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Swiss Chard Recipe

I don’t trust myself to write today.  I’m on my strongest pain meds.  (I don’t take the super-duper ones very often.)

I’m REALLY unable to think!  (Dizzy, spinny, foggy …!!!)

So …

Instead, I’m going to share a yummy recipe I made last night.  (Can you say copy/paste …?)

I know, I know – I rarely share recipes.

This one is SO easy to make, and it’s delicious.

My son (who isn’t in love with green leafy veggies) asked for a second helping.

I’m going to list the recipe, as I originally found it on All Recipes.

In parentheses, I’ll let you know changes I made as I cooked it.

It’s an easy recipe to make changes/substitutions to if you have food preferences, etc.

It would be nice served with anything Italian.

I served it with a roasted whole chicken, cooked with a light orange basil sauce.

Of course, I didn’t think to take a photo.

I hope I’ll be back to (my version of) normal tomorrow!

Sauteed Swiss Chard with Parmesan Cheese

Ingredients:

2 Tablespoons butter  (I was out of butter … so I skipped this.)

2 Tablespoons olive oil  (I didn’t measure, but I probably used a little more since I didn’t use any butter.)

1 Tablespoon minced garlic

1/2 small red onion, diced  (I didn’t have a red onion in the house, so I minced a little regular onion.)

1 bunch Swiss Chard, stems and center ribs cut out and chopped together, leaves coarsely chopped separately

1/2 cup dry white wine

1 Tablespoon fresh lemon juice, or to taste  (I didn’t measure – I just squeezed some lemon in.)

2 Tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Salt, to taste  (I forgot to add salt, and I didn’t miss it.)

Directions:

Melt butter and olive oil together in a large skillet over medium-high heat.  Stir in the garlic and onion, and cook for 30 seconds until fragrant.  Add the chard stems and the white wine.  Simmer until the stems begin to soften, about 5 minutes.  Stir in the chard leaves, and cook until wilted.  Stir in lemon juice and Parmesan cheese; season to taste with salt if needed.

Enjoy!!

P.S.  I can’t let a day go by without sharing a photo.  I came across this pretty flower while on a walk yesterday:

Photo:  Orange flower

 

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A Weekend In Snapshots

I did a lot of photography (and cooking) (and chores – BLEH!) over the weekend.

Due to the cooler spring temperatures, I didn’t flash my boobs to a single neighbor all weekend.

(!!!)

Instead, in an attempt to learn the features on my new camera,

I took a few photos.

I played with self-portraits, something I usually avoid at all costs.

Photo:  Self portrait taken from my patio, in the reflection of my kitchen window.

I’m always behind the camera.  I hate being in front of it.

Unfortunately, my pain level is much worse than last week.  (Not from using my camera, I only took a few photos.)

I was frustrated with a couple of the flower pots on our patio so I started working on them.

I didn’t *think* I did very much,

Just a little clipping, just a little pulling dead stuff out of pots ….

But I apparently did too much.

(Note to self:  Do not use nerve-damaged arm even a little bit, ever.)

The pain is so intense it’s been waking me up several times each night, in spite of all my night drugs that are supposed to help me sleep through pain.

I’m so stupid sometimes.

Do you ever get mad at yourself?

I really piss myself off.

I struggle with the wanting-to-garden thing every spring.  I still refuse to accept I can’t do it anymore.

Last week, Dr. Painless told me he admires my passion for life.

He said a lot of people never have a “spark” and just live their lives.

He also said he really appreciates my dedication to re-gaining photography in my life post-accident.

He told me most people who have experienced things like I have,

Lose their passion for life, and for the things they’ve loved.

I understand that.

Pain is so defeating.

Overwhelming.

Disability can be too … but pain,

Pain, at least in my case, trumps disability.

I do know –

My injuries would hurt a lot less, if I didn’t have so much life in my life.

If I was content to sit on the couch and watch TV ….

