 2011

Snow Diamonds

It's cold out there. Really cold. Too cold. Or maybe I'm just tired of cold. It snowed last night, but the sun's out this morning, at least trying to warm things up. Sun on snow is always a cheery sight anyway. It brings out the snow-diamonds and sparkles in a lovely, blinding way.

I got a small order of new gemstones the other day, along with some terrific new chain nose pliers. My hands were really beginning to feel the strain of the cheap hobby tools I'd been using. These new beauties are a gift from the gods, and my hands are so grateful.

I opened the box and set right to work, making earrings out of these amazing faceted quartz crystals. They sparkle like diamonds in the snow, and have a lovely, edgy, earthy glam that I just love. In the summer, when it's hot and we're all wishing for snow again, I'll wear some of these, and feel instantly cooler...

Friday, February 18, 2011

Serious Moonlight

Oh, did you see that moon last night? As it slipped out from behind the Sangre de Cristo Mountains here in Taos, it took my breath away, and then, of course, inspired some killer earrings.

Rummaging through my stash, I found a strand of dear little moonstones that just begged to be turned into some serious moonlight. If I don't sell these, I will be very happy to keep them...

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Earrings For My Friends

It is my humble opinion that one can never have too many earrings. I've been collecting them since about 1969, and well, I still need more. There are worse habits to have...

Today's Daily Bling is three whoppingly beautiful pairs of earrings. I made them all yesterday, and present them for your pleasure today. I want to spread Earring Love all over the world. Enjoy!

Cherry Blossom Chandeliers


Citrine Cascades

These are all are available today at AlchemyJewelryStudios.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011


I'm just learning that Facebook is a great little marketing tool. Duh! I learn slowly sometimes...
I've started posting a single piece of jewelry there each day, and so far, that very piece gets sold. Every day. Pretty good averages, so I think I'll keep doing it.

I also think "triangulation" is important when trying to get the word out about something. Think about it. Bridges are commonly built from triangles braced against each other, because that's the strongest way to do it. Triangulating in business can be as simple as posting the same thing on Facebook, and a blog, and in an email. Adding another blog site like BlogHer, and other social media like Twitter won't hurt the triangulation. Because we're not literally depending on a three sided structure for support, there's no limit to the number of "sides" used. The main thing is to use at least three. For some reason, that's where the magic starts.

I'll keep playing with this idea. There's more to explore. I think I'll start something called "Daily Bling," and see how it goes. You're here for the first installment on my blog. Welcome, and Enjoy!

Today's Daily Bling...

Friday, February 11, 2011

Buried Treasure

Every so often I'll tromp through the snow to the storage shed behind the house, and rummage around in a box or two, looking for treasures. I recently rediscovered some gemstones I'd bought in Tucson a few years ago, not knowing what I'd do with them. Sometimes it takes a while for a thing to make its destiny known, and yesterday, a strand of lovely faceted, translucent aquamarines spoke to me, loud and clear. They were ready to become jewelry. I used up every single one, and kept a pair of swing earrings for myself. Today I'll head back to the shed, hoping to unearth more forgotten buried treasures. And next year, I may have to get myself back to Tucson!

Wednesday, February 9, 2011


By yesterday afternoon, most people in Taos had their gas service restored. Snow had been lightly falling all day, and as the sun went low over the mesa, a lovely sense of calm seemed to fall across town. Our own backyard was just beautiful. The light and long shadows and dramatic sky hinted at some sort of breakthrough. Maybe I'm imagining things, but then that's how some of the best things get started--in our imaginations.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Day 6

Slowly, but somewhat surely, gas is being restored to homes and businesses in Taos. Some of our friends have warm houses again, while others are still waiting, not too patiently at this point. This is day 6 of this crisis, and most Americans are not accustomed to going without. Especially not going without something so basic as heat.

Rumors and conjectures are beginning to surface. Conspiracy theories are mumbled by some, and shouted by others. People are getting angrier by the day, not just because they have no heat, but because there are no clear answers as to why this happened, and what will be done to insure that it doesn't happen again. Even after all the gas service is restored, and people's lives get back to normal, I have a feeling this will not be over for a very long time. There will be investigations, accusations, and probably legal steps taken. This mess seems to be getting messier, even as it's being cleaned up.

