Generosity and Giving Should Not Have to be a Sacrifice!

This was a line I heard in a video played at the Blue Jeans service at Cathedral of the Rockies Sunday morning, and the overall theme of Pastor Duane’s sermon was tithing. Give what you can, not because you have to.  Take small steps first and work your way to more giving.

That phrase, generosity and giving should not have to be a sacrifice struck a chord in my mind this morning. It helped me arrive at the place of what I am going to do, despite the rhetoric online, in the media, and even in conversation.promote what you love

Now, I hesitate to enter the refugee fray, but I can no longer sit back without crying in shame at the direction our country seems to be heading towards: Isolationism. Xenophobia. Bigotry. I truly feel we all need a time out, especially from social media.

Let’s face it, we may not be obsessed with the refugee topic, but is certainly is top of mind. What are we as citizens of the United States of America going to do? What are we as citizens of our planet going to do? What on earth can we do?

I give at home, here in Boise, Idaho. I want to help you find a way to put out the “fireworks” as one friend put it. I could write about how I do this and I do that, but I am not going to. I want to know what you are going to do to make a difference in your own community to affect change and foster compassion.

If we take a minute to reach out, we can easily find those non-profit organizations that help the homeless, help our veterans, help refugees that have already moved here. They all need assistance in re-establishing themselves in to a place to call home. We no longer can allow ourselves to sit back and complain and yet do nothing to find ways to contribute to our communities.

That aside, what about our country? Have we completely forgotten to give? Didn’t we help out during both World Wars in many ways, at home and abroad? Not a single man, woman or child gave a second thought to doing their part. Why can’t we do so now?

Look, the refugee crisis is polarizing. But if we don’t help each other to give to each other, we will lose the satisfaction that comes with lending a hand again without a second thought. That is not what America is all about, is it?

Resources here in the Treasure Valley:

Boise Rescue Mission for a bed & a meal to hand out to homeless, or choose a specific donation from a list of choices that may surprise you

Veteran’s Assisted Living Home by Veteran’s Hospital here in Boise. Stop and speak to one Veteran, you made his or her day. Even if you are too shy to reach out that way, you can ask what they need. Go buy it and deliver it. Do it.

Idaho Office for Refugees and Idaho Resettlement Resources for refugees is a place to start to learn about how you can help.

Operation Gratitude and Support Our Troops are excellent starts if you want to send those serving overseas a care package any time of year.

#refugeecrisis #community #lendahand #generosity #giving

Finding Joy Again and How I See Things in a Different Light

When you have the opportunity to watch others, you can see the joy in how they look at the world. Especially when it is something that was familiar but in their absence, things had changed. The old familiar can become new again and watching that joy is perspective

The same goes for me the past few months, as that one year mark approached of Paul’s passing. I realized that – all of the sudden, mind you – I was seeing life with a new set of eyes. I suppose that suggests the healing process of grief had worked its way to the other side, the light side.

I began to notice life was bright and light, every day, even when it was cloudy. I noticed the bright colors of the spring flowers, then the variety of colors of fall leaves on the ground. I realized that more people smiled when I smiled at them on the greenbelt, on a foothills trail, downtown as I walked. It dawned on me that I was feeling much more confident in my day to day life.

On Sunday, I watched as a new friend smiled broadly and with abandon as he rediscovered Boise in small ways. I loved listening to him describe what gave him newfound joy in town he thought we would not return to. Come to think of it, I watch these very same reactions when I have out of town clients that make the decion to move back to Boise. They are all excited at how the Boise Valley has grown and what it has to offer.

