Our Choices Are How We Define Ourselves #MakeGoodChoices

I have been thinking a great deal about the choices I have made since Paul died, almost two years ago. My goals – choices if you will – were to heal, to learn, to forgive, to live. Living was the key ingredient that got me out of bed every day and hike with Zeke, my sweet dog. He was a tremendous help in my recovery process of grief. Unconditional love and the great outdoors.


Then much to my surprise, Ronda Conger spoke at a brunch I attended Sunday morning. She told her story with the passion she always exuberates. I had no idea where she came from and how she was determined to break a pattern. My admiration for her soared to hear her story. She made good choices and it shows today.

Looking back at the past two years and the choices I made, I know now that I mustered wisdom in the midst of grief. I knew Paul may not have been ready to leave, but it was his time. I knew in my heart that he went to a place of great joy. My Buddhist practice helped me cope and understand. How I processed the grief is how I survived.

It all comes to the fact about making good choices in life. They are never easy and yet good choices are not so hard when you look back later. If your good choices come from your heart and the desire to be a better person, you have accomplished a great deal. No matter how small or large your choice was, you just know.

You know from the results. You know from your outlook on life. You know from your attitude.

I am in the process of celebrating all that I have learned in the past two years. The first year of grief was the life journey I had to swim through. (Remember, grief comes in waves!) The second year was getting to know myself again. I am who I am but what I learned has made me a better person. It’s not so much that I have changed but it is about what I have learned.

It was all about my good choices. I am free.

#makegoodchoices #lifelesson #grief #healing


Handcrafted on a 100 Year Old Printing Press #LadybugPress

If you live in the Treasure Valley, which is the metro area of Idaho’s capitol city of Boise, you have surely seen the unique and whimsical cards from Ladybug Press. I met the artist/owner at the Boise West Elm store, perhaps at the grand opening. I can’t remember except that when I asked if she made custom cards, Angela said yes and my brain buzzed with the possibilities.

I have been looking for personalized note cards since my last stash depleted. The store I purchased the cards at is no longer in business and the notecard is no longer printed from the original supplier. I was on a quest of finding a new source. Having the cards custom made intrigued me, but not as much as I was absolutely delighted when I visited her small studio.

The Blue Beast
The Blue Beast

You see, Angela uses a printing press that is 100 years old, maybe even older. There is a patent stamp on the machine dated 1887. Yes, you read that correctly, 1887. She calls the machine the Blue Beast and from the photos you can see why. This is a Chandler & Price press that features a variable motor, which is not original and yet still vintage. The variable speed motor allows her to work at a manageable speed since the process is part machine and part Angela’s hands.

The Beast Press
The Beast Press

I sent my artwork to Angela and she had magnesium plates created. The plates are mounted on wood and fit in to what she called furniture, a chase of wood blocks that are held together in a frame. A “quoin” helps tighten the entire frame of blocks because tension is what holds it all together. This furniture frame fits in to the press ever so precisely with the plates for the top of my card which is my row of houses and trees, and the bottom of my card which is my name in the font I use in my logo. Then there are gauge pins opposite from the furniture frame that the paper fits neatly for the press process to even happen.

Let’s Print!

And so it did! When Angela was ready, she said, “let’s print!”. I am grateful she let me learn about this special process and watch my cards evolve from a blank piece of paper in to my very own note cards. After the cards were printed with the houses and my name font, it was time for an ink change. Using special rags and solution, Angela cleaned the plate and the rollers before she could then use a mix of colors to achieve the green we chose for the trees that are in between the houses. Lining up the tree color to the row of houses took a few tries and then voila! She was ready for the last press-ing to finish the cards.

The exquisite result looks beautiful, feels extraordinary and gives me joy in just how the cards were created. Just watching Angela put the parts and ink together, then the cards in her hands as she pressed each one individually will forever be in my memory bank.

I am one happy girl with these beautiful cards. Now you know that when you receive a card from me, how special the work is that went in to the creation and how special you are.

PS If you want to check out Angela’s studio, I highly recommend touring the BOSCO Boise Open Studios, which is a weekend when local artists open their studio doors to the creative process!

