Feel-good Friday: California Coasting


Monterey + Carmel

When the desert got too hot to handle I decided to stay a few nights with friends who live along the coast.

Top L (product logo from my friends company Reforestation Technologies International – RTi. They did the logo then by chance came across the same vintage truck shown on the logo which was for sale and bought it.  Top R (view from Sakura Japanese Restaurant in Monterey) Bottom L (their beautiful dogs Beau & Chase).  We want to live Carefree; at least that’s the intent. 

It had been several years since I’d been to Monterey and Carmel but I remember liking it a lot. There’s not much not to like about it.  For starters it’s pretty picturesque especially if you take the famous 17-Mile Drive to Pebble Beach, one of the most scenic drives in the world.  You twine through the impressive Del Monte Forest and take in the hypnotic coastline and golf’s greatest landmarks.  Which leads me (and everyone else who does the windy drive) to the beach town called Carmel-by-the-Sea.  The name has a nice ring to it don’t you think?

Top L, middle, R and bottom L taken at historic Mission Ranch (currently owned by Clint Eastwood). I will blog about this separately because it’s so deserving.  I’m standing by the truck Clint Eastwood drove in the movie Bridges of Madison County. Bottom middle taken at Cypress Inn (garden restaurant) owned by Doris Day.  Bottom R – Carmel’s never ending white sandy beach.  Ahhhh…

Carmel is a fairytale.  It’s known for museums, art galleries, a library and little cottages strewn along cobblestone streets.   Unique local shops and restaurants complete this charming village built on the Monterey Peninsula.  A great plus is it’s also dog friendly, even on the beach.  Thank you Doris Day. She was responsible for making Carmel doggy heaven here on earth.  One more reason to want to move there.

Five Fun Facts about Carmel

Clint Eastwood was once the mayor but it has been more than 30 years and visitors continue to ask Is Clint Eastwood still the mayor?

 No chain restaurants.

Whaaat? With no fast food restaurants the city’s enchanting eateries and tasting rooms offer a full range of cuisine and wine tasting all within walking distance from the over 40 hotels and inns.

I love this one: No street addresses. Unwilling to see their village become citified, Carmel’s founding fathers rejected the practice house- to-house mail delivery in favor of a central post office. To this day, there are still no addresses, parking meters or street lights, and no sidewalks outside of Carmel’s downtown commercial area. Those seeking directions receive hints such as fifth house on the east side of Torres Street, green trim, driftwood fence or by the legendary names adorning most houses, such as Hansel or Sea Urchin. It is, by the way, bad luck to change the name on a Carmel cottage.  And why would you?  Afterall I want to be Carefree .

There used to be an unusual law of prohibiting selling and eating ice cream on public streets.  In 1986 Clint Eastwood and the new council elected along with him, overturned the ordinance and other similar laws that they considered to be too restrictive to businesses and visitors. Dirty Harry to the rescue!

This is the best:

You need a permit to wear high heels?

Though often mistakenly thought of as an urban myth, the municipal code of Carmel bans wearing shoes having heels more than 2 inches in height or with a base of less than one square inch unless the wearer has obtained a permit for them. While the local police do not cite those in violation of the ordinance, this seemingly peculiar law was authored by the city attorney in 1963 to defend the city from lawsuits resulting from wearers of high-heeled shoes tripping over irregular pavement distorted by tree roots. Permits are available without charge at City Hall.

Whew!  I was worried for a sec.  But for safety purposes I’ll definitely carry a measuring tape in my bag.

Images: d. king (except for the one I’m in – someone else took that).



Beauty: for the love of Coconuts

The Coconut Collection

Marc Jacobs Beauty

launched a series of products based on one of the most versatile fruits for skin, hair, and health.  Inspired by Jacobs’ love of coconut water and the glow of youthful-looking, radiant, well-hydrated skin.

Photo: Courtesy of Marc Jacobs Beauty

Four new products make up the limited-edition Coconut Fantasy Collection, and model Adwoa Aboah is the face of a beautiful new campaign shot by David Sims.

The coconut-themed collection includes old and new favorites, in sleek and Instagrammable white packaging with rose gold accents. The matte O!Mega Bronzer Coconut Perfect Tan compact is a giant bronzer, infused with a coconut scent. The Eye-Conic Multi-Finish Eye Shadow Palette in Fantascene comes with seven cream, peach, coral, and warming copper and chocolate shades in matte, satin, and metallic finishes.

The collection is out now for a limited time, at Sephora, Bergdorf Goodman, and Neiman Marcus.