Boise now has a small but exciting urban setting downtown, neighborhoods on the outskirts that you can meet someone you know no matter where you stop. The various areas in Boise have a piece of Boise that we have all come to treasure! The North End with cottages and bungalows, some small and some grand, but all mixed together. The East End with a similar feel but wider streets and unique history if you happen to notice the old horse hitching posts. The Bench where you will notice the post war construction of brick ranch style homes. Central West Boise with ranch style homes, but a mix of brick and siding that lets you know that was the 70’s alright! Southeast Boise definitely has the mix of ranchers (shortened term for ranch style homes), and the emergence of more planned neighborhoods that are now fully matured with tall standing trees for shade at the parks. West Boise and Southwest Boise are newer and perhaps more subdivision-ey, but comfortable with the large number of neighborhood parks our mayor has made a commitment to. Meridian is now a city to watch in Idaho, with the fantastic growth in the right direction, all thanks to a mayor with vision. Kuna, Eagle and Star are still bedroom communities for getting away from it all. How interesting it is that I see all of this with Realtor® eyes: I see the homes, their styles, and the “neighborhood” itself.

Inside each of these homes are stories, and the residents may see the same thing you look at with a completely different perspective. There is a story behind each trinket, an event that is a reminder from just a scratch on the wood floor or nick on a wall. A vacation from the past in a piece of art on display. A plant that has been in the house for quite some time, just repotted with age. Those framed photographs make the house a home, or at least it does for me.

Back home is how I finally feel. I am so grateful that my healing period of grief has brought me to this place.

#grief #grieving #lifelesson #BoiseValley #neighborhoods

They Say It Takes a Year, and They Were Right #Grieving

A year has just about come and gone. After Paul died, a friend told me it would take a year, and I winced in emotional pain. No, not a year of this heartache that at times was literally physical!wind knocked out

But she was right, after a period of time, I found that time was the patch on my heart that kept me going. Admittedly, the initial three months were what I term “the fog”. I couldn’t even drive at night because I was so disoriented. I stayed in my studio and it became “the cave”.

I think I was hiding out in that cave. I was so afraid to be me again. I was afraid of what was outside those dark walls. I lost my best friend in the worst way imaginable. I did not have a heartfelt goodbye. I had no idea of just how much we did together until he was gone. Our love, our relationship was all so natural.

After those three months, I realized I needed a place of my own to stretch my arms and a yard for Zeke to chase the squirrels. Spring arrived and in March I found out about a tiny cottage – 480 square feet – that would be available. I kept driving by in anticipation, looking in the windows. It never occurred to me how so much of my furniture would not fit in that house. Insert chuckle! In May I moved in and the cottage took a transformation with my decorating, hanging my art work, finding a place for my most essential kitchen items.

This place is a diamond in the rough, but I have managed to make it better by putting my trademark, eclectic style inside as well as outside. The decorating hasn’t stopped either. I have so many projects to work on this winter! So, get this, I decluttered over the weekend. You are probably laughing and asking, what, decluttering? Yes, decluttering. I would sit on my couch and look at my shelves and realize my books were blocked by knick knacks that were starting to make me feel there was too much going on.

I finally got to the To Do list this weekend and tackled the garage, truly organizing it with more of those huge storage containers with the yellow lids. Thank you, Costco. Inside the house, I rearranged one of the bottom shelves that in now the place for home office supplies. The new empty shelf above is home for those knick knacks and my framed photographs. My crystal ball – every girl needs one, you know! My tiny things from Ecuador, the country my Mama was from. A book titled, It’s Never Too Late. It’s about a shift in perception.

My perception has certainly changed. After my breast cancer diagnosis 20 years ago, what I thought was important took a back seat to the new realization of what was truly important in life. We lost our parents 20 days apart in 2006 but the experience was a privilege. To be present with each parent during their process as well as to have the love and support of loving siblings is my treasure. Death of a loved one has a way of stopping you on your journey, a way of forcing you to take note.

I feel that since I have moved to the tiny cottage, my decluttering and giving away the things that did not fit was part of the path of letting go. All the memories I have are the gifts that those who are now gone gave to me, the gifts that will always remain. The gifts of love, my brothers and sister, my friends, my new friends are ongoing.

What has meant the most are those who continue to touch base with me often. They let me be a slacker because they understand that grieving is a day to day process. Keep that in mind for others you know that are grieving and keep in touch with them. It is so important, take it from me.

