High Desert and Big Rocks

We’re back from Wolf Mountain Sanctuary in the Mojave Desert.

wolf mountain sanctuary I’ll post about our experience at the sanctuary, but it was mostly sad. Sad that these magnificent creatures NEED to be rescued. Sad that they can’t roam free, sad they’re hunted, tortured, hated. They are among the most intelligent and evolved species. How dare we destroy them. Sad. Very sad.

On the way home, we stopped at an amazing outcropping of rocks for a  little hike and picnic lunch.
mohave1 mohave2 The Mojave Desert is also known as the High Desert because of its elevation.mohave3 Blue sky and rocks.mohave4 Ick.mohave5 mohave6 mohave7 LOVE this pic.mohave8 Rock climber Not me.mohave9 mohave10 mohave11#highdesert #mojave #desert #wolves #hiking

Auto Parts Excursion Along With a Near Death Experience

My day…tagging along with tugboat man. When you’re the wife of a mariner, even slightly unpleasant tasks become opportunities to spend time together. Even this.

brakes1 Sitting in the car, looking though the camera lens, attempting to locate beauty in spite of it all.

Like this tree. How can it survive surrounded by concrete?brakes2Shapes against an azure sky. It’s about 77 degrees today!brakes3Trash that needs to be swept.
brakes5

Backstory…

For one of Angel Boy’s birthdays, I think it was when he turned twelve in 1993, he and I went on a celebratory skiing trip to Big Bear, which is about three hours away.

To get there, you have to drive a scary hairpin turn curvy mountain road.

Before that day, I had been totally comfortable with my driving ability and had been all over the country by myself, well at least as far as Colorado.

After a wonderful day of skiing and snowboarding, we followed a long line of cars driving down the steep mountain road.

Halfway down, I noticed a burn-y smell, saw smoke, and my brakes weren’t responding.

I mean, I was frantically pumping them and the brake pedal pushed all the way to the floor and the car wasn’t slowing — NOT AT ALL — instead, it was picking up speed.

Downhill!!!

There was nowhere to turn and sheer cliffs to the right of us.

Just before I rammed into the car in front of us, a ranger station appeared on the right — the only problem was that I couldn’t slow down, and there was a sharp turn into a small driveway.

I told my son to put a pillow in front of his face. His response? “Why?” My answer? “JUST DO IT. WE MIGHT CRASH!” That’s my Angel Boy, always questioning authority but not really aware of what’s going on around him. (He probably had his head in a book.)

I pulled hard on the emergency brake at the exact moment that I wrenched the steering wheel and screeched over the curb to a complete stop. My heart was racing and I was aware of just how lucky we were to be alive. I still don’t think that my son realizes how close we came to a disaster that day.

Cars pulled over and offered support and comfort, as they said they didn’t think we were going to make it– everyone was talking about the runaway car, and this was well before most people had cell phones.

The ranger station was closed but there was a phone with a direct line to the highway patrol, and CHP arrived in a few minutes to assess our situation.

I was petrified, but not so out of it that I didn’t notice one of the officers was the most beautiful male specimens I’d ever seen in a long time (tugboat man excluded). He called a tow truck and we were towed to San Bernadino. The diagnosis was that my brakes got too hot — that’s all — and least that’s what I remember they said —  and by the time we reached the service station, everything was OK.

Angel Boy and I drove home — very slowly– and on a nice flat freeway. The next day I took the car to our mechanic and had him do a complete brake job even if it didn’t need it.

I always felt that we cheated death that March afternoon.

Ever since then, I become VERY panicky on mountain roads unless hub drives, and I’m too afraid to drive by myself, and I’m a FREAK about my brakes (different car) — he checks them for me all the time, which is how I ended up sitting in the car at O’Reilly’s in Oceanside. While he was away at survival training last week, I felt that there was something wrong and smelled the burn-y odor again. When he checked it out, he saw a real problem with the caliper and the brakes were “sticky” (whatever all that means). Anyway, being the kind of wonderful human that he is, he decided to replace the calipers, brake lines, and brake pads on both sides, even though only the right side was messed up.

