Dec 25, 2011


We truly are DREAMING of a White Christmas! Ordinarily, our landscape would be frosted with icy precipitation. Instead, our moisture is on loan to a North Pacific storm. Temps are in the teens and the sky is sequined with the galaxies. Forecasts continue to tease, but snow eludes us! 

It's our first Christmas in Idaho and my first time being separated from my California family. We have no relatives in Idaho, so our Christmas plans will include a morning fireside service at church and time spent in our cozy home. It already feels odd, but my husband and sons are gung-ho to begin something new.

Due to an unexpected relocation in November, my blogging fell on the wayside. I have missed it enormously and cannot wait to launch my new blogging year with a wonderful new book review!

I pray that you have a 
glorious CHRISTmas
and a New Year
flowing with blessings!

Nov 28, 2011

Harvey Girls, Trains, and Culinary Exploits

On The Atchison, Topeka And The Santa Fe
By Harry Warren and Johnny Mercer

Do yuh hear that whistle down the line?
I figure that it's engine number forty nine,
She's the only one that'll sound that way.
On the Atchison, Topeka and the Santa Fe.
See the ol' smoke risin' 'round the bend,
I reckon that she knows she's gonna meet a friend,
Folks around these parts get the time o' day
From the Atchison, Topeka and the Santa Fe.
Here she comes!
Ooh, ooh, ooh,
Hey, Jim, yuh better git the rig!
Ooh, ooh, ooh,
She's got a list o' passengers that's pretty big
And they'll all want lifts to Brown's Hotel,
'Cause lots o' them been travelin' for quite a spell,
All the way from Philadelphiay,
On the Atchison, Topeka and the Santa Fe.

This lively number may have been written for a Hollywood Musical, but it wasn't just blowing smoke! The movie was heralding a marriage between America's railroad and a burgeoning hospitality industry. Although, the movie had more to do with a love story surrounded by grand musical numbers and a fuzzy plot, it did salute the ambition of one impoverished Englishman who came to America to make good of himself.

I read Stephen Fried's book, Appetite for America: Fred Harvey and the Business of Civilizing the Wild West--One Meal at a Time. The title is a mouthful, and appropriately so since food played a major role in refining our country. I was introduced to Stephen and his book when I heard him interviewed by Lynne Rossetto Kasper, Host of APM's The Splendid Table. I had watched The Harvey Girls, the MGM motion picture starring Judy Garland, multiple times and never knew that it was based on factual events.

Fred Harvey | 1835-1901
The life of Fred Harvey, founder of The Fred Harvey Company, truly was a rags-to-riches story. It was during the summer of 1843 in Liverpool, England, that Fred Harvey saw his father, Charles Harvey, suffer the public humiliation of Bankruptcy Court as he was declared "insolvent." Consequently, the family endured a depleted life under hardscrabble conditions. In those days, legal notices were made public, this one appearing in the Times of London. Many found great pleasure in watching hardworking people sink into the abyss of poverty.

Fred Harvey arrived in America when the Wild West was anything but tame and wild frontiers were being rapidly swallowed up by settlers. The Union and Confederates were preparing for a showdown, modern inventions were redefining how people had lived for centuries, and the prosperity of a town could plummet with the simple rerouting of a train.

There is a small discrepancy as to when Fred left England for America. Fred told others that his departure from England was in 1850. An 1851 London census suggests that Fred was still living in England, so some speculate that he sailed for New York in 1853, via steerage. And, his journey was well-timed. New York was holding it's first world's fair and was attracting opportunity-seekers from all over the world.

Clam vendor. 116th Street and Second Avenue, New York,
July 16, 1936. Photograph by P. L. Sperr.
Smith and McNell's Hotel
Smith and McNell's was an affordable, 24-hour restaurant located at the The Washington Street Market, which was directly across from the docks for European steamships. It was well appreciated by customers — one of which was Thomas Edison. It also happened to be the only place to dine! It was here that Fred Harvey landed his first job: a dish washer, or in his words, a pot walloper.

“Delmonico’s, Fifth Avenue at N.E.
corner of 44th Street.” Photograph by
Wurts Brothers, Photographers, 1907.
The restaurant business was still a child. In 1830, Delmonico's — just blocks away — had evolved from a coffee shop into a full-service restaurant. This became a new adventure for Americans since they were not accustomed to ordering from a menu.

