The Best Salad – or, An Ode to Freshness

The Best Salad – or, An Ode to Freshness

I am going to share the best salad I’ve ever eaten. My girlfriend Tally made it for me one year, and I’ve been making it ever since. It’s simple – it has only three ingredients, and if you want you can add/change/endlessly make variations on this salad, but there is a trick to it, which I’ll get to later.

First, heap a bowl with the best fresh spinach you can find. Then (depending on the number of people you’re having) toss in the best quality sun-dried tomatoes in olive oil – chopped or not, as you like – that you can afford. Add a teaspoon or more of the oil – that’s your dressing. Then sprinkle in a handful of feta cheese, and voila! You have a great salad. These three ingredients, when put together, create a tasty, flavorful, healthy salad that will add to any meal, and is better than ANY salad you can get at any restaurant.

It works brilliantly all summer long, as well as in winter. The big trick, though, is the spinach.

It should be as fresh as possible. If you don’t grow your own, then hit up your farmer’s market first thing in the morning. Or go out to a market stand, if you happen to live in a town that has them. When you finger the leaves, they should be firm, crisp to the touch. Don’t settle for bagged grocery store spinach unless you absolutely have to! (Though that spinach is terrific for cooking with.)


If you do put in a vegetable garden each year, or think you might want to start, the best bang for your gardening buck will be in herbs. Why? Herbs are the most expensive item to buy, whether you buy fresh or dried. Rosemary and thyme are perennials; they’ll grow year after year as long as you keep them trimmed and watered. Oregano and marjoram, too, as well as others.

Basil and parsley are best bought early in the season and put into pots, because as winter comes in they will die off. Buy early and buy often – my first bunches of basil this year died due to the strange fluctuating weather we had in March (soft freezes and then 80 degree temps). photo of my garden with spinach

This bed, above, has two types of basil at the foreground, then to the left is a baby spinach plant. There are three of them in a row, then two bigger spinach plants from the nursery. We’ve been munching on that for a month now.  Beyond that, to the right is some thyme – garlic and onions are in this bed, along with the two big sunflowers at the left and the row of sunflowers also at the right. It’s a motley bed, to be sure!

By far the easiest after herbs is spinach. There is nothing – and I mean NOTHING  – like fresh-picked spinach. It’s bursting with flavor and vitamins. In general, the deeper the color of your salad greens, the more nutritious it will be (though to be fair there is a place for iceberg lettuce). So your spinach bed (which is truly gratifying to grow from seed, but you’ll be eating better and sooner off of plants from your nursery) can also play host to some lettuce. Again, I grew some from seed – my plants won’t be ready to eat for quite some time, but once they are I’ll be able to harvest leaves from my lettuces all summer long.

Seeds don’t cost much, and provide a lot of bounty. Go ahead, experiment. You don’t need much to start a garden – just some dirt, some manure to add to the soil, seeds or plants and water. Voila – you’ve got a garden!

Remember though, you’ve gotta get out there and water those seeds every day, twice a day, until they sprout – and then every day, twice a day, until they get big enough to withstand a day without water. When it’s breathtakingly hot, water in the early morning and after the sun has gone down but it’s still light out.

Later, you’ll be able to tell by the plant itself if it needs water. But if you think it does – and the soil around it is dry – it probably does.

We had a real bad grasshopper problem (one or two grasshoppers in your garden will decimate it). Tom planted garlic all over the place, and then we sprayed with a crushed garlic and mineral oil and water mixture – organic, but the bugs hate it. No grasshoppers for the last few weeks – maybe they’ve gone to bug the neighbors!

How about you? Any garden tips? And here’s some apple blossom for you!

photo of apple blossoms

These apple blossoms are now tiny apples! This photo taken 2 weeks ago.


Thanks for stopping by – I enjoy talking to you! If you like this post or any others, I’d love it if you would subscribe. The more the merrier!


Cover Reveal – WEIGHTED by Ciara Knight

Cover Reveal – WEIGHTED by Ciara Knight


Cover for Weighted by Ciara Knight

Weighted is a young adult post-apocalyptic with paranormal elements. It is a prequel novelette to The Neumarian Chronicles, and will be released August 2012. Book I, Escapement, will be released in 2013.


The Great War of 2185 is over, but my nightmare has just begun. I am being held captive in the Queen’s ship awaiting interrogation. My only possible ally is the princess, but I’m unsure if she is really my friend or a trap set by the Queen to fool me into sharing the secret of my gift. A gift I keep hidden even from myself.  It swirls inside my body begging for release, but it is the one thing the Queen can never discover. Will I have the strength to keep the secret? I’ll know the answer soon. If the stories are true about the interrogators, I’ll either be dead or a traitor to my people by morning.

Link to add Weighted to Goodreads shelf:

Stop by Ciara’s blog and check out her other fantastic novels!

photo of Ciara Knight, author of Weighted.





