30 October 2014

Easy roasted winter squash

Squash photo from Wiki Commons

I'm always looking for easier ways to do things, and now that I'm using the oven to help heat the house winter squash is a staple.

Here's the best part, you'll be able to make this easily every time and it takes no prep work! Any size winter squash will work fine and you won't need to adjust the cooking times -- I know, so easy!  

Ready? Let's do it! 

  1. Preheat the oven to 400°F. 
  2. Place whole squash on a baking sheet (I used one with a little higher sides since my squash were rolling a little.) and roast until the skin is papery and a fork inserted into 2 or 3 different spots reveals very tender flesh. This takes about 1 hour. 
  3. Set aside until cool enough to handle and peel away the skin, discarding the seeds. 

Serve it up!

  • I love it "as-is" and go from oven to cutting board to plate, yummy and rich! 
  • You can also use it in a casseroles or stews - simple, make enough to feed the folks for a week!
  • Purée in a food processor until smooth to make soups.  (Let me know if you want a recipe.)  

The Smashing Pumpkins - 1979 

29 October 2014

I want to experience life more

So here I am thinking about what is important in my world and I think I want to pursue life experiences even more. I've been steadily divesting myself of "stuff" over the past few years and moving into smaller and smaller spaces and I'm feeling the urge to really pare down those last bits that I've been having a hard time moving on to new homes. Wow, even typing that makes me feel a bit apprehensive about the upcoming project.

One of the things that prompted this newest sort is the missing photos -- I know, it hardly seems like I am missing any photos when you see what I post and the selection on my Riley Photo site, but the missing images are all the dog and horse show photos from my entire career. When all my good clothes were accidentally donated (I still appreciate all the help with the move) it was fine because that was clothing and could be replaced. The photos are important to me because they are animals I have cared about and those old images can never be duplicated.

I have moved a bunch of boxes that keep traveling with us from point-to-point and am now ready to dig in and decide what can go and what can stay... again there is that little bit a dread because this time it is down to the nitty-gritty and these things are all the things I kept thinking were important. Surely some of them will remain in my care and some will move down the road.

Once the sort is complete, I will set up the space to support my photography (yes, I hope people will buy images from me), my addiction to obsessive genealogy research, my dogs and the books I keep talking about writing... If I don't emerge from the sort, send clutter buddies to help!

Do you have tips on going through the last things? How has your sort gone?

27 October 2014

Mind your own business

There is something about this song that appeals to me and I hope it appeals to you too.

Willie Nelson - Mind Your Own Business

24 October 2014

Guilty pleasure - quizzes on Facebook

I admit it, I love those goofy quizzes on Facebook and I took this one thinking it was another one of those but it matched my Myers-Briggs anyway so sometimes those things are accurate. Try the quiz and let me know if yours fits you.



Oscar Wilde, Mark Twain, Salman Rushdie, Julian Assange, Walt Disney, Anne Frank, Fidel Castro, Keira Knightley, Jack White, Ellen DeGeneres, Orson welles, Robin Williams, Gwen Stefani, Sandra Bullock, Sarah Michelle Gellar, Daniel Radcliffe, Sharon Stone


8.1% (I knew I was different!)

enfp - description

ENFPs are warm, enthusiastic people, typically very bright and full of potential. They live in the world of possibilities, and can become very passionate and excited about things. Their enthusiasm lends them the ability to inspire and motivate others, more so than we see in other types. They can talk their way in or out of anything. They love life, seeing it as a special gift, and strive to make the most out of it.

ENFPs have an unusually broad range of skills and talents. They are good at most things that interest them. Project-oriented, they may go through several different careers during their lifetime. To onlookers, the ENFP may seem directionless and without purpose, but ENFPs are actually quite consistent. They have a strong sense of values which they live with throughout their life. Everything that they do must be in line with their values. They see meaning in everything, and are on a continuous quest to adapt their life and values to achieve inner peace. They're constantly aware and somewhat fearful of losing touch with themselves. Since emotional excitement is usually an important part of the ENFP's life, and because they are focused on keeping "centered", the ENFP is usually an intense individual, with highly evolved values.