So it was that Fred Harvey had his initiation at Smith and McNell's, into what would be his life's calling. The owners "had strong ideas about fresh ingredients, handshake relationships, and the redemptive power of cash," Stephen wrote. It was here that Fred learned the restaurant business from the ground up.

Later, Fred began working for the railroads, gaining increased favor. He then returned to the restaurant business during the Civil War only to have his business partner, a Southern sympathizer, take off with their savings. This would not be the first of Fred's culinary ventures gone sour; however, he kept bouncing back. Since he travelled regularly on trains and found the food to be pitiful, he began looking for innovative ideas to solve the problem.

Harvey Girls at Work -
Eventually, Fred began opening Harvey Houses along the railroad, mostly accommodating the Southwestern and Western United States. He offered upscale meals, catering to wealthy and middle-class guests. The dining experience was meticulously timed and managed, and the food was served by Harvey Girls. Everything about his hospitality was top drawer. Exquisite linens, china, crystal, and cutlery were imported from the finest European and American manufacturers. He was even instrumental in the upgrading of dining cars on trains, introducing elegant cuisine that most passengers never expected to find in train travel.

The Ga-Ga Guest -
Saloons had dominated the Wild West, so it wasn't a surprise that saloon girls resented the advent of Harvey Girls. Fred Harvey carefully selected white women, 18 to 30 years of age, who were educated, well-mannered, comely, and who had agreed to live by rigid standards. Single men were elated that they now had marriageable options along the beaten paths of their sojourns.

This is how Wikipedia describes the uniform and restricted lifestyle of a Harvey Girl: "The women were subjected to a strict 10:00 p.m. curfew, administered by a senior Harvey Girl who assumed the role and responsibilities of house mother. The official starched black and white uniform (which was designed to diminish the female physique) consisted of a skirt that hung no more than eight inches off the floor, "Elsie" collars, opaque black stockings, and black shoes. The hair was restrained in a net and tied with a regulation white ribbon. Makeup of any sort was absolutely prohibited, as was chewing gum while on duty. Harvey Girls (as they soon came to be known) were required into a one-year employment contract, and forfeited half their base pay should they fail to complete the term of service. Marriage was the most common reason for a girl to terminate her employment."

Curio Room in Fred Harvey's Alvarado Hotel
At the height of The Fred Harvey Company's success, there were 84 Harvey Houses. He also operated bookstores, news stands, and created elegant postcards with the assistance of the Detroit Publishing Company. He was known for cultivating tourism; developing an appreciation for Native American culture, arts, and artifacts; and celebrating the majestic splendor of natural wonders such as the Grand Canyon. He is also credited for taming the Wild West and for launching America's first restaurant chain.

Fred Harvey Hotel in Gallup, New Mexico
Vintage Postcard
After Fred Harvey's death, his son, Ford, and then his grandson, Freddy continued the Harvey legacy and tradition. However, in the scope of Harvey family history, there was probably more tragedy than most of us will ever face. 

Early on, Fred Harvey suffered from a near-death bout with Typhoid Fever which left permanent damage to his gastrointestinal system. His first wife died soon after giving birth to their second child. Fred then remarried and lost his 2 young sons to Scarlet Fever just prior to Abraham Lincoln's assassination.

Ford Harvey became ill in 1928 with what resembled an ordinary cold. He became a statistic in what was later identified as a deadly flu epidemic.

Then, in 1936, daredevil Freddy Harvey and his stylishly chic wife, Betty, were killed when the private plane he was piloting lost control and smashed into the side of a mountain. Stephen Fried remarked on how the local Johnstown Democrat displayed a total lack of tact: "'Plane Crash Nightmare,' the banner headline read. 'Kansas City Rail Leader and Wife Burned to Crisp.'"

I strongly recommend this book! It is a wonderful slice of American history as seen through the entrepreneurial exploits of Fred Harvey and his family. I was not only inspired by the tenacity of the Harvey's, but I learned a great deal about American history in the process.

Nov 18, 2011


I was blissfully back to blogging. Summer had surrendered to Fall and we were satisfied and settled into our cabin. Townsfolk were warning us that snow would make an appearance sometime around Halloween. A full winter in Idaho City was sounding appealing.

