Strawberries, Sage, and Stevia

Sorry to most of the rest of the country but here in SoCal, our growing season is pretty much never over.

Here’s the raised bed tugboat man built for me the day before he left. I planted tomatoes, kale, red leaf lettuce, beets, beans, and broccoli — I packed a LOT in a 4×8 space. He was supposed to build a second bed, but this is another one of those “such is the life of a tugboat wife” moments where I need to wait until he’s home again.raisedbed

There wasn’t any room for the eggplants or these spicy jlapenos.

jalapenospotI dug a fresh, new herb garden directly under our bedroom window. I’m hoping the lovely aromas will waft up and in.Herb garden

There’s a couple different kinds of sage; basil, thyme, oregano, parsley, lemon verbena, cilantro, and STEVIA.

SteviaDid you know you could grow stevia?

Neither did I, but when I saw a pot of organic stevia at Armstrong’s Nursery, I had to try it. The leaves are super sweet. I’ve seen stevia extract on the grocery shelf as a sugar substitute but I’ve never tried it.

From Mother Earth News, a few facts about stevia:

If growing your own calorie-free, natural sweetener sounds too good to be true, it’s time to get to know stevia.

Native to Paraguay and other tropical areas of the Americas, the stevia plant (Stevia rebaudiana) produces leaves packed with super-sweet compounds that remain stable even after the leaves have been dried.

Stevia leaves have been used to sweeten teas and beverages throughout South America for centuries.

More recently, diabetics and dieters alike have turned to stevia to reduce their sugar intake because, unlike honey, maple syrup, agave or molasses, this natural sweetener has zero calories and is not metabolized by the body.

Stevia is especially well-suited to sweetening drinks, fruits, salad dressings, yogurt and most creamy desserts. Stevia can substitute for some, but not all, of the sugar used when baking, because it does not provide all of the multiple functions that sugar does.

Many commercial drink mixes and packaged sugar substitutes are sweetened with a derivative of stevia.

This sweetening compound is called Rebaudioside A and is listed on labels as either Reb A or Rebiana.

These are highly processed products developed by large food corporations. Most of the raw stevia used to produce these products is grown in China. These “natural sweeteners” have been stripped of many of the plant’s healthful properties.

On the other hand, growing your own stevia to produce teas, extracts, and tinctures made from high-quality, whole-leaf stevia contains up to seven sweet compounds (glycosides) and an array of antioxidants. Growing stevia is easy in well-drained beds or large containers, and the leaves can be dried for winter use like any other herb. Stevia grows best in warm conditions similar to those preferred by basil.

Here’s a link to making your own stevia powder and liquid:

Last weekend I hosted a community garage sale for a local nonprofit (post to come) and someone brought a box of strawberry slips. I took a few, quickly dug a bed, and put them in the ground. Since we hardly ever throw stuff away, I found a length of white wire fencing tucked away behind the greenhouse. There’s nothing better than organic strawberries! Yum, can’t wait!strawberrybed

The weather is so crazy here, my apple and plum trees are blossoming again.

During the last few days SoCal broke tons of heat records along with a few drops of rain —and then nothing.

But it was a beautiful sunrise over the lagoon, right?sunrise looking toward lagoon

Power to the people ‘cos sometimes the only answer is a revolution

A few thousand sleeping giants have awakened; where we were once snuggled into eight-hundred thread count sheets and fluffy duvets, drinking our ginger-kale smoothies on the way to yoga or an awesome surf sesh, we are WIDE AWAKE.

This is democracy in action!

We’ve come together as one voice, a tribe of local citizens who say…


It’s time for a change.

It’s time for a REVOLUTION.

Power to the people.


I have never been more proud to live here.

All the Davids took on Goliath and we WON.

What am I talking about?