The Uterus Chronicles – Episode 1

Episode 1: Does My Uterus Make Me Look Fat?

I had an illuminating gynecology visit last week. I had to go, because I had originally gone to my GP for blood in my stool; he examined me and said he thought I had fibroids in my uterus. I had a CT scan, which confirmed a diagnosis of “an enlarged myomatous uterus”. My bowel, as well as all my other organs, were peachy fine. The GP set me up with a Gynocologist and a Gastro-intestine doc, just to be on the safe side.

This post is about the Gyno visit, and the state of my uterus. (I’m thinking at this point the GI post will be positively tame. Tame, I tell you!)

So, I met this nice doc, probably in her mid to late 30’s. We talked for almost twenty, maybe thirty minutes. After she went through my symptoms (I’ll spare you the details), I then complained that for the past three or four years, when I turn sideways, I am not thin. I’ve always – always been thin sideways, and not so much straight on.

But I’m not thin anymore when I turn sideways. I’ve gained weight, but it’s out of proportion to how I’ve been eating. Even with The Menopause hovering on my personal horizon, there is no real reason for the weight gain.

Plus, my energy is low. I wake up a lot at night, I have to pee ALL THE TIME, and I get indigestion – something I never have had, with the exception of the two times I’ve been pregnant.

Pregnant. That’s it. I feel – pregnant.  But ugly-pregnant, not glowy-pregnant. I feel as though my bladder is being pressed on constantly. I often have a bit of difficulty breathing, and I’ll get odd aches and pains in my abdomen. Fibroids in the uterus. So technically I am pregnant, but with fibroids. Swell.

Plus, my periods. (Okay, I’m not sparing you the details.) The first couple of days, it’s like Niagra Falls. Every hour on the hour I need to change my extra-super-duper tampon. At night I have to wear a huge overnight pad along with my extra-super-duper tampon. And even then, there are mornings where I’ll wake up and find I’ve bled all over the sheets. Yeah – that makes a woman feel sexy.

My doctor was FABULOUS. Prior to the physical exam, she told me there are options – drug-wise, I can go on a drug that is fairly new here in the States and kind of expensive, but I would take it just for the two or three really heavy days of my period, 3 times a day, to cut the blood flow in half.

Or, I could go on the Pill, which would also lessen the blood flow, but with hormones involved, I’d have to go off them on a yearly basis for a few months in order to see where I am – because there is no indication of WHEN I’ll actually go into full-blown Menopause. It could be four months, or four years. There’s just no telling, and since I don’t have sisters…no help there.

Surgically, there’s an ablation that could be done (I think it’s called a hysteroscopy – where they go in vaginally). They can remove the fibroids via a laparoscopy, too – through a small incision near the belly button. Or they can go into my uterus through the veins in my groin to cauterize the blood vessels that are feeding the fibroids, which would at least cut off their blood supply. And the fourth option, of course, is a hysterectomy.


She then proceeded to the physical exam. And the minute she put her hand on my abdomen, she said “oh wow.” Um, okay.

Apparently the reason I am wide when I turn sideways is because my uterus is huge. Or, as she put it, if I had come in to see her and I was 25 instead of 52, she’d ask me if I were pregnant. Because to her, my body feels about 5 months pregnant. Let me repeat that. FIVE. MONTHS. PREGNANT.

Yeah. Knew it. Okay, but there’s a bright spot – it’s not FAT! It’s my fibroid-filled uterus making me look big. That’s a plus, right? Right? Sigh.

So, the surgical options have narrowed because my uterus is so damned HUGE. (She didn’t even see the need to do a vaginal ultrasound – she could FEEL it. And then, suddenly, so could I.)

Surgically, I could go with the cauterizing of the blood vessels in my uterus to cut off the fibroids. But this will not get rid of the fibroids – it will merely stop them from growing (which would be, I’ll admit, a total blessing).

OR: I could go with the hysterectomy (with a low bikini incision). My ovaries would be left in, because I don’t have any family history of cancer at all and, according to the doc, our ovaries have an important role to play as we age. They don’t know what it is, exactly, but it’s important.

This last option would give me my figure back (such as it is). The medication options will help with the blood flow, but it won’t shrink the fibroids into non-existence, from what I understand. (Even after menopause, the fibroids don’t just go away, and I’ll be my normal, slightly fist-sized uterus girl again. Oh, no. That, of course, would be too easy.)

When I told my husband, the first thing I did was help him feel my abdomen. Almost from hipbone to hipbone, from pubic bone to just below my belly button – my uterus fills my abdomen.  Considering it’s supposed to be roughly the size of my fist, it’s beyond ginormous. I feel awkward, ugly, huge and impossible.

