Feel-good Friday: have a chill out weekend

A pleasurable daily Dog Walk at River Walk in Palm Springs

a short walking distance from where we stayed
a short walking distance from where we stayed in South Palm Canyon
something to smile about
something to smile about – view from where I sat for lunch at Thai Smile – just chillin!


Sometimes it’s nice to do nothing


Jewelry re-envisioned…think about it!

 Ooh la la…lucky me!

Photo: d. king
Photo: d. king

A piece of work! These earrings were a gift from a good friend who knows that I like mixing something old with something new and a preference for pieces that can be worn with everything from jeans to a cocktail dress.

This pair is perfect because they go with everything and they don’t bother my overly sensitive ears one bit.  Even my diamond studs which have a tiny amount of nickel in the backings bother my ears.jewelry2

The designers make each piece by hand by incorporating new ideas and they use simple tools with old recyclable materials from scrap metals like aluminum, sterling, brass or copper sourced from their various travels.  Some feature landscapes of the West and the like.

What a coincidence that just last year I bought two pairs at the outdoor VillageFest which takes place every Thursday evening in downtown Palm Springs.

a necklace incorporating polymer clay with a western design
Southwest polymer clay necklace

Their one-of-a-kind creations are found in various galleries and gift shops throughout the U.S. and online at Etsy.  To purchase:


Find out more at:  http://coppergulchdesign.com/




Travel: Wining in Santa Ynez Valley

Once upon a time there was a picture-perfect country with unending rolling hills with ranches and horse trails.  There were olive farms, countless vineyards and a lot of nice wine made from their good grapes. This place still exists. It is the essence of the California Central Coast that lies in beautiful Santa Ynez Valley, located in Santa Barbara County (photo below).


 It’s where I discovered at least three outstanding Pinot Noirs (one of my favorite reds) out of the several excellent ones I sampled.

Wine Merchant Cafe
Wine Merchant Cafe

Why am I so into Pinot?  I don’t know; it’s like a thing with me.

The erratic, inconsistent counterpart to my favorite white – which is Chardonnay.  They’re so unpredictable and difficult to get just-s0-right (for my liking).

I started to pay more attention to this fickle but food-friendly wine right after watching the movie “Sideways” starring one of my favourite actors Paul Giamatti.

From the wine soaked movie Sideways
From the wine soaked movie Sideways

I think this movie really helped put places like Los Olivos on the map.  If there was only one place to visit while in the area it had to be the Hitching Post in Buellton, Ca.  It was where *Maya (played by Virginia Madsen) worked as a bartender.  And as it so happens I went at the start of Santa Ynez restaurant week (similar to dine out in Vancouver) so I started with a highly recommended grilled artichoke appetizer which was superb followed by a steak dinner and a take-home bottle of HP Kicking Post Pinot Noir ’09.  But it didn’t end here.20160126_105041The next day I visited Los Olivos Wine Merchant & Café (also in the movie) and sampled some premium tastes of the Central Coast – all excellent choices.

Los Olivos Wine Merchant Cafe
Los Olivos Wine Merchant Cafe

For 20 years, The Los Olivos Wine Merchant & Café has been a local favorite and a must stop for anyone wanting to experience Santa Barbara wine country. It stands at the center and heart of Los Olivos. This laid-back friendly town dates back to the 1860’s. There’s casual cafés, gourmet restaurants, lovely little boutiques & festivals throughout the year for art, jazz and olive lovers.  Bring your cowboy boots.

Fess was a former Daniel Boone and Davy Crockett star.
Fess was a former Daniel Boone and Davy Crockett star.

Then it was off to the Fess Parker Winery which I must fess up (pun intended) to say I didn’t expect the wines to be as superior tasting as they really are.

The last stop was nearby Los Alamos and a watering hole at The 1880 Union Hotel, a 14-room landmark that’s hosted many a gunslinger of yesteryear –  a one-exit rural township in northern Santa Barbara County, on the way up to Santa Maria. It’s owned by actor Kurt Russell.  His GoGi label, inspired by his childhood nickname (and pronounced GO-Ghee), launched in 2008, the culmination of the actor’s own decades-long love for fine wine.

Hey, the bartender looks a lot like that guy in "Hateful eight"
Hey, the bartender looks like a cleaner version of that guy in The Hateful Eight


1880 Hotel
Los Alamos 1880 Hotel

I’m sure over time this small cowboy town of Los Alamos will open up to become more of a wine mecca.