It’s that time thing.

#grief #lifelesson #tinyhouse

Savory Squash Bread with Sun Dried Tomatoes, Oregano, Feta & Taste!

I do not care for zucchini bread, probably because I just do not like nutmeg. Sorry, it is a deterrent when it comes to those zucchini breads, carrot cake and pumpkin pie. NO thank you.

In order to determine a way to use up a boat load of yellow squash I was the recipient of this Fall, I had to do a bit of searching. Could I make a savory bread? Yes, of course! So, what I did was take two recipes and make one of my own. I sure do hope you enjoy this!

PS: if you are celiac or strive for a gluten free, I highly recommend Maninis Flour. It is the best!savory loaf up close

Savory Squash Bread

3 cups all-purpose flour

4 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon sea salt

½ teaspoon baking soda

½ teaspoon organic garlic powder

1 cup shredded squash, squeezed of moisture – I actually use my spiralizer for this recipe vs. grater

1 cup crumbled feta cheese

¼ cup sun dried tomatoes in olive oil, finely chopped

¼ cup chopped green onion (2 medium)

1 tablespoon fresh oregano, chopped

2 large eggs

1 cup buttermilk

½ stick butter, melted



Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a regular size loaf pan (9×5) or four small loaf pans.

savory mix in bowlIn a large bowl, add the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and garlic powder. Whisk to combine. Add the squash, feta cheese, sun dried tomatoes, green onions and oregano. In a separate bowl, combine the eggs, buttermilk and melted butter. Pour the wet ingredients in to the large bowl and gently stir until just moistened.

Pour in to loaf pan(s) and bake. loaf in pan, ready to bakeOne large loaf may take up to 50 minutes, the smaller loaf pans take 20 minutes. Bake until slightly brown on top and when a toothpick inserted comes out clean. If you are using a gluten free flour, your bread may take an additional 5-8 minutes baking time.

Serve your savory bread warm! Bon Appétit!


#recipe #squash #bread #savorysquashbread

savory loaves baked

Sustainability in Your Home, Your Environment, Your Community

I am always on the search for new trends that match my passion for greening our environment, and that means our homes. As a Realtor®, I try my best to point out the features of a home that make it energy efficient and what a Buyer can consider upgrading in the future. In my own community, I am a member of the USGBC Idaho chapter which has given me many resources in my day to day escape shelf

Recently I discovered a B corp business called Uncommon Goods which strives to make a positive impact on not only the world but in the communities we live in by featuring products that are handmade, recycled and organic products. What is a B Corp you ask?

B Corps are certified by the non-profit B Lab to meet rigorous standards of social and environmental performance, accountability and transparency. Find our more at B Lab

Let’s get back to Uncommon Goods! This internet and catalog company even gives back to non-profits through their Better to Give program which a customer can select a non-profit to give at checkout, courtesy of Uncommon Goods. Who wouldn’t want to shop here?

With permission, I am sharing a recent blog post featuring two such entrepreneurs! This blog post Uncommon Impact: Practical Design Meets Practicing Better Business interviews a couple that strives to make the natural environment benefit the customers that purchase the crafts they sell. Using efficiency and sustainability as a model, the products they look for incorporate durability as well. The items I have seen that are handmade speak the most to me. Because it was made by a real person. Maybe that is why I am so drawn to art?

Lishu and Leonardo Rodriguez, founder of El Dot Designs, help make an impact on the lives of the people that make handmade items in in the U.S. and developing countries by providing unique economic opportunities. How many of us can say we do this in our own communities, help others to make a living providing handmade goods? How can we make a difference in our day to day environment as Lishu and Leonardo do?

I try to always purchase locally, but when I find a resource available that makes a difference for a country with economic hardships, I am honored to do my part. Especially if the products are a part of the B corp philosophy, changing the way we do business. I shop at the smaller stores, the boutiques, the Capital City Market on Saturdays, the local produce stands throughout the Valley. For that matter, the food trucks that catch my eye!camper under stars

If this interests you, please also check out and tell me what you want for Christmas. Personally, I am eyeing the fire escape shelf, pictured above! My problem is that I want the House Under the Stars art piece because of my travel plans for 2016. Decisions, decisions!