If I’d just give up,

Take pain pills every few hours,

And stop trying to do the things I love.

But I can’t.

I’m a stubborn bitch.

Anyway,

Photo:  Black Phoebe named Phoebe

Phoebe, who some of you might remember from last year, is nesting in the rocks of our pool again.

In anticipation of her arrival, we blocked our pool grotto with netting.

I was “sure” she wouldn’t be able to nest in the pool due to our expert bird-blocking-efforts.

(Twenty Four vs. Black Phoebe Bird … a real live episode, coming soon for your personal entertainment!)

As much as my family enjoys Phoebe’s visits every year, we also like to use our pool without her dive bombing us while we swim.

(She is, understandably, always quite protective of her nest/eggs/babies.)

Phoebe shocked me by tearing down the netting we put up one day while I was gone.

She then, the same day, built her nest in the exact spot as last year.

Tearing down several feet of netting must have been really hard work for such a little bird.

She’s obviously very determined to do the things she wants, the way she wants to.

(I have something in common with her?)

So?

Phoebe wins.

If nature doesn’t intervene – we’ll have Black Phoebe babies at our house again this year.

Photo:  My patio is lined with pink flowers for spring. 

Flowers blooming everywhere –

And, Phoebe has a nest in our pool grotto.

Spring is definitely here.

Photo:  Night view from my patio.  (Test shot of Canon 5D Mark III night capabilities.  8000 ISO, handheld.)

If I wasn’t mid-flare-up, I’d have gotten in more shots with my camera over the weekend.

It’s frustrating to have a new toy, and not be able to play with it as much as I want.

(I need to be up to speed with it by next week’s Knotts Berry Farm shoot.)

Even with limited time to practice with it,

I can already definitely say this –

 

Photo:  Mocha, my chocolate lab, and Doc, my golden retriever – dog napping.

If you need a full frame camera,

This one’s pretty damn amazing.

(That’s my “professional camera review” in a nutshell – pretty damn amazing!)

Now, if you’ll excuse me –

I’m going to go pop a few pain pills, sit on the couch, and watch some TV.

Just kidding!

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San Francisco At Night

This is probably my favorite shot from my trip to San Francisco.

I hope you like it too.

Photo:  San Francisco at night, as seen from Treasure Island.

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The Belle of the Ball

I took this photo from my hotel window my first night in San Francisco.

I wish I could have gotten a little better composition, but I had to make-do with what I could get ….

Still, the clarity is good and the view was so pretty at night ….

Photo:  San Francisco Belle at night.

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Follow-Up Friday

I’m a mess – my apologies for the scattered-ness of my posts this week.

Pain flare-up, blah, blah, drugs (clearly, not enough of them!), blah, blah!

 First of all, I obviously didn’t communicate clearly yesterday.  I want to make sure you know things aren’t going to change with my normal postings on Twenty Four At Heart.  There will still be posts.  There will still be photos.  There will still be everything there is now.  This blog is my “home” and I promise I have no intention of giving it up.

•  In addition, (not instead of), I’m going to provide a separate page for those of you who want more in regard to photography tips, etc.    It may take a little while.  I’ve got a full plate right now.  If you’re brand new to photography, I really recommend getting Scott Kelby’s book The Digital Photography Book, Volume I.  It’s a good place to start.  You can also read a few of my old  Photography Friday posts to help get you started.

 My long-time reader (and now Real Life Friend) wrote about meeting me in San Francisco!  You can read what she wrote by clicking here.

 My new camera arrived BEFORE 7:30 a.m. yesterday.  I was so impressed!  (It was shipped to me from Pictureline.  I have a crush on them this week!)

Photo:  Special Delivery!  Canon 5D Mark III

 I took my new camera to the beach.  You’re shocked, aren’t you?

Photo:  Surf shop in Huntington Beach

 It turns out there’s a lot to learn and adapt to with my new camera.  I expected some changes, but I think it’s going to take a few outings before I’m completely comfortable with it.  (So many new features!)

