Thursday, March 15, 2018

Double Days of trails.. part one

Saturday’s trails were fantastic after work and the end to a long stint at work.... it was not my usual jam of nature without people. And yet, there were not many people on foot this day on the American River Bike Trail. There were serious bikers going fast, and plenty of room for all.

To warm up, it was a rocky sandy hike at the small point of Beal’s Point at Folsom Lake.  At the waters edge.. scavenging and examining the lake’s bottom.  Then a trek towards Folsom Dam and Folsom  Prison.

My legs hated the pavement, but there were side trails that provided a limited view and a temporary cushion.  I hated when the trail popped out in traffic in five ‘o’clock Folsom traffic, but that’s life.!
Cement, wires, trails, graffiti, traffic.... it was all good. Then when arriving back to Beal’s nature's overcast sky would open up from the West and shimmer on the late winter, early spring views of a depleted lake.

My heart and mind was rewarded and gifted.
The sunset provided gifts and rewards.  I am reminded of all things given to humans and I feel grateful in my heart.   Our planet, our life...our beautiful strong bodies...and the gift of eyesight.
The memory lingers and I am thankful for pictures.

I feel the awe of my heart and the muscles in my face remember the smiles and I still feel the glory of that sunset that kissed the lake.

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Louisiana Catch by Sweta Srivastava Vikram - A reivew by Toni

I enjoyed this book!

I did not know what to expect from the book.  I don't read alot of fiction books anymore.  So personally for me the beginning of the book was dramatic and I was very emotional. I felt compelled to read more of it from the beginning circumstance that literally hurt my heart and evoked tears.    I found the mother/daughter theme that runs throughout the book to be of special interest to me.   I was interested in  the mother's wisdom and voice through out the story  and found it to be moving. I was often motivated to write down some of the mother's thoughts and sayings.

The struggle with grief and the pain that Ahana is coping and surviving through out the book was at times difficult for me to handle, but with her own words and thoughts, I found courage in her character to keep reading and to know her story. I felt strength in her day to day growth and her paths.  She keeps going on with her "safe" living, but she lives, grows and settles into reality and her true self.  I truly enjoy and relate to many of Ahana's coping methods.  Many are tried and true for me (running, yoga and wine).

I confess to knowing nothing of life in New Delhi, whether it be the social elite or the people living in the streets.   I was much more familiar with the story when it came to New Orleans.   I found the early references to the similarities intriguing.

There was much in the way of living and lifestyles that I could not relate with, but I did enjoy reading about it.     I enjoyed the very modern day writing with the social media aspects.  I was and continue to be fascinated with the facets of online personalities vs a persons real self.  Do they blend? Is the online presence a part of that person?  or  is it all fake?   Are we what we represent online?  Can you make a true blue friend online, in this big scary world in this decade?

Then book has a lot to offer with the cultural, social media, modern living, family life, global, and new relationship aspects. It does have "all the things."    I am happily surprised with how much I enjoyed the boook.   The narrative voice was just right as I enjoy Ahana as a character.   I believe in her journey and I believe with the trauma in the book being so heavy, it was the exact balancing way to tell the story.

I read it in a few days and only just put it down to write this review.   I might have more thoughts in the days to come.  I hope to share them as comments on some of the other blog tour stops.  (See below).

Thanks for reading.  Thank you Serena (Poetic Blog Tours) for inviting me.

All the details below.

Book Synopsis:
Ahana, a wealthy thirty-three-year-old New Delhi woman, flees the pain of her mother’s death and her dark past by accepting a huge project in New Orleans, where she’ll coordinate the Annual Women’s Conference to raise awareness around violence against women. Her half-Indian, half-Irish colleague and public relations guru, Rohan Brady, who helps Ahana develop her online presence, offends her prim sensibilities with his raunchy humor. She is convinced that he’s a womanizer. Meanwhile, she seeks relief from her pain in an online support group, where she makes a good friend: the mercurial Jay Dubois, who is also grieving the loss of his mother. Her work in the U.S. and the online medium brings the two men into her life, and Ahana learns that neither is what he seems. With their differing sensibilities on a collision course, Ahana finds herself in a dangerous situation—and she discovers a side of herself that she never realized she had.
Louisiana Catch is an emotionally immersive novel about trust and who we project ourselves to be in the world. It’s a book about Ahana’s unreliable instincts and her ongoing battle to determine whom to place her faith in as she, Rohan, and Jay shed layers of their identities.
As Ahana matures from a victim of domestic sexual abuse into a global feminist leader, she must confront her issues: both with the men in her life and, ultimately, with her own instincts. Whom can she rely on to have her best interests at heart?