Here is the link to the events that are Not TO Be Missed! http://www.boiseopenstudios.com/

#ladybugpress #handcrafted #artworks #printingpress

The Wave of Grief Came So I Swam into My Kitchen #ItsHowICope

Grief has no particular time frame. The cliché that it “comes in waves” is the only tangible way to describe that overwhelming feeling one experiences when you least expect it. Just when you think you have your grownup bootstraps up just so, it all comes tumbling down. Cascading is another word that comes to mind for this emotional surf that engulfs you enough to stop right then and there.

I can’t remember if I mentioned this before, but someone had the well intentioned and yet devastating suggestion that the second year mark of a loved one’s passing was far gloomier than that one-year mark. Thanks, thanks a lot.

Fortunately, I have my garden to keep me busy and preoccupied for this looming date. I had every intention of canning my tomatoes in to sauce this past week, but life got in the way. I did manage to blanch and peel and deseed over 50 pounds of tomatoes Friday night. My back is aching in pain but it was worth it. Canning the results will just have to wait. I am too tired!


My alternate task was creating a breakfast casserole. I have been noticing a great deal of recipes from blogs I follow and Pinterest about fantastic make ahead breakfast sandwiches. Whatever. For one thing, I would rather have my carbs in the form of a vegetable vs. a bread product. For another thing, I had five medium large Yukon potatoes I needed to cook up. A bell pepper and red onion from the garden plus a red jalapeno pepper. Farm fresh eggs were calling to be included!

Yukon Potato Breakfast Casserole


Five medium-large Yukon potatoes, washedse
1 medium red onion
1 bell pepper, color of your choice, I used orange
1 red and 1 green jalapeno pepper, chopped fine
1 one-pound package thick sliced bacon, baked & crumbled
1 roll Isernio package chicken breakfast sausage, cooked & crumbled
(reserve any grease)
2 cups shredded Asiago cheese or your choice cheese: feta, pecorino, etc
8 farm fresh eggs, beaten
1 teaspoon garden herb salt

Preheat oven to 375°. Using a 10x15x1 or 9x13x2 baking sheet with rim, melt 1 tablespoon of bacon grease over entire surface.

Shred the potatoes with a large hole grater, your food processor or what I used, a vintage Molineux grater/grinder. From my five potatoes, I ended up with 10 cups of shredded potatoes. Keep in large bowl of water and rinse twice. Drain in large basket colander and squeeze water with a towel. Set aside.

Chop the vegetables: red onion and orange bell pepper. The hot peppers should be deseeded and membranes removed before finely chopping. Chop bacon roughly and all these ingredients to a large bowl.potatoprep

Add potatoes to vegetable mixture, add the grated cheese and toss in 1 tablespoon bacon or sausage grease. Fold in to sheet pan and level ingredients. Beat eggs with garden herb salt and slowly incorporate into the potato mixture. Bake at 375° for 20-25 minutes, depending on your oven temperature and your altitude. Brown on a broil setting, if desired.

I cut the potato breakfast mixture in to squares that I knew would make a meal. Let it cool completely before bagging or storing in your container of choice, sealed of air pockets.

Freeze until you use. Defrost the night before if possible to avoid too much moisture. Depending on level of defrosting, microwave 1-2 minutes then bake in 400° oven to brown.

I’m warning you, you may need sour cream and salsa for toppings!

#grief #CookingIsHealing #breakfastcasserole #recipe #makeahead






Life’s Lemons are Cucumbers #PickledLemonCucumbers

It’s somehow astonishing to think that this Fall it will be two years since Paul died. It took me almost a year to use the word “died” instead of “passing”. The first year I learned that he did not pass but that he died and it was all so very final. And at the same time, I have not been able to feel complete again until just this summer.

I must admit, my dog’s diagnosis of congestive heart failure woke me up to getting up out of that funk and getting on again. A bucket list that was truly part me, part Zeke was written and checked off over the summer. One item on the list was to plant a larger garden for client gifts from my seasonal harvest. Ok, some friends are the recipients of such gifts, too! You know who you are….

lemon cuke process

Going with this larger garden came the experimentation of planting vegetables I had not grown in the past besides my precious tomatoes. Lettuce. Arugula. Peppers. Squash. And, Lemon Cucumbers. Ok, so I like lemon flavored anything and everything. But what to do with these beauties once they started ripening? All of the sudden, I had at least five pounds!