20160126_135516Although it lacks in plenty of places to eat wouldn’t you know I ended up at the opening of a restaurant named appropriately…”Plenty”.  Best grilled cheese sandwich!

Maya (Sideways): “I like to think about the life of wine . . . How it’s a living thing. I like to think about what was going on the year the grapes were growing; how the sun was shining; if it rained. I like to think about all the people who tended and picked the grapes. And if it’s an old wine, how many of them must be dead by now. I like how wine continues to evolve, like if I opened a bottle of wine today it would taste different than if I’d opened it on any other day, because a bottle of wine is actually alive. And it’s constantly evolving and gaining complexity. That is, until it peaks, like your ’61. And then it begins its steady, inevitable decline . . . And it tastes so fucking good.20160126_105138

Have you been?  


Music/Culture: Piano Bar

I can never resist sitting around a piano bar, especially in Palm Springs where they’re an institution. This year marks the 100th birthday of Frank Sinatra.  That’s Life!

Melvyn's - photo: d. king
Melvyn’s – photo: d. king

Sing us a song, you’re the piano man

Sing us a song tonight

Well, we’re all in the mood for a melody
And you’ve got us feelin’ alright – Billy Joel

jumping out of my cake
jumping out of my cake

For my birthday last week there were eight of us at Tropicale and after dinner six of us escaped to the piano lounge to hear a man with a story who has  been playing for over 40 years with renowned people such as Frank Sinatra.  Just a pianist and a bass guitarist playing familiar standard classics mixed with a little jazz which put me in the mood to order a cocktail I may otherwise never bother to order at home (especially since I don’t like the taste of liquor) and don’t even know what’s in most of the drinks. Something like an old fashioned because I like the name but I decided on a ginger martini.

I settled for an Appletini
I settled for an Appletini to go along with the mood at Melvyn’s.  This one’s on Frank. Photo: d. king

The few cozy little tables that were set up around the piano and the music they were playing tempted us to want to linger longer. So there we were…

then on Saturday night I ended up at Melvyn’s piano bar (at the Ingleside Inn) to experience that same old fashioned feeling before leaving town.  The place was packed and when Melvyn (the owner who was in house that evening) found out I was from Vancouver he told me he recently had a private dinner with Jimmy Pattison (a local billionaire businessman) at the Frank Sinatra compound that Pattison stays at when in Palm Springs. I won’t mention some of the other things he said cause he’s been around a long time and he’s met everyone (photos of him with everyone from Frank Sinatra and Lucille Ball to Cher take up at least one wall). Paintings of Sinatra, Marilyn Monroe, Jimmy Dean & Elvis Presley from renowned celebrity pop artist Dan Tarantola are on another wall.

The evening was lots of fun. All ages enjoying campy, familiar, fun, feel-good upbeat tunes. I need to find me a piano bar at home.melvyn3

If I were mayor it would be mandatory in every restaurant

cause I’m an uptown/downtown kinda gal!

Feel-good Friday: it’s a blonde thing

You can’t change the world overnight but you can change your hair in an hour and the world will be a better place!

I'm feeling Blonde all over
Feeling Blonde all over

Not that I need to have more fun in my life but it doesn’t hurt to find out if it gets better 

Finally a man that understands my worth
Finally a man that understands I’m really a princess.

We women need some change now and then and what better way than to start with a new haircut or hair color.  For me it’s usually color because I prefer to keep some length. I don’t take too many chances with cuts. I took chances when I was younger and wasn’t always crazy about the results – especially the perm or the Mia Farrow pixie cut that I had no say in (at five years old, on account of my mom having to cut my very long hair short because I had a huge tangle that she couldn’t comb out.  She grabbed the scissors and started chopping). Now I understand why dogs get embarrassed when they have a shaved look.  I never forgot but I did end up forgiving her years later.

The Inside Job
The Inside Job

For color I’ve had beautiful black and brown, awesome auburn, really red and various shades of blond hair.  In the past I’ve loved my long black hair and my vibrant red (which was a pleasant surprise but very hard to keep looking fresh not to mention the expense – darn it!). It must be noted that the Brazilian hairstylists do the best highlights ever. And as it turns out the color that suits me best is a rich auburn.

