A Happy Peach

Things that make my heart smile…


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Liebster Blog Award…

My wonderful friend Skyraftwanderer, to whom I thank very much for this honor, has been kind enough to award me with the Liebster Blog ♥. It’s the first time I’ve heard of this award, but it sounds really cool. As my friend mentioned in his post, liebster is German and translates to the English word dearest. The idea of holding a blog in the dearest regards sounds so wonderful to me. Now there are a few rules, but I think they are similar to most other blog award rules. The award is meant for up-and-coming blogs with less than 200 followers.

  1. Thank the donor and link back to their blog
  2. Publicize your top five picks for the award and let them know by leaving a comment on their blog.
  3. Post the award on your blog.
  4. Encourage the people who receive it to list their five favorites.

Pretty simple, right? So here is a list of five wonderful blogs (I am not sure they have under 200) and if you are not included, it doesn’t mean I don’t love you, because I do, I really do love you!!!

Sometimes the passing on of the awards is not high on the to-do list. That’s OK, I know what that is like. I am just coming down from Thanksgiving, Black Friday, Cyber Monday mania. It’s been a hectic stressful and oh good gravy emotional sort of weekend. And you know the emotional part had a lot of credit card action to it. Sigh…

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Happy Thanksgiving Friends!!!

It’s turkey day, which is a big cooking day for us in the U.S. My pie is done and the turkey and side dishes are on the way. All of this commotion can lead to the holiday being a stressful time for cooking, there is always the possibility for things not going quite as planned.

We were taught in school that Thanksgiving was a time when the Pilgrims had a feast to give thanks for surviving in a new settlement. We were also trained to turn our little hands in school into turkeys, very useful in our future lives :D.

As adults many of us are eagerly awaiting Black Friday, the traditionally largest shopping day of the year and the accepted beginning of the Christmas shopping season. Why does that phrase sound like the starter gun at the beginning of the race? Some wonderful people volunteer to help feed the homeless and donate food to feeding the homeless, although the food banks need that generosity year round. And lastly, if not most importantly, we take time to acknowledge what we are thankful for. To cast aside our habit of taking things for granted and letting our loved ones know that we are grateful for all the things that we are blessed with in our lives. One of the many things that I am grateful for are the friends I made through this blog and the outlet this blog provides for communication and creativity. So while I munch on turkey and pie and watch a little “A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving” I was be thinking of you all. Happy Thanksgiving my Friends!!!!


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Things To Make On Rainy Days…

Disclaimer: This is one long post….

My dearest friends, it’s lovely when we meet new and wonderful friends, isn’t it? I feel really lucky to have met some truly fantastic people through blogging. I think one of the ways we recognize each other’s blog is through our blogging awards. My new friend Andy(1076) has been so kind as to award me the Versatile Blogger Award. Now I know that I’ve received  this award from a couple of other lovely ladies before Liz and Tien, but such kindness is always welcomed. Part of the awards is that the recipient lists seven facts about themselves. Now, you know I like my themed lists, I’m sort of nutty that way. Well here comes another. It rained quite a bit on Sunday and I thought now there’s a good list. So here it is, seven things to make on rainy days.

