A Happy Peach

Things that make my heart smile…


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A Thematic List of Seven

My dear friend Liz passed a set of awards to me, the Tell Me About Yourself and the Versatile Blogger awards. Now many of us have had an award or two and the conditions for these awards are normally list seven things about the award and then pass them on to other people. Very kindly Liz said that it was not necessary to do the entire list and pass action but listed seven blogs that she enjoys and if the recipients felt like they wanted to participate they could. I like this idea, because I don’t like the idea that someone feels forced to play along. So in this spirit I am going to create two lists: one lists of seven things about myself (with a theme) and another list of seven fantastic new blogs, just to introduce them and give a bit of a nod.

List # 1: Seven of My Favorite Sounds:

  1. The sound of the turn signal in my car. This was the first new car I had purchased and it was a belated graduation gift to myself. I had been waiting and looking for a new car and my other car had been on its last leg or should that be tire. So finally being able to buy that my car was a bit of a relief. The thing I remember that night was the sound of the turn signal as I waited at the light, click-click click-click, the engine quietly humming in the background. I took in my surroundings, it was a dark blue night with street lights glowing up and down Beach Blvd. I drove home with a serene smile on my face, tired a bit but elated mostly.
  2. I absolutely love music and one of my favorite genres is jazz. I credit the fabulous Miles Davis as one of the reasons for bringing around to jazz. The first few notes in “So What” have such a remarkable quality to them. Those initial slightly off kilter notes that Bill Evans played in repetition make you wonder what is going to come next, the following notes then bring it into focus all within 30 seconds. It feels like a conversation, one with music and without the constraints of words. What follows is poetry. Of course this part of its inherent genius as it is the first track and sets up the following tracks to create one of the best records ever made. Released in 1959 its sales rank it as quadruple platinum. It is a classic and I hope that there will never come a time when it is treated with any less respect and love, if that day were to ever come along I would question society.  
  3.  To me there is no sweeter sound than a child’s sincere little laugh or a baby’s coo. Children are mostly genuine little being, like little lights. So when they laugh it’s because they’re happy. Most likely it’s something a bit silly, because they hopefully haven’t been corrupted yet so they don’t understand sarcasm nor sardonic humor. But it puts a smile on my face to know that a child is happy.
  4. The sound of rain falling. I don’t know why exactly, but I like rain. Maybe because it rarely rains in Southern California. But when I’m home and it starts to rain I like that cozy feeling I get. I turn on the heat and make something yummy to eat, maybe a stew, pot roast or soup, and after have a cup of tea or cocoa. It’s also fun to get inside your warm cozy PJs and snuggle up in a soft bed with freshly laundered sheets and either watch a movie or maybe read a good book.
  5. The way my Mom says my name. I am not sure what it is, but when my Mom says Danny a certain way (especially if she’s calling me to taste something tasty she whipped up) it makes me feel good inside, there must be some sort of Pavlovian response conditioning involved. Even as the years pass I like to hear it, I think it also reminds me of when my Granny used to call my name.
  6. The sound of typing. This I have no real explanation for. I guess I just like the rhythmic click clacking.
  7. The sound my  heels make when I walk on hardtop surfaces. I think most women feel a bit sexy when they wear their heels, it’s a specifically feminine sort of thing to wear. We gals have to maintain our center of gravity in our hips which balance us while perhaps shifting our hips seductively, shoulders back (proper posture without looking like a drill sergeant) which forces our chest out (you know what I am getting at) all this while teetering in three-inch heels we walk on the balls of our feet. It’s quite a feat and a wonder that we do not spontaneously fall down more often, even more of a wonder is that I’ve got the whole thing down to where I can run in them (it may have been those dance classes as a girl, maybe not).