Image: Marc Jacobs Website

taken from thecut.com

Dishing: Blackened Fish

Fresh & Flavorful

Photo: Taste of Home (this is blackened Halibut)

This is such a delicious way to serve up mildly flavoured quick-cooking fish like Tilapia, Perch, Cod or Red Snapper.  Perfect for rice bowls or tacos.

After making this you have options to serve the fish alongside fluffy rice & veggies or as the main ingredient for tacos.  Rockfish like Perch or Snapper is perfect for fish tacos. The fish will flake apart nicely so you can stuff your tacos with it along with fresh salsa (see my fire-roasted corn salsa recipe below) diced avocado, extra cilantro and fresh squeezed lime.

INGREDIENTS for 4 people

  • 2 tablespoons garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon onion powder
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano
  • 1 tablespoon dried thyme
  • 1 tablespoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 tablespoon pepper
  • 2-1/2 teaspoons paprika
  • 4 fillets (4 ounces each)
  • 2 tablespoons butter


In a large resealable plastic bag, combine the first eight ingredients. Add fillets, two at a time, and shake to coat.

In a large cast-iron skillet, cook fillets in butter over medium heat for 3-4 minutes on each side or until fish flakes easily with a fork. Yield: 4 servings.

Originally published as Blackened Halibut in Simple & Delicious April/May 2012.

Photos: d. king  (Snapper for Two)

Fire Roasted Corn + Black Bean Salsa:

In a large bowl add chopped grape tomatoes, red onion, cilantro, jalapeño, black beans + fire roasted corn niblets (You can toast them over the stove to save time but it would be better grilled right from the husk.)  Toss with freshly squeezed lime juice + coarse salt. Add chopped avocado.  Little street tacos, rice on the side and you’re done.  It’s delicious.



Monday Mood – Imageville’s Tacoachella

For the love of tacos, margaritas, friendship, parties with people you’ve never met and photography.  Not really in that order.  Before leaving Palm Springs my friend Tammy invited me to talented photographer Gary Dorothy’s amazing  garden + outdoor space to celebrate the sweet 16 year anniversary of his gorgeous gallery Imageville.  I admired a piece she and her husband David have of his in their home. It’s obvious that Gary also has a good eye for party detail. Complete with tended Margarita bar and a help yourself to tacos smorgasbord. And any Mexican-theme party would be totally incomplete without Bichon Frise piñatas right? Exactly. Simply divine!

Image: Gary Dorothy Photography

This from California’s Prestige Magazine Palm Springs Life:

You think you’ve seen our mountains, palm trees, architecture, and iconic places. Then you see Gary Dorothy’s photographs and realize you haven’t really seen them after all. The owner of Imageville — his gallery in downtown Palm Springs (La Plaza) has a curious eye that sees the desert from a different perspective.

Gary Dorothy Photography

I also wanted to include the Palm Springs Modern-style
home to convey what we who live here see in most neighborhoods, period pieces that reflect a simpler time long past but somehow preserved here in this unusual desert town. – Gary Dorothy

Couldn’t make up my mind

Check out the Website:  http://www.imageville.us/

Image of Gary Dorothy: Modtraveler.net


Self Care: Standstill 

For the first time since starting this website my heart has just not been into it.

Since a few weeks ago an overwhelming heaviness had taken over and every time I started to come up with a subject to post I ended up overthinking it and deleting it. Everything appeared trivial after the recent passing of my close friend and it brought up other losses and reinforced the reality of impermanence here on earth and making the most of the relationships we now have.  Accordingly, a recipe or fashion article seemed too light hearted at this time.

Sheltie Sandwich

Several heart breaking changes in less than one year is almost unbearable.  I say almost because we still manage to carry on and get through the day even so. We are resilient creatures after all, it’s true.  But grief, stress and lack of sleep do not a winning combination make.  There were times where if I didn’t have dogs I would have probably just stayed in bed all day long. They don’t call them therapy dogs for nothing.

Things change all the time.  Of course not all change is bad. Change is inevitable, but when it comes to you at rapid fire speed it can be difficult to embrace. We tend to draw upon all the resources in our power to deal with them.  So that’s what I’ve been doing – dealing with them.  All the stuff that life throws at you seemed to happen all at once but through it all I’ve learned a lot.

Last Monday I deleted a fairly lengthy post about the power of knowledge after being inspired by an article I read.  Because knowledge is power. And the more we read the more we know. The more we know the more we grow. Blah, blah….academic like. I tossed it. Learning however never goes out of fashion.

I’ve learned so much over the past nine months specifically where it comes to personal and business relationships that I can probably write a book. Much of it eye opening and unexpected; an education in itself.