In my not-so-little-anymore coastal town of Carlsbad, a mega-developer (Rick Caruso is the billionaire Republican developer and the dad of the “hot”–  but not really hot — debate guy). who owns a mega-yacht tried to work his way around the normal processes for development (with the blessing of our mayor and city council) to build a mega-mall on Agua Hedionda Lagoon.

Agua Hedionda is a sensitive ecosystem that feeds into the Pacific Ocean.

Read more HERE “…I’m not impressed by men in fancy suits with fake tans.”

And HERE: Something Sorta Stinks in Carlsbad

Great article:

Simply put, one does not build a mega-mall on a lagoon.simplymeme

No matter how much I love to shop at Nordstrom, NO WAY.

A movement was born to fight the onslaught of questionable tactics with subverted and suppressed democratic processes — the very opposite of transparency —  while dozens of citizen volunteers stepped up to spread out throughout the city from dawn to dusk to acquire signatures for a referendum to overturn the Caruso initiative and put the mall development to a vote OF THE PEOPLE, BY THE PEOPLE, FOR THE PEOPLE.

On Thursday, we met in the library parking lot and marched as a group to Carlsbad City Hall to deliver boxes and boxes of signed petitions.

We were stalked the whole way by Caruso goons and his campaign lawyer — that guy lurking behind the fence in the black suit and mirrored sunglasses.

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It was a moment I’ll never forget when one of our leaders announced the tally; more than nine thousand signatures, well above the sixty-five hundred needed (ten percent of the registered voters.)

Strong arm tactics and million dollar TV and print ad campaigns didn’t deter our citizen warriors.





The collective whoops and yells were caught on video. This is one of many, and much thanks to one of my son’s best friends, Bryan Snyder:

And local TV:

You say you want a revolution? Well, you just got one.

Power to the people!

Photo gallery:

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Cloud’s Illusion

Pretty clouds but no rain.JuneClouds1 I’ve looked at clouds from both sides now
From up and down and still somehow
It’s cloud illusions I recall
I really don’t know clouds at allJuneClouds2 Rows and flows of angel hair
And ice cream castles in the air
And feather canyons everywhere,
I’ve looked at clouds that way.JuneClouds3 Subtropical moisture in the air.JuneClouds4 Maybe…

It’s life’s illusions I recall
I really don’t know life
I really don’t know life at allJuneClouds5Just an illusion…circus8Thanks to Joni Mitchell, lyrics from Both Sides, Now


It started raining in the middle of the night, so hard it woke me up.

Rain, wind, five inches of snow in our local mountains — is this May or is it December?

I was worried about my little hummingbird and her full nest.

How would they weather the storm?

First thing this morning, I looked out the kitchen window and there she is, swaying back and forth on the hummingbird wind chimes under the eaves, safe and dry.

See the rain coming down? What a smart mom to choose a home that’s protected from the elements and allows her to survey the entire back yard.

hummyMay8rainHumans can learn a lot about good parenting from other species.HummyMay7

There is no more important job than caring for her young.

Soon enough, they’ll hatch and grow and fly away, leaving her with that empty nest she worked so hard to build.

Maybe that’s what her tiny little hummingbird mind ponders as she sits there hour after hour.

And I know exactly how she feels.


Exploring Carlsbad, Part One: Signs

Warning: This series won’t be your glossy Chamber of Commerce tourism fluff piece to encourage more visitors.

Instead, It’s the candid observations of someone who’s lived here for thirty years.

Join me step-by-step as I walk around neighborhoods old and new all the way to the beach and back.

I’m seeing my not-so-little town through fresh eyes.

Today’s topic is Signs and Rules.

Do this. Don’t do that.

Carlsbad is chock full of sings and rules.

Here’s a sign with bad grammar.

And excuse me for asking the obvious, but WHY plant blueberries in a front yard on a busy corner lot where dozens of kids walk back and forth to school and in a ‘hood where almost everyone has more than one dog — when you have a HUGE backyard?

(That’s a rhetorical question.)