 List # 2: Seven Fantastic Photo Blogs

  1. Tokyobling’s Blog
  2. Gary Ng Photography – Gnostec
  3. Khanum – Visions of Earth 
  4. The Urbanhippie which I found by way of Skyraftwanderer 😀
  5. Tommy’s This is Naive
  6. Fortysixthatgrace
  7. Yourboyhood
There were so many that I wanted to list, but restricted myself to seven. I think of the ones I wanted to choose these all tend to treat you to a wonderful view of world through their lens. It’s like taking a trip with one click. Bon voyage my friends. 😀


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Or Treat…Make Me Something Good To Eat…

Warm treats that make Autumn yummy…

Click on picture to go to World Market Site

Click on picture to go to Plush Puff Site


Yesterday it was a bit chilly, well chilly for Southern California, so I made myself some hot cocoa (World Market Salted Caramel) and popped in a couple of gourmet marshmallows (Plush Puffs) that I got at the market. It was such a warm and yummy treat. The marshmallows complimented the cocoa as they were fluffy with a delicate hint of vanilla, and melted gently into the cocoa. So it got me thinking, why don’t I make my own marshmallows, since they are so yummy in cocoa. Thus began my search for the secrets to marshmallows began. After reviewing a few videos and recipes the task seemed achievable, but it does require a lot of sugar (I may cut down the volume or freeze them so they remain fresh).

The recipe is pretty simple, and once you get it down you can experiment, say encrust them with toasted coconut or maybe add some chocolate. You can also play around with flavors. I also think homemade marshmallows would be a sweet little addition when thinking of party favors or gift giving (maybe make a hot cocoa gift basket).

Also if you are not inclined to buy the World Market cocoa (one of my favorites) or any other cocoa mix you can easily use cocoa powder and add sugar and vanilla to taste. I am probably going to use Alton Brown’s method. But if you are interested and they don’t let you view his video here’s another person’s method (always have a backup). Bonus this guy gives you a bit of the marshmallow history.


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Trick…When Something Wicked This Way Comes…

Actually it’s, “By the pricking of my thumbs, something wicked this way comes.” It is so close to Halloween that I have spooky thoughts in my head. Not a lot really, but a few so why not borrow from William Shakespeare’s Macbeth, surely the Bard will not mind.

What is this wickedness that I speak of? Well, it is not actual wickedness per se, but I guess it’s my frustration with my own consumerism. I was thinking about the fact that in the world of cosmetics this is the big buy season. It’s the time that we gals stock up because we are getting discounts that we normally would not get and seeming surreal bundled goods. Cosmetic companies overwhelm us with a copious quantity of limited edition products with beautiful packaging. All of this is very seductive, and honestly I am like a crow, attracted to bright shiny objects and driven by the impulse to bring it back to my nest. In almost every other aspect of my life I can be logical and exhibit control over such impulses, but there is something about pretty things that draw me in and sparks an internal conflict of to buy or not to buy.

The truth is I don’t recall these discounts being offered several years ago. In fact the friends and family discount was something you could get only if you were friends or family of an employee, although it may just be something that happens in the U.S. Now I get e-mails about the sale with discount codes, sales girls call my home to invite me to parties where I need to spend a certain amount on things that I really wasn’t looking for. I don’t remember cosmetic lines launching multiple collections (I’m looking at you MAC) at almost the same time, if not then one after another at rapid fire speed. As a consumer it can be overwhelming when your e-mail seems to be inundated with promotional marketing of product launches. It’s almost to the point that I am so over-saturated with all this marketing that I don’t care anymore. Their intense marketing has created a disinterest, almost an annoyed reaction. To me this is terrible, make-up is something that I love, I love the color and I love playing with it, but it’s all just too much.

I’ve come to the point where I realize that marketing is just action taken to create interest in a product that I don’t need and may not even want. Think about it, very little marketing is done for the things that you need. You really don’t see anyone saying you need to buy this home, because if people can afford it they most likely have already invested in-house. No one says it’s cold maybe you should turn on the heat, guess what, if you’re cold you’ve most likely turned on the heat already.