The herb garden I planted on Wednesday isn’t dead yet.  (Remarkable!!)

 I’ve just received another home delivery of organic produce from Farm Fresh to You.  (I order every-other-week deliveries.)  This week our box included avocados, strawberries, blood oranges, chard, radicchio, and lots more.  I love it!  (If you missed my original post about this great service and/or want info on a discount code, click here.)

 I’m in love with the art of Elliott Erwitt.  Even if you don’t like taking photos yourself, it’s hard to imagine anyone not loving his street photography.  He’s captured decades of humanity, humor, and history with his lens.  His work is an absolute feast for the eyes.

 Shirt dresses are in style for spring.  I never wear dresses, but I think they’re cute.

 I’m doing a portrait shoot this evening.  I’m planning to use my “old” camera, because I know it inside and out.

 I had a sick kid home part of this week.  I’ve got another sick kid away at college (strep).  Ugh!

 In about a week, I’ll be at Knott’s Berry Farm as an invited “VIP” photographer.  More on that soon.  (Did someone say my Night Owl/Absolutely Not A Morning Person self has to be up before dawn for that?)

•  Are you going to go see The Hunger Games this weekend?

P.S.  If it seems like I’m out of control this week – it’s because I am.

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Proving I’m Easily Excitable (And Also ADD??)

* This post is NOT sponsored by the products or companies mentioned today. *

I had such a great day, yesterday.

It was a beautiful, perfect, warm day.

Photo:  The Orange County coast.

You know how it is –

When a day is so pretty, it becomes impossible not to smile just because.

Here’s a summary of what else went into my great day:

 I went to PT in the morning – which is never fun, but I really needed it.

The Neanderthal asked, “Are you okay?” while he ripped my upper body to shreds.

I answered, “No, I’m not #$&*%!!  It HURTS!”

He nodded and said, very sincerely, “Yep, it does!”

(Then he twisted my arm off into little pieces and left it scattered on the floor.)

Sheesh!

But …  I was happy anyway because BEAUTIFUL DAY!

 I came home, and decided I couldn’t wait another minute so I planted herbs in my earthbox.

All by myself!

(By “herbs” I do NOT mean medicinal marijuana.  Although, there’s a thought …?)

Planting a small herb garden might seem like the most boring thing to give you an update on EVER, but –

I haven’t been able to plant a single thing since my car accident five and a half years ago!

(And okay, my “gardening” this year is cheating because other people did all the work for me.  I didn’t have to do much of anything but plop the baby plants into holes and pat a little dirt around them.)

Still …?

It made me SO happy.

Photo:  Cilantro

I have really (!!) missed playing in the dirt.

As an aside, both of my retrievers apparently love the smell of basil and want to eat it.  (???)

 I had a meeting at the bank with a 20-something woman with the worst looking tattooed eyebrows I’ve ever seen.  I spent the entire meeting wishing I could scrub them off her face.  Please tell me WHY women do this to themselves?  All I could SEE when I looked at her were terrible eyebrows.  Also?  She was very condescending and made me seriously think about changing banks.  Just because I came into the bank dressed in my PT clothes (tank top/yoga pants/sneakers) does NOT mean I deserve to be treated in an unprofessional manner.  On the other hand, the entire time she was talking, I was watching her big, thick, dark, tattooed eyebrows move un-naturally on her face due to her over-botoxing.

Yes, 20-somethings in Orange County DO use botox.

 My daffodils are blooming.  How can that NOT make me happy?

Photo:  Blooming daffodil

 I whined on G+ to Thomas Hawk about my future-new camera being backordered.  (It’s a very, very, VERY, long story!  I, along with a zillion other people, had preordered the Canon 5D Mark III within seconds of the product release announcement.)  Minutes after whining about the f*$&ing backorder notice I received, I got an email from Pictureline .  They had just handed a 5D Mark III to Thomas Hawk and had another one in stock.  They were wondering, if maybe I wanted it?  (Not only that, they offered to ship it to me overnight.)

