Anza Borrego Desert

agua caliente


For me there is only the traveling on paths that have heart, on any path that may have heart, and the only worthwhile challenge is to traverse its full length -and there I travel looking, looking breathlessly.” ― Carlos Castaneda



Last weekend we went camping in Anza Borrego Desert at the Agua Caliente campgrounds. When we travel here, it’s like being transported to another world. The fact is, it’s only 1.5 hours from home in Temecula, California.

I’ve always been in awe of the desert. From its rugged landscape, to other-worldly feeling, it is a wonderful place to reconnect, recharge and unplug-being without cell reception was a major bonus.

Many describe the desert as desolate, lonely, bare and infertile. To me, the desert is a magical place. It offers the choice to really slow down (more here), explore the fauna and beauty and just be. One late afternoon, I sat motionless and watched the beauty of afternoon light, dance across the mountain scape into a beautiful show of color. Nature has a way of making me see so much, feel so much.

Apple Cider Braised Cabbage


Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

Though I’ve never been a fan of corned beef and cabbage (I grew up with the smell pouring out of my Grandmothers house regularly), I am a huge fan of Tom Colicchio from the Top Chef. As a subscriber to Food and Wine magazine, I enjoy trying new recipes. This one here looked delicious, so I had a go at making it. It is a little labor intensive, however the finished dish is well worth the time and effort. Enjoy!

You will need:

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

One 1 1/2-pound head of green cabbage, cut through the core into 6 wedges

1/2 cup chopped bacon (2 ounces)

1 medium onion, halved through the core and thinly sliced lengthwise

1/2 cup apple cider vinegar

2 cups apple cider

1 tablespoon unsalted butter

Salt and Pepper


In a large, deep skillet, heat the olive oil until shimmering. Add the cabbage wedges cut side down and cook over moderate heat, turning once, until browned, 6 to 8 minutes total. Transfer to a plate.

Add the bacon to the skillet and cook over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until rendered but not crisp, about 5 minutes. Add the onion and a generous pinch of salt and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened and just starting to brown, about 10 minutes. Stir in the vinegar and simmer over moderately high heat until reduced by half, about 3 minutes. Add the cider and bring to a boil. Nestle the cabbage wedges in the skillet, cover and braise over moderately low heat, turning once, until tender, about 20 minutes. Using a slotted spoon or spatula, transfer the cabbage to a platter and tent with foil.

Boil the sauce over moderately high heat, stirring occasionally, until slightly thickened, about 5 minutes. Remove the skillet from the heat and swirl in the butter. Season the sauce with salt and pepper; spoon over the braised cabbage and serve.


Alternative Schooling


I have been reading some interesting books like (this) and (this) to learn more about alternative schooling. Our family has been homeschooling for nearly seven years and have been really happy about our decision. However, more recently, through curiosity, I discovered the Sudbury Valley School model. The idea is to let kids lead their own learning through self direction-without the coercion of adults. I was interested to know more…

At Sudbury Valley School, children arrive at school and have no agenda. There’s no set curriculum, no classrooms with rows and rows of kids being “schooled”. They are free to do anything they want (this is a democratic school, so there are some rules to abide by). If they choose to play outside, they’re free to do so. Play cards with friends, same. Visit the library and read-they can do that too. Here, children decide what they are going to give their time and energy to. Adults are on hand if a student should inquire about further study in a particular subject. Only then does an adult help them understand what it is they want to learn more about.

Daniel Greenberg, Founder of Sudbury Valley, says “It’s the hardest school to be in because they have to ask themselves what they really want to do. Children need to prioritize their time. This allows them to find out who they are.” It’s about discovering the self. Isn’t this what we want for our children? We want them to discover who they are and to follow their passions and dreams until ultimately, they are living a real life that they created; not a life where they have been told/manipulated/coerced to go down some superficial “safe path”- get good grades, get accepted into college, get a high paying career, and spend the rest of your existence living up to others’ expectations or in some un-fullfilling job that you hate. Through unschooling, like the Sudbury Valley model, children learn on their own by making decisions for themselves. Not by adults force feeding them their own ideas of what they think is right for them.