Then our landlord made an unexpected and emotional appearance. He wanted us to move out. He gave us an assortment of reasons that changed daily. Regardless, we rejected the confusion and accepted the fact that God was up to something. 

I confess that I dreaded packing again. We had moved 6 times in the last 5 years: 3 times in the previous 12 months! Temps were dropping. Income resources were shifting. We had no clue as to where we would live.

Fast forward to the happy ending... A 4-Plex around the corner had an opening. The owners understood the immediacy of our need and allowed us to move in directly. It snowed on the day we moved: another tribute to God's timing in providing shelter.

The cabin has been winterized and closed up. As for us, we will be saving $600 on propane alone and other energy costs will decrease significantly. Sometimes the reasons for things don't quite compute. I just know this: When God wants to move, get out of His way.

Oct 3, 2011

Welcome, Baby Cameryn!

When Barry slipped in beside me at church yesterday, he leaned over with whispered enthusiasm and said, "Briana is in labor!" I didn't hear much of the sermon from that point forward. Peggy was neighboring me on the chair to my left. She said I was pretty giddy.

Living in Idaho now, I am about 1000 miles away from our precious daughter, Briana. Whereas I experienced her entire first pregnancy and witnessed the birth of our grandson, Caleb, I missed the journey with Cameryn — except for telephone calls. 

Briana was a day past her due date when she began eating radishes per a friend's advice. We'll never know if we can blame the radishes, but she was launched into labor and arrived at the hospital dilated to 9.5!

Baby Cameryn was born after 10:30 AM on October 2nd, 2011. She and Mommy are doing beautifully! As for me, Nana KJ, I'm literally shouting from the mountaintops!

Oct 2, 2011


These days, we frequently hear the word "Great" spoken with a dull, sarcastic tone. When inserted into comedy with just the right inflection and timing, it can actually generate laughter. 

Happily, "great" can become something uncommonly special when we approach each day with with an expectation that makes room for greatness. Enthusiasm leaves little room for negativity and will spark smiles that engage others, rippling far beyond our reach.

NOTE: The acronym and picture are courtesy of Byrd Baggett. I colorized the photo using Toy Camera on the iPhone Camera+ app.

Sep 27, 2011

Let It Rain!

"No spring nor summer beauty hath such grace
As I have seen in one autumnal face."
—John Donne

I am sipping sugar-creamed coffee. It must be an extra special morning because I usually take my coffee straight.

Geron Davis's "LET IT RAIN" album is resonating from our Bose. The gospel music on this album charges my batteries and I'm not ashamed to admit that I sometimes dance with abandonment! (I did this as a child, too.) For me, there is no greater liberty than dancing with all my heart!

I've said this before, but Graham Cooke wrote this to me in one of his books: "Karen, it's going to rain. Sell your umbrella." Those words have had such impact on me as I realize that we miss the blessing if we shield ourselves from the messenger.

I have even prayed in the rain before, seeing the rain escalate with the intensity of prayer and then stop completely when the petitions end. It felt like God was tangible in that rain!

Monday brought some challenging news. We had to choose between living in our emotions or in the power of God's presence. Let it rain, God!

Sep 23, 2011

Happy Fall Y'All!


At the door, we gladly greet
The Autumnal Equinox;
Not to say that Summer heat
Will surrender as Fall knocks.

—Karen June Miller

Many of you will relate to this poem as I heard that Arizona is in the triple digits today! Albeit, Fall has officially arrived. Here in Idaho City, leaves are beginning to litter the ground and mornings are chilly.

I spotted the above photo in Vegetarian Times and immediately began to fire up the oven for roasting. A friend gave me some butternut squash that was grown in the garden of one of her Nampa neighbors. I sliced it into half moons, and tossed it with olive oil and Jamaican Jerk Rub (Pampered Chef). This became the main and only dish for a meatless meal.

NOTE: The "pumpkin pie" image is free wallpaper that I found while sorting through autumnal images. Use it for your own Fall fun!

Sep 18, 2011

A Retreat With a View

Our Women's Retreat was last weekend in Garden Valley, Idaho. I forgot my Nikon camera, so my iPhone preserved the moment.

We were surrounded by mountain ridges, a river, a small manmade lake, and gorgeous valley terrain.

This was the view between the lodge and the river. The only thing that would have made things prettier is a bluer sky, which was compromised by an ongoing fire further up the mountain.