It has a lot of us thinking about our dependencies and vulnerabilities. Even people like us, who are unaffected by the gas outage are faced with a new set of what-ifs. We're fine here in the current situation, with wood heat and electric everything else. But if the power goes out, we don't even have running water because the pump in the well house is electric. We keep two 5 gallon buckets of water for just-in-case, but that wouldn't get us very far. Our friend who lives in an Earthship is sitting pretty good, off the grid, and totally self sustaining... as long as the sun comes out to charge her solar batteries. A day or two of stormy weather can leave her sitting in the dark, depending on propane backup for heat and cooking. I guess a perfect set-up would have to include solar and wind power, along with water catchment. It's not impossible, and it might be time to consider adding a few things here.

I guess we could sit around worrying about what might happen, but that's not really our style. We're aware of these things, and feel the need to step up our emergency backup system a bit, but otherwise, we choose to focus on what we do have more than on what we don't have. We have a lot. And the more attention we give to that, the better off we'll be... even if the lights do go out.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Alchemy Jewelry Sale!

Stuff going on, bills to pay, can't talk about it... sorry!
I'm offering a 20% discount on all Tiaras, Necklaces, and Hairpins at Alchemy Jewelry Studios.
Only till Tuesday at noon, Mountain Time! The discount will be given as a PayPal refund when I process your order. Normally, you have to be on my mailing list to get the deals, but today is different.
Have fun!

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Just Checking In

It's a cloudy morning in Taos. Looks like snow, and there's still no gas. Probably not till Monday at the soonest. This whole thing is really starting to wear on people. We're still fine here at home. We have two fires burning this morning, in the wood stove, and in the little kiva fireplace in the dining room. I love this room. Might camp out here all day and knit. It's that kind of day.

Three friends came over to shower yesterday, and we expect them back today. Small comforts, as simple as a hot shower, can mean a lot. We also delivered three space heaters to friends who thought they didn't need them. Turns out they did. Keeping from freezing with inadequate heat is a lot different from keeping warm. I want my friends to be warm.

So, another weird, sort of off balance day. That's all I got. Just checking in. Think I'll make some soup.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Light My Fire

I'm having trouble concentrating long enough to write a decent blog entry. Taos is in the midst of a total natural gas outage, which has left much of the town without heat, cooking facilities, and hot water. To make it worse, outside temps are mostly below freezing. People are using electric space heaters, but are still cold in their own homes. All of the extra energy use is putting the power grid in danger, and we're all being extra conservative with our consumption. It's scary, and even dangerous, and the general "vibe" in town is edgy, anxious, and even fearful. Still, in a situation like this, Taos is a good place to be.

We're fortunate to have electric everything in our house, and wood heat to keep us warm. We're pretty much unaffected by the gas outage, but we still feel what's going on "out there". Listening to the radio, I'm as proud as ever of our little town, and the folks who live here. Most people are taking it in stride as much as possible, and cooperating to help each other. I've heard people give their phone numbers over the radio, offering extra rooms in their homes to total strangers, and there's a ready list of volunteers who will do anything they can to help, from bringing in fire wood to providing meals, to driving shut-ins wherever they need to go. Local restaurants are offering limited menus when they're able to stay open, and instead of price gouging, they're offering discounts. And emergency shelters are opening all over town.

Feeling warm and abundantly blessed in our own situation, we're wondering what we can do to help. We've put the word out to all our friends that we have a little bit of room for sleepovers, but as long as electricity holds out, and space heaters, of course they'd rather stay in their own homes. But one thing we are able to offer is a hot shower, something that didn't occur to me until last night, when a friend posted on Facebook that she also had no hot water. Well, hot water is flowing like, uh, water here, and I'm happy that three friends so far today have come over to be "guest showerers". It's not much, but it's something.

I imagine most everyone who has something to share here is sharing it, and in true Taos fashion, we're going to get through this. Please send us your warmest, most comforting juju. A lot of people here sure need it. With any luck, gas might start coming back on sometime Monday. Till then, we all gotta stick together. It's warmer that way.