Guess what I’ll be playing with today?

I’ve been waiting for over a year for the release of this particular camera.

I’m overjoyed.  (Thank you for contacting me and the amazing service Pictureline!!)

Receiving my camera today almost makes up for the fact I couldn’t be in Utah this weekend.  (Many of my photographer friends are attending/photographing The Festival of Colors.)

Also …?

Sometimes whining DOES help.

(I know some of you will want to know WHY I wanted this particular camera, why I was in a rush to get it., etc. – more on that at a later date.  Yes, I still love my 7D.  No, I don’t plan to get rid of it anytime soon.)

 Lastly, a lot of you have been writing to me and asking for photography help of one kind or another.  (You thought it was just you, didn’t you?  But … it isn’t.  It’s a LOT of you.)

Of course I want to help those of you who want to learn.  Who doesn’t enjoy sharing their passion?  At the same time, I’ve found myself struggling to keep up here on 24 (and also handle the photography part of my life/business, which has really taken off in the last year).   I hope you can be patient with me.  I’m working with my web designers to develop a separate page (and separate feed) of Twenty Four At Heart which will be dedicated just to photography news and tips.  I will also use the new photography page/feed to post example photos and explain what camera settings were used, why, etc.  People who are interested in photography will be able to subscribe to a separate photography feed, in addition to the current/main Twenty Four At Heart blog.

Readers who aren’t interested in photography will be able to continue reading my normal nonsense, just as they are now.

(Because – don’t we all need a little nonsense in our wold?)

I won’t be posting to the photography feed/page as often as I do here.  (There aren’t enough hours in the day!)  I do think, however, it will develop into a helpful tool for those of you who are new to photography.

There’s more in the works too, but you’ll have to wait a little while before I can announce it.

I’ll keep you up to date as things develop.

In the meantime, I hope you’ll be patient.

I’m being pulled in a lot of different directions right now.

I’m working as fast as I can, but I also want to do things right.

It’s going to take a little time.

Now, if you’ll excuse me for a few minutes –

I’m going to go sit on my doorstep and wait for the UPS man to deliver my new toy!

(Thank you again to  Pictureline – you’re AWESOME!!)

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Loopy Is, As Loopy Does (And Strip Clubs!)

It’s been awhile since I’ve been too drugged up to write straight.

In other words, I don’t think I can make sense right now.  I’m apologizing up front.

Or is it upfront?

One word or two?

Or a hyphenated two-fer: up-front?

I can’t remember.

Because of, um, the drugs.

Yesterday evening, as I drove home – south on PCH (Pacific Coast Highway),

I thought to myself, “It’s so beautiful!  I wish everyone could see this.”

Then I pulled over, took a photo, and drove the rest of the way home.

Photo:  Pretty ocean view on my drive home.  (Excuse my lens flare, please!)

As far as the pain meds go, and writing under the influence …

I’ve been in a pain flare up since I went to San Francisco.  (Turns out, taking a bazillion photos in a short time span isn’t so good for my bum arm.)

I maybe could have made it through the experience okay,

But I forgot to take my Moxxor on the trip with me.

And then, once I got home –

I didn’t take it as regularly as I had been taking it prior to my trip.  (Only twice a day instead of four times a day – which would be FINE for a normal person.)

I’m not normal though.  I’m a chronic-pain person.

I know a lot of people are skeptics (I definitely used to be!), but I swear  it (Moxxor) has made a huge difference for me.

I’ve clearly learned now, I can’t be forgetful with it – or I’ll pay the price in pain.

Also, I’ve only seen The Neanderthal once in the last two weeks.  That means all the muscles surrounding my bum arm/shoulder are starting to freak out too.  I was doing pretty well at first, but in the last couple days things have started spiraling downward.