Oh, and were you wondering where tugboat man was in 1993 and why he wasn’t skiing with us since we’ve been together since 1991? The company he (and I) worked for decided to expand to Hawaii and my future husband had recently sailed a 700 passenger vessel there from San Diego and was involved in establishing the business in Oahu, as well as doing a lot of surfing.

Super Moist #Vegan Chocolate Cake With Amaretto Coffee Frosting

No eggs and no dairy, yet this cake is super moist, fluffy, and fudge-tastic — with a hint of French roast coffee and almond-y Amaretto.vegancakeTEXT

I was inspired by a recipe I found in my mom’s old cookbook — as always, I transformed it into my own version.

I know I use Amaretto a lot, but I ran out of vanilla and it’s a great flavor enhancer with chocolate and coffee.

Moist #Vegan Chocolate Cake With Amaretto Coffee Frosting

  • 1/2 tsp.  salt
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1/3 cup cocoa (unsweetened)
  • 1 1/4 cups flour (all-purpose)
  • 1 tsp. white vinegar
  • 1 tsp. pure vanilla extract (or Amaretto or Grand Marnier)
  • 5 Tbsp. vegetable oil
  • 1 cup cold coffee or water (coffee is better with chocolate) or you could always use soy/almond/cashew/coconut milk.

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

1. Mix the first five dry ingredients in a bowl.
2. Make three shallow depressions in the dry ingredients.
3. Pour vinegar in one, vanilla/amaretto in the other, and vegetable oil in the third.
4. Pour coffee/water over all.
5. Mix well until smooth.

Grease a nine-inch pan. Bake on middle rack of oven for approximately twenty-five to thirty-five minutes.  Check with toothpick to make sure it comes out clean. Don’t over bake or it’ll dry out. Cool and frost.vegancake4

Amaretto Coffee Frosting
Three tablespoons softened vegan butter substitute (I use Earth Balance)
Three or four tablespoons cocoa
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
Amaretto or Grand Marnier or vanilla
Cold coffee

In a medium bowl, sift sugar and cocoa. Blend with vegan butter. Add 2 teaspoons Amaretto or other flavoring, and 3 tablespoons cold coffee, Blend until desired consistency. If too dry, add more coffee or Amaretto. If too wet, add more powdered sugar.
Frost cake and dust with sifted cocoa.

vegancake3

The Sometimes Dangerous Life of a Mariner

ocean-quoteThe ocean is magical, but can be deadly, too.

Being a professional mariner means ongoing education, whether it’s Dynamic Positioning and other technology, or survival training.

(Read about Dynamic Positioning here: http://enchantedseashells.com/2014/08/29/why-would-a-tugboat-need-to-stop-motion/)

This is the part I don’t like to even think about.

How would you like to be trapped into a helicopter that was submerged upside down? Under water. IN THE DARK.

That’s where my tugboat man was.

He had about ten seconds to unhook his harness, smash open the window, swim out and up, all the while holding his breath.

AND WITH HIS EYES CLOSED.

It’s called “Helicopter Underwater Egress Drills” as part of Tropical Helicopter Underwater Escape Training (T-HUET)

You know what it really is?

A whole bunch of my nightmare scenarios all rolled into one.

When hub told me all about it, I could feel myself freaking out.

I’m not much of a swimmer; I HATE being underwater, and cannot even imagine how panicked I’d get in that situation, even if it was a drill.

The purpose is to “equip delegates with the basic emergency response knowledge and skills required in the event of a helicopter emergency with specific focus on escaping from a helicopter following ditching and
sea survival techniques.”

Yup, he’s leaving soon for one of those potentially dangerous oceangoing assignments  — not exactly tropical as the course title suggests, because he’ll actually be in freezing or below freezing temperatures.

It’s no wonder I require a daily telephone call or email and why, if I don’t hear from him, I start to worry.

Such is the life of a mariner’s wife.

 

How to Bake This Seriously Easy Rustic Savory Uber Crusty Olive/Jalapeno/Garlic Bread

This is bread heaven.