Tom, my love, wants me to do whatever will give me the best long-term health outcome. He doesn’t care if I don’t get my figure back. (I think a main part of it is he doesn’t want me going in for any surgery, at all. I can totally understand that.) But me? I’m tired of feeling huge. Of being 5 months pregnant. I’ve been this way, steadily growing, for four years now. And I’m tired.

I don’t know what I’ll end up doing. I’ve got research to do. The doc took a biopsy of the fibroids and we should get the results back in a few days. Then we’ll sit down, the three of us, and figure out what our next step should be.

Why am I writing about this here? Because it didn’t dawn on me that when a GP doc gave me an exam in 2010, that she might be wrong when she pressed on my uterus and said, “What’s your bladder doing there?” I’ll never know how different things might have been, if this had been caught in 2010.

Things change in our bodies as we women age, and we need to be alert to the changes. The Niagra Falls part of my period didn’t really get bad until about 3-4 years ago. That should have been my first clue. But I wasn’t paying any attention. I had assumed that everything was as it should be.

I was wrong. Learn from my mistakes. Pay attention to your health. It’s important, and no one else can possibly do it for you.


Thanks for stopping by! I love your opinions. If you’ve got (or had) a uterus, talk to me – what do you think about this? And if you’re a guy, what do YOU think?



Why Can’t My Life Be More like NPR?

Why Can’t My Life Be More like NPR?

At times, I wonder why my life can’t be more like those stories I hear on National Public Radio. Their guests, during interviews, always have cultured, radio-perfect voices pitched at just the right timbre so as to soothe and inform. Authors, or professors, or political experts; it doesn’t seem to matter. Maybe these guests are given a short training session on how to speak for the radio?logo for National Public Radio

Then there are those non-news oriented stories, which are read aloud by the writer in front of an audience. They are inevitably perfectly captured bits of time, a distilled essence of the writer that makes the listener smile in recognition, or weep for the brave person speaking. Often there will be laughter and tears engendered in the listener during the same sentence.

The writer is always wry, dry, and terribly witty; and maybe a little, but not too, precious. They hold up their own quirks and foibles for us to laugh at, as well as the shortcomings of those around them. They spill their secrets out into the world without a care for who (whom?) may be listening. Secrets of a love affair gone awry, or the challenges they face with an arm that doesn’t work, or the constant heartbreak when they think of the child they had to give up for adoption, or the ugliness of living as a civilian in a war zone. Invariably there is a perfect sound bite to capture their experiences.

(Alas, I don’t have a picture of a sound bite. Enjoy the photo of a summer day at the beach. Imagine yourself in the chair, with a loved one next to you, beverage of choice in hand. Ahhh….)

A photo of a pristine beach, two chairs, and an umbrella.

thanks to for the image.


(Okay, and we’re back.)

I wonder how those writers can take the vividness of what is happening to and around them and put them in such sound bites? Words that both distance themselves from the experience, and yet draw their listeners in to the sturm und drang of their world? I have a hard enough time as it is getting my fictional worlds to spin right; turning the spotlight on my own world is not so easy.

My life isn’t a sound bite. It can’t be encapsulated in a smart turn of phrase, or by an evocative strain of music. My life, like most people’s, is messy, full of abundant love, chaotic, wonder-filled, frustrating and dirty in absolutely every gorgeous sense of the word and yet – it defies simple definition.

In spite of my lack of a sound-bite, I’m opening a part of my private life to the world. I’m starting an intimate and irregular series of posts tomorrow, titled The Uterus Chronicles. If you come back to check it out, I’d appreciate it if you would pretend some soothing, cultured female voice were reading it in your ear.

Someone like Mara Liasson, perhaps.


Until tomorrow – bring your opinions!

Cover Reveal – Denied by Kinley Baker

Cover Reveal – Denied by Kinley Baker

Kinley Baker is one of my Crescent Moon Press sisters – and here’s the cover for her new book, DENIED!

When invaders brutally massacred the women and children of the Varner, Caleb witnessed loss and destruction on a scale few can comprehend. As the leader of a race on the brink of extinction, his only hope for survival is gaining acceptance into the Shadow Shifter Kingdom. Struggling with new customs, he meets Tabitha, a woman who challenges his limits.

Refused the right to join the king’s guard because of her gender, Tabitha must be stronger than the men to prove she deserves to be the first accepted female Warrior in the kingdom. She believes Caleb will help improve her abilities, until she learns her goals conflict with the foundation of his culture.

When the realm is attacked, Tabitha and Caleb must come together not only to fight, but to find the strength to win against an evil with the potential to destroy everything they revere most–including each other.

Add DENIED as To-Read on GoodReads!

PLUS: Kinley’s doing a tour-wide giveaway – you can use the rafflecopter, below, or head on over to her site for your opportunity to win a $10 gift card!  Click here for Kinley’s Website.

a Rafflecopter giveaway