I took these 2 shots (above and below) before our Sunday morning session. I love the reflection of foliage on this little lake. It somewhat nudged me to be reflective as well.


Sep 7, 2011

Fall Musings | Pumpkin Sausage Soup

Cartolina is one of my favorite iPhone apps. I love to send unique cards to one-of-a-kind people. Technology has definitely improved the ease and quality of downloads/uploads. Remember how images used to worsen as they were passed along? It was like photocopying copies!

One benefit of living in the mountains is a bigger separation of seasons. In SoCal, summer lingered late into fall. We lacked the marvelous transformation of foliage with its autumnal brushstrokes. We had winters without snow, a vibrant spring, and heat-packed summers.

Some people say that there are 2 seasons in Idaho: Winter and getting ready for winter. Even after a long winter, spring did not disappoint. Our summer has been hot and brief. And, almost the instance school started on August 29th, fall was knocking at the door.

The drawback for gardeners is that by September 16th, our nighttime temps will be dropping to 42˚. And, we've already awakened to a 33˚ morning.

I know many of you are still in the grips of summer, but here is a recipe to celebrate the advent of fall. In our household, we like all things pumpkin. This soup has become a favorite!

Time: 30 minutes
Serves 6

  • 1/2 lb breakfast sausage (I use turkey sausage) 
  • 1/2 c minced onion 
  • 1 clove garlic, minced 
  • 1 c mushrooms, finely chopped 
  • 1 tbs Italian seasoning 
  • 15 oz canned pumpkin 
  • 4 c chicken broth 
  • 1/2 c water AND 1/2 c half and half 
  • OR 1 c milk
  1. Brown sausage, drain, and then add the onion, garlic, mushrooms and Italian seasonings. 
  2. When the onions and mushrooms have begun to soften, stir in the pumpkin. Stir in the broth and mix well. 
  3. Simmer 20 minutes. 
  4. Stir in the half and half and water (OR the milk) and simmer on low another 10-15 min.
  5. Taste and add salt and pepper as needed. 

NOTE: Use either the half and half/water mixture OR just milk - not both.

Aug 23, 2011


Our mining town is sighing as summer is running its course. Seasonal flowers are hanging their heads; and dry winds navigate the brick and mortar landmarks, kicking up what's left of the gold rush.

I'm still working weekdays at the Museum. Soon, we will be paring down to 4-day weekends. We will operate into the Fall as long as weather permits.

School resumes on Monday. For the first time, both of my sons, Bryce (16) and Brock (11), are playing football — Brock for the first time. Bryce played football in SoCal and has now returned his energy to sports. Papa Bear, an avid football enthusiast, is barely able to stay in his skin. 

Summer leisure has already been given over to football practice. I will take solace in the fact that the house will be calm as the boys crash after strenuous training. A welcome benefit!

I am looking for ways to reinvent myself. The move to Idaho has added much excitement, yet subtracted many of the tools and resources that made my SoCal life hum. I am missing too many opportunities.

So, like the early pioneers, we wheel forward: following worn paths and forging new ones. Much like the mysterious French eyeglasses (circa 1830-35) that were found in 1849 in a pine tree near Harris Creek, one never knows what one will discover.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Aug 11, 2011

Good Neighbors Candle Co. — 25% OFF!

You were introduced to Candle Crafter, Becky Keeney, during my recent Giveaway. Becky pours more than soy and scents into her de-LIGHT-ful candles! She crafts them with a "keen" eye and loads of TLC!

Becky said, "I would love to meet everyone! If you stop by my Etsy Shop, Good Neighbors Candle Co., and use the code Karen25 at check-out, you will save 25% on your total order." Popular Flavors: Hot Chocolate, Blueberry Muffin, and Peach Smoothie!

I stopped by yesterday and picked up a couple of items for Fall!

NOTE: There is an "Apply shop coupon code" right under the "How you'll pay" section of the shopping cart.

Aug 8, 2011

The Winner is...

My "BACK-IN-THE-SADDLE-AGAIN" GIVEAWAY ended on Friday. Sorry, folks, for not posting the winner earlier.

One of the perks for me was reading your eye-dyllic summer pleasures! If you have not had an opportunity to read them, please mosey down to the Giveaway post below.