For the most part I don’t mind marketing, but if you’ve ever taken a marketing course (it’s required for all business majors) you know that it’s their business to get into your business. They want to know where you live, how much you spend on something, what your interests are and all the other little details of your life so they can either convince you to buy their product or develop a product they think you’ll want. Some of this is progress, and some of it is creating waste. But if you really think about it, you’ve lived your entire life without whatever it is they’re trying to get you to buy, you can most likely live the rest of your life without it. Which isn’t to say I won’t buy something that I like, but I don’t like someone trying to manipulate me into purchasing. Odds are if they take the hard sale approach I will resent them and walk away. I do appreciate a pretty package, but that isn’t the only thing that will convince me that I need to purchase this product. I will say I am more likely to buy if I think it’s a bargain or there are some sort of discount/dramatic savings (cheapness may be my Achilles heel). I think there is something inside of me that rationalizes a purchase when it’s been discounted. (And I realize that this whole paragraph was like a response to a marketing survey, ironic no?)

Don’t think I forgot about the boys. Christmas bargains are out there trying to open up your wallets too you know. The day after Thanksgiving in the U.S. is Black Friday, this is a unisex free-for-all throw down of savings. It’s a smackdown to get your tech toys as well as other items. The catch, because there is always one, is the limited supply. For example last year Radioshack offered this great deal on netbooks, but each store only received one, so that should be netbook. They open at six and people line up and crowd in to find savings. I used to go out there and go toe -to-toe with the best of them. But I am more likely to stay at home and order online, as it has gotten too dangerous, people have been killed in the insane mobs. In fact I wait to order certain things, say a tablet or new software, around that time in hopes of getting something from Apple. But in typical sneaky American marketing, some places started offering “Black Friday” discounts in earlier months.

I wonder is anyone else tired of consumerism? Or am I suffering from this malaise alone?


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I Wonder If This Would Work…

You see dear Friends I have this idea, but right now it’s just an idea, bordering on fantasy. But to properly propose my idea we have to go back a few weeks to when I was watching this program on PBS (public broadcasting station). The program focused on the health of a lower-income community and how many were suffering. In fact their poor health seemed to echo their impoverished state. The citizens had poor diets, mostly fast food, and in turn their health suffered, their poor eating habits were passed down to their children and this vicious cycle continues.

Poor health inhibits your ability to perform and most likely contributes to making other bad choices. I know if I am not feeling well I don’t make sound choices, I think that’s just a natural cause and effect relationship. I don’t think that this is relegated to this one neighborhood, in fact I do not think that it is necessarily a pattern followed by only those with lower-income. I know that when I am working on something that stresses me out and requires most of my time and energy I tend to get fast food too. It’s not something that I am proud of and in fact it’s a habit I am trying to break. But I think the difference is that I know better and that I have access to healthier choices. In contrast most of the food choices offered in lower-income neighborhoods are fast food and the markets tend to sell fewer fresh produce, and from what I have heard the quality is lower as well as the prices being comparatively higher. That is enough to be anyone feel depressed and locked into this pattern of unhealthy living.

I do not think that this is fair. My fervent belief is that everyone should be able to eat and they should be given the choice of being healthy. I am not going to go into the politics of how there is actually enough food to feed the world but various issues prevent people from getting the food they desperately need. That crap I leave to morons who think they can rule the world (yeah, I know I don’t use words like crap a lot when writing, but good gravy I could not think of a more apt phrase for it).

So onto my idea, it’s small but I think it’s doable, but it has to be something supported by the community. I was thinking that folks could learn about healthy eating and part of which would be learning to grow their own gardens. That’s part of why I thought I would experiment and see how difficult it would be for me to start a micro garden. It has proven to be a doable task as well as enjoyable.

I’ve got a few rudimentary ideas running around in my head right now. I think the initial initiative would be to teach people about the importance of a healthy diet and the impact of food on our health. It’s surprising how some people are quite unaware of this fact. Our bodies are a machine and what we fuel it goes throughout our system, what we ingest will contribute to our overall health as well as on a cellular level boosting our immune system as well as slowing the aging process (possibly reversing previous damage). Eating well can only benefit us, and once you can effectively communicate that I think that most people will listen. After all no one wants to be sick. The second message should be that eating healthy can be affordable, easy, and most importantly easy. I think the initial push would be the hardest, it is hard to break people of their patterns before it’s too late, or a lot of damage has been done.