7 Things To Make On Rainy Days

  1.  You wake up and the first thing you hear are the smallest of pitter patters on your window pane. Ah yes, the weatherman finally got it right and it is raining. Still a little groggy, maybe even in disbelief (in Southern California it rains so infrequently that it’s a big deal here, panic-stricken) you must brew yourself the elixir which will help your addled brain to function. Yes you have to make yourself a stiff cup of java, and if you can get some fresh roasted beans.
  2. If on this rainy day you find that you are not required to leave your house, you may want to think about making some muffins. Realistically I love to bake when it’s cold outside but for this example I thought of muffins. Why, because there is nothing so cheery in the morning as muffins. There are many different types of muffins, so why not try something new. I thought rather than blueberries make some of Nigella’s Chocolate Chip Muffins, although any muffins seems like a good muffin to me. I know Nigella’s a little nuts, but that is what I like about her. I like to look for those moments when makes those funny faces. Like she wants to tell you she’s crackers, but she’s trying to hold it in. Stop holding it in, we already know. 😀 
  3. As your day progresses maybe the downpour has your nerves may feel a bit frayed. To soothe frayed nerves there is nothing better than a relaxing cup of tea, at least in my opinion. I think I have mentioned a few (maybe more like several) times my love of tea. I’m hoping that you would be open to a nice cup of relaxation, maybe mint or chamomile, any cup that you may fancy.
  4. Wondering what to make for a healthy hearty lunch, perhaps something that isn’t fussy and does not require you to leave your house. I say either a soup or a stew is the way to go. I would search my pantry for veggies and raid my refrigerator for some meat and bones. It is important to have bones to flavor your broth, without it your stock would be so bland. You should also have on hand an onion and some garlic. Most homes would have the ingredients for a mirepoix, which is onions, celery and carrots. You saute these items (till they begin to become translucent) in butter or some olive oil. This becomes the base layer of your soup. Then add the water and bones as well as the garlic. Soups are the easiest things to make, all you are doing is adding flavors and layers. I love to add mushrooms or sometimes ginger, it depend on the type of soup I am going to make. Honestly the possibilities are endless. Seriously I could go on and on about soup… Here are two different versions of stew. Both look good. 
    And having to contend with the rain and making yourself some comfort stew you should perhaps have a little laugh. 
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  5. Perhaps you were second guessing the weatherman, after all that is the only job you get paid to guess what may or may not happen, and made plans to go out. If you’ve been sidelined due to the droplets of water falling from the sky and need a new activity, perhaps crochet. I know it seems like a granny-esque thing to do, but it’s really fun, therapeutic and you end up with something you can use (maybe the first few items may look askew, but with practice you’ll be great). The best way to think of it is that crocheting and knitting are creating a series of knots, the crochet hook is probably easier to start with. One thing to remember is to take breaks, if you don’t you may end up with a claw for a hand and it can be hard on your nail. Teresa has some great tutorials on her blog and her youtube account.  
  6. Having made it through the day you think to yourself I need something super hearty to knock me out. Maybe something that will give you a good case of meat coma, you know when you’ve eaten so much meat that it knocks you straight out. I think a good heavy dinner with some sort of roasted meat (maybe beef, chicken or even pork) with some veggies will just do the trick. Hopefully you have something in your fridge or the rain has let up enough for you to run to the market. I like to brown the meat in my Le Creuset dutch oven, saute the onion slices, add celery slices add some baby carrots, mushrooms and chicken stock cover and pop in the oven. It’s a one pot happy meal. Another option is Eric Ripert suggestion for Christmas Dinner. I think pork is an overlooked meat and this is a great idea. 
  7. It’s right before you tuck yourself in, what you really need is a nice mug of cocoa with marshmallows. And it’s off to dreamland for you. Maybe it’s sprinkling and the sound of the rain can lull you to sleep. Nighty night my friend.

Wow, this is a long rainy day isn’t it? What would you suggest for a rainy day?


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Inspired Hometown Security…

My quest continues…I’m not sure what exactly to call this quest as it is still ongoing and seems to be evolving. However, I have found quite a few things along the way, some of them people who have wonderful ideas and brilliant spirits. Today I saw a clip of an interview with Majora Carter on PBS. Mrs. Carter had some interesting things to say so I wanted to hear more. I researched a bit about her and found the Majora Carter Group. The group focuses on helping communities improve (by greening) their environment.

These sort of topics may seem applicable solely for urban environments, but I think the message can be applied to developing nations. I think that countries/communities that still have majority of their natural landscape untouched should consider how they want to develop. To avoid the mistakes that we have made by overdevelopment and not looking at the long-term damages we could be creating. I am also beginning to believe that we not only have to lessen our footprints but we have to find a way erase the damage they may have caused, if possible. I think our focus should shift from profit to sustainability, the value of paper money should be less important than the quality of our environment. For that shift to occur it has to be a societal effort. I also think the “Occupation Rallies” energy would be better served in these sort of efforts. Although they are drawing attention to the problem with our society, but now we have to focus on solving them. But that is just my opinion.