I prefer rice vinegar and was not able to find a recipe that was simple. Most of the recipes had just too many flavors going on. I did not want to lose that hint of lemon. I came up with a simpler version, and chose ingredients that would complement the lemon cucumbers. Enjoy!


2 pounds of lemon cucumbers
1 red bell pepper
1 medium red onion
1 tbsp sea salt
1 clove garlic for each jar, peeled
¼ tsp mustard seeds for each jar
1 tbsp raw sugar
3-4 cups natural rice vinegar
This should fill 6 pint jars, sterilized according to canning instructions
If you are not going to water bath can the jars, then use or gift within a week or two and keep them refrigerated

Clean and peel the cucumbers before thinly slicing horizontally
Peel onion, cut in half, then in quarters and slice thinly
Cut red bell pepper in quarters, then each quarter in half and slice thinly
Toss all ingredients in a large bowl with salt and let it sit 30 minutes
Combine sugar and rice vinegar over low heat, stirring until sugar is completely dissolved
Place a garlic clove and ¼ teaspoon mustard seed in each jar
Fill each jar with the cucumber mixture, compressing evenly
Pour rice vinegar mixture in each jar, cover with lids and bands
I used a water bath canning pot for 10-15 minutes, it depends on your altitude

NOTE: for a spicer flavor, substitute mustard for coriander seeds and finely mince a jalapeño (discard seeds & membrane), divide evenly in each jar

#cookingishealing #kitchenismyhappyplace #gardenharvest #canning


What Are Your Realtor® Benefits? #REALTOR

As members of the National Association of REALTORS® we have access to number of benefits, business tools, real estate market data, educational opportunities, and discount programs. These tools are designed to help us succeed in today’s ever changing real estate market. I was taught long ago from my real estate mentor: My Success is Your Success. Rings true, doesn’t it? I am sharing with my colleagues of Boise Regional Realtors® what NAR gives us, a valuable benefit on a national level. The reason I am campaigning for NAR Director is to share this information so that my Realtor friends and associates will have the tools to remain successful!

realtor benefits

  • REALTOR Benefits® Program I highly recommend clicking on this link to get the details, but highlights include mobile apps to keep your real estate news current as well as critical issues in Washington DC. We also have special offers, discounts and business tool offers available to Realtors®.
  • Advocacy  This is my passion, as many of you may already know. After my breast cancer diagnosis in 1995, I lobbied on Capitol Hill with the National Breast Cancer Coalition for breast cancer research funding. As my real estate career grew, I became involved in my local association leadership. I was fortunate to visit Washington DC again to meet with elected officials on behalf of the National Association of Realtors. NAR’s Government Affairs division works to develop, advance and implement the federal legislative objectives of the REALTOR® Association. We do the same at a local level and throughout Idaho with the cooperation of the Idaho Realtors, our statewide association.
  • Library NAR is home to the world’s largest real estate library that covers a myriad of topics related to commercial and residential real estate. The collections include:
    • 4,500+ digital books, audiobooks, and videos
    • 6,000+ journals in digital format through EBSCO (link is external)
    • 12,000+ printed books, reports, and guides
    • 150+ journals in print format
    • 500,000+ historical documents and images from the National Association of REALTORS® historical archives
  • Research & Statistics  I am a geek, so this is a particularly helpful link for me. NAR’s Research division collects and disseminates comprehensive real estate data. They conduct economic analysis to inform and engage members, consumers, policymakers and the media with key information about the housing market. If you ever want to know about a real estate trend, bookmark this for your go to source!Just so you know, you will need your NRDS number to access your benefits. Please ask your real estate office, look on your mail label of your latest issue of Realtor Magazine or call Boise Regional Realtors to get your number. Write it down and save it!

Source: National Association of Realtors – Value of Membership

#REALTOR® #Membership #RealEstateTrends #MemberValue #BusinessTools

My Sister, My Best Friends & My #SisterFriends

I am hanging out with my sister, Marianne, this week to help her out after a double procedure surgery she had recently. Little does she know that the rest of the week, I am preparing meals my way. {insert laugh} It’s a sister thing with us, who has the better recipe. In all honesty, we both do because the recipes are just that much different to be just as delicious as the other.