Four years ago I went to my hairdresser to try blond again.  My regular hairstylist was not around and a new guy stepped in and suggested I leave it up to him and try something different and before I knew it I was a redhead.  A shocking bright redhead… and he didn’t even tell me he was doing that.  That’s how stupid trusting I was. For me it was stepping out of my comfort zone and I almost started to cry.  But then I got lots of compliments (although at first I was sure everyone was lying to make me feel better) and realized that it really did suit me in an unnaturally sexy kind of way and decided to keep up my new red facade. I even changed my makeup and clothing to match my new hair – started wearing more green (researching photos of Julianne Moore as my muse).

Then after about three weeks all my redhead dreams faded away and I was a brassy shade of reddish blondish brown and could not locate that same hairstylist fill-in again for the life of me (believe me, I really tried – these people are so transient it’s not even funny).

Synopsis: I think red hair on certain women looks dynamite and shiny black hair is very striking.  Then there are the various shades of blond.  And it’s not even that I find blonde hair makes every woman look younger.  It’s not about that. Many times it has the opposite effect. So then, why blond?

Because as strange as it sounds all women secretly want to feel what it’s like to be a blond even if they know it doesn’t really suit them, if that makes any sense (but never question it).  It’s similar to putting on a pair of high heels. The effect is more lightness (ha, ha) fun & sexy even if temporarily. The best thing about hair is that it can be changed back as quickly as a trip to the hairdresser or drugstore.  Infact this latest hair job came from a box at the drugstore and done in a hotel room by a very patient person…moi!


I like to feel blonde all over – Marilyn Monroe


Fashion that will knock your socks off

SOCKS are flying off the shelves.  You can tell a lot about a person by the type of socks they wear.  20160116_135621I’m trying, I’m trying but the only socks that appeal to me are sock monkeys.  Remember I’m the one who prefers going barefoot whenever possible. I only wear socks when necessary like when I’m wearing pants with shoes that require them.  And usually it’s a black pair with black pants, grey with grey, brown with brown…you get the picture.  And they must be thin enough to wear with shoes but have just the right amount of elasticity to not fall down around the ankles (like I embarrassingly experienced with a very expensive pair of pantyhose).

Superhero Socks
Superhero Socks


I wear white sport socks for running and that’s about it.  My previous sock flamboyancy came out once when I wore a pair that had colorful toe separaters (yup, one for each toe) that a friend brought me back from Japan (you know, the Japanese are so fashion forward and prone to taking risks even with their toes).  Oh; and one time I tried wearing those thin nylon short lacy ones in black with open-toed Manolos and a skirt but the look is very trendy even though I liked the idea and they were from Wolford.  It seemed so naughty school-girl – so not me (the school-girl part anyway).

Overall I’m sad to report that I’m a predictable and boring sock person. There are new boutiques specializing only socks and even some of the upscale stores are featuring ones meant to be seen (why else would you buy flamingo socks if not to show them off?) and something for every type of person – I’m still not on board. But I must admit they’re a shoe-in for attention.  Never say never!

Leopard is a neutral now
Leopard is a neutral 

How about you – what kind of sock person are you?








How about you – are you the crazy sock type?

Goodbye Glenn – there’s gonna be a heartache tonight

Vaguery is the primary tool of songwriters” – Glenn Freyhotelcalifornia2Oh; there’s been too many losses in the entertainment industry in such a short time span.  Talented British actor Alan Rickman passed away less than a week ago (days after I watched a new movie he’s in that’s not even released yet), and only four days after David Bowie.  On that very same day, Celine Dion’s extremely smart manager husband René Angélil passed. Now Glenn Frey. This news came just days after I took a photo of “Hotel California” which I instagrammed with the captioned “some dance to remember, some dance to forget – with no alibis”.  Strange, right? And like Bowie, so unexpected.

my photo
my photo

I get this feeling I may know you

As a lover (I wished) and a friend
But this voice keeps whispering in my other ear
Tells me I may never see you again

‘Cause I get a peaceful easy feeling
And I know you won’t let me down
‘Cause I’m already standing on the ground.