We have to help others in order to help our world. I challenge all of you to shop responsibly this Holiday season. Buy local, look for sustainable products, and if you want to make a difference in other people’s lives, shop at Uncommon Goods. I am.

Here is an example of the impact of El Dot’s commitment:

Sustainably Harvesting Bamboo 

bamboo maker

Much of the impact El Dot seeks is centered around one amazing plant-bamboo. Bamboo is well situated to help El Dot achieve it’s dual aim of alleviating socioeconomic disparity and fostering better ecological stewardship in the furnishing industry.

Bamboo is perhaps the most potent renewable alternative to wood in the furniture. Not only does it capture 30% more carbon dioxide than trees, but it is the fastest growing plant on the planet, growing up to 35 inches in a day under the right conditions. Bamboo thus reaches maturity in only 3 to 5 years, meaning that harvesting cycles are shorter and far less damaging to local ecology

It’s also incredibly abundant, growing particularly well in tropical and sub-tropical areas, most of which are located in developing countries throughout Asia, South America, and Sub-Saharan Africa. This means that under-served communities there are potentially sitting on a vast, renewable natural resource, which – shaped by local craft traditions – can be tapped for the economic benefit of the community. For more on the ways El Dot is using bamboo, check out their B Corp profile and their blog.

#gifts #giving #sustainability #green #Bcorp




Spanish-Style Slow Cooker Chicken, Revised and Refined

I realized I have not posted my number one favorite slow cooker chicken recipe. So! Here you go! This easy slow cooker chicken is made with just a few ingredients, super simple…. And tremendously tasty!


  • 9-10 chicken thigh pieces, bone in
  • 1/3 cup quality flour
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt and cracked pepper
  • 2 tblsp fancy sweet paprika
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tblsp grated lemon peel
  • 1 tblsp thyme, a bit less if fresh
  • 1 cup pitted prunes, cut in half
  • 2  14 oz cans artichoke hearts, drained
  • 1 14oz can green olives, drained
  • 1 cup orange juice
  • 1 cup red wine


Wash chicken; remove skin. Pat dry.

Combine flour, paprika, salt and pepper in a large plastic bag. Add chicken to flour mixture and toss to coat. Place chicken in an large oval slow cooker.

Sprinkle chicken with garlic, lemon peel, and thyme. Top with artichokes, prunes and olives. Combine juice & wine; pour over chicken. Cover and cook on LOW setting for 6 hours or until chicken has cooked through and sauce has thickened. Serves 6 to 8.

Bon Appétit!

#slowcooker #spanishchicken #easymeal

Oh, the Places We’ve Been! Stories Behind Our Clothes

Yesterday afternoon I had a Clothing Exchange party, or my way of shopping on my birthday without spending a dime! I am really celebrating my 20 years cancer free, from breast cancer in my late 30’s.Clothing Exch 2015

My besties from the years I have lived here in Boise showed up and the plan was to drop what you no longer wear, find new items to cherish and the rest goes to the local women’s shelters. I thank each and every woman who gathered with me yesterday to celebrate and just have fun. Oh, and the two bartenders we had on hand, the only men. I have some sorting to do today, but while I sort I will cherish the memories from yesterday.

Which brings me to today’s post. I wonder where some of those clothes have been….. What city? What state? For that matter, what country? What time of year? Who wore that and who was that person with? My mind took a few journeys:

To a beach on the Pacific Ocean, watching surfers and kids squeal as the waves washed their tiny ankles

To a beach on the Atlantic Ocean, bird watching or reveling in a beautiful sunrise

To a family reunion, happy to watch everyone with smile on their faces (and getting along?)