Mrs. Carter does speak professionally and I thought I would include her Ted Talk speech, there are tons of her talks on Youtube if you want to hear more. Let me know what you think.


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Hats, Doughnuts and Other Random Notions….

Today was a bit chilly, well chilly for Southern California. It was about 64°, so that means chilly, man people must be thinking I’m a weather wimp. I think I just might be. I even thought of picking up a chapeau whilst at Target. It was from their limited edition Albertus Swanepoel line, but I didn’t see it online, but it looked like this one. But I was on a mission and could not be distracted with such things. A little more easily distracted, I saw the hat below on the cover of Sundance, Robert Redford’s clothing catalog. Being the DIY beaver that I am, I straight away started to figure out a way to make it. I love it when I have a new little project.

I fibbed, I was a bit distracted at Target as somehow doughnuts made their way into my cart. They just jumped in there, at first I was alarmed, but they were such sweet talkers I let them stay. I then popped on my iMac and traversed the internet to see this tutorial from Cooking with Dog. And I thought maybe I should have tried this out, but recalled the beignet debacle and thought better of it (I blame Emeril Lagasse for my phobia).

Just for fun I saw this felt doughnut tutorial posted by Paperpastels waiting for me off to the side.

Let’s end this random ramble right and bring it back to food, because it always seems to come back to food with me. I received an e-mail from one of my favorite Japanese Tea Stores, Lupicia. I am also a sucker for honey and things that I can spread on toast. It seems to be some sort of scrumptious concoction of vanilla and nut butter. What the what!!! How did I live without it? I’m just sitting here imagining what it would taste like, oh when sipping some glorious tea on a warm toasted crusty bread. Sigh, almond dream.


Where is your mind wandering? I bet it’s somewhere nice…


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Artisanal Coffee…

To say that Venezuelans like coffee, to me, is a gross understatement. Some of my most vivid childhood memories are of the women in my family gathering over hot cups of coffee to discuss whatever matters of importance seemed to have gained their attention. Unfortunately I could not understand too much of it as it was all in Spanish and at the time my grasp of the language was almost nonexistent, to be perfectly honest that hasn’t changed to much. One thing I did understand and always took note of was this phrase in regards to the coffee, “es tan rico rico” or “ay qué rico rico”. The first phrase translates to this is so rich and the second is oh how rich, with the extra rico to communicate how rich the coffee was. You see Venezuelans, at least the ones that I know, are very dramatic in their speech. The R’s are rolled in the strongest of manners for the longest of periods, which is quite a thing to hear.  These women took their coffee seriously, a good cup of coffee seemed to be the appropriate fuel for a good session of chisme (pronounced cheese-may, meaning gossip).

Since Venezuela is a coffee bean growing country, although not as much as before, with beautifully mild climate it seems plausible that coffee can be picked, roasted and ground within a day. In fact I have heard tale of how wonderful this freshest of the fresh coffee truly is, in it there is always some guy (most likely some distant family member) bringing down a bag of gorgeous smelling and freshly roasted bean. Then my imagination takes me away as I conjure up a grand and dramatic passing of this deceptively rustic looking sack from one person to another. In my mind there are angels singing and beams of lights that seem to be surrounding the bag if not being emitted from the bag.But a more sensible me knows that most of the dramatization is a figment of my imagination.