On the business front without going into personal detail I now know what it’s like to deal with  someone who will go to any length to take advantage. Someone who has no moral values.  An unfortunate situation which blindsided me into getting lawyers involved and taking at least six months more than necessary to complete.  My husband would be severely disappointed by what occurred in his absence but I’m pretty sure he’d have been proud of how I dealt with it and the final outcome.

I’ve lost a few friends and gained some new ones along the way. Learning to let go and move on from stagnant or unhealthy relationships only makes you stronger. It’s like cleaning house and tossing out what’s not right or doesn’t work in your life anymore.

I’m not sure about the saying whatever doesn’t kill you makes you stronger but I will attest that it makes you wiser.

Instead of drowning in despair or wallowing in sorrow I am the person who picks herself up out of the ashes and is on fire. Just like that song. I’ve dealt with and am continuing to deal with whatever life throws at me with aplomb (a word I seldom if ever use but seems fitting right now).  Problems will get solved.  Maybe not as soon as I would like, but the important thing is that they will get taken care of.  Everything in perspective. The important thing is I’m still here.  And there are too many other good things to enjoy in life.  So that means my stagnant period is coming to an end.  Temporary problems and sadness will still occur but getting through them and being there for others who experience the same keeps my head above water and swimming along.  Maybe with a few somersaults.  Or more likely Summer bath Salts.








Melancholy Monday Mood

To those who know me on a personal level and those who read this blog on a regular basis,

You understand that I normally write and post about happy events and occurrences, humanitarian affairs and at times a touch of the absurd.  But I’m at a loss right now to continue with my normal pattern without first telling you about another important recent loss in my life and that of many others.

One week ago today I said a tearful goodbye to my longtime dear friend my bestie Colleen Kohse.

Colleen with Bandit

Colleen with CBC News host and MC Gloria Macarenko at the 2017 CF 65 Roses Gala

She passed away the week before. And even though I saw her just before leaving for California and spoke to her over the phone every other day while away, it just doesn’t seem real. Or fair.  And yet, she suffered off and on from a life threatening illness her whole life.  She had cystic fibrosis (CF) and was coming up to her 30 year anniversary of a double lung and heart transplant. I met her before her transplants. Even so, she remained one of the most optimistic, generous, fun, witty and voted friend most likely to….(fill in the blanks).  If she was your friend you were lucky.

She lived by the motto you may not feel great, but always look great!  And being one of my most fashionable friends, she did.

I traveled to more places with Colleen over the years than any other friend. When I had to make a last minute decision about a deal trip to Hawaii she was the first person I called.  She said “yes” without hesitation. When my husband had business in Jamaica she stayed with us in Negril for almost a month.  One day we accompanied him to one of his outings close to the Appleton Rum factory.  We asked him to drop us off. He came back later to pick us up only to find us dancing around after having sampled a bunch. While in Jamaica we flew to Havana where Colleen taught me how to smoke a cigar in a local restaurant. Once!  The thing is Colleen never really smoked, she just knew how.  We were just havana good time.  Basically she could do practically anything.  I relied on her for many things. Especially driving.  She said she was hoping I could at least navigate but realized she’d have to do that too.

We visited a friend in Savannah, Georgia and went on a scary nighttime ghost story pub crawl.  Then off to Charleston, S.C.  Another time to New Orleans where we took a cooking class, a joint birthday cruise with another friend out of Miami to Cayman Islands where we swam and fed tons of manta ray and then a stop in Cozumel, Mexico. Key West, Disney World, Palm Springs, Santa Barbra, Malibu, Paso Robles and San Francisco followed. I might be missing a few.  Colleen was a Foodie and an Art History major. We went to the J. Paul Getty museum in Los Angeles where she impressed upon us her knowledge of Greek and Roman Art.

I was looking forward to many more adventures.

Colleen was one of the longest CF survivors in the world and a true inspiration for those battling the disease and their families. But the limitations of CF did not hold her back and I can definitely attest to that.  Her life may have been challenging but she found deep fulfillment through her many contributions towards the fight against both CF and Kidney Disease, in support of Organ Donation and as a role model and friend for other patients with similar health issues.  She accompanied me to Vancouver Hospice just last year to inquire about end of life full time care for my late husband Don.  Don adored Colleen and she was a huge support during that time to both of us and for me after he passed. As they say, life goes on….but it will never be the same.