Selfie after long day of Christmas shopping! Me and my sis, 2012
Selfie after long day of Christmas shopping! Me and my sis, 2012

Which gave me the inspiration for today’s blog post. Sisters are your best friends and your best friends are comparable to a sister. Sister Friends are what I call these unique relationships. You know, those sister friends who leave you a voice mail when you need encouragement. Sister friends who laugh at your super lame jokes. Sister friends who send you a text at all hours of the day, just to check in. Just to check in. Sister friends who will go clothes shopping and tell you the truth, that outfit is just not going to happen. Or sister friends that invite you to hang out or just drop by your house to hang out. Just hang out.

This weekend I had an invitation to spend an afternoon with two artists in Boise that I don’t know well, but that changed. There was another gal in the group whihc rounded out my experience. The time was splurged at a number of places I had not yet visited in Garden City. We ended the day under my covered patio with the fan blowing to cool us off while the temperatures took it down a notch from a warm day. I learned the stories of what inspired these ladies on their art methods, what classes they have taken in the past and what gave them joy in their creations. I sautéed some of my chicken thighs that had marinated in tzatziki sauce, made the vegetarian in the group a salad from my garden and opened one of the bottles of wine I won at a fundraiser in May.

patio art Say Aug 26

What I was reminded of was how important friendships are. Friendships that don’t waver despite words that came out wrong. Friendships that pick up where they left off years or months ago. Friendships that come with a broad smile of recognition from across a room that says hello again in the most special sort of way. What I discovered was how fortunate I am to have such friendships, old and new, close and casual, meaningful and even unintentional.

These relationships are what help us form the person we develop in to as we grow up. Ok, some of you will think, I’m never growing up. But you will despite your best laid plans. Because learning is growing and growing is evolving and evolving is a good thing.

I am so very grateful for my siblings and my good friends and my new friends that have been along in my journey of healing from the grief of losing Paul almost two years ago. Now I feel I am getting reacquainted with the person I was and have become after dealing with his death. I can help others in grief not so much because I “know” but because I felt that not so long ago. Grief is different for each person; it is how you plow through life in your journey that gets you to the other side.

I had a row boat that evolved in to a sailboat and I am loving the breeze again of peacefulness. The river boat was a surprise perk, just FYI. Sometimes you just have to go for it on the water…..

#grief #lifelesson #sisterfriend #friendship #itsachickthing



Tomato Season and Abundance #RoastedTomatoButter

Tis the season for abundance from our gardens.  We lovingly prune and tend to our gardens. We post photographs on Instagram of the fruits of our labor.

Roasted Tomato Butter w Garlic & Basil
roasted tomato butter success!

Which led me to think about abundance in our daily lives. Advertising tends to show the finer side of life, with glamor and elegance as a focal point. I prefer websites about nonprofit organizations with photographs of people from all walks of life with the smiles of joy. Those are real people, not models.

Then, there is the abundance we have right at home. Family and friends we can count on. Colleagues that are always there for advice. Acquaintances that become new friends. Past friends that come back into our lives, always for a reason.

This past week was one of those reminders about how rich my life is right now. This Fall will be a two-year mark since Paul’s passing. I have come a long way from the throes of grief to seeing the world with clarity. My friend, Sara, told me recently that I was “glowing”. I suppose I am, because life is good and comfortable again. I am a happy person, I always have been. I use humor as a tool to carry on. Thank you, God, for giving me that gift.

toms ready 4 recipe
tomato harvest, some for butter, some for salsa

Let’s get back to gardening! My tomatoes are slowing ripening and I think with the heat that I need to water them twice a day. No kidding, by the afternoon the soil is dry on top and the plants are droopy. My sweet cherry tomatoes are ripening faster, and I did not have enough to dehydrate. What to do, what to do…..I found a recipe for roasted tomato butter but I thought, hmmm, it would be so much better with roasted garlic and basil. Right? Right.