However, I can now attest to you that there is a difference between what we shuffle home from the grocery and the taste of relatively (accounting for shipping time) fresh roasted beans. At the end of September (27th) I ordered from Lot 18 (link is a special invitation to join if you are interested, full disclosure if by chance you join and order something they do give me a credit) 2 lbs. of coffee from Brooklyn Roasting Company, but I did not receive it till the 29th. Initially I was irked because the estimated time frame to ship was one week. It literally took a month. I am not sure what the hold up was and for some reason they shipped two more lbs., which I received the following week and was instructed to keep as a gift from Lot 18. Despite all the issues of shipping I will have to say that it was well worth it. The flavor was mellow and round, but robust. You can tell that it was fresh, there was no other way to describe it. The only thing I could think of is to describe bad coffee, you know the kind that lacks character or even worse has an odd after taste.  I remember working in an office and at 4:20 every hour I would smell this pungent tuna-esque smell coming from the vents. For weeks I had no idea where it was coming from. I shared my office with someone else and we both were stumped. Until one day I caught the culprit in the act, he was making some terrible coffee to try to stay awake (tell my four o’clock isn’t the hardest hour to remain awake at work).

Unfortunately the long wait made me think that they would never receive my coffee. This prompted me to order another set of coffee from Lot18 from the brand Superba. It arrived right after the first Brooklyn Roasting Company shipment, and I have yet to finish the first bag, although happily the end is near. Since the first bag is not done I have not opened any of the Superba, but it smells equally divine. Currently , I now have six bags of coffee. I bet you can picture me sniffing the bags (or perhaps a cartoon version of me) with a big goofy grin on my face. They all smell so good.

Want to know how I prepare my coffee. Well I measure out my coffee, about a scoop and a half for one cup, and place it in the container. I boil my water and pour it into the container. I wait two minutes (I totally use a timer), two minutes is the optimum time to brew your coffee (some wait up to four). Then I pour through my filter. Or you can use a French press if you’d like. I like my coffee black with a little sugar, and of course I care deeply about the vessel in which it is served.

If you are interested in some more official prepping techniques check out the National Coffee Association, link takes you to preparation page.

So anyone a coffee lover? How do you prepare it or what is your favorite style? Mmm…this is making me want a cup right now.


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Bring Out Your Dead…

Remember my battle with the Amazon Kindle? Well it felt like all the machines were against me around June which was documented here and while most of them were remedied my frustration continued with the Kindle and was vented here. I think the Kindle and I were just not meant to be friend. Ah such is life.

Let it not be said that I am not resourceful. While the 3rd Kindle worked, I wanted nothing to do with it and wanted to get it out of my life. I decided to take the loss and trade it in. I did a bit of research, the most I could get from Amazon would be 46 (US) dollars and some change in Amazon credit. I thought maybe a store (Target, Best Buy, etc.) and most of them offered around 27 to 40 (US) dollars usually in store credit or a visa card. Sony offered 47 (US) dollars, but towards future Sony products. Then I found ecoNEW and they offered 55 (US) dollars in a visa prepaid card. I have sent it in and they checked it almost immediately upon receipt and I am now awaiting my Visa Prepaid Reward Card. I think that trading in your electronics is a great way to move on with your life. Here are a few thing to remember:

  • Once you send it in there are no takesies backsies, you agree to them keeping the product and giving you whatever they determine is fair. Now I’ve been burned before by Sony when they said they would do me a solid and recycle a Sony PSP, so in that case I received nothing. If you are uncertain about your trade-in value it may be better to go to a store and have it appraised there, that way you can walk out with the reward or with your item.
  • Most of the places paid for shipping, but make sure that you package it well so that it does not become damaged during shipment.  Most places will provide guidelines and if it is visible that you have followed those guidelines and it was damaged any way they will take care of it on their end, however if it is not packaged correctly then it’s on you.
  • My only issue with ecoNEW is that it takes a few weeks for them to send it out, but I prefer to wait opposed to less money.
  • Remember to read all the fine print and make sure that you understand what you need to do and what you should expect.
  • Depending on location the vendors programs may not be available to you, but I am sure that there are others. And as the “customer service rep” on Amazon said I could always sell it. But that seems like a bit of a pain to do on eBay or Amazon Market.
So does anyone have anything that they want to get rid of like the plague (get it, get it, because of the bring out your dead reference)? Or have you done a trade in before, liked it, hated it?