An ENFP needs to focus on following through with their projects. This can be a problem area for some of these individuals. Unlike other Extroverted types, ENFPs need time alone to center themselves, and make sure they are moving in a direction which is in sync with their values. ENFPs who remain centered will usually be quite successful at their endeavors. Others may fall into the habit of dropping a project when they become excited about a new possibility, and thus they never achieve the great accomplishments which they are capable of achieving.

Most ENFPs have great people skills. They are genuinely warm and interested in people, and place great importance on their inter-personal relationships. ENFPs almost always have a strong need to be liked. Sometimes, especially at a younger age, an ENFP will tend to be "gushy" and insincere, and generally "overdo" in an effort to win acceptance. However, once an ENFP has learned to balance their need to be true to themselves with their need for acceptance, they excel at bringing out the best in others, and are typically well-liked. They have an exceptional ability to intuitively understand a person after a very short period of time, and use their intuition and flexibility to relate to others on their own level.

Because ENFPs live in the world of exciting possibilities, the details of everyday life are seen as trivial drudgery. They place no importance on detailed, maintenance-type tasks, and will frequently remain oblivious to these types of concerns. When they do have to perform these tasks, they do not enjoy themselves. This is a challenging area of life for most ENFPs, and can be frustrating for ENFP's family members.

ENFPs sometimes make serious errors in judgment. They have an amazing ability to intuitively perceive the truth about a person or situation, but when they apply judgment to their perception, they may jump to the wrong conclusions.

ENFPs who have not learned to follow through may have a difficult time remaining happy in marital relationships. Always seeing the possibilities of what could be, they may become bored with what actually is. The strong sense of values, however, will keep many ENFPs dedicated to their relationships. However, ENFPs like a little excitement in their lives, and are best matched with individuals who are comfortable with change and new experiences.

Having an ENFP parent can be a fun-filled experience, but may be stressful at times for children with strong Sensing or Judging tendencies. Such children may see the ENFP parent as inconsistent and difficult to understand, as the children are pulled along in the whirlwind life of the ENFP. Sometimes the ENFP will want to be their child's best friend, and at other times they will play the parental authoritarian. But ENFPs are always consistent in their value systems, which they will impress on their children above all else, along with a basic joy of living.

ENFPs are basically happy people. They may become unhappy when they are confined to strict schedules or mundane tasks. Consequently, ENFPs work best in situations where they have a lot of flexibility, and where they can work with people and ideas. Many go into business for themselves. They have the ability to be quite productive with little supervision, as long as they are excited about what they're doing.

They have a strong need to be independent, and resist being controlled or labelled. They need to maintain control over themselves, but they do not believe in controlling others. Their dislike of dependence and suppression extends to others as well as to themselves.

ENFPs are charming, ingenuous, risk-taking, sensitive, people-oriented individuals with capabilities ranging across a broad spectrum. They have many gifts which they will use to fulfill themselves and those near them, if they are able to remain centered and master the ability of following through.

17 October 2014

Priorities - find yours with Warren Buffett

Life shifts and changes and it seems like there is always something going on and priorities may lose their scale. One of my friends saw the Warren Buffett 5-step process for prioritizing and I thought it might be worth looking at to see what success might look like in this new life. I've included some information in case you want to give it a go too.

I'm looking at creating some new dreams, or perhaps just acting on the ones that are currently out there not being acted upon. Yes, I too am trapped in the"not doing a thing" mode when I look at all the things I want to do.

Let's start with attaining dreams.
  1. Know what you want. 
  2. Learn the skills / tools that will get you there. 
  3. Focus (really focus) to combine the first two. 
  1. Know what you want - List your Top 25 things you want to do in the next few years or in your lifetime. Jot down anything that comes to mind as being important to you that isn’t currently a part of your life. (Have you started writing? I'll wait, grab a paper and pen...) 
  2. Pick your Top 5 - Look over your list and circle the top 5 that are most important to you. This may be hard since everything on the list is probably important to you. 
  3. Make a plan for your Top 5 - how are you going to get started working on these and what is the plan to make it come together?
  4. Focus on the Top 5 - Everything not circled should be avoided at all costs until you have succeeded with your Top 5. 
  5. Know your "Avoid" list - This is the time to focus on the Top 5, any other part of the list is a distraction and needs to be avoided like the plague.  
Now I've got to start writing my list, and even before I start it is challenging. Let me know how you do!