Tonight, I carefully folded up each wonderful comment and laid them out for my son, Bryce, to choose from. And the winner is...

Congratulations, Salwa! Salwa and I know each other from La Palma Christian Center in Southern California!

I strongly encourage you to visit Candles at Hospitality Lane. Becky K crafts every one of her soy candle creations with TLC! She actually donated the candle for the Giveaway. I know she would love to meet YOU!

Have a summerful tomorrow!

Aug 5, 2011

Life App-ens!

When I upgraded to iPhone 4, the salesperson laughed at the amount of apps on my older iPhone. Realistically, it would take hundreds of iPhones to house the multitude of apps available. In my defense though, I use most of my apps consistently.

For example, we are celebrating Kokanee Days in Idaho City tomorrow. Kokanee are the land-locked form of sockeye salmon. I am told that the streams and rivers appear to be orange as the salmon swim and spawn upstream. So, I found a colored illustration of a Kokanee and used WordFoto to transform the image.

I have other photo tools, too: Comic Book, FatBooth, Diptic, SketchMee, LabelDispenser, Squeeze It... The results range from stunning to silly. Many of my blog and Facebook photos were taken and formatted on my iPhone.

I use apps to journal, deposit checks, and to hum tunes when I forget the name of a song. A rooster awakens me on my Alarm Clock. I'm plugged into social networking. I write blog posts, stories, take notes; and I record original poems in Rhyme Book. My reference library includes a Dictionary/Thesaurus, Rhyme Time, 5 versions of the Bible, Strong's Concordance, Kindle, and Zinio for digital magazines.

Stitcher and iTunes allow me to listen to live radio and podcasts. I am hooked up to Fandango, Netflix, RedBox, TCM, and IMDb. Then there is the cooking section with celebrity chefs, recipes, and shopping lists.

When I go down to Boise, I rarely have to ask for directions or information. Almost anything can be accomplished through my iPhone. Yet, as wonderful and innovative as technology can be, it can't zap my California daughter and grandson to my side — in real time!

Aug 1, 2011

Missing California

July marked our 6th month in Idaho. I still shake my head in disbelief that I'm now planted in a mountain community almost 1000 miles away from my hometown! Incredibly, I'm living in a gold mining town that was once the largest city in unincorporated Idaho; a town that burnt to the ground two times in the 1860's and embodied the Wild West!

For some, long distance moves are routine: certainly not for me. I lived within a 30-mile radius of my parent's home for 53 years. My address changed at least 14 times, but never beyond the California border.

With some of the newness wearing off, I guess reality is making an appearance. I was not prepared for the lingering feelings of separation and the withdrawal from a second-nature life. I miss my family, friends, and the ocean.

Jul 30, 2011

Memo to Mosquitos


Listen up mosquitos! I declare WAR!
Your assaults leave me itching, scratching, and sore!

Regardless of mission, whether hungry or bored;
I refuse to be your adored smorgasbord.

You dine without invite with little decline!
And tip me with welts needing calamine.

Be advised. Be aware. Remember this day!
I'm closing down your all-day buffet!

Say good-bye to this flesh for which you are smitten
For "Vengeance is mine," says the Bitten!

— Karen June Miller, July 2011

  NOTE: Don't forget to enter my GIVEAWAY!  
  Just one post down or click HERE.  

Jul 22, 2011



We have all made moves in our lives. Unlike my parents who have lived at the same address since I was born in 1958, I have moved 15 times on my own! The most drastic move was to Idaho after living in California for 53 years.

The shift to Idaho not only presented a change in culture, but it gave a jolt to my cozy California blog routine. I have needed a new mindset. There is no lack of things to write about, but my approach to blogging needed to change.

To celebrate change, I am hosting a "BACK-IN-THE-SADDLE-AGAIN" GIVEAWAY! I don't have horses (Does joining the Idaho City Shootists count for something?), but it feels good to park my sassy chassis in a new ride!

The winner will receive this wondrously delectable Peach Smoothie Soy Candle from Good Neighbors Candle Co. in Lancaster, PA. Becky K, the loving crafter, creates these environment-friendly candles that lend so beautifully to any situation! I have enjoyed using them in my home!