Crusty golden on the outside, chewy texture studded with olives, jalpenos, and garlic on the inside.

OK, listen to me. There is NO reason why you can’t recreate this masterpiece of textures and mouthwatering goodness.

If you think baking bread is beyond your skill set, think again.

Can you toss a few ingredients in a bowl, go away for a couple of hours, and throw a few olives and other things on top of the dough and mold it into a round shape?

Can you?

Of course you can.https://enchantedseashells.files.wordpress.com/2015/03/olivejalapenogarlicbread1.jpg?w=584&h=389

 

It’s so easy — not rocket science — and I guarantee success.

homemade bread recipe

Seriously Easy Rustic Savory Olive/Jalapeno/Garlic Bread

3 cups all purpose flour
1 package regular active yeast
1 1/4 cups warm water
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 tablespoon olive oil just for the rising bowl)

1 cup rough chopped olives (pitted)
2 jalapeños
3 cloves garlic

1. You can either sauté the jalapeños and garlic for a few minutes or leave them raw; it’s your choice. I used pickled lalapenos and garlic ‘cos I had them in the pantry.

2. In a large bowl, combine flour, yeast, salt, water. If you have a mixer with a dough hook, mix until it comes together in a wet ball. Add a bit more flour if it looks too wet, but you don’t want an overly dry dough.

3. If you’re doing it all by hand, old-school style, use a wooden spoon and put some muscle into it.

4. When it comes together, flour a cutting board and knead for a bit; this is a rustic bread so it doesn’t have to be perfect.

5. Oil a bowl with the reserved olive oil, place the dough in bowl, cover with a plastic bag, and set aside in a warm place to rise for a couple of hours. It helps to blanket the bowl with a towel, too.

6. After you can see the dough has doubled in size, turn the dough onto a floured wooden board. With your hands, roughly press the dough into a circle.

7. Add half the olives/jalapenos/garlic.

8. Fold the dough in half and gently press again to a rough circle.

9. Add the rest of the ingredients and form the dough into a ball shape.

Not so different than Play-Doh, right?

10. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

11. Dust the baking sheet with a teaspoon or so of cornmeal or flour.

12. Let rise again for about thirty minutes.

13. Toward the end of this second rising, preheat oven to 400 degrees.

14. Using a sharp knife, cut an X-shaped slit across the top of the dough.

15. Bake about forty minutes until the top is golden brown.

16. What I like to do toward the end of baking time is to take the bread off the baking pan and place directly on the rack to bake for another five-seven minutes. This ensures a completely even crunchy crust.

17. Take out of the oven, place on cooling rack.

It’s very important not to cut into it too soon! I know it’s hard to wait, but sometimes it’s a good idea.

Serve with homemade lentil soup and a fresh garden salad; this is truly bread heaven.olivebread3

Enjoy!

I’d like to hear from you if you try it. I taught tugboat man how and he didn’t think it was too difficult.

Celestial Navigation, Sextants, and a Ruined Anniversary

Not SEX. SEXtant.

It all makes sense,  I promise.

First of all, Princess Rosebud and her Tugboat Man have been married for twenty-one years, a really, REALLY long time.

Sometimes it seems like only yesterday, and at other times, it seems like a life sentence.

That’s 7,665 days, 183,960 hours, 11,037,600 minutes, and more than 662 million seconds, or, in my case ‘cos he’s gone about fifty percent of the time, we’ve only been married for about 10.5 years!

The traditional twenty-first anniversary gift is brass and that made it easy, ‘cos mariners are always shining brass, right?

 I found a small, working sextant so that no matter how far from home he might be, he can always navigate his way back to my heart.

heart constellation

What’s a sextant, you ask?

sextantA sextant is a weird looking thing — who invented this, anyway? –instrument with a graduated arc of 60° and a sighting mechanism, used for measuring the angular distances between objects and especially for taking altitudes in navigation, also known as Celestial Navigation.