Focus performing Hocus Pocus

14 October 2014

Porcelain Unicorn

A Powerful Short Film in Six Lines and Three Minutes -

Grand prize winner of the Philips Parallel Lines 'Tell It Your Way' international competition. http://keeganwilcox.com

13 October 2014

I don't want you as a client

I'm just coming off a consulting project that reminds me why you should never take on all clients, some just aren't worth the effort. I'm comfortable knowing that there are times my advice is ignored, it's their dime after all. That being said, I have never worked in a situation that offered the level of contrary behavior as I have seen over the past months. This particular program offers a quick and severe morale drop and it takes a heavy toll on productivity and team cohesiveness. 

Want to help your employees lose their enthusiasm? These are great ways to accomplish that -- in other words, don't do these!
  1. Criticize in public
  2. Don't praise
  3. Make sure the job doesn't match the information from the interviews 
Want to see more? Check out Why You Hate Work—New York Times  A version of the complete op-ed appears in print on June 1, 2014, on page SR1 of the New York edition with the headline: Why You Hate Work.

10 October 2014

A walk in the park

ŠKODA’s beast of a baby stroller below - BensBargains

As a general rule, a walk in the park means something easy to do and generally pleasant. For the most part, that is true for me and the dogs when we walk in the local parks. Of course there is always an opportunity for something interesting to happen and today it did.

Today I got to experience what it is like to see two large dogs tied to a baby stroller (more like the one the woman in the photo is pushing, but should have been more like the man's) racing across an open field at my dogs. Yes, that would be bad enough, but this stroller had a baby inside -- no humans or hounds were injured in the encounter.

I admit that I yelled at The Mommy when she blamed me for distracting her dogs. Why yes, I could see that my dogs walk on leash in a public park would be unexpected... Oh wait, no it wouldn't. What was unexpected was seeing two big dogs tied to a baby stroller with no human within reach of them.

Yes, I did mention that perhaps she might be an unfit mother. That did set her off even more when she shared that I didn't. I shared that I don't need to know anyone at all to know that having your dogs tied to a baby stroller and not attached to anything else was poor parenting. I did suggest we could chat with the law and see what they thought. Surprisingly she opted to head out at that point.

Anywho, moral of the story is don't tie dogs to your baby battering ram carriage.

Let's have a little Morrison's Jig with Josh Vietti 

06 October 2014

6 Soft Skills Everyone Needs

EDITED - No sense promoting the program I'm no longer involved with... The 6 skills are still viable so they remain.

  1. Communication – being able to express yourself in writing, a presentation or explain to someone what you need. 
  2. Teamwork and Collaboration – working well with others, meeting deadlines and achieving common goals.  
  3. Adaptability- keep learning, growing and stretching your skills while meeting the needs of your employer.  
  4. Problem Solving – know how to approach a problem, evaluate the problem and solve the problem.  
  5.  Critical Observation – collect, analyze and interpret information and then explain it in a simple way.   
  6.  Conflict Resolution – be able to negotiate with and persuade people to resolve conflict in a positive way.  

05 October 2014

Own less, live more


I'm not sure how I missed this great little house when the article ran in January, but I love the concept of own less and live more. Lily Copenagle and Jamie Kennel planned this great little house and then drew plans using SketchUp, a free, user-friendly 3D program that helps you visualize and experiment, facilitating owner participation in house design.

The New York Times story called "Freedom in 704 Square Feet" is a story about an Oregon couple who built a small house in part to free their lives for other pursuits:

The idea was simple. They would create a home that was big enough for the two of them, but small enough so that it would be easy to maintain, environmentally responsible and inexpensive to operate. And that would allow them to free up their time and funds for intellectual and recreational pursuits. Own less, live more . . .

03 October 2014

The Ultimate Social Media Event Marketing Checklist [Infographic]

If you've been here before, you know I love marketing and sharing things that may help you be more successful in your marketing.

In my "real life" I am newly minted to marketing the AME Alliance (#AMEAlliance) and am always looking for easier ways to accomplish goals.

When I saw this handy-dandy checklist I knew you needed to have it too. Thanks to the folks at Marketo!