A little bit of history taken from the obituary posted in Saturday’s Vancouver Sun Newspaper:

Colleen Kohse was the embodiment of a true fighter and in 1988 she made a bold move. With her mother as support, and her friend and CF co-patient Brandy, she travelled to England in hopes of a life-saving heart-lung transplant. Transplant medicine was still in its infancy and survival or recovery was by no means certain, recovery would mean a lifetime of evolving anti-rejection drugs and many physical limitations. Failure however, meant never coming home. Fortunately, her transplant was a success and after almost a year of recovery and loving care by her mother she was able to return to Canada. Sadly, her friend Brandy did not survive her transplant recovery period.
Colleen gave her heart away, literally! As part of her miraculous heart-lung transplant process her own heart was transplanted into another patient. That unknown patient received the heart of a lion! A decade later Colleen once again received another transplant, this time a life-saving kidney. Colleen was always grateful to those good people who signed organ donation cards and donated organs.
Colleen became the longest living heart-lung transplant patient in Canada, if not the world, and she used wisely the 30 extra years her transplants gave her. She mentored, befriended and supported many others with CF, particularly those needing possible transplants. She helped organize the annual CF Foundation Gala to raise funds and awareness and being the gregarious outgoing person that she was brought many supporters into the cause.
One of her more remarkable talents was the ability to synthesize knowledge of medicines and treatments for transplantation, organ rejection, diet and related drug reactions into a body of medical understanding about CF patients she was able to use to prolong her own life and well as those of many others.
Colleen loved travel with friends and family. A recent trip to Italy and France turned into a culinary delight punctuated with an over abundance of ancient churches, museums and art galleries. The trip was one of her and her family’s fondest memories.

On behalf of Colleen and her family we thank the wonderful medical professionals who contributed so much care to Colleen’s life.

They ask that you kindly consider organ donation.

Culture/Film: Mightier than the Sword

Film for Thought

When you believe in something that’s bigger than yourself you fight to make yourself heard.

Journalist Roberta Staley is fighting for women’s rights in Afghanistan.  Having traveled  undercover to Afghanistan on several occasions,  she took risky chances trying to create positive change.  She’s responsible for the award winning documentary entitled  “Mightier than the Sword” which has helped enpower women over there by giving them a voice to be heard.  A major accomplishment.

Rahibib Rahimi (L) and Roberta Staley (R)

I first met Roberta in a Spanish class over coffee in 2012 and was intrigued when she said she’d be leaving for a few weeks to go on assignment for Elle Magazine. In Afghanistan no less.

The Story (in brief)

Roberta went back to Afghanistan three years later to tell the story of Mozhdah Jamalzadah, a regular person here and a superstar in Afghanistan, where she’s a powerful voice for women similar to that of Oprah.  The Vancouver raised woman is actually referred to as the Oprah of Afghanistan.

This 48-minute documentary focuses on Afghan female journalists and filmmakers and their impact on gender perceptions and gender equality. In Afghanistan, a significant advance since the fall of the Taliban has been the entry of women into the media as reporters, directors, writers, producers and authors.

Excerpt by Lucas Aykroyd from Vancouver Magazine:

The powerful debut by Vancouver filmmaker Roberta Staley examines the impact of female media personalities in Afghanistan’s fight for gender equality. Staley, an award-winning editor and longtime contributor to Vancouver magazine, created the new 48-minute film to complete her Master’s degree in graduate liberal studies at SFU. After spending three weeks in 2012 in the Central Asian nation on assignment for Elle, she returned there in 2015 to shoot Mightier Than the Sword in 35 C weather during Ramadan. Staley remortgaged her condo to finish the film, which cost her more than $80,000. “That’s what you do when you believe in something,” she says. “I was obsessed with telling this story about the media and how it was changing gender perceptions and gender equality.”

View Trailer:


More to come

Feel-good Friday: Fleeting Farewell

Giving you a little heads up that I’m going on a California dreamin’ stopover before heading back to Canada. 

It also happens to be very superstitious writings on the wall, etc.  Friday the 13th.  Did you know that every month that begins on a Sunday has a Friday the 13th? You learn something new every day. 

I’ll be posting sporadically until the end of April, but plan to be back here after that with a few fresh story ideas. Collaborations are in the works as I’ve been exploring hidden hideaways, little lux resort style lodgings and cool places to eat, drink, shop and chill.  So I’m doing just that. Catching my breath while taking care of business and catching up with old friends and meeting new ones.

This pretty much sums it up

Catching up with Natalia, my fellow ex Montrealer friend who now lives in L.A.  She designs the oh so comfortable and stylish leisure/athletic wear line Garbe Luxe. We both worked at CBC (Vancouver + Toronto) in another lifetime.