2.5 cups of cherry tomatoes
3 sticks of butter, room temperature
3 sprigs of basil or ½ cup leaves
3 large cloves of garlic, cut in half
Olive oil spray

Line a sheet pan and spray with olive oil. Place oven rack for broiling and preheat oven to broil setting. Clean tomatoes and towel dry. Place tomatoes and garlic on sheet pan and broil for 5 minutes or until tomatoes begin to release juices. Pull pan and let cool. Drain juices or reserve for another recipe (sauce later?). Put tomatoes in food processor and blend well. Add butter in pieces and blend thoroughly. Place in shallow mason jars and chill overnight. You can also freeze so they last longer. Makes 6 mini jars and great gifts for those friends that bring you joy!

NOTE: If you use unsalted butter, add sea salt to taste.

#abundance #friendship #grateful #lifelesson #tomatoes

Why Being Involved Matters to Me #Volunteering #RPAC

This post is a part of my plan to tell you why I am campaigning for a National Association of Realtors® Director position. I feel this particular subject will interest my colleagues as well as my friends to explain my passion for volunteering.

being involved matters

First of all, my inspiration to volunteer early in life came from my parents. Both my Mom and Dad volunteered at church doing what they could. Everyone knew Frank and Tere Barrera, which was not such a great thing when I got in trouble at parochial school. I’ll save a good story for another blog post.

I have to admit I did not truly engage in giving this way until I moved to Idaho. I suppose moving to a small town where everybody really did know your name helped. If anyone asked for assistance, you would not hesitate to say of course. Then, moving to Boise was my sweet spot for causes that were more relevant to me at that point in my life and career.

Being a business woman that happens to sell real estate, I was drawn years ago to committee work at the Intermountain Multiple Listing Service which lead to a few committees at the Ada County Association of Realtor®, now known as Boise Regional Realtors®. Believe it or not, I have been on the Public Policy (Government Affairs) committee for a decade or longer. Eventually I was elected to the Board of Directors, then elected to Vice President which ultimately led to the position of President of the Association in 2011. I was never great at Robert’s Rules but I learned how to listen better, how to truly make a decision with consensus and how to simply be present when anyone ever contacted me with a professional issue.

I don’t think I would have learned the importance of how and why the National Association of Realtors® (NAR) accomplishes success for my career, my clients, my customers and my colleagues if I had not become involved in leadership roles. One of the most important lessons I learned about NAR is how they work diligently to ensure how we all buy and sell real estate. This is why I give to NAR’s RPAC annually: to support their efforts in Washington, DC in continuing to protect private property rights for Americans. I consider this investing in my real estate business. Your Realtor should be doing the same.

I’ll get to the point now: yes, NAR works for you and I on Capitol Hill. NAR has been instrumental in speaking to our Congressional representatives and Senators in achieving successful legislation. Recent accomplishments:

  • FHA implementing new Condo policies for Buyers obtaining mortgage loans
  • Congress removing the use of guarantee fees (G-fees) as a financing mechanism from the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act (FAST Act)
  • Oppose a rule by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) which vastly expands EPA authority and increases EPA regulation of land uses on private property.
  • Following the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, insurers backed out of the terrorism insurance market place prompting Congress to create a federal reinsurance backstop program in the Terrorism Risk Insurance Act (TRIA) of 2002, which also mandated that insurers make terrorism coverage available along with its property and casualty lines.  This program was reauthorized in January 2015 to reauthorize the program through 2020
  • Federal Housing Administration (FHA) would reduce FHA annual mortgage insurance premiums (MIP) by 50 basis points, a reduction for lower fees on FHA loans
  • TILA-RESPA Integrated Disclosure (TRID) Rule Implementation Delayed; Written Guidance Issued: NAR continued to actively engage with the CFPB to request written assurances that the early enforcement of the new rules will take into account the good faith efforts of supervised entities
  • Protection of Homeownership and Real Estate Investment Incentives; NAR continues to educate Congress and their staff on the vital role that real estate tax provisions play in the nation’s housing markets and economy.
  • New Net Neutrality Rules Preserve Equal Access to the Internet. The new rules are a victory for consumers, and for REALTORS® who embrace technology and online resources to meet the needs of their clients.
  • Energy Efficiency Improvement Act of 2015, S. 535, was signed into law. More commonly known as the “Tenant Star” bill, this legislation created a voluntary, market-driven approach to encouraging landlords and tenants to adopt energy efficient practices in leased spaces.
  • FHA Agency and new non-performing loan requirements; this will study the cost and impact of bulk note sales to institutional investors

Every year NAR works for all of us, whether you are a Realtor® or a consumer. Thank your Realtor® today!