  1. Leave a COMMENT. Tell me what your favorite SUMMER PLEASURE is. Be sure to leave your name in the post.
  2. You will receive an EXTRA ENTRY for everyone whom you refer to this Giveaway! Make sure that they mention YOUR NAME in their post.
  3. The DEADLINE to enter is: Friday, August 5th at 8 PM Mountain Time.
  4. Please know that this is for ALL of my visitors, even if you don't usually leave comments.

Today's Bouquets

A longtime potato enthusiast (I'm sure it's in my Irish blood), I became a wee bit sentimental when we acquired our first Idaho license plate with "Famous Potatoes" printed on it! I didn't choose this state because of it's spuds, but it is a welcome bonus! Now, if the plate only had my name on it!

I worked 3 days at the Museum this week. I suppose I took my day-off too seriously because at around 7 PM I asked aloud, "Where did I put my day?" At least it felt good to be looking for something other than my reading glasses.

  • I was able to do a little shopping on Etsy for some olive oil based hand soaps! One of my purchases included "Gone Fishing ~ Marine Air Scented Olive Oil Soap with Crushed Sea Kelp." Apparently, this soap is not for the faint of heart, but I grew up in Long Beach, CA and I have been missing the seashore.
  • My Pampered Chef Fall/Winter Kit arrived today and I caught my first glimpse of the amazing NEW products! Limited Edition Taupe Stoneware, Microwave Chip Makers (without using oil), a Veggie Slicer with a 5-blade design for slicing carrots, celery, chives, etc.  I can't wait to get my oven-mitts on this stuff!
  • My Museum paycheck came 6 whole days ahead of schedule! This means that Bear, Brock, and I will be going down to Boise tomorrow! Yahoo!
STAY TUNED! I will be announcing a

Jul 18, 2011

A Sub-lime Find!

I become really excited about culinary discoveries that are ancient to the world but new to me! And Loomi is a sub-lime find! 

Is there any Loomi, also known as Black Limes, sitting in your pantry? Compared to the refreshing attraction of ripe limes, Loomi has little eye appeal. The dark shriveled pods are lightweight and resemble something discovered in a long forgotten mercantile. The intensely aromatic, fermented flavor infuses food with a distinct tartness, lacking the sweetness of fresh limes.

The Silk Road Spice Merchant, located in Calgary, Alberta, Canada, offers the following description...
Categories: Spices, Citrus & Acidulents
Cuisines: Middle Eastern
Loomi (known variously as Black Limes, Black Lemons, Omani Lemons and many more names), are dried, preserved limes used widely in Middle Eastern cuisine. They are made by boiling limes in brine and then sun-drying them until the inside pulp turns black.
Their flavour is very intense, and they add an unmistakable tartness to food that is particularly suited to soups and stews. To use them, simply puncture the lime a few times with a fork and simmer in a dish, or grind to a powder in a spice grinder.

Wikipedia gives this explanation...
Black limes are usually used in legume, seafood or meat dishes. They are pierced, peeled or crushed before adding them to the dish. After cooking they become softer and edible. They can also be powdered and added to rice dishes. Powdered black lime is also used as an ingredient in Gulf-style baharat (a spice mixture which is also called kabsa or kebsa). It is a traditional ingredient of Arabic cooking and also Persian.
It is possible that I have actually tasted this exotic spice while dining in Middle Eastern restaurants; nonetheless, I have never experimented with it in my own cooking. I'll be sharing the results.

Jul 16, 2011

Blog Snafus

There is nothing more balloon-bursting than arriving at one's blog with creative anticipation only to find that content is missing. Today, I noticed that most of my photos were absent from a Mother's Day post. A few weeks ago, a blog post disappeared entirely. So, instead of adding new content, I am retrieving and reformatting. Stop being a booger, Blogger!

I have actually been waking up in the wee hours with blogging fodder. So, if Blogger will cooperate, you might just see it in print.

May 25, 2011

Geek Pride Day - May 25th

We know that geeks were not looked upon favorably in the past. Although the term has taken on more acceptable connotations, one look at the definition and we see why people resisted any kind of association.

Geek –noun, slang
1. a computer expert or enthusiast (a term of pride as self-reference, but often considered offensive when used by outsiders.)
2. a peculiar or otherwise dislikable person, especially one who is perceived to be overly intellectual.
3. a carnival performer who performs sensationally morbid or disgusting acts, as biting off the head of a live chicken.