Next, are we going to see a misspelled manifesto to crows and blue jays about not picking and eating the ripe berries?

A lot of poop and dog-related signs.

Purchased or homemade…
I couldn’t find the common area this sign referenced; I assume the dog owners who live in the complex have been made aware of the pet-acceptable locations.

And what happens if they disobey the rules?

And here, humans are outlawed, while it seems as if implied consent is proffered to dogs and every other species.

I ignored the sign, ‘cos nobody tells Princess what to do.

That sign ain’t the boss of ME.

This tiki expresses exactly how I feel about being told what to do.

Or what NOT to do.

Usually I take a small backpack or cross body bag to carry essentials but leave my hands free to take photos; this time, thanks to Flipbelt sending me a sample to try, I wasn’t weighted down  — I hardly know it was there.

There’s room for my keys, phone, ID, lip balm, and a few dollars. Simply put the items in and flip the belt over.  FlipBelt is designed to carry on-the-go essentials without tying up your hands. Made of a moisture-wicking, spandex-lycra blend, FlipBelt slides right on and sits snug on your hip. No bulk. No bounce. FlipBelt is also machine washable and machine dryable.


It’s an ideal accessory for outdoor summer workouts, and will be great for biking and traveling, too, Flipbelt retails for $28.99, and comes in nine cool colors including black.  (I chose black so it would go with everything.)

For more information, visit

For this review, there was no compensation; I was sent product to sample and review. The honest opinions are my own.

**And thanks to Kim who read my mind, I’m including this song about signs that all of us olds heard a zillion times:

Exploring Carlsbad, Part Two…coming soon.

Living in the Shadows in Sunny Shiny Southern California

There’s another side of California that you might not know about.

Sandwiched between the manicured lawns of upper middle-class residential subdivisions in SoCal, there’s a microcosm of humanity living in the shadows — migrant laborers from Mexico in makeshift camps.

In my own neighborhood, just minutes from the beach and overlooking chaparral-studded canyons, hidden behind purple sage and giant coyote bushes, we recently went for a hike and found evidence that suggests there are still active encampments.

Mostly these men are invisible, ignored by us as we speed up and down our streets, shopping, caring for our families, and only sometimes do we notice these shadow people standing on the roadside waiting to be picked up for day work or at the local liquor store buying twelve packs of beer and money orders.

Like the crows that fly in and out of our trees in a raucous cacophony, there’s an exodus out of the canyons at dawn and back at sunset.

Whatever side of the undocumented worker discussion you’re on, it’s a  blight on our supposedly civilized society that in 2015, in this country of overabundance and excess, men and women live in the bushes without benefit of safe shelter or even running water.

When you scratch off the thin veneer of Pilates classes, weekly mani-pedis and facials, that fifty dollar bottle of pinot noir, and glance beyond Anthropologie and Sur la Table, in the hills behind The Forum, and probably most of the other open spaces that are clinging to life —  that’s where you’ll find them.

It doesn’t seem quite fair for us to have so much while others are living in squalid conditions.

It’s sad, don’t you agree?


We especially liked the misspelling. There’s a certain poignancy.

There were several white rags hanging from trees along a certain path; we assumed it was to mark the way when it was dark.kellytrail2I think this is a creek, or it could be runoff from all of the developments.
Kellytrail Hard to see the turkey vulture among the clouds.
kellytrail4Do you know who and what lives beneath the surface in your neighborhood?



Snow…Snow…SNOW! In Southern California!

like the nacre of a million
perfectly pristine pearls
A confection of frosted pines
                                                           (by Princess Rosebud)


It might not be a big deal to a lot of you who experience snow every winter, but snow falling to around one thousand feet in the foothills of our valleys and mountains is a big deal for this Southern California girl!