To a long planned vacation, just settling in on the airplane, finally getting to that book on the wish list

To a backpacking trip, the first in years with a special person

To a road trip to the Oregon Coast, one that will fill the memory banks forever

To a trip overseas, to a new country an

d excited to get that new stamp on a passport

To a ski trip out of state with good girlfriends

To a weekend trip to a bigger city, to recharge and spend time exploring

You see, if you look deep enough, you can envision all sorts of adventures. I am looking forward to adventures yet to be!

#lifelesson #friends #birthdaybash

#BOSCO Boise Open Studios Weekend 2015

BOSCO 3 Surels

It occurred to me this morning that it is one month short of a year since Paul died. In this past year, I have found myself living life to the fullest. I went to every Idaho Shakespeare play with my friend, Jane Suggs. Jane even commented it was a special way for the two of us to see each other this summer. I went to every concert imaginable, at Idaho Botanical Gardens, BSU’s arena, or the Sapphire Room and afternoon or evening music the Sandbar. I attended a few Idaho Historic Preservation events, First Thursday, and so on.  A number of these events are things Paul would not have gone with me, but I wanted to go and I was determined to have a fun summer. And, I am determined to have a full life.BOSCO 1 Surels

This past weekend was Boise Open Studios, or BOSCO, where local artists in Boise opened their studios for a three day tour. I am amazed I have not done this tour before – shame on me! The stories we heard, the art we pondered over, and the people we met. I started at Surel’s Place and ended at Surel’s Place, but mostly because I took Jacques Menache and his lovely, Mary, on the tour with me. Jacques is the artist in residence at Surel’s Place for the month of October. They hail from North Carolina and during their stay, they don’t have a vehicle. It was a pleasure to drive them around and have the company for our Sunday tour. A hearty thanks to the Boise Weekly and the Boise Art Museum!



Our first stop was to see Pam McKnight and her mixed media of tiny thingsBOSCO 6


Next was Karen Eastman, beautiful expressionistic oil paintings of nature and how they relate to the human body



Karen Klinefelter showed us her beautiful jewelry and told us about the tagua seed from South America that she carves and incorporates in her pieces



Josh Udesen had amazing acrylic paintings of Idaho scenes including beautiful species of Idaho trout

Karen Bubb gave me the opportunity to learn more about the encaustic process in her workBOSCO 9




Betsie Richardson displayed lovely oil paintings and her own note cards plus a super friendly house cat



Rachel Teannalach has tiny paintings in oil that I have actually purchased in the past at Modern at The ModernBOSCO 12




Rick Jenkins uses carbon trap shino his beautiful ceramics



Heather Bauer uses a wax encaustic process and her works incorporate my beloved birds



Lastly, we stopped at Samuel Payden’s and as he painted, we toured his walls of art


On my way to a barbecue later, I stopped at the backyard studio of Marianne Konvalinka, whose work I purchased years ago at Concert for a  CauseBOSCO 16


Last stop was at Susan Rooke’s, and her ceramics tell a whimsical tale of lifeBOSCO 17


Marinara, My Way. It’s Time I Shared This for Fresh Tomatoes!

I sort of follow recipes and yet not at all. I just cannot add certain ingredients that cause concern for me. Why that? Why not this? But, I must admit, I enjoy more of a savory taste than a sweet taste. Gimme some spice in that dish! I can turn down chocolate any day but not a good, hot salsa. I know, crazy.

So, I have been making a marinara sauce for years based on a recipe that I do not quite follow. You see, I love my sauce to be thick and savory. Not a wimpy wet liquid that won’t stick to noodles or gnocchi or spaghetti squash for that matter. My sauce must have gusto and a zing to it….Therefore, folks, you are my lucky friends that will enjoy this easy peasy recipe. Read on!

The peeling the tomatoes part is a hassle as well as the de-seeding part, but it is worth it. The skins can be too tough later and the seeds may add bitterness to your sauce. I don’t take that chance. Besides, seeds can be difficult for those with colon sensitivities so why mess with that. Core, score, blanch and peel those tomatoes, then cut in half and finger out the seeds. Mind you, you don’t have to go batshit crazy and get all of the seeds, just most of them. No one is perfect, right? marinara in pot

It helps on this recipe if you have a real Cuisinart. I have all three sizes: large, medium and small. Large for big batch sauces or soups, medium for garnish sauces, and small for chopping. I even have an extra coffee grinder for chopping herbs. Shoot, what did I just say about batshit crazy? Hah!