PUBLISHER: Modern History Press April 2018

About the Author:
Sweta Srivastava Vikram is a best-selling author of 11 books, a wellness columnist, and a mindfulness writing coach.  Featured by Asian Fusion as “one of the most influential Asians of our time,” Sweta writes about women, multiculturalism, and identity. Her work has appeared in The New York Times and other publications across nice countries and three continents. Louisiana Catch (Modern History Press 2018) is her debut U.S. novel. Born in India, Sweta grew up between the Indian Himalayas, Northern Africa, and the United States collecting and sharing stories. Exposure to this vast societal spectrum inspired her to become an advocate for social issues and also to get certified as a Holistic Health Counselor. In this avatar, Sweta is the CEO-Founder of NimmiLife through which she helps people elevate their productivity and creativity using Ayurveda and yoga. A certified yoga teacher, Sweta also teaches yoga and mindfulness to female survivors of rape and domestic violence. She lives with her husband in New York City. 

Twitter: @swetavikram
Instagram: @swetavikram

To follow the book Tour on Instragram:
#SwetaVikram and #LouisianaCatch and @PoeticBookTours @SwetaVikram   


March 8: Button-Eyed Reader (Spotlight/Giveaway)
March 14: Soapy Violinist (Review)
March 22: the bookworm (Review)
March 28: Diary of an Eccentric (Guest Post/Giveaway)
April 10: Svetlana Reads & Views (Review)
April 25: Suko’s Notebook (Review)
April 27: Life’s A Stage (Review)
April 28: Drunk On Pop (Review)
May 6: Books From Dusk Till Dawn (Review)
May 8: Where the Reader Grows (Spotlight)
TBD: Modern Creative Life (Interview)

Follow the blog tour with the hashtag #LouisianaCatch and #SwetaVikram 

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Auburn Quarry Trail

Life is so busy.  And with back to back six day work weeks, I am often faced with the challenge of getting to hang out at home on Sunday and do chores, or get out of town.  Whether out of town is 25 minutes out to Folsom Lake, or 30 minutes up the hill, to me it is everything to get away.

Getting away has been my medicine for the last few years now.  It means peace and sanity to get out in the sunshine, or wind, rain, or even cold.    I am very lucky at work to have  a full window view of the sky and lovely world outside, but I am basically stuck in my office at a desk for the better part of 9 hours.  No complaints, just the reality.

This Sunday past, I really could have absolved myself to stay in and relax, maybe even read or watch a movie.  But I also realized it had been seven days since I had a good work out and/or got miles under my shoes.

Auburn Quarry Trail is the perfect trail to get is an easy trail with beautiful views up the canyon and along the river.  The recent fresh rain revived lots of water trails, mini waterfalls. It was very beautiful to my ears and refreshing tonic to my brain.  I can still hear the sounds of the water and I can feel the cold melted snow water invigorating my feet and the water crossings.

It was a out and back 5 mile trek, with rolling inclines that equal about 40 flights of stairs over a long distance.  Perhaps two little significant inclines, but nothing that  couldn't be handled with a little "one foot in front of the other..."

So green and mossy and Fresh!
Plump fresh alive river and the bluest skies

Beams of light shining from heaven sending warmth to my bones and heart.

The cool melted snow water on my feet, like medicine.

Friends along the trail

The sound of the beautiful, cold and clear water

The clouds were ever changing, what a grand performance.

And the ever changing sky at the Forest Hill Bridge.

Pictures are not filtered or altered as there was just no need to change anything.  Simple phone pictures with the iphone X.   I feel lucky that my phone captured the day as my eye also did.

Have a beautiful week.