An arctic storm brought a lot of snow down to almost record breaking levels; of course my tugboat man and I needed to end 2014 with a snowball fight. The snow was amazingly light and fluffy.

jeffsnowball copy

A winter wonderland  and only about twenty minutes away!

snow8LOOK!! A REAL BISON! Blurry ‘cos we were driving…snowbisonPhoto gallery of all my pics. Very nice special effects from WordPress with the snow over snow but then I’m easily amused.

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Merry Christmas! חַג מוֹלָד שָׂמֵח…fröhliche Weihnachten

From sunny Southern California courtesy of me (Princess Rosebud) and my Tugboat Man.

In every language…Merry Christmas! Feliz Navidad! Mele Kalikimaka! 

As you’re opening gifts from Santa, enjoy a couple of my favorite holiday tunes.

Karen Carpenter, “I’ll Be Home for Christmas”

“All I Want for Christmas Is YOU” Mariah Carey, of course!

To my readers from all over the world, I hope this list includes you!

AFRIKAANS geseënde Kersfees
ALBANIAN gëzuar Krishtlindja
ALSATIAN gleckika Wïanachta
AMHARIC መልካም የገና (melkam’ yeghena) / የልደት በዓል (yel’det’ be’al)
ARABIC ميلاد مجيد (miilaad majiid)
ARMENIAN Shnorhavor Surb tsnund
AZERI Noel bayraminiz mubarak
BAKONGO Nowélé ya mboté
BASQUE Eguberri on
BELARUSIAN З Божым нараджэннем (Z Bozym naradzenniem)
BENGALI subho baradin
BOSNIAN sretan Božić
BRETON Nedeleg laouen
BULGARIAN весела коледа (vesela koleda)
BURMESE Christmas nay hma mue pyaw pa
CATALAN bon Nadal
CH’TI joïeux Noé
CHEROKEE ulihelisdi danisdayohihvi
CHINESE 圣诞快乐 (shèng dàn kuài lè)
CORNISH Nadelek lowen
CORSICAN bon Natale
CROATIAN sretan Božić
CZECH veselé Vánoce
DANISH glædelig jul
DHOLUO bedgi sikuku maber
DUTCH vrolijk Kerstfeest
ENGLISH merry Christmas
ESPERANTO gojan Kristnaskon
ESTONIAN häid jõule
FAROESE gleðilig jól
FILIPINO Maligayang Pasko
FINNISH hyvää joulua
FRENCH joyeux Noël
FRISIAN noflike Krystdagen
FRIULAN bon nadâl
GEORGIAN gilocav shoba axal wels
GERMAN frohe Weihnachten / fröhliche Weihnachten
GREEK καλά Χριστούγεννα (kala khristougenna / kala xristougenna)
HAWAIIAN mele Kalikimaka
HEBREW חג מולד שמח (hag molad saméa’h)
HINDI Krismas ki subhkamna
HUNGARIAN boldog karácsonyt
ICELANDIC gleðileg jól
IGBO annuri Ekeresimesi
ILOCANO naragsak a paskua
INDONESIAN selamat Natal
IRISH GAELIC Nollaig shona
ITALIAN buon Natale
JAVANESE sugeng Natal
JAPANESE merii kurisumasu
KABYLIAN tameghra tameggazt
KHMER រីក​រាយ​បុណ្យ​ណូអ៊ែល (rik reay bon Noel)
KINYARWANDA Noheli nziza
KIRUNDI Noheli nziza
KOREAN 메리크리스마스
KURDISH Noela we pîroz be
LAO souksan van Christmas
LATIN felix dies Nativitatis (literal translation) / felicem diem Nativitatis (spoken)
LATVIAN priecīgus Ziemassvētkus
LIANGMAI mathabou Christmas
LIGURIAN bón dênâ / bón natâle
LINGALA eyenga elamu ya mbotama ya Yezu
LITHUANIAN su Kalėdomis / linksmų Kalėdų
LOW SAXON vrolik Kersfees
LUXEMBOURGEOIS schéi Chrëschtdeeg