(I’m seeing The Neanderthal again today.  He will hurt me.  And help me.  Sheesh!  That’s the way it always works with that guy …!)

All these things combined, have resulted in a pain flare-up.

While visiting Dr. Painless yesterday, he  suggested giving me an injection.

His exact words were, “Let’s give you a little poke in the butt before things get any worse.”

My response …?

“I’m sure I’ve had bigger pricks in my ass before.”

(Clearly, I didn’t THINK about the words coming out of my mouth when I said them!)

Have you ever seen a doctor’s face explode in laughter?

Literally – EXPLODE?!!

And then watch him try, in a valiant but vain attempt, to recompose his professional demeanor?

(He couldn’t.  He tried.  He really did try.  But then …?  He burst out laughing again.  And again.  And again.)

Sigh!

Anyway, I’m on more pain meds than I have been for awhile.

I’ve been on a “normal” (for me) maintenance dose of various drugs –

But now I’ve had to, temporarily, increase things.

I’ll be, hopefully, decreasing them again over the next 36 hours.

In unrelated news,

I’ve never been in a strip club.

Photo:  Neon signs of strip clubs, etc. in North Beach, San Francisco.

Isn’t the above picture a FUN photo?

I love it because of all the competing colors and lights.  (So much going on!)

I don’t have any neon strip club signs to photograph in South Orange County.

(Things are boring here – ocean views and suburbia.)

I had dinner in North Beach on the first night of my San Francisco trip.  We went to a very nice Italian restaurant.  On our way there (we were walking), we took a wrong turn.  I felt like I was in Vegas, for a minute.  (So many lights!)  That’s when the conversation turned to strip clubs and the fact I’ve never been in one.  This was shocking news to certain, un-named, people I was with.

How did I get from sharing an ocean view with you,

To discussing strip clubs?

It seems like I had other, important, things to discuss with you today.

I don’t remember what they were …

Do you?

Also …..

Have YOU ever been to a strip club?

Am I missing out on an important life experience?

Is it something I should put on my bucket list?

I kinda think they might be kinda EWWW on the inside?

????

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Muir Woods

While I was in San Francisco, I had the opportunity to visit Muir Woods.

I’ve hiked in the woods a few times before, but it’s been awhile.

Photo:  Entrance sign to Muir Woods National Monument

Muir Woods is a protected redwood forest, not far from the Golden Gate Bridge.

A lot of visitors to San Francisco don’t realize the forest exists, let alone its juxtaposition to the famous bridge.

Photo:  Giant redwood trees are hundreds of years old.

After awhile, a person’s neck can get a little sore from looking UP for so long.

The forest is so beautiful.

It makes a person feel small and insignificant in comparison.

Photo:  Family walking on Muir Woods trail.

I love the above shot, because it looks like the family is about to get squished by a falling tree.  (They were in no danger.  The leaning tree is quite stable.)

As I walked through the woods, I enjoyed the different “feels” to the forest.

There are areas where the sun shines through, like in the above photo of the family.

There are other areas so dense from the canopy of trees, its nearly dark.

Always, there’s a dampness to the air.

Photo:  Muir Woods trail

In the above photo, I asked Nike to stroll a little bit ahead of me while I took her photo.  I wanted you to have a good frame of reference to see how BIG the trees are!

It’s so sad we’ve destroyed so many of our forests.  There are so few of these amazing, majestic, redwood trees left.

 Photo:  Feeling dizzy looking up into the giant redwood trees.

I lay down in the middle of the trail to take the above photo.

People laughed at me.

(It’s not the first time.  People laugh at me a lot.  I like to pretend they’re laughing WITH me???)

Photo:  Muir Woods

It’s easy to walk, and walk, and walk, for hours in Muir Woods.

 Photo:  Redwood Creek runs through Muir Woods.

If you ever have the opportunity, you really (!) should visit.