Once people understand the importance of eating right I think learning more about the food they eat is important. The best way is to grow them. You can see what it takes to nurture them and you appreciate each bite. Here is where community support can be handy, if there was a place for people to meet and learn about gardening, a place to interact and actually sow the seeds that would be great. If there weren’t a place for discussion I think a virtual space would be good. If there weren’t vacant lots to plant or places to keep the potted plants, then people could most likely keep them at home (you can have a nifty indoor garden if you are committed). But that’s the thing, I think maintaining people’s commitment could be a challenge. When you are just starting a new path, sometimes it’s easy to abandon it and go back to your old habits if it is not regulated.

I know there are some programs out there that are structured like this, one of my favorites is Alice Waters’ Edible Schoolyard. I love what she is trying to do. Children are a great way to start and I wish this program was available to more schools. It’s sad that many people think of Alice Water as an idealist, it makes eating well sound like an unattainable goal. Here is a clip of Mrs. Waters talking about the program.

 

Right now I am trying to understand what I need do to start, I think this is the sort of thing that once you start you begin to see what direction to take. There are a few established organizations but they are scattered all over the country, that makes it difficult for people who do not live in close proximity to the location. I think it would be nice to  have something virtual that way people can access it from anywhere in the world or maybe outline a small program which can be easily duplicated. In any event this is what I am mulling over at present. Any thoughts?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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Whilst Sipping My Chamomile Tea…

I am sitting here just enjoying the end of this Sunday and the beginning of the coming Monday. I was working on another post, a longer one which I probably post tomorrow, and sipping some chamomile tea whilst listening to Simon and Garfunkle. It’s finally feeling like Autumn here, after all last week it was in the 90s here one day it was even 104 (of course that was the day that they decided to ship my wine even though they were instructed to wait for cooler temperatures, after a few attempts to deliver the wine has been received and is OK it did not turn to vinegar). Tomorrow it will rain, or drizzle, and I do so love those wet and almost dreary days. Maybe because it doesn’t happen often here, so I am looking forward to it.

In case you were wondering which song prompted me to write this small and seemingly innocuous post it was “I am a Rock”, I really like the guitar work on this one (tee hee I am pronouncing it “geee-taaar”). There is no correlation, it is absolutely non sequitur. I guess I just felt like sharing this moment with you…


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Sprouts…

Yikes, I didn’t make my goal last week. I had my moments, but I just did not have the time or the will. But if at first you don’t succeed, try, try again, so here I am. What’s been occupying my time lately is my little garden, or at least starting it. Earlier this year I felt the yearnings of gardening so I bought a mini basil kit from Target. It sat on my dresser for a while, then I opened it and read the directions, but for whatever reason I did not actually plant it. I then thought that I lost the seeds and then bought some new ones and set it on my nightstand, still did not sow those seeds. This was a few months ago. I guess it was one of those things that I just never got around to. Lately I’ve been a little sad, that may be why I haven’t had the urge to write, I felt like whatever I wrote would have a tinge of blue to it. A while a blue note is good for jazz (wink-wink to all my jazz buddies) it seemed inappropriate to post sad little writings on a blog entitle “A Happy Peach.” I thought a sabbatical would be more in tune with the theme of things that make my heart happy than disconnected ramblings.

In my state of despair, which is totally unnatural for my nature, I thought that I needed to shake this funk. I decided to plant those little seeds, and finally did so on Sunday. Can I tell you, it has been a cathartic experience . I watered and sunned the little guys and a couple of days later I saw some tiny little sprouts. There are a few itty bitty leaves starting to sprout today. Right now my little friends are sitting here listing to some Oliver Nelson and enjoying myself. Funny how having a little extra life with you can perk you up.