Why not have a little fun in the sun?  Life is too short to not ride a cruiser wearing a cowboy hat or sundress. See you soon.  XO

Healthy Alternative: Homemade Coconut Milk

photo: the happiness kitchen

I’ve been pouring store bought coconut milk over granola, oatmeal and adding it in place of water to smoothies for a looooong time. That’s before I knew how so much more delicious and easy it is to make my own.  Trust me,  bought coconut milk does not compare to homemade. It’s great for smoothies, but after making your own you’ll realize how watery it is in comparison because they use more water to coconut ratio. I prefer coconut over almond milk.  It’s my tropical side coming out.

When you make your own it’s almost like cracking open a fresh coconut.  Really!

Ingredients (for about 3 cups)

  • 2 cups shredded or flaked unsweetened coconut
  • 3-4 cups water (use less water for thicker, creamier milk!)
  • Pinch salt
  • Add optional: 1 Tbsp maple syrup, ½ tsp. vanilla extract or scrape half a vanilla bean for added sweetness.  fyi: I have not added any extras so far


  1. Add coconut, 3 cups of hot (not boiling) water, pinch of salt (I like himalayan), and any additional add-ins (optional) to a high-speed blender. Top with lid and cover with a towel to ensure it doesn’t splash. Blend for about 2 minutes or until the mixture seems well combined.
  2. Pour the mixture through a sieve over a large mixing bowl. Save pulp for smoothies, baked goods or add it to oatmeal. You won’t waste any and it gives added coconut taste.
  3. Transfer to a sealed container or glass bottle and refrigerate. Will keep in the refrigerator for about one week. Shake before use, as it can separate in the refrigerator (due to no preservatives!).  Some recommend squeezing the milk through a cheese cloth after using sieve but I didn’t need to do this.


And if you want to go one step further try making your own coconut milk creamer.  I’ve been using So Good fat free Coconut Milk Creamer with French Vanilla which works really well to sweeten up coffee instead of adding sugar.  But I can’t find it easily in Vancouver and I’ve tried all the other brands which don’t compare in my opinion. I still like sweetener (that’s not gonna change) so I’m now making my own.

Homemade Coconut Milk Creamer

Homemade coconut milk creamer for coffee is also super easy to make. All you need is quality coconut milk and a healthy sweetener like honey and natural vanilla extract. Full fat coconut milk contains the healthy medium chain fats that are in coconut oil.


  • 1 Can Full Fat Coconut Milk
  • 4 tablespoons of maple syrup
  • 1 Tablespoon Vanilla Extract


  1. Blend the coconut milk, sweetener of choice and vanilla extract together until the creamer is mixed well.
  2. Pour desired amount into your coffee or tea and store the remaining creamer in the refrigerator.
  3. Make sure to shake the creamer well before using. Enjoy! This creamer will be good for up to two weeks.

 Sooooo Good!


Music/Culture: OPERA in the PARK

Opera unites music, poetry, drama, and spectacle in the most elaborate of all art forms.

So it was an absolute pleasure to finally attend “Opera in the Park“, the Palm Springs premier cultural event in April .  This is the first time I’ve stayed here this long.  Usually I’m gone by the end of March because it gets too hot here, but this time I decided to stay a little longer. The event takes place at Sunrise Park which is a very short drive from where I live (part-time of course).

I originally had a spot reserved under the big white tent but decided to sit on the grass just outside it in a shady area with my lawn chair and the lunch I packed because I wasn’t sure they’d have food.  But they did have food and drinks.  And souvenirs. Most people were sitting outside the tent. It was lovely.

This live concert with arias from operas by Bizet, Delibes, Donizetti, Gounod, Mozart, Puccini, Rossini and Verdi draws thousands of people from all over Southern California every April in a celebration of great music with a professional orchestra conducted by Valery Ryvkin. In addition, a special tribute to Leonard Bernstein’s Centennial featured music from West Side Story and Candide.  It also marked the 20th Anniversary of Opera in the Park.  Oh, did I mention that it’s free? 

The Palm Springs Opera Guild Orchestra performed from 1-4 pm with famous operas including  Carmen, Rigoletto, Madame Butterfly, La Traviata, Faust and more.

There were food vendors from well known establishments offering delicious sandwiches, salads, platters, wine, beer, and cocktails.  You could even pre-order online from Trio restaurant.

Presenting Sponsors: The Augustine Foundation and

*Newman’s Own Foundation

Using the power of philanthropy to transform lives*Newman’s Own Foundation is all about supporting people doing great things.  People whos stories inspire us.

This month there’s also Coachella, a more famous and  enormously profitable music festival with a great long lineup.  A lot of musicians whom I’m familiar with and many I’m not.  But it was actually Opera in the Park that I really wanted to go to.  Coachella maybe another time.

Have you been to either?

Opera in the Park: Music Director: Mona Lands.  Artistic Director: Andrew Eisenmann.