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®

Did My Week End or Begin? #SundayOrMonday

When does your week end and when does your week begin? I suppose I can say Sunday or Monday, Monday being the wisest choice. After all, Saturdays and Sundays are supposed to be “off” days despite the fact that many of us work on weekends.apples-apricots

I had a tough week. It began early on with a migraine that started with the lights in my eyes. Each afternoon the following days brought that drone type of pain that followed decisions to stay home and be still. Tall task for a doer such as myself.

The headaches made me think, what am I doing to cause this? Is it stress? Is it the heat? It is the smoke from nearby wildfires? Or is it just me worrying? That is just why the apple picking get together came in to my aching head. I need to get out and do something again with the company of friends. To not have an agenda other than just be.

This Sunday, I went back to the property that had the apricots and this time our goal was to pick apples. The apples were green and tart but not so much so that you did not hesitate to take a second bite. As far as I am concerned, that makes the apples the perfect fruit for pies or cobblers or some other concoction for dessert later this year when the sun goes down much earlier than it does now. Unfortunately, the apples had fallen to worms over the course of the week we were absent, so we were not able to pick as many as we had hoped. Oh, but there were more apricots!!

Since I can work on the apples this week, I cleaned the apricots and pureed them. In a saucepan I made a simply syrup with raw sugar and let it cool completely. A quick trip to the grocery store, and fresh organic raspberries went immediately into the freezer. After a few hours, I mixed the simply syrup with the apricot puree and folded in the frozen raspberries. HINT: so that your sorbet does not get rock hard in your freezer, it’s a good idea to add a few tablespoons of vodka. Some folks add corn syrup but that stuff is not allowed in my house.Apri-Rasp sorbet

Tomorrow night, the apples will get peeled, cored and sliced. I will fill quart freezer bags and add a bit of fresh lemon juice and brown sugar. Each quart bag is the perfect amount of fruit for my favorite apple crisp recipe. I’ll probably vacuum seal what I end up with so it lasts longer in my freezer.

So, this Fall I will be blessed with the knack of being able to produce a dessert from the fruits of my labors.

Yeah, I know, corny. But you want a slice, don’t you?

#lifelesson #recipe #getridofstress #apricots #apples #sorbet #pie

I Picked From the Tree of #Friendship

I wanted to title this post, I Picked From the Tree of Life, but right now my tree is all about Friendship. My true blue friend, Dawn, called me today and I told her that I was feeling down about a loyalty issue with someone I considered a good friend. She gave me the inspiration for this blog post. Life and Friendships.

But, boy oh boy did that loyalty concern make me sorrowful. I was very hurt and I knew in my heart I had to find a way to let go. Let go of my feelings and my disappointment.  I realized that if I felt down or alone, that I could always pick up the phone for goodness sakes!

picking apricots
Picking apricots on a beautiful Idaho morning

So, what did I do this weekend to dispel the melancholy? Well, I picked apricots with other true blue friends! I mentioned that I had a secret apricot tree that was the mother lode of fruit, and two friends expressed an interest in picking. A quick check on a weather app clearly showed me that Saturday was the perfect Idaho summer day to embark on a journey to South Boise, with ladders and buckets. Invitations were sent via email and text messaging, and the time was set.

I have to admit that getting out and doing something was a zillion times better than moping! While we picked, we all shared a conversation that was unexpected for all of us. We talked about families, about friends, about what we had done in the past few weeks. We revealed how we felt about the events that shaped the past few weeks. We divulged feelings about something we had in common, our faith in God and our Buddhist practice. I learned a thing or two about these three friends that made my heart sing.

We picked from a tree that brought our friendship together and closer. What a special gift we gave to each other….