27 September 2014

The hurricane is on the way

As I start to go through more things I keep thinking back to the prompt asking what would you take if you had 30-minutes to get out of your house. Sometimes there is a fire coming your way, sometimes a hurricane, but no matter what is heading your way it can be helpful to think about what you would take with you.

When I looked at The Burning House I can feel the moment of deciding what is practical, valuable or sentimental as they suggest. he site shares “What you would take reflects your interests, background and priorities.”

I looked around the inter-webs to see what else was out there for you to peruse and I found some that were interesting. A Collection a Day, Things Organized Neatly (I especially like the laurel of knives...), then there was Everyday Carry for some variety, and then What's In Your Bag on Flickr where people obviously are much neater than I am!

In case you were wondering what my short list is... and even if you weren't...
  • Dogs (They are always at the top of the list, the rest may move around.)
  • Husband 
  • Cameras 
  • Photos / movies 
  • Cell phone (hopefully with a charger) 
  • Laptop (it has family history on it...) 
  • 3 paintings 
  • 1 small box of books 
  • Steubben saddle
  • Jewelry box (sounds better than it is!)
  • Water
What does your list look like? Share it here or on Facebook.

Music for today is Johnny Cash - Ain't No Grave

26 September 2014

Small house living, another day another sort...

“I think people believe in heaven because they don't like the idea of dying, because they want to carry on living and they don't like the idea that other people will move into their house and put their things into the rubbish.” ~Mark Haddon, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time

I got an e-mail this morning suggesting I schedule a pick-up with a local charity, and like I always do, I scheduled it. They have an option for as little as 1-bag / 1-box of items and I figured I could easily put that much together.

We spent a lot of time sorting and purging the house in the photo after my parents died, and I would suggest you ask, no really beg, you parents to start downsizing now! You will greatly appreciate it down the road.

My next project is to go through boxes that went into the PODS unit and then eventually made it into the garage at the small house we live in now. Lots of them are cookbooks from my mother, and I'm finding those hard to sort... I know the books aren't her, but it is still really hard. As one of my friends pointed out, her version of "Hello" was "Have you eaten." As you may imagine, as a dietitian and entertainer of the masses, food was a HUGE part of her life.

After that, I plan to go through the pots, pans and kitchen gadgets that I have been avoiding too. There are lots of really nice things in those boxes and I do love to cook, but where do you keep those things? Yes, that is the real question, and if I am really going to keep downsizing to only the things I love, that will be part of the process.

Keep / Donate / Toss - that is still the mantra, and some refining happens within those categories. If you are like me, there are always questions about what to keep.

What to Keep - the starter list (Your list may vary, but this will get you thinking)
  1. Family heirlooms - What do you have and what do you want to take everywhere with you. This is not a free-for-all to keep everything, think about what you really love and how important it is to you in your life as you move forward. 
  2. Photos and movies - No surprise there coming from me! You may want to have them digitized and saved in a number of locations to protect them for future use. (Who knows what shape technology will take.) Don't keep absolutely every image you come across, some really won't be good enough to keep. Identify the people you know in the images -- this will be really nice for folks down the road. (Yes, I have a BIG box of photos of my husband's ancestors and many are unidentified...)
  3. Important papers - I even have a file called "Important Papers" so I know where they are. Things to keep include birth and death records, marriage licenses, social security cards, retirement documents, medical records, insurance policies, and more,  ask your financial or tax pro on some of those. 
  4. Collections - oh how I wax and wane on these. It really depends on the collection and if you really love it. We had collections three houses ago and have none of those now. I did find caring for them took way more time than enjoying them. If your collection is in a box, or on display and covered in dust and cobwebs it might be time to think about how much you love it versus how much someone else would love it. 
How do I know what is really important? I've used the "If your life was on fire what would you save" process for years and will be blogging about that too. Until then, I like what Jodie Watson suggests. “In any given category, like artwork, ask this question, ‘If I could only take three pieces with me, which three would they be?’ With books, the question might be, ‘If I can only take 20 with me, which 20 would they be?’ This will help you discover the items that are the musts to take with you; the rest is negotiable."

Are you reducing, decluttering, downsizing, freeing up space? Let me know how it is going! 