In other words, blah, blah, blah, ‘cos I have absolutely no idea how to use it, but it’s shiny and has a couple of mirrors, so all is good.

My tugboat man’s a USCG certified instructor in Celestial Navigation.

If you want to know ANYTHING maritime-related, he’s your guy. Well, not really YOUR guy, he’s MY guy, but you get the picture…

Even in this age of GPS and radar, professional mariners need to fulfill a licensing requirement by exhibiting a certain level of proficiency in the use of a sextant.

Celestial navigation is the art and science of finding your way by the sun, moon, stars, and planets, and, in one form or another, is one of the oldest practices in human history.

A star to steer by…

The wheelhouse of hub’s vessels have a sextant on board and he uses it daily when he’s out in the open ocean. Mostly as a way to keep his knowledge fresh, but when I asked him why, he told me he does it because it’s entertaining and rewarding; a great mind game to stay sharp and focused.

Looks like a torture device to me.

sextant3During our twenty-one plus years, my tugboat man has been the one to make all the arrangements from our engagement to our tenth anniversary at the Archbishop’s Mansion in San Francisco — which was AMAZING and I’m talking about a spectacular dinner at John’s Grill, (one of the locations author Dashiell Hammett used in The Maltese Falcon), and when we returned from dinner, our room was filled with candles and stargazer lilies (guys, take notes) — this time I wanted to surprise him.

I had planned a romantic stay at the hotel where we spent our wedding night —  to recreate the whole scene with champagne and a great dinner at a little restaurant on the beach — but no one at the establishment responded to my two emails, two Facebook queries, and a telephone call to book a reservation.

I left a message with a nameless person who answered the phone; he promised someone would call me back and no one did.

Les Artistes Inn in Del Mar had recently opened in 1994 and the owners took pics of us in our wedding finery for their brochure — our wedding night was a lovely and magical time and now they ruined our special evening. RUINED IT!

I ended up making veg sushi and we drank with lots of sake. The next day we went for a walk and had a picnic where we were married at Magee Park in Carlsbad.

Nice, but not the same.

The best part of it all is that hub was HERE, ‘cos he’s leaving for six weeks in just a few days. For that I’m grateful, but I didn’t get the opportunity for my grand gesture, and since he’s the MOST WONDERFUL HUSBAND in the world, I’m sad.

2015 #VionicWalkabout Is ON!

#vionicwalkaboutDo you love to walk as much as I do?

Then join us!

The 2015 VIONIC WALKABOUT IS ON!

We have the ability to create a movement!

Vionic Venture WalkerShare your Walkabout journey via social media using the hashtag #VionicWalkabout.

The #VionicWalkabout spotlights personal wellbeing by bringing people across the nation virtually together to walk for health.

All it takes is a simple pledge to walk 30 minutes everyday for 30 days in an effort to create healthy habits. 

This year’s Walkabout challenge is being co-sponsored by Vionic shoes spokespeople Dr. Andrew Weil and celebrity trainer Juliet Kaska, and runs during the month of February – which is national Heart Health month.

Pledgers will receive exclusive wellness insight from the world renowned Dr. Weil and fitness tips from Juliet Kaska as well as the chance to win prizes from Vionic shoes, to the grand prize of a all expense-paid trip to Napa, CA!

Make Your Pledge Today – sign up for free online: http://www.vionicshoes.com/2015-vionic-walkabout

What’s a Walkabout?
A Walkabout is an Australian journey for well-being during which one seeks to clarify his/her life purpose. The Vionic Walkabout challenge is inspired by the Aussies and aims to improve physical and mental well-being by creating healthy habits over the course of 30 days.

WALK TO WIN
By participating in Vionic Walkabout, you’ll have the chance to walk away with some seriously great prizes. Through photo and caption contests on Facebook and Instagram, we’ll give away weekly prizes such as new Vionic Shoes, Dr. Weil Cookbooks and Visa gift cards. Plus, we’ll select a Grand Prize winner to receive an all-expense paid trip to Napa, CA.