What can I say about Glenn Frey that hasn’t been said before? Not too much.  Except that my BFF and I met Glenn Frey and Don Henley at an after party following their Hotel California concert performance in Montreal at the height of their career that they personally invited us to.  They were very pleasant and probably a bit tired after the exceptional show.  Jimmy Buffett was the opening act at the Montreal Forum that night.  I remember totally ignoring him.  At the time Hotel California was my favourite album and I had a big crush on Glenn Frey.  I must say once again, we were not groupies (only because we were very young, they were very famous and a lot of girls would have done anything to even be in the same room).  Anyway, it must also be noted that it didn’t seem like they were all that interested either.  We were not easy targets although like I said, I was crushing on Glenn because he was not only good looking and talented but there was also something naturally down home & unaffected about him which made him all that more attractive.  And he spent a chunk of time talking to us like we were already friends (“but Glenn, can’t I be your girlfriend? – move out of my way Jimmy”).  Sigh!hotelcalifornia4

These guys were the first ones to get my mind Tiffany-twisted, and wanting a Mercedes Benz.

Oh; yeah there’s more….

The Eagles were one of the great forces of 1970’s rock.  Frey co-wrote and sang most of the Eagles hits, including Life in the Fast Lane, Desperado, Take It Easy, Tequila Sunrise, Lyin’ Eyes, Heartache Tonight and of course the infamous Hotel California.  He was the Lennon to Don Henley’s McCartney.

One of the most famous Album Covers of all timie
One of the most famous Album Covers of all time

Hotel California is ostensibly about a luxury hotel visit that crosses over to the dark side – but it is really an allegory about the hedonistic lifestyle the musicians enjoyed in the 1970s.   Some of the wilder interpretations of that song have been amazing. It was really about the excesses of American culture and certain girls they knew (not us, I think). But it was also about the uneasy balance between art and commerce.  And a bunch of other stuff.

So Glenn… thanks for the memories, the music and giving us food for thought:hotelcalifornia3

Don’t let the sound of your own wheels
drive you crazy
Lighten up while you still can
don’t even try to understand
Just find a place to make your stand
and take it easy.

Maybe order another tequila sunrise

And always make music







Quinoa Stuffed Bell Peppers

Here is a fast, easy, healthy recipe that most people will enjoy as a side dish or something different to take to a potluck.  quionoa3When I’ve made these on occasion, people really seem to enjoy them (unless everyone is lying which can happen). For vegetarians, just omit the meat.  You can use black beans and corn to turn it into something more southwestern and melt cheese overtop.  Use your imagination – they’re pretty foolproof.


4-6 large red (or variety of colors) bell peppers

1 Tbsp. olive oil

½ large white onion, diced

2 cloves garlic, finely minced or pressed

1 lb. ground turkey

1 tsp. red pepper flakes

1 Tbsp. fresh parsley, chopped

1 cup cooked tricolor quinoa

2 cups tomato and basil pasta sauce


  • Cup the tops off the peppers and remove all seeds. Set aside.
  • Heat large saucepan on medium heat. Drizzle olive oil in the pan, toss in diced onions, cook until onions start to turn clear (about 1 minute).  Add garlic, and stir.  Let onions and garlic simmer for 30 seconds before adding ground turkey.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.  Sprinkle in red pepper flakes and half the parsley; stir occasionally.  Save remaining parsley for garnish.
  • Once turkey is no longer pink, turn off the heat and drain excess liquid. Add 1 cup cooled quinoa and 2 cups pasta sauce, stir to incorporate.
  • Stuff each pepper with the filling (add a bit of cheese to melt overtop if you want) then place peppers upright in a small baking dish filled with a little water. Cover with tinfoil and bake in 350 degree oven for about 5 minutes until peppers are  slightly soft.  Some people prefer using a microwave to steam the peppers covered in plastic for 5 minutes.
  • Either way, cautiously remove them and plate the peppers individually. Garnish with parsley.

Serves 4 – 6

A few health benefits for Bell Peppers, Ground Turkey & Quinoa:

Peppers: the highest amount of Vitamin C in a bell pepper is concentrated in the red variety. Red bell peppers contain several phytochemicals and carotenoids, particularly beta-carotene, which lavish you with antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits. The capsaicin in bell peppers has multiple health benefits. They contain plenty of vitamin C, which powers up your immune system and keeps skin youthful.

Turkey: when you compare ground turkey with its beef counterpart, they’re relatively even. But ground turkey comes in a fat-free version that could be the best option for your heart. It’s a food low in both sodium and saturated fat, making it a great choice in general—and especially solid for those watching their blood pressure or cholesterol. Turkey also packs a nutritional punch with a healthy dose of B-complex vitamins, which help regulate cholesterol levels and promote healthy blood circulation.  Just make sure the packaging specifies ground turkey breast and that it’s labled at least 90% lean. (If not, there’s probably dark meat and skin mixed in, adding unwanted calories and fat.)