It’s such a beautiful, magical, place.

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When It’s Cold In Orange County

I hate cold weather.  I don’t do well, when it’s cold.

What’s “cold,” by my standards?

If the temperature drops below 72F/22C I consider it cold.  (Yes, I know I’m spoiled rotten in the weather department – but warm temps are all I’ve ever known.)

March is always one of the coldest/wettest month here.  Over the weekend, our first big storm of the year arrived.

Photo:  Dark storm clouds and snow capped (!) Saddleback Mountain.

It was a chilly weekend.  My car thermometer read 53F yesterday, and it obviously got even colder than that because we had hail (!!!) in my backyard.

Photo:  Hail in Orange County!

The hail promptly melted, but still ….

What do I do when it rains and/or is cold?

Nothing.

Absolutely nothing.

A fireplace is lit, and I immediately begin hibernating ….

Except –

I did come out of hibernation long enough to see some dolphins playing in the (cold!) ocean.

Photo:  Dolphins swimming and playing.

The Pacific Ocean ate the lens hood of my 70-200 lens while I photographed the dolphins.

I wasn’t very happy about that.

(At least it wasn’t the lens itself, or my camera!)

Our zillions of hummingbirds didn’t seem the least fazed by the cold/rain/hail.

Photo:  Hummingbird at our feeder during the storm.

Are you impressed with the wildlife I’m surrounded by?

No …?

There was a LOT of water running off the mountains into the canyon/ponds/lakes as a result of our unusual weather.

Photo:  Storm run-off heading to my little Orange County lake.

It sounded like a river was rushing right through my house.  (Not a sound I hear very often!)

We really need rain here, so I guess forfeiting one weekend to bad weather is okay.

My only must-do project for the weekend was getting my earthbox ready to plant.

Are you familiar with earthboxes?

An earthbox is pretty much a complete kit for a small container garden.  (Minus whatever you choose to plant.)  I bought mine at a local nursery, but you can also order them online.  One of my readers, who’s recovering from cancer treatment, told me about them.  He’s not up to his normal gardening this year.  When he learned about earthboxes, he thought of me.  The idea is to make gardening easier than it would be otherwise.  Since I’m a one-armed-wonder, I thought I’d give it a try.  If I can get my family cooperating enough to help (so far – so good!), I might invest in a second earthbox and grow a few tomatoes.

I prepped my earthbox in the garage due to the weather.  And by “I prepped” I mean, I watched Briefcase put together the stand for my earthbox.  (A stand is optional but we have wild bunnies in our yard and they eat EVERYTHING.  I thought a stand would be a good way to keep my herbs out of bunny-reach.)

I also supervised Briefcase filling the container with dirt for me.  This was a big deal because my husband has no interest, whatsoever, in gardening.

I put the organic fertilizer in the earthbox myself – which absolutely makes it “my” garden.

I will be planting basil and cilantro in just a few days.  And by saying “I will be planting,” I mean I will supervise as my son plants the cilantro and basil I’ve already bought.

(This is as close to gardening as I can get with my bum arm.)

I have rosemary growing in my yard already.

I was so busy being lazy all weekend, I didn’t get everything done I had planned.

Upcoming SOON from a blog near you:

•  Information about re-connecting with a drummer from my past.

•  A look at beautiful Muir Woods, from my recent trip to San Francisco.  (I posted one Muir Woods photo yesterday.)

•  Answers to reader questions.  I have very inquisitive readers – which is GREAT.

•  One or two possible (minor) changes here on 24 – to help those of you asking for some photography tips/advice.

•  An update on Phoebe – do you remember her?

In addition, this week I’ll be meeting with my web designers (GigaSavvy – love their team!!), Dr. Painless, The Neanderthal, and a friend who works at a popular OC salon.

(Not all at the same time!)

I’ll also be working diligently on making some of my upcoming travel plans for Road Trip 24.

Stay tuned!!