21 August 2014

Downsize Dare - Digital

Digital Declutter - I'm trying to downsize everything, and today I figured getting rid of lots and lots and lots of e-mail subscriptions was a good plan. I had no idea how many e-mail lists I am subscribed to!

I talked about the first Downsize Dare and I know some of you are giving it a go. I have been fairly diligent about moving things on since I started and now that I am on Day 21 it is getting really easy to find things I know I'm not using.

If you are hesitant to move things along, think about the people that will love your items that you aren't using. It makes me happy to know that someone else is getting use out of things that were just stashed in a closet or the PODS when we were moving or somewhere else out of sight and not being appreciated.

So how does clutter start? For me it is usually a flat surface and stagnation. (Now you "get" the waterfall picture from our pond don't you?) All those piles of clutter -- paper or otherwise -- are really blocking positive energy flow. Sometimes clutter starts happening more when there is some substantial life experience that challenges who we are, don't worry, that is normal.

How to move the clutter on:
  1. Do I love it? Only keep things that you love. If you don't love them, move them on. (PS don't feel like you have to keep something because you got it from someone and you loved, but you don't love the item.) 
  2. Have I used it in the last 12-months? If not, you probably aren't going to use it, and it could make someone else really happy so move it on. (If you have lots and lots of clothes, hang everything with the hangers on the rod the wrong direction. When you wear something you can hang it facing the right way. After a full season if the hangers are the wrong way the clothing should move on down the road.) 
  3. Is it broken or unfinished? Repair it or get rid of it. Projects that you keep thinking you'll be finishing but never do? Those buggers will make you feel guilty every time you look at them. Move them out of your space. 
Let me know how you are doing with your downsizing! 

23 July 2014

Downsize dare

See more of my photos

Ready for a dare?
I dare you to walk into your garage (or barn, or storage area) and look around. How much is in there that you haven't used in a year -- or more?

I dare you to look into the rooms in your house where you rarely go (guest room, any formal dining or living areas) How much is in there that rarely gets used?

I dare you to look outside and evaluate what you do and do not use. Patio furniture (isn't that an Irish name?) gardens and lawn that you maintain but don't do anything else with?

I was surprised when I did this at our house and we have moved a lot since 2011 and downsized every time. Even with all that, I still had a lot of stuff that I don't use. How did  your tour work out?

Now look at what you do use
Everyday I'm in the bathroom using the shower, toilet, sink - yes, you may count a bathtub if that is your preference. In the kitchen I use the stove, oven, refrigerator, microwave, coffee pot, dishes, silverware. I have one chair I really like to sit in to read or watch television and I like the round kitchen table that doubles as work space by day and dinner space by night. I use the bed and it is tall and easy to get in and out of. What are your daily items?

How much are you using?
So here we are doing the math again. Are you using 20% of what you own or is it even less than that? I'm still working on less-is-more and I keep trying to find ways to help my brain let go of more and more things. This was an eye-opener and I see opportunities to let more things leave the constraints of our small house.

14 July 2014

Black Beauty Breed a documentary for dog lovers

Black Beauty Breed - Trailer 1 from Angie Ruiz on Vimeo.

Minnesota dog lovers get ready for a special one-night-only screening of Black Beauty Breed, a documentary for dog lovers on Thursday 17 July 2014. This documentary by filmmaker Angie Ruiz is being hosted by the Landmark Lagoon Cinema for the film’s Minneapolis Premiere.

Black Beauty Breed is a documentary about the Rottweiler, one of the oldest dog breeds with a heritage that can be traced back to ancient Roman times. Loyal, highly intelligent and courageous, the modern Rottweiler is often misunderstood and Black Beauty Breed aims to bring viewers closer to the dog behind the perceived and sometimes intimidating image of the dog. The film highlights the positive character traits and inherent working ability of the Rottweiler.

Heartwarming, inspiring and uplifting, the film articulates the universal themes of love, resilience and the deep connection that humans can form with their dogs. It is beautifully put together and is sure to open hearts and change minds about the wonderful breed.

