Happy Fourth of July!

USA flag and skyWe have displayed an American flag in our front yard since September 11, 2001. We’ve maintained American flags on the front of one of our businesses since 1994. We live in a quaint little town that actually has a flag shop.

Until today, I have never really thought much about what goes into the care and maintenance of a flag, since mostly that falls into Mr. Rinaldi’s scope of practice around the house.

After doing some research I found a few tips and pointers for you if you decide you to want to display the stars and stripes where you live.

Proper display: A flagpole, attached to a wall, taped over a window – any of these are appropriate. For cars, trains, boats, or your garden decor, red white and blue bunting is appropriate.

Time for display: Inside they may be left up all the time. Outside it should come down at sunset folded neatly and put away safely, or you may choose to light it in which case you can leave it up all night.

Care: You may provide small repairs or for fabric flags that are dirty you may dry clean. However if frayed along the edges or faded it’s time to replace it.

Retirement: It is never appropriate to throw a flag in the garbage. Despite protesters burning our nation’s flag as a sign of disrespect, the appropriate way to retire a flag is to burn it in private with respect.

So join us in displaying Old Glory at your home or business – not just today but every day.

Laissez Les Bon Temps Rouler (Let the Good Times Roll)

j0384906I love all things sparkly and Mardi Gras is all about sparkle and glitter and feathers and beads!  Mardi Gras is the celebration of Fat Tuesday, the day before Ash Wednesday and the beginning of the Lenten Season for Catholics.  It is the last day of Carnival and revelry before the season of penance begins.  No Mardi Gras is complete without the King Cake.  You may want to try this one.

Recipe: King Cake

Ingredients:

PASTRY
1 cup milk
1/4 cup butter
2 (.25 ounce) packages active dry yeast
2/3 cup warm water (110 degrees F/45 degrees C)
1/2 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
5 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

FILLING
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
2/3 cup chopped pecans
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup raisins
1/2 cup melted butter

FROSTING
1 cup confectioners’ sugar
1 tablespoon water
colored sugar in green, yellow and purple 

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Grease 2 cookie sheets or line with parchment paper.

2. Scald milk, remove from heat and stir in 1/4 cup of butter. Allow mixture to cool to room temperature. In a large bowl, dissolve yeast in the warm water with 1 tablespoon of the white sugar. Let stand until creamy, about 10 minutes.

3. When yeast mixture is bubbling, add the cooled milk mixture. Whisk in the eggs. Stir in the remaining white sugar, salt and nutmeg. Beat the flour into the milk/egg mixture 1 cup at a time. When the dough has pulled together, turn it out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic, about 8 to 10 minutes.

4. Lightly oil a large bowl, place the dough in the bowl and turn to coat with oil. Cover with a damp cloth or plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place until doubled in volume, about 2 hours. When risen, punch down and divide dough in half.

5. For filling, combine the brown sugar, ground cinnamon, chopped pecans, 1/2 cup flour and 1/2 cup raisins. Pour 1/2 cup melted butter over the cinnamon mixture and mix until crumbly.

6. Roll dough halves out into large rectangles (approximately 10×16 inches or so). Sprinkle the filling evenly over the dough and roll up each half tightly like a jelly roll, beginning at the wide side. Bring the ends of each roll together to form 2 oval shaped rings. Place each ring on a prepared cookie sheet. With scissors make cuts 1/3 of the way through the rings at 1 inch intervals. Let rise in a warm spot until doubled in size, about 45 minutes.

7. Bake in preheated oven for 30 minutes. Push the doll into the bottom of the cake. Frost while warm with the confectioners’ sugar blended with 1 to 2 tablespoons of water. Sprinkle with colored sugar crystals and ENJOY!

All About Intentions

Last year on day 7 of a 28-day Reiki intentions exercise, I realized that sometimes the universe really does ask, “How much do you want this?” 