I enjoyed it so much that I decided to start growing some other veggies and edibles. I figure why not grow something one can use. Here is a list of what has been obtained and planted:

  • Mesclun (I can’t wait to make my own Mesclun salad, how cool will that be?)
    • Arugula
    • Endive – Green Curled
    • Kale – Red Russian
    • Lettuce – Red Romaine
    • Lettuce – Parris Island Cos
    • Lettuce – Salad Bowl
    • Lettuce – Lolla Rosa
  • Organic Beets
  • Heirloom Cherokee Purple Tomato
  • Garlic Chives
  • Chamomile (yay tea time)
This got me thinking of a great Christmas gift. Something personal, something nice. I thought why not plant some tea flowers (chamomile, lemon balm, etc.) in a cute flower-pot (you could get a terra-cotta pot and paint it yourself if you are so inclined) and plant them and after a couple of weeks you have a cute potful of flowers which the recipient can use. Give the gift with a tea strainer and tea-cup and make a basket. I would call it the teapot basket, how cute would that be? I love Christmas, I love to buy lovely gifts but I also like to make personal gifts that I think the recipient would enjoy. Like if the person was a cocoa drinker, I think I would make a little basket with cocoa and mug and whatever little fun things I could find, but I would also make homemade marshmallows and cookies. Those sort of things just make the whole gift unique and hopefully it speaks your love for that person.Oh I’m excited about Christmas already….yikes I still have Halloween and Thanksgiving to go. But I have noticed not a lot of people have been decorating for Halloween this year, which is usually a sign of economic downturn. Hmm…


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Because Knowledge Is Power…

I love when someone tells you how it is. I love make up but it doesn’t mean that I am going to try to fool myself and spackle it on and think it makes me look like a whole different person. I honestly want to look like me a human being, not a poreless lineless mannequin. I try to take good care of my health and my skin, and I want the make up to reflect that. So when I apply foundation I look for one that will protect my skin and maybe enhance it a bit.

That being said we live in a youth oriented culture, everyone seems to want to stay a teenager. I am always a bit shocked when I hear of teenage girls getting botox (it’s pretty common in Orange County) and young women in their early twenties getting facial peels to diminish their “wrinkles”. I don’t think gals in their twenties have but one wrinkle, the one their sitting on. But make-up companies have seen this paranoia as an opportunity and tend to prey on the hopes of women with thinly veiled promises of renewed youth. I love that Goss has taken the time to debunk the myth.

Lastly the best thing to do is take care of your skin from an early age. Eat lots of fruits and veggies and remember that water is your best friend. If you are dehydrated the first place that shows is your skin. And yes having good genes helps, but staying out of the sun and using sun screen helps too.


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Ever Feel Like a Ping Pong Ball???

I think after industrialization took hold and became a driving factor of modern society there has been very little that we could do to control it. It was something that was established way before most of us were born and we have known little else. I watched as child in the eighties as large corporations offered cheaper products which meant that we all flocked to these mega marts to let the Mom and Pop store wither and die. Majority of the companies we buy from are large corporations and with little recourse we are left to whims.

One such whim bothered me today. When I opened up Firefox the Adobe Player window popped up saying there was a new version. I had noticed playback had been choppy so I started the download only to find out I could not install as I needed to purchase and install the new Leopard operating system. Something I do not want to do as it has a lot of problems and I feel that my computer’s overall performance would suffer. Why pay 30 dollars to ruin your computer?

Now the feud between Apple and Flash has been well documented. And honestly Apple’s desire to maintain exclusivity with its proprietary software is really annoying, they also have issues with Java (but that’s more on the development side, grrrr…). While Adobe’s software is ridiculously priced (the basic suite is $1,299 and the Master collection is $2,599), but in truth a lot of professional software has a very high price.  Last summer Adobe’s CEO Narayen said the feud had ended, but you still can’t get the flash on your iPhone/iTouch. If you compare the version requirements, you notice you can use Windows XP or higher, but the required processor had increased a lot (2.33 GHz or higher). My PC works but it’s getting on in years so I’ll probably end up having to get a new computer in sometime in the “near” future, but I don’t like the idea that one software application is forcing me to do so. I wonder if anyone else finds this annoying…


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In Search of….Eyeshadow

I think we have all had that moment. That moment when you fear for the safety of one of your favorite objects. That fear that clutches at your heart when you worry that if something were to happen to that favorite object could you replace it? In truth I have quite a few objects that I love, but I try (notice the use of the word try) not to get so attached. It’s only material items and they all have fade away into their infinite nothingness at one time or another. The rational me realizes that material items do not have an infinite quality and their and were always meant to have a temporal life. But the ridiculous part of me, the one that likes shiny objects much like a crow, becomes somewhat attached to some of our pretty things (wait, should I worry that I’ve dissected my personality only to  reconfigure it in a plural nature?). Well, that side of me has sent me on a frantic search. Yes a frantic search for eyeshadow.