The screening is open to the public and general admission tickets are $12.00. You may purchase your tickets on-line for the 7:30 PM showing on Thursday 17 July 2014 screening. The Landmark Lagoon Cinema is located at 1320 Lagoon Avenue Minneapolis, MN 55408

Check out the trailer at Vimeo

In addition to this documentary, Ruiz is an actress and producer, known for Flashbacks of a Fool (2008), La milonga (2008) and Surf School (2006). Her first time on the big screen was in a featured role with Minnesotan, Josh Hartnett, in the romantic comedy 40 Days and 40 Nights (2002). The scene was recently played in E! Entertainment's 101 Sexiest Movie Scenes of All Time.

08 July 2014

Foamy the rabid watermelon

Okay, it probably doesn't have a mouth, but it still looks pretty impressive -- almost enough for a really tacky B horror movie.

I bought the watermelon at a local fruit and vegetable stand and all looked well as I set it on the counter to be sliced into easy to eat cubes. Like always, we went to bed not expecting that in the morning the watermelon would have rabies.

This is not our first encounter with watermelons that have plans other than to be eaten. When heading to a dog show in Duluth Minnesota, we had one explode all over the counter -- that was referred to as The Watermelon Incident I think this one will be called Rabid watermelon. 

Foamy the rabid watermelon

Foamy the rabid watermelon

What causes watermelons to have rabies? It happens when they are out in the sun and they begin to ferment. Pressure then builds up and it has to go somewhere so it finds the weakest point and fissures appear allowing the pressure to escape.If you get a watermelon that foams, you should probably pass on eating it.

How do you pick a good watermelon? The Farmer's Almanac has some great tips on ripeness guide when to harvest pick.


A ripe watermelon should have a symmetrical body shape, a buttery yellow underbelly, and a skin that's neither too dull nor shiny. If you're harvesting from the garden, the watermelon's ready when the stem curls and turns brown and the place where the melon touches the ground turns yellow. Rap it with your knuckles and listen for a dull, hollow sound.
 Have you had a watermelon incident or your very own Foamy the Watermelon?

29 June 2014

Best Cities for Dog Friendly Vacations

Thank you so much GoPetFriendly for providing this great information! Where are you going with your pets?

Eight U.S. Cities Take Top Dog in 2014 Annual Reader Survey

June 20, 2014 – GoPetFriendly.com, the premier pet travel website, announced today the Top U.S. Cities for Dog Friendly Vacations, according to their annual reader survey. For dog lovers nothing is better than finding the perfect vacation spot - one that goes beyond just tolerating dogs, and instead welcomes them with open arms! According to GoPetFriendly.com users, these eight dog friendly destinations lead the pack.

“Our mission is to make traveling and vacationing with pets easier and more enjoyable,” said Amy Burkert, founder of GoPetFriendly.com. “By highlighting destinations that have proven themselves to be dog friendly, we hope to encourage more people to include their dogs in their vacation plans.”

Whether the ideal dog friendly vacation includes hiking in the mountains or lounging on the beach, each of the winning getaway locations provide plenty of canine-approved activities:

By land or sea, this quaint fishing village has something for everyone. See Acadia National Park from its 165 miles of dog friendly hiking trails and carriage roads, check out the huge dog park with a swimming pond, or climb aboard for a dog friendly schooner cruise or whale watch. No matter what you choose, this city is a dog lover’s dream!

The 51 miles of trails in town and thirteen off-leash areas give dogs plenty of space to romp. Dubbed “Beer Town USA” for its surprising abundance of world-class breweries, the 10 Barrel Brewing Company is a top choice for tasty pub food on the dog friendly patio. And at the end of the day, the welcome mat will be rolled out for the entire family at The Riverhouse Hotel.

Dog friendly beaches stretch for miles, and the paved Loggerhead Bike Trail running the length of the Cape is great for walking, jogging, or biking. For stunning views of the bay, stroll the BayWalk Trail, and water lovers can charter a dog friendly boat for a day of deep sea fishing. For more tips and things to do, stop by the Gulf County Welcome Center – it’s pet friendly, too!

With an off-leash, white sand beach that most dogs only dream about, top-notch pet friendly hotels, more than a dozen mouth-watering restaurants that welcome doggy diners, and an eclectic variety of shops and boutiques to peruse, what more could a dog ask for? It’s no wonder this was GoPetFriendly.com reader’s top choice in the 2013 Best City for Pet Travelers! 