WALK TO IMPROVE YOUR HEALTH
Walking can improve physical health by helping you manage your weight, boost your immune system, lower blood pressure, strengthen your heart and much more. It can also improve your mood, ease depression and help maintain mental efficiency!

Vionic sent me these cool shoes and I’ve been walking all over my city. They’re super comfortable, lightweight, and give my heels and high arches all the support they need. As always, I’ve received product, but no compensation, and all opinions are mine.

My Neighborhood #Vionicwalkabout

A couple of feline friends who always run out to greet us and get some love.Walk1

Stopped for a picnic at Magee Park in Carlsbad.

walk12

The park was full of well-groomed collies!

walk11walk10

Hmmm…what are they trying to say?walk9 Couldn’t pass by this beautiful rose without stopping to smell…

walk8

Red berries!walk7A very primitive and mature Cycad.walk6Look at these fluorescent puffballs!walk5walk4And a popcorn sky…

walk3

 Start your #Vionicwalkabout today and be healthy!
There’s still time to start walking and win a trip to Napa!

http://www.vionicshoes.com/2015-vionic-walkabout

Lady Gaga, Just About The ONLY Oscar 2015 Moment Worth Watching

Most of the time, I LOVE awards shows, but #Oscar2015 was spectacularly disappointing. A snoozefest.

Yawn.

Oh, there were a few bright spots, like during a red carpet interview about Fifty Shades of Grey, Dakota Johnson acted like a spoiled brat to her mom, Melanie Griffith. We were offered a glimpse into the dynamics of their relationship, and that was pretty funny.

And Benedict Cumberbatch drinking from a silver flask was PRICELESS. Even if it was only a prop.

I kept switching over to other shows —  I especially love the Great British Baking Show on PBS, and almost missed Lady Gaga. She was never a fave of mine; the whole meat dress thing was wrong on a million levels — I  started to love her when she teamed up with Tony Bennett, and her tribute to the Sound of Music was beyond AMAZING. Lovely, lovely Julie Andrews was so gracious to Gaga — classy, classy, classy.

Here it is; enjoy!

 

Did you watch the Oscars?
Did you think it was boring, too?
What was your favorite part?
Have you seen any of the winning films? (I haven’t)

Winner! The Oscars and Cocktails, a Match Made in Heaven

Powell and maoneyThe good people at Powell & Mahoney sent me a sample of their (my choice) Old Ballycastle Ginger mixer.

Handcrafted in Vermont, Powell & Mahoney, Ltd. was founded by two beverage industry veterans who were inspired by the lack of quality mixers made available to consumers. Noticing a true need in the market, the duo combined their expertise and passion and launched the successful mixer brand. Powell & Mahoney, Ltd. has reinvented classic cocktail recipes by swapping out artificial flavoring and preservatives for hand selected, better-for-you ingredients.

Old Ballycastle Ginger
This rich, full bodied mixer uses the finest ginger, delicate elderflower, and fennel to create the perfect partner for your favorite dark spirit. It also makes an elegant non-alcoholic sipper!

This recipe is on the bottle, but I jazzed it up a bit, ‘cos I love to put my own spin on things…

“Bubbly” Moscow Mule

1.5 oz. Russian Vodka (We used Stoly)|
2.5 oz Old Ballycastle Ginger
.5 oz Fresh Lime Juice (from our garden)
Champagne (or club soda)

Add all ingredients except champs/club soda to a shaker filled with ice. Shake vigorously. Pour into pretty glasses. Top with 1 oz. champs or club soda and stir. Garnish with a fresh lime wedge and a sliver of freshly peeled ginger.

We had just opened a bottle of Gruet champs to celebrate our twenty-first anniversary, so I used that bubbly to top one cocktail, and the other was bubble-free, so we could compare the two.

Both were DELICIOUS.

Actually, this was one of the best tasting, sophisticated, and fancy cocktails I’ve had anywhere.

The ginger mixer is intense, complex, and PERFECTION with fresh lime juice.

I’m Oscar-ready, are you?

As always, I was provided product and no compensation; the reviews are my own honest opinions.