The most interesting point Daniel Greenberg makes is that “When you wanted to learn something, how did you do it? You found something you were curious about, and you immersed yourself in studying it. You had a desire to progress in your learning.” For me, all of the things I have ever become interested in I have done because of a natural curiosity. No one has forced or manipulated me into thinking I “needed” to do something.

I’ve seen this with my own children. They have their own wills, their own internal compass. My girls are so different from each other. I have witnessed through homeschooling my girls, how they get frustrated when it’s time to do a subject they don’t care about. They are not interested. They just “get it over with”. Over the years I began to understand their learning styles. I thought this was important. Truthfully, I thought by knowing this, I would be better able to teach them. I have come to the realization that it’s not my job to “teach” them. They will do it for themselves.

Over the last week we’ve been unschooling, or rather, deschooling. The funny thing is, it’s been rather enlightening to me. The kids are less emotional. Less fussy. There is less tension in our home. The girls laugh together, play together. They have been spending a lot more time outside, riding skateboards, exploring ponds, catching tadpoles, playing Scrabble, learning calligraphy, drawing more, reading more. I see no absence of learning happening. I’m simply allowing them to do what makes them happy. Ultimately, isn’t this, as a parent what we want for our children- to be happy? I think it’s a worthy endeavor for all of us, especially children.

Local Spotlight: Truly Madly Sweetly Bake Shop

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It’s time for dessert

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Indecision on what to get?

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Life is good!

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Lots of choices…

truly madly sweetly


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Vanilla and strawberry butter cream

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Friends and sweet things go hand in hand


I am introducing a new segment I’m going to call “Local Spotlight”.

Temecula is a really special place. I have lived here a long time and have seen it grow from a small town to what it is today. It is a great place to set down roots (super family oriented) and is becoming well known for it’s beautiful wine country, award winning cuisine, great weather year round- all with a laid back feel.

We have many special “gems” I plan on spotlighting in the future. The first place I would love to recognize comes just in time for Valentine’s Day. It’s also pretty high on my list because it’s a family owned business. We love to support our local community whenever we can.

Truly Madly Sweetly Bake Shop specializes in cheesecakes, cupcakes, cookies and specialty desserts. Our family enjoys visiting here for one of their yummy cupcakes. The chocolate and strawberry butter cream cupcake is by far our favorite!

Truly Madly Sweetly Bake Shop is the perfect place to meet up with friends, take home to celebrate a special occasion or just because. Everyone loves a sweet treat!

Remember to have fun


     Life is too important to be taken seriously.” -Oscar Wilde


         Bubbles aren’t something I have around the house anymore (I quickly made up the wand and solution). As I took this picture, Natalie and I were laughing at how gigantic her bubble was. Sadly, bubble blowing moments like this left with the other things children naturally grow out of- like training wheels and diapers. At eight and thirteen, the are growing up fast and the years have just flown by. This got me thinking- were never too old for bubbles. They make everyone happy. They make everyone smile.

        When the girls were small, bubble blowing was something we did nearly everyday. Chasing bubbles, singing while running around in the bubbles, the fun with bubbles was endless. “We don’t stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing.”  Thanks for that, George Bernard Shaw.



Pork Ramen inspired by Momofuku


I have been watching Momofuku‘s David Chang in “The Mind of a Chef series” and am inspired by his play on food. He likes to experiment with ingredients, tweak them and make them fresh. I like that.

Though his stock has way more depth to it and the time involved to do so takes a considerable amount, I do believe a simpler way can be prepared when you don’t have a lot of time. And look at those fun shaped carrots. What kid wouldn’t have fun eating that?

Here’s what you need:

Ramen noodles

Chicken stock- I love “Better than Bouillon” brand

Green beans- trim the ends

Large carrots- cut into designs

pork shoulder- sliced

2-3 scallions- chopped

Start heating up chicken stock in pot. Boil the pork shoulder in a separate pot until cooked through and remove from water and place onto cutting board. Cook the green beans and carrots separately also, adding them back into bowl when ready to eat. Once the stock is near boiling, add the noodles. Cook for just a few minutes. Ladle broth and noodles into bowls and add the pork, beans, carrots and chopped scallions.

Into The Wild


Albert Einstein once said “Look deep into nature and you will understand everything better.”

Going into the wild does so much. For me, it clears the head, recharges the spirit, opens up the senses and invigorates the soul. It really is the only therapy one needs.