Quinoa: in comparison to cereal grasses like wheat, quinoa is higher in fat content and can provide valuable amounts of heart-healthy fats like monounsaturated fat (in the form of oleic acid). Quinoa can also provide small amounts of the omega-3 fatty acid, alpha-linolenic acid (ALA). Given this higher fat content, researchers initially assumed that quinoa would be more susceptible to oxidation and resulting nutrient damage. However, recent studies have shown that quinoa does not get oxidized as rapidly as might be expected given its higher fat content. This finding is great news from a nutritional standpoint. The processes of boiling, simmering, and steaming quinoa do not appear to significantly compromise the quality of quinoa’s fatty acids, allowing us to enjoy its cooked texture and flavor while maintaining this nutrient benefit. Food scientists have speculated that it is the diverse array of antioxidants found in quinoa—including various members of the vitamin E family like alpha-, beta-, gamma- and delta-tocopherol as well as flavonoids like quercetin and kaempferol—that contribute to this oxidative protection.

Source: let’s eat – OC Family

Let me know if you like this recipe

Lifestyle: Laguna Living


It’s where I met Aristotle, a handsome 34 year old native New Yorker who blurted out “I love you” within a minute of meeting me.  I immediately fell for him but he was living with someone else. Then, when I left hesitatingly he said “later baby.” Such is life. I saved his photo for last.laguna10laguna11

This seven-mile stretch of sand and surf is located midway between Los Angeles and San Diego.  It offers a year-round retreat for art lovers, nature enthusiasts and beachgoers. 

A re-cap of my second visit to Laguna Beach and certainly not my last.20160111_151324

Some Abstract
Some Abstract
Sign Posts
Artful Sign Posts
Sapphire's fine coffees, cheeses, wines & prepared foods.
Sapphire’s globally inspired fine coffees, cheeses, wines & prepared foods. They cater too.
Surfer dude. My drawing from a from photo I took.
Surfer dude. My drawing from a photo I took.


The main shopping street
The main shopping street
Design mixed with surf and upscale boutiques
Design stores mixed with surf and upscale boutiques.  Lots of ART Galleries.laguna1


The best salads, rice bowls & gelatos
The best salads, rice bowls & frozen yogurt.
This is Michael. He's the friendly official "unoffcial" greeter of Laguna.
This is Michael. He is the friendly official “unoffcial” greeter of Laguna.
This is Aristotle, my 34-year-old looker that talks back!



Photos: d. king

Health – on the seedy side

CHIA vs FLAX?  I don’t know if one is better than the other so I use both.

Chia Seeds
Chia Seeds

Both are considered super-seeds. At least Flax was spared the humility of being sold as a pet.  Let’s focus on chia seeds for now.

Not so long ago chia seeds were most well known for being spread onto terracotta pottery so that they would grow fur to resemble some kind of animal.  I never had one of those and thought them to be in the same category as the useless pet rock.

But then we found out that the seeds are much more useful than for making novelty items; they’re incredibly beneficial for your health.  So to be on the healthy safe side I put a handful into my vitamix to add to smoothies and top granola and oatmeal with the potent little seeds that have similar benefits to Flax except they don’t have to be ground prior to consumption, and they don’t go rancid as quickly either.

Chia seeds, along with mint, were a prized food to the ancient Aztecs and Mayans. “Chia” is the ancient Mayan word for strength, and the tiny seeds were valued for their energy-boosting properties.

A Rich Source of Healthy Fats and Nutrients

Chia seeds are a quick and easy-to-use source of protein, healthy fats, dietary fiber, minerals, vitamins, and antioxidants, all rolled into one neat package. That’s a lot to boast about.

20160112_100741In addition, chia seeds contain a number of additional phytochemicals, each with its own unique benefits. This includes myricetin, quercetin, and kaempferol, known for their antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and anti-cancer properties, and caffeic acid.

As it goes with the latest “IT” health boosters, you can buy it in other forms like the “Mamma Chia” energy drink shown here which has other added health benefits like spinach, kale, mint & spirulina and tastes similar to bubble tea.

Do you use Chia?