Getting there may be half the fun on Cape Air, which welcomes pets in the cabin for just $10 each way – or take the ferry, where pets ride for free. No matter how you arrive, windswept beaches and blinking lighthouses await. All but two of the public beaches welcome dogs, but Steps Beach and Nobadeer Beach offer the perfect space for playing a game of fetch or frisbee! 

There are 26 dog bakeries in Portland! And when it’s time to burn those calories off, head over to Forest Park, flanking the hills on the west side of the city and boasting more than 70 miles of hiking and walking trails – or visit the International Rose Test Garden and walk amongst the 650 luscious rose varieties. Then relax at the extraordinarily dog friendly RiverPlace Hotel.

When it’s time to play, there are plenty of dog friendly beaches and off-leash dog parks to choose from. Decide to stay? The historic Hotel del Coronado now welcomes small pets, and for those with bigger dogs, the Loews Coronado Bay Resort will make your entire family feel right at home.

Vermont’s only national park, the Marsh-Billings-Rockefeller National Historical Park offers 20 miles of dog friendly carriage roads and trails crisscrossing its 550 acres. For a sample of the award-winning cheddar and maple syrup that make Vermont famous, visit Sugarbush Farm, where dogs are welcome on leash to walk through the maple trees. And pet travelers are drawn to the area’s charming lodgings like the dog friendly Kendron Valley Inn, set on 11 idyllic acres.

When it comes to planning a pet-friendly trip, GoPetFriendly.com has it all. From pet-friendly hotels and campgrounds, to beaches and off-leash parks where your dog can run - even veterinarians, pet supply stores, restaurants, and wineries – you’ll get the scoop on more than 60,000 pet friendly locations across North America! All the information pet parents need while traveling across the US and Canada is here, including 20,000 consistent, detailed pet policies from hotels and campgrounds, nearly 200 dog friendly destination guides, and a pet-focused Road Trip Planner. Along with the essential advice provided by true pet travel experts, GoPetFriendly.com makes preparing for trips and traveling with pets easy, convenient, and fun. www.gopetfriendly.com

25 June 2014

We don't use 80% of what we own

The Cottage via iPhone after sunset

I'm guessing we are a little better than 80% in our house, but we've been working on it since 2006 when my father died and that motivated me to start going through my things. Once we came face-to-face with the Great American Deception of home ownership, I learned that we had way too much stuff.

Have you ever wondered if your house wasn't clean enough or organized enough? Well welcome to the USA! Apparently about 84% of people are worrying about the same thing.

One thing I've learned from living smaller and smaller is that less stuff means I'm less stressed. (Your experience may vary...)
  • I've found that getting rid of things makes me appreciate what I have left even more. Start by deciding why you are doing the declutter, it will help you get through the process. Really want to get serious about getting rid of things, try 100 Reasons to Get Rid of It - Recipes, Crafts, Home Décor and More | Martha Stewart
  • Don't organize it, get rid of it! Start by being brutally honest about what you need or don't need. Sort through and purge the unwanted and unused but don't get all mushy about things -- most things don't need to take up space in your life.
  • Decluttering forces us to confront our bad habits -- do you have unused things that still have tags on them? Be tough and get rid of anything that's no longer meaningful or necessary in your new reality. 
  •  Get a clutter buddy and let them physically handle the items while you decide. Yes, this actually works! If you hold things to decide, you'll end up wanting to keep them... weird I know, but it's science. 
  • Big pile first. Put all the things that are going into a big division first and then sort from there into give, sell, trash. (Remember even people that have very little don't want your worn out crap.) This is not a chance to bring things back into play, everything must go! Once that has happened, you can re-organize what is left. (Don't be afraid if there are empty spaces now, it really is okay.) 
  • Digital declutter. Now is your chance to unsubscribe from unwanted email newsletters, delete old documents that you no longer need and organize photos and important paperwork into labeled folders. Bloggers "The Minimalists" recommend deleting any files that you haven't used in six months. You can also further reduce physical clutter by digitizing CDs, DVDs, photo collections, important documents and more.(Notice I said "you" because I still struggle with some of this... genealogy junkie and photographer.)
  • This is a great time to change your perspective. Everything you own, how you choose to spend your time, your hobbies and pursuit of happiness will all reflect your choice to live more simply. I've found it wonderful and I hope you will too, and yes I will talk you through it. 