MACEDONIAN среќен Божиќ (srećen Božić, formal) / Христос се роди (Hristos se rodi, informal) / Навистина се роди (Navistina se rodi, as a reply to the informal greeting)
MALAGASY tratry ny Krismasy / arahabaina tratry ny Krismasy / arahaba tratry ny Krismasy
MALAY selamat hari natal
MALAYALAM Christmas ashamshagal
MALTESE il-milied it-tajjeb / milied hieni
MANX Nollick ghennal
MAORI meri Kirihimete
MIZO Krismas chibai
MONGOLIAN zul sariin bayariin mend hurgie
NORMAN jostous Noué
OCCITAN bon Nadal
OROMO baga ayyaana dhaloota Kiristoos isin ga’e
PAPIAMENTU bon pasku
PERSIAN کریسمس مبارک (Christmas mobaarak)
POLISH wesołych świąt bożego Narodzenia
PORTUGUESE feliz Natal
ROMANI baxtalo Krečuno
ROMANIAN un Crăciun fericit
RUKIGA Noheiri nungi / webale Noheiri
RUSSIAN с Рождеством Христовым (S rozhdestvom Khristovym)
SAMOAN ia manuia le Kerisimasi
SARDINIAN bona Pasca de Nadale (logudorese) / bona paschixedda (campidanese)
SCOTTISH GAELIC Nollaig chridheil
SERBIAN Христос се роди (Hristos se rodi)
SHONA Krisimas yakanaka
SILESIAN Radosnych godów
SINDHI Chrismas joon wadhayoon
SINHALESE suba nattalak wewa
SLOVAK vesele vianoce
SLOVENIAN vesel božič / vesele božične praznike
SOBOTA dobro dedek
SPANISH feliz Navidad
SRANAN switi Krisneti
SWAHILI heri la Krismasi
TAGALOG Maligayang Pasko
TAHITIAN ‘ia ‘oa’oa e teie Noera
TAMAZIGHT asgwass amaynou
TAMIL கிறிஸ்மஸ் தின நல் வாழ்த்துக்கள் (Krismas dina nal vaagethoukkal)
TELUGU Krismas shubhakankshalu
THAI สุขสันต์วันคริสต์มาส (souksaan wan Christmas)
TONGAN mele Kilisimasi
TSWANA (SETSWANA) Keresemose sentle
TURKISH Noeliniz kutlu olsun
UDMURT Shuldyr Ymuśton
UKRAINIAN З Різдвом Христовим (Z Rizdvom Khrystovym) / Щасливого Різдва Христового (ʃtʃaslyvogo rizdva Hrystovogo)
VIETNAMESE Mừng Chúa Giáng Sinh
WALOON (“betchfessîs” spelling) djoyeus Noyé
WELSH Nadolig llawen
YIDDISH אַ גוטע ניטל (a gute nitl)
YORUBA e kun odun Keresimesi


Finches and a Flowering Loquat Tree

My tugboat man is home; he was able to take an earlier flight, yay!

I hope you all have a lovely day and special good thoughts go out to mariners and their families who are away from each other during the holidays. Been there, done that many times.

In our land of (mostly) perpetual sunshine, winter doesn’t always mean that all living things are dormant. Our loquat tree is flowering, buzzing with bees, hummingbirds, and a flock of the most beautiful little yellow finches.

You have to be quick on the shutter button to catch these guys — they flit around the tree like I run from rack to rack at a clearance sale!

loquattree3One minute he’s there, the next second, GONE! (Just like my tugboat man!)loquattree1AND they’re back!

loquattree2loquattree4 loquattree5 loquattree6 loquattree7 loquattree8

Sunset On A Heavenly California Horizon

A photographic essay. Southern California. End of November. Big surf. Late afternoon.

It’s so cool to showcase this amazing Carlsbad sunset embellished by WordPress snow.sunset1



















A glorious ending to a spectacular day. Happy December!