I came home feeling glorious. Oh, and about 7 or 8 pounds of apricots to do something about! I chose to can all that I could for a future use. I have a sorbet in mind….

jars ready to fill
Jars ready to fill for canning

I found a fantastic website that had a post specific to canning apricots which was my guide. I filled five quart jars and five pint jars, using a medium simple syrup and a dash of lemon juice. My happy place has always been my kitchen, even in my twenties when I had no idea what I was doing. You are going to laugh out loud, but I taught myself the basics of canning from You Tube. Seriously!

jars out of the pot
Jars just out of the pot, cooling on my favorite towel

So, now I have a cupboard full of canned apricots and memories that I will treasure. You don’t have to reach very far to find the right friends. You just have to pick from that friendship tree.

Life is good indeed.

#friendship #lifelesson #canning


Summer Travels with My Dog #RoadTrip

After Zeke’s diagnosis of severe congestive heart failure, I decided this was going to be the year to embark on as many adventures as we could. Thankfully, Zeke is responding well to the medications the cardiologist veterinarian prescribed. Let the travels begin, I exclaimed!MnZ ferry

Travelling with a pet has its advantages. You can talk out loud and another being is listening. You can stop more often and take in the scenery, because after all, your travel companion needs a pit stop as well. Right? You can share a crummy hamburger that is just OK for your consumption but a delicacy to any dog.

The most helpful tool was having a Thule cargo box. Packing as much as I could in the Thule gave Zeke more room in the back of my Ford Escape, which he is accustomed to in our everyday outings. My goal is to make sure he will be comfortable on our road trips, to be able to stretch his lanky body and do what dogs do best: snooze.

The medications Zeke is taking has made me more keenly aware that he does require more water. So, we simply scheduled stops every 1.5 hours. Thank goodness I can get him to “go” when I suggest it. I also made sure we had more than enough water for the entire trip. I honestly feel that it helped me to be hydrated as well.

I learned a few things about this road trip that I want to share, and one very significant item is simply walking your dog during your stops. A rest stop for us humans is not fulfilling enough for our dogs. When we take the time to walk and exercise our dogs, they are happier, more at ease and that leads to less anxiety.

Dog walking etiquette is always essential, but on the road requires a special set of guidelines so that you show consideration for the areas you happen to choose. Use smart phone apps such as Road Trippers or Around Me to find locations that will work for your dog.

Most rest areas have pet zones, but stops for snacks or meals are different. Find a place to park that is not near a business and make sure you are prepared to pick up. Be discreet and be aware of others. It’s a bonus to find a park for your pet break, and I was able to do this with a road trip app for my smart phone.

Of course, the leash is the most valuable tool we have for dog walking! When Zeke was a puppy he chewed leashes on a regular basis. I posted a photo on Twitter of another leash destroyed and Fozzy Dog replied to my tweet. They are a local Boise, Idaho company and if they paid attention to my Twitter feed, then I was going to pay attention to their product. This was 3 years ago and my leash is still intact!

The best part of this particular leash is that there is a pocket to stash bags. Honestly, being prepared when walking your dog for a break during a long drive makes life easier. Dog etiquette in these circumstances is upon the owner. Be respectful of your surroundings and the others will respect you.

Zeke and I had a great time driving to the Washington coast, spending a week in Friday Harbor and then extending our stay with five days in Gig Harbor. Sunshine, water, friends, other dogs, community meals, laughter, barking, relaxing. A number of Zeke bucket list items were checked. Yes, our first long road trip was a fantastic success!

On another note, this post from is helpful to keep dog etiquette in mind whether you are travelling or in your own neighborhood! This particular post should be a dog owner’s bible.  Do’s & Don’ts of Dog Ownership Etiquette


#roadtrip #roadtripwithadog #fozzydog #dogetiquette

We All Want the Same Thing, Don’t We? #BeTheChange

I wonder if this is true, do you think that we all want the same thing?








I could cite so many examples of what is troubling America, but instead, I prefer to take a different route, to focus on the positive. Positive action can be the catalyst to real change.

I have learned that when I let go of the worrying, I open myself to better circumstances. It’s a positive-negative magnetic occurrence. Be positive, good things come our way. Be negative and your world be as dark as your mood.