Now, the term is used loosely. Type "geek" into Google and you will see a plethora of geek labeled affiliations. In fact, May 25th was Geek Pride Day! Jack Cullen, president of Modis, says that "being a geek has gone mainstream." Just don't call them NERDS!

Fast forward... I am recognizing that I, too, have acquired geek-like tendencies. Before moving to Idaho, I literally Googled all of my favorite stores and restaurants to see what I would be surrendering. Once here, I grabbed a copy of the Boise Weekly restaurant edition and added close to 150 scrumptious sounding eateries to my iPhone Bucket List! I also filled my iPhone calendar with upcoming festivals and concerts. Though some events are free, I will need about 5 jobs to fulfill this massive wish list.

Then, after arriving in Idaho City, which by preservation still resembles an old west, gold-mining town, I became amused by the Kindle books I was already reading on my iPhone: Appetite for America: How Visionary Businessman Fred Harvey Built a Railroad Hospitality Empire that Civilized The Wild West, by Stephen Fried; and Chop Suey: A Cultural History of Chinese Food in the United States, by Andrew Coe. I had purchased these books before a move to Idaho was even a reality. Come to find out, Idaho City was once home to a large population of Chinese gold miners!

So, how about you? Can you identify with me or have I become an unsalvageable GEEKTOID?

May 4, 2011

A New Mindset

My first encounter with a deliciously domestic blog had me all undone. For years, I had assembled little paper newsletters teeming with beloved passions, homemaking, tea taking, and creative pursuits. The thought of being able to translate this into a personal online format..., well, I wasted no time. Ideas for future posts were scribbled down routinely.

Amusingly, we have moved 4 times since I launched eye-dyllic: once into storage. My ambitions to photo journal decorating projects have been shelved by budget and transition. In fact, we have downsized considerably. Yet, I am still searching for beauty wherever I find myself.

People often ask, "Why did you choose to move to Idaho City in the middle of winter?" Valid question, especially when we relocated from a beach city to a snowy mountaintop. I have pictured myself living in pastoral settings and Idaho never entered my mind. Plainly, I did not choose Idaho City; however, I did choose to walk through a door God had unmistakably opened.

There is much to love here! We're nestled beneath a bazillion stars, serenaded by frogs and crickets. Hens feed in our side yard, roosters awaken us, deer and antelope graze along the highway. We're dazzled by Mountain Bluebirds, Osprey, American Robins, Yellow-rumped Warblers, California Quail, and Red-winged Blackbirds. Pine and Cottonwood trees reach for the bluest sky.


Over a year before leaving California, it was obvious that God was up to something. Things were changing, falling through, and even disappearing. This definitely had our attention.

I had watched a documentary entitled, In Debt We Trust. Much of the film came as no surprise, but I needed a jump-start. In today's world, unless individuals have the resources to pay off credit card balances on a monthly basis — and even that can change in a blink — the credit system is designed to take prisoners! The eye-opener is that our government is in cahoots with the credit card industry, happily prospering at our expense.

Barry and I had accepted credit cards for emergencies only, and were never at a loss for reasons to use them. One dental emergency maxed-out several cards!

A friend of mine closed her very popular retail business in California because she was being prompted to embrace Heaven Economics. As a successful entrepreneur, she was rapidly accumulating debt. Though I was not a business owner, I knew the same principles applied to me.

Heaven has no debt. God supplies our needs according to His riches: a vast and limitless treasury that will never incur finance charges.

My Pastor recently shared how his yearly salary dipped from $50,000 to $5,000 when he first came to Idaho City. He knew God would have to provide or there was no way they could stay. God did provide, but not without sacrifice and adjustments.

So, my blog journey takes on new layers. I am pursuing my own Heaven Economics: living this new life step by step, day by day; leaning on, relying on, and trusting in Almighty God!

Apr 14, 2011

I was told...

This morning, with an outside temp of 19 degrees, I had the luxury of lazing beneath my warm bedding. Our neighbor's rooster was persistent in trying to oust me from my comfort zone. I won.

Later, the Bear and I were advised — emphatically — by some veterans of the mountaintop that the temperatures would zip into the 80's within 2 weeks. Mind you, it was snowing lightly as we had this conversation. I am sure that my expression oozed skepticism. Certainly warmer weather is appealing, but a 40 degree jump in temperature? The jury is still out.