#Realtor #NAR #RPAC #RealtorParty #privatepropertyrights #realestate #homeownership #volunteer #getinvolved

Are You a Giver? If Not, Why Not? #GivingIsReceiving

Giving is second nature to me, thanks to my Mama. She frequently volunteered at church, either helping with events or knitting baby booties, lending neighbors a hand and best of all, despite a bit of sternness, always glowed with love every time she looked at us kids. She gave us her greatest gift, the gift of love in a simple and yet unforgettable smile. Not sure where those booties all went, I am going to have to ask my sister, Marianne.


A few months ago, a friend and colleague at the office told me about a charter non-profit called  100Ada . Modeled after the giving circle concept, members give a certain amount of money annually. The funds are allocated to small or micro non-profit organizations that have a measurable impact in Ada County, and the selection process is by nomination by members only. In the Fall, they hold an event so that each non-profit can make a four-minute presentation to pitch their mission. The membership votes and the result is a generous gift to that local charity. In other cities that have the same model, often others donate more on the event evening. The best part is that all the charities get to tell their story. It’s a win-win no matter what because it also raises appreciation of each organization that we may not have been aware of.

This year Surel’s Place was nominated by yours truly for the Arts & Humanities category. Surel’s Place is an artist in residence program in Garden City’s Surel Mitchell Live Work Create District, which stretches from 32nd Street to 37th Street. On September 22nd when we present how Surel’s Place makes a difference in our community, I will have that same glowing smile my Mama showed us that without saying a word, says it all.


Another interesting group I found to become involved in is called GoodWell . This organization has four questions on their home page that convinced me to become a member:

  • Would you knowingly buy a product made with child labor?
  • Would you knowingly buy from a company who discriminates based on gender, age, religion, race or sexual orientation?
  • Would you knowingly buy from a company who pays their CEO over 100 times what the average worker makes at that company?
  • Would you knowingly support a company who is destroying the environment?

Right, I thought so. I do not want to support companies or corporations that engage in any of those practices. The companies that GoodWell supports are certified through a rigorous process and must maintain their status through annual audits of practice.

I just gave you two great ideas on how you can give to your community or to our planet in meaningful ways. Go for it. It’s that smile that will win you over. It’s my challenge to you to find something you can find a way to make a difference, no matter the commitment. You can do it.

#Community #Giving #Generosity #100Ada #GoodWell


Knowledge is Power #Learning #Sharing #Giving

By now, the Realtors® that belong to the Boise Regional Realtors® in Ada County have received the email announcing the slate of candidates for leadership positions. I’m on that list!

I had to tape a video for Boise Regional Realtors® about who I am and why I am seeking the position for NAR Director. For those of you that are not Realtors®, NAR stands for the National Association of Realtors® and I am vying for a Director position to represent Boise Regional Realtors®, which is my local association.

Being videoed with a list of questions can be daunting, however, I did have a message to deliver. I want to share my message with those of you that are my colleagues, peers, clients, and friends regarding the reason I am looking at this venture as an opportunity. A great opportunity….

nver stop learning

Long ago, I learned a phrase that has stayed with me for life. You never stop learning. You see, I have always been a sponge for information on various topics, on a number of levels. My goal as a NAR Director will be to absorb what I learn about the real estate industry and bring it home to the Boise Regional Realtors® membership.

The essential tool in my career is to be knowledgeable about the industry, to clearly know about what bills statewide and nationally affect how we buy and sell real estate in America. Taking what I know and what I will learn in depth will make for not only an invaluable representative but a valuable Realtor® as well. Win, win.

Then again, if you know me well, you also know I am a giver by nature. Sharing the information that I learn will be the greatest gift I can give to my colleagues and peers. I am seeking the position of a NAR Director to share what I learn, answer questions that you have, communicate by blogging about industry news, and finally, offering solid reason on why getting involved in your industry is so important.

It’s important to me!

#NAR #BoiseRegionalRealtors #getinvolved #learning #sharing #giving #REALTOR®