Pictures belong to me. But you can use them for recreation, just please send a courtesy link to my blog.  Businesses please contact me for permission.

Monday, March 5, 2018

Chicago or New York

I really wanted to follow a technique for making Chicago Style Pizza.  So I found a youtube video (see below) that represented  a pretty good idea of what I wanted to follow.

I followed his tips (youtube video below) and I came up with a pretty darned good pizza.   I am bummed that I didn't take pics of the inside and process, but darn it was good. My variations were to add a little olive and pepperoni.  But just like the video suggested it was sauce on top and then a beautiful aged parmesan on top. 

I  didn't add the sugar or cornmeal or melted butter to the crust as the video suggested as I didn't have corn meal.   So I stuck with my usual homemade dough recipe.   I used the video to help me come up with my own process.  Which is seemingly now what cooking is for me.  How to make something "kinda like that" but my way.

Then within a few days, ( come on now, I had all the ingredients right??)  I wanted to make it the same way but kind of the way that we eat pizza out here in California, or at least what I think many of us eat.   I found a BEAUTIFUL Compromise on the two.  And I finally have the way to make the best pizza I know how to make,  and I can't wait to eat this again. (cook's note, less sauce next time).

So here is a gist of what I did. 

My homemade crust. (if you want me to link it, comment on my post and I can link)

Cento Crushed tomatoes, seasoned with basil, oregano, garlic, parsley, cooking on the side reducing to a thick sauce. 

After the dough was ready, I pressed the dough on the counter and generously drizzled olive oil on to the cast iron pizza skillet.  I then placed the dough on top of the oiled pan.
After arranging the dough, I added provolone slices to the crust, then sausage, pepperoni and the rest of the ingredients.  And then after all the toppings were on the pizza, I folded over the crust and drizzled with olive oil and baked at 400 for about 30 minutes.    Ten minutes before it was done I drizzled butter on the crust.  

I was very happy with the outcome of this pizza.

 Happy Monday!

How I learned a process for Chicago Style Pizza

Saturday, March 3, 2018

Folsom Lake February 2018 - Towards Rattlesnake

Nothing but a lot of pretty sky and a nice view  only available by foot... and that makes me happy.  It is the medicine that heals.   I love my hustle hiking, which should be full trail running training, but well there is always some running but February was a whole lot of hustle hiking.    I got 35 miles  in February.... 33 all trail and that makes my body happy. 

Food Stuff - Fiesta Night

Friday night was Fiesta Night, which is not an unusual food type at my home.   The ins and outs of the week took a toll on me in many ways.... and I was planning steak and baked potatoes.

But this is was my reply to a weary boring Friday night.  Make a Fiesta dinner.  I had two steaks, both from the reduced for quick sell pile, seriously cheeep, like under 3 bucks!!!!  (one Ribeye and one New York).  One was in my freezer and one had been in the fridge a few days. 

How I cooked the steaks.... (not a real recipe), but you can get the idea.   I salted and peppered them and got the pan HOT, and then placed the steaks on a pat of sizzling butter on a super hot pan.  While they were sizzling I added red onion slices and bits to cook around the edges.  After five minutes I stirred the onions to the side and  flipped the steak for four minutes.  (They were not fully cooked by design).

I took the steaks out and then trimmed and sliced.  I put the sliced meat back into the pan to sizzle with the red onions, with garlic powder, onion powder, chili powder, and about 1/3 cup Pace Medium picante sauce.    I cooked and sizzled for about 3-4 more minutes.

I had the corn tortillas in the next pan over warming up with a bit of cooking spray. (cutting back on fried.....)

That was about it, a side of shredded cheddar, some pretty lame lettuce from the old mother hubbard veggie compartments in my fridge, sliced limes, and well Corona and Tequilla if one is so inclined.    There was fresh salsa (Pico de Gallo), and sour cream.... and yes... a few chips. 


Saturday, February 24, 2018

Honey Soapy News!!!!

Hello everyone!

It is time to get more soap to my friends and family.  ( I am so very sorry for delays).  This spring the feature is honey and natural products to make pretty soap and some light scents.  I have started things off with four batches, and all the test are coming back good.  And it is pretty too!

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Love and Light