So while putting my attention and intentions toward making improvements in my life, here were some of the challenges I encountered that week:

1. A piece of jewelry I wear nearly every day and has tremendous sentimental value went missing. It ultimately turned up, but only after I had been through the emotional wringer of not being sure I’d ever see it again. Surprisingly, some inner work came up that I thought was completely resolved in my world, and it sounded like this: YOU DON’T DESERVE NICE THINGS, THIS IS WHY YOU CAN’T HAVE NICE THINGS. That’s what the shit-flinging monkey who occasionally resides in my head kept repeating over and over as I frantically searched for my necklace. Logically, I knew the words were not true. Emotionally, I was beating myself up for having lost something that was important to me. This gave me the opportunity to be kinder to myself throughout the week as an exercise. Kindness.

2. My newish computer crashed. Three days out of warranty. Blue screen of death, operating system failure. This gave me the opportunity to be grateful for the other two computers that I do have (and the roughly 15 others I have had in the last 20 years) that haven’t given me a single lick of trouble. Gratitude.

3. A security guard fell asleep behind the wheel and managed to hit the only vehicle parked on the block: mine. While I am grateful that it was handled appropriately, I chose to find the humor in this. One. Freaking. Car. Mine. And he hit it. It is kind of funny, years ago I learned you can get pissed off and write the check or you can laugh and write the check – ultimately you’re still writing the check. So I find humor. Laughter.

Law of Attraction

Working with manifesting and intentions doesn’t magically make all of the challenges in life disappear – they exist, they are there, you can’t ignore them. What it does is it makes you change your perspective. You can’t work to improve your life if you’re focusing on what’s wrong with your life. So start to see what’s right with each circumstance or how you can improve it with a perspective shift.

“If you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.” – Dr. Wayne Dyer 

Tell me how your intentions are going.

Happy Thanksgiving!

I had the opportunity to go to Ohio a few weeks ago during the height of fall color. There were moments it simply took my breath away.

Ohio Fall Color 2015

On my return to Los Angeles I was welcomed home to 90° heat with Santa Ana winds – our special SoCal version of fall.

I’ve always loved living in Southern California. We have the beaches, the mountains, and Disneyland all within a short drive. I often forget the beauty of nature that surrounds me. And while I do get to travel a fair amount for my business and for leisure, it’s a rare occurrence to actually get me “outdoors” beyond my garden. I do love my climate-controlled indoor environments.

As I sit here writing this and reflecting on the time I had last month experiencing nature in all its glory and change, it occurred to me it was one more thing I have experienced that I have to be thankful for – the ability to access and explore the vast open spaces the United States offers. We have access to these open spaces through parks and preserves; from local municipal to great national treasures.

I would like to suggest this Thanksgiving, rather than queuing up for your 5 a.m. retail fix (or, God forbid, actually going out shopping on Thanksgiving day), that you and your family spend some time outdoors. Connect with nature. I know I’ll be doing just that.

Lessons in Making Your Life (and the Lives of People around You) Easier

Mind your manners, people.

I could leave it at that, but nope, here I go.

Stop SignWHAT TO STOP

  • Behaving as if you are the only one who matters in the world
  • Living in a virtual world and neglecting your “real” friends and family
  • Being late
  • Being dishonest
  • Pushing your agenda on others
  • Being unkind
  • Being selfish
  • Neglecting to invest in your community
  • Being a downer
  • And for goodness sake stop playing the victim card

These are just a few of my pet peeves at the moment. If you really want to make a difference in the world, begin with your little patch of earth and see if you can effect positive change in others – not through your words but through your actions.

So what can you do? (Glad you asked.)

WHAT TO START

  • Taking care of your needs (eat, rest and move), turning off the TV/computer/cell phone and connecting with the people around you
  • Valuing other people’s time as much as your own
  • Being truthful with everyone – especially yourself
  • Releasing the need to judge others – you do not know their path
  • Giving to others and giving to yourself generously; whether of your time or your resources, giving helps you connect with other people
  • Contributing and find a cause greater than yourself – someone or something that needs you more
  • Being more positive and, for goodness sake, whatever you’ve been through, you’re here now; that doesn’t make you a victim in my book – that makes you a survivor. Own it and you can change it.