The best news story I watched this week was from Boise Police Department. Boise police chief visits with people on the greenbelt demonstrated how important it is to reach out to citizens. Boise Police Chief Bill Bones and Boise Parks and Recreation Director Doug Holloway rode their bikes on the Boise Greenbelt Friday to meet and visit with people. I had no idea that Chief Bones is a regular on the greenbelt. Impressive. Right?

Another story was of a group of inmates that helped their guard get medical attention after a heart attack. This one gave me a chuckle and yet warmed my heart. They went out on a limb, and they were in jail. See, people do care!

Pictures tell a thousand words and the photograph of two Dallas police officers posing with a demonstrator clearly shows everyone present were eager for peace. See it here on Twitter:

Last but not least, this eloquent father said what this nation needed to hear Kudos to Kellon Nixon, kudos to you.

Don’t let the bad guys win.


#lifelesson #bepositive #healingnation

Be the Change We All Want #BeTheChange

I am home Friday night, darn near emotionally frozen over the grief and anguish from the news I can’t seem to get away from in America this week. Wait, this year. No, wait again, since 2001.

change your world

Discrimination turned in to fear. Fear drove racism. Racism turned in to intolerance. Intolerance turned in to paranoia. Paranoia turned in to conflicts. Conflicts began wars.

I am going to make this simple: set aside “what matters” for a bit while you read my rant. Tonight I am praying, really praying. I pray for the blame game to stop. I pray we as a nation can start a conversation. I pray for solutions. I pray for ideas. Most of all, I pray for the violence to stop.

The veil of hatred and bitterness has crept in to our lives, in our minds, in our actions. Why are we allowing this? We can block people on Facebook and Twitter, but we seem to allow poor behavior in comment threads. Often times, I don’t even share an article because the comment thread is so negative and abusive.

What the heck!

I say, start the conversation. Share what others are doing in their own communities to make a difference. Offer solutions in meaningful conversations. Work with your community leaders. Find out what you can personally do. Stop whining and start doing. Stop complaining and start volunteering. Stop pointing the finger and start helping others. Do something, damn it!

Let’s see the positive train influence us as a nation for the better. Here are a few items to get you going!

Boise police chief visits with people on the greenbelt

Inmates break out of cell to save guard suffering heart attack




Road Trip Summer 2016 Destination: San Juan Islands & Friends

This is my year to travel with my dog, Zeke, visit friends, see familiar sights as well as take in newly discovered spaces. In April, we went to Salt Lake City and Park City in Utah. Right now we are in the San Juan Islands, north of Seattle, Washington. Being here is just as if we were in the mountains but surrounded by the ocean. The best of both worlds!

Me, Cheryl, Jenny

The past few days have been spent with sister friends that were a part of my new life after moving to Idaho in 1984. I was in my late 20’s, and moved to the Ketchum-Sun Valley area which turned out to be just where I was supposed to land. I met and continue to keep in touch with close friends despite the fact we have all moved back to towns that gave us opportunities in our lives and careers.  Our reunion this weekend has been full of laughter, smiles, jokes, stories, reminiscing about the crazy, silly things we did “back then”.

Pond day-PS
Jenny’s Pond, Pencil Sketch app

What we often forget is how we got to the place we are now. For us, we were meant to live in a picturesque mountain town in Idaho. Some of us have other special places that made the mark in our lives. Our destiny make take us on many paths; each one of us has a choice to follow one road or another. Hopefully, that route we choose will also helped us grow personally, professionally and spiritually. There is a special sort of bond to have lifelong friendships of picking up where we left off. We all have those. Or we should.

Pond sunset-PS
Sunset, Pencil Sketch app

An integral part of my travels this year will be with reconnecting with friends that have always extended the invitation to visit. I am going places. I will see new sights. I will be in the company of good friends and take in the love. I want to see the world outside my boundaries.

I do believe that I am in a discovery mode at this point in my life.

I am going to travel the road before me and see where it leads.

#lifelesson #travelwithmydog #friendships #happiness