PS: you must use quality dried herbs, no substitutions. Get the organic selection at your local store and re-stock every two years. You will never be disappointed. If your dried herbs are so old you don’t remember when you purchased them, toss them! Not even worth cooking with.


3 tablespoons olive oil

3 cups chopped sweet yellow onion

3-4 cloves garlic, minced

2 teaspoons dried basil

2 teaspoons dried oregano

1 teaspoon dried thyme

1 teaspoon freshly ground sea salt

1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

½ teaspoon fennel seeds, crushed (this is the secret ingredient!)
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

5 pounds of fresh roma type tomatoes, cored & bottoms scored

NOTE: if using canned tomatoes off season, use three (3) 28oz cans of crushed organic tomatoes



Core and score the bottom of your tomatoes. Blanch in hot water until the skin lifts – no more than 1 minute – and place in cold water, then peel right away. Cut in half and de-seed as much as you can. Set aside in large bowl. Heat oil in large Dutch oven pot over medium heat. Add onion to pot and cook 4 minutes, stirring frequently. Add next 7 ingredients (to fennel seeds) and cook 1-2 minutes, stirring constantly. Stir in vinegar, cook less than one minute.marinara in jars Add your tomatoes and bring to a simmer. Cook over low heat on a simmer setting for one (1) hour or until sauce thickens. Stir occasionally. Pulse through a food processor to turn into the sauce consistency you desire. Makes 12 cups or 6 pint jars that you will be able to water-bath can. Follow canning recipe for tomato sauce.


Gratitude is My Attitude It Suites Me Just Fine

Adams Gulch, Ketchum Idaho

Everywhere I look lately, I see sunshine and a smile, and not necessarily from you but from the great outdoors. The trees as their leaves flutter in the fall breeze, the golden grasses in the Foothills stand tall as I hike past, billowy white clouds against a powder blue sky. The bright smile of a baby, innocent for the time being, sitting nearby at a local café table. The joy of watching PDA from a couple in love, no matter what age, walking along the greenbelt. Every morning my dog, Zeke, and I either hike the Ussery Trails or power walk the greenbelt on the south side of the Boise Rive trail system. Even though we see and hear the same sights every other day, there is always a new aspect of the view. I’m telling you, there is something going on out there these days!

I have always been grateful that I wake up happy, despite the circumstances. I need that self-boost on some days and when I don’t, maybe someone else does. Recently, I have been looking at things in a different light. Ok, I know it is Fall and the sun is dropping, the leaves are falling and the air is crisper. But I have just realized that everything is different for me when I look with this new set of eyes and ears I have acquired. I don’t know Zeke realizes it but I sure do.

For instance, this mid-summer it was smoky from the local wild fires and one morning after a cool evening, I could actually see the Owyhee Mountains. It was something as simple as that for a “thank you God” moment. This weekend I walked the flat part of Adams Gulch just so I could do more of a walking meditation instead of a run, plus keep an eye out on the dogs (Chewy joined us). I was the only person in that quiet canyon, surrounded by thick green trees as well as the aspen trees that had already dropped their golden leaves. When I called out to one of the dogs, my voice echoed! That brought a smile because I knew I was alone but it was perfectly fine this time. When is the last time you heard your echo? Remember calling out as a kid when you and your friends found just the right place?

I think most of us have watched a video or two of cute kids on the internet. That brought a smile, right? Okay, bring it on! I am choosing to be a kid during the month of October. I am going to play with abandon! I am going to find another echo chamber! I am grateful that I am alive and well and loved.

I wonder if any of my clients read my blog. Just fyi on the kid thing, the only exception will be when my phone rings for business, of course.

#attitude #grief #gratitude #lifelesson