26 May 2014

Book Review: Michelin Cuba Like a Local

Michelin CubaMichelin Cuba by Michelin
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

My parents were on vacation in Cuba when Castro took over, and I have always wanted to get there to retrace their steps.

Good tips and information on how to travel like a local -- always a preferred way for me as I like to get to know and photograph the people, animals and places to fully experience the locales.

Written by Peter Greenberg, the information is presented in a logical and informative way with tips that will be helpful to enjoying more than just "touristy" destinations. Of course I would prefer LOTS of images, but I can forgo that for the great information provided.

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19 May 2014

Book Review: Michelin The Caribbean Like A Local

Michelin the Caribbean Port CitiesMichelin the Caribbean Port Cities by Michelin
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I love to read travel books and having been in the Caribbean on a number of occasions, I found this book to have some good tips and insights. The Michelin books in this series have images in the front and then lots of text to help you plan a trip the will be memorable.

Written by Peter Greenberg, the information is presented in a logical and informative way with tips that will be helpful to enjoying more than just "touristy" destinations.

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14 May 2014

Book review: Michelin New Orleans Like a Local

Michelin New OrleansMichelin New Orleans by Michelin
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I love to read travel books and then see how a trip will come together. There are images in the front of this book that are nice, then the information about what to see and do in the Crescent City. I would prefer to see more images, but I always prefer to see more images.

Although not written by a local, the tips are helpful and will give you a sense of what to do if you were a local. Combine this with other travel tips and chatting up the locals and you'll have a great trip.

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29 April 2014

You can't take it with you

What is this world all about? David Brooks shares some thoughts about living for your résumé or living for your eulogy.

I've been to some trainings where they ask you to imagine your funeral. Take a moment to imagine yours. Who do you see there? What is the mood of the room? Lots of people or very few people? What would be said in your eulogy? Will your eulogy cover your résumé skills or will it be about how you touched the lives of those around you?

If you haven't done this exercise, it may be a real eye-opener. Take a little time and write down how you would like to be remembered, not necessarily how someone else would write about you. Is your eulogy looking like you want your life remembered? If not, what changed do you need to make today so it looks like you want it to?

27 April 2014

What do I do with all my stuff?

I still thing I have too much stuff. Less than some and more than others, but still not quite to my Zen of Goldilocks "just right" amount. I'm continuing to work on paring down to the most beloved items and have some thoughts on getting there -- imagine that!

Emotional Ties
My downsizing came with steamer trunks full of baggage -- and actually probably all people have those same trunks, just filled with different baggage from different roads traveled. Are you attaching emotional meaning to material things? The tick may be to pare down while not assigning emotional value to material things. Yes, I'm still working on that piece!

Discriminating tastes
This is your chance to play curator of your collection. Hopefully that makes it feel a bit more exciting! Downsizing is different for everyone, and your baggage may be the size of a Baggie or a steamer trunk or a 5,000-square-foot-house. The piece to becoming successful may be reframing what you are seeing in your world.

Mirror, mirror on the wall... 
Now is your chance to look at yourself and consider your life -- yes, this can be challenging, but it will be worth it. (Don't be surprised if you see a need for change, that is not unusual.)
  • Is your stuff a reflection of who you are? (What labels are you portraying? Spouse, child, mother, cook, fill-in-the-blank...) 
  • Do you need your things to remind you of who you are? 
  • Are you keeping things to show other people who you want them to think you are? 
  • Is it time to change some assignments? If you are looking at donate/toss/keep are you also looking at removing emotional ties (sometimes baggage) from items?
This is hard!
It sure is! Downsizing involves working through a lot of emotions, and sorting through the steamer trunks in my life is still challenging. Every single time I sort through a new box is still challenging -- more now that I am getting down to the nitty gritty with mostly things that I really care about. Now is the time to decide how I will curate and display my most treasured possessions in a way that is a true reflection of my life and my relationships. Wish me luck!

Nitty Gritty Dirt Band