It may be better to tell you my tale of woe from the beginning, so this ramble seems less idiotic. I have a “collection” of various make-up products, but I found it hard to use them. I mean, I have but two eyes and locating the right shade seemed cumbersome sometimes when one has to root through said collection. To compound the problem I ended up buying and forgetting some products while amassing a large inventory that is both hard to categorize as well as utilize. A couple of years ago I decided I would buy palettes to take out the pans of eyeshadow and organize them in a way which made sense. Originally I had them labeled and organized as well as remembering which ones were which. But I kept acquiring more and more palettes which allowed a false sense of confidence, some of the labels have fallen off and I have forgotten some of the less used products as I have, in my infinite wisdom switched around the pans in various palette coordination. I finally had to have an intervention with myself. This year my goal has been to keep my purchases down and to work on shrinking the my inventory. And slowly I’ve been using up my product  and reacquainting myself with some interesting acquisitions by continuing to switch products in various palettes.

In the shuffle I found the most beautiful plummy taupe with a slight sheen/shimmer to it. It’s just a simply beautiful shade, and it had been neglected for long time. It’s texture is both creamy and powdery and it’s application is just fool-proof. With one swipe you get the a wash of taupe and plum just enough to have create depth to your eye. It’s one of those easy colors to apply and leave the house for your day out and about, but can also add dimension to your look if you are trying to blend with other colors. As the French would say c’est manifique, I say it’s terribly chic.   Then one day I realized how gorgeous it was and ranked it as a staple. However by the time I realized it I had no idea which one it was. To add to my pain I had used it so much I hit pan and in my clumsy attempt to find a replacement it broke in my bag. Luckily my bag was not soiled, but my heart was broken. So I am not desperately trying to find it or to find a duplicate for it.

So apparently I had the insight to document my eyeshadows in photos (I just realized it tonight), but not to label them. I found them in the palettes, and I think it’s the one on the left (in the black palette). But the one on the right looks similar.  If I’m right and it is the one on the left, it’s a Smashbox eyeshadow. So thusly, here is my first hurdle; which one is it?

If it is Smashbox, and I think it is (I think I gave the Stila palette to my best friend, I’ll check with her), I think they made this color as a one-off.  The closest colors they have in their range are Minx and Truffle. Now Minx is to be discontinued and when I swatched it, it looked darker and bit more to the grey side than plum. I have not been able to find Truffle to swatch, but the Smashbox gal said it’s more to the purple side than Minx. Truffle is not available in a single pot, but is available in palettes and in the trio which means you have pay more to get other products you may or may not want, not ideal. Hurdle #2 is where to find it or a duplicate.

Now there are a lot of taupe eyeshadows out there, but finding the one with the right influence of plum in it has proven to be difficult. I am still searching but have thus far come up empty. I did find a lavender almost taupe in my own arsenal, one that I had forgotten about (it’s like finding buried treasure with me, isn’t it?). It’s Innocence from Lorac and turns out it’s not a duplicate as it’s a bit more purple than taupe. The search continues both in-house and  other sources, does anyone have suggestions?


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My Goal for this Week…

To begin with, I have not been very good at posting regularly as of late. Not only that I have not been commenting on some of my favorite blogs. I’m really sorry that I have been inconsistent. I’ve been a little distracted with matters of the unplugged, so to speak. One of the things that has been troubling me is our society as a whole and as a person with a lot of life left to live I am not sure what direction to take. Now these matters have little to do with the things that make my heart happy, rather they’re things that have brought great concern to me. But the fact is that posts about things that make my heart happy can serve as more of a distraction from all those worries that occupy my head. I thought I would create a goal for myself for this week, this short-term goal would be to post both a light and fun post as well as another post which delves into some of the thoughts that I am considering. This way I can try to get back to posting regularly and commenting regularly.