I have yet to see my first flower up here, so I took a cyber trip to Canada to borrow some glimmers of hope. The above tablescape did the trick and I love the patterns on the plates: a very nice take on Easter brunch.

Speaking of Easter, I was delighted by the stylish presentation of these White Truffle Scrambled Eggs. I believe eating should be adventurous! Would you agree?

With new roots in a state known for my favorite root vegetable, how could I possibly ignore the potato? I would essentially be ingnoring myself because I have the "potato" gene. I'm Irish! And, I thoroughly enjoy roasting vegetables in my Pampered Chef (Stoneware) Rectangular Baker.

Canadian House and Home wrote:
David Rocco's roasted potatoes, from his book David Rocco's Dolce Vita, are one of those universal dishes: easy to prepare, simple to serve and perfect for casual dinners or entertaining. This side dish is also a great way to use up odds and ends. For example, if you have a tomato that needs to be used, just chop it up and throw it in. Or if you have dried-out Parmigiano cheese or the rinds, dice them up and throw them in as well. The results are addictive.
Time to call it a night! Click on the captions of each photo to be transported.

Apr 9, 2011

A Stroll Down Main Street

Posted earlier today on Facebook:
I know you're busy, but please stop and look at your calendar. This sounds petty, but it's April 9th. SPRING! We awakened to 2 inches of snow here in Idaho City and you're still dropping the stuff! Honestly! Give it up and I'll send you chocolate!
As I type this blog post, the morning snow has melted and it's hailing. The Weather Channel records current weather conditions as 40 degrees, cloudy with sunshine. Hmm.

Adjustment to mountain life, especially when residing in a late 1800's gold-mining town, is anything but dull. I have plenty of fodder for blogging, except that acclimating to a mountain community is a major distraction.

Yesterday, except for scattered mounds of snowplowed snow, grass was popping through rocky soil, bare branches promised foliage, and birds were singing the Hallelujah Chorus!

There's a saying in Idaho: "If you don't like the weather, just wait 5 minutes."

I did some photo journaling about 3 weeks ago when our city was just beginning to break loose from winter's stronghold. Allow me to take you on a brief tour of what could barely be seen when I first arrived on that -10 degree night in January 2011.

Heading south from our cabin, I begin to see the mountain range that corresponds with Highway 21. The road is showing the weariness of ice and snowplows. 

I quickly arrive at a ramshackle junk business that was left to sit after the owner passed away. American Pickers (on the History Channel) would find a wagon load of loot in this dilapidated shack. I know that locals are hungry for a look-see. Vintage signs cover the weathered wood structure, while tiny windows tease those looking for treasures. 

I've been told that when the business was open, the owner was usually reluctant to make a sale. American Pickers encounters this scenario quite a bit.

Seriously, my first impression of this old town was that it was nothing but a bunch of lumps layered with thick white frosting. I had no clue that there was such beauty buried beneath. Here is an historic hillside tucked behind the eastern side of Main Street.

On the west side of the street, we find the Boise County Courthouse. Although the roof is new, the brick-and-mortar structure has survived the test of time.

This building sits empty right now, but it has seen many uses. I plan to find out what it was first used for.

Looking to our left again, we see the lounge act of 2 cats on the wall of the old Wells Fargo Express. The cats obviously can't read or they would know that only horses are allowed to park here.

And to our right, a local watering hole. Harley's is never lacking customers. For a city with no banks or traffic lights, we sure have our share of bars!

One of the eclectic little shops in town. As you can imagine, many of the novelty stores are closed during winter. As the snow melts, tourists come.

When I first laid eyes on this combination junk/antique shop, it was almost overtaken with snow. Now the store is getting to see the light of day and we can see what the snow was hiding.

The Visitor Center stands at the southeast corner of Main Street and Highway 21 which begins out of Boise and continues upward to other mountain towns. Since this photo was taken, the snow has melted and routine cleanup has begun.

To the left of the speed limit sign is Donna's Place, a favorite eatery here in Idaho City. It burned to the ground not long ago — under suspicious circumstances I may add. Many are anticipating the grand opening of the restaurant along with its grocery store. I hear the food is scrumptious and affordable.

I will take more photos as the weather changes. For now, I am closing this post with a shot of the southern mountain range off of Highway 21.