pineapple sage

Looking for a sweet-smelling addition to your spring garden? Try pineapple sage. It blooms late summer into the fall. the long stalks produce gorgeous crimson flowers. Bees, hummingbirds, and butterflies love this perennial that also doubles as an annual in certain zones.

pineapple sage

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run, grunion, run


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If it’s March, it’s grunion time up and down the Southern California coastline. What are grunion? To put it bluntly, they are rather weird-looking silvery fish that swim ashore to spawn. It’s a big deal here in SoCal. To watch this romance blossom, you’ll have to set aside an evening somewhere between March and August and pick a beach anywhere from Malibu to Crystal Cove, or San Pedro to La Jolla. The sandier the beach, the better. Grunion don’t like gravel. Make sure it’s high tide because these little critters bring their sexy bods on shore by the thousands and wriggle around until the female settles down into the sand, tail first to lay her eggs. The males swagger over to curl themselves around the females and release milt that fertilizes the eggs. The afterglow doesn’t last very long, (long enough for the eggs to incubate though) before the grunion rely on the waves to carry them back out to sea where they swim off and have lots of little grunion. According to the experts at the Birch Aquarium grunion runs are triggered by high tides during new and full moon phases, every spring and summer.

If you go to watch, don’t wreck the mood, observe from a distance and let nature take its course. During April and May the grunion runs are closed, meaning its okay to watch but no catching. June through August it’s okay to catch with your hands but you are not permitted to use a scooping device. Don’t forget you’ll need a license if you intend to take away any catch at all.


Image credit: Cabrillo Marine Aquarium

A side note:  Halibut is especially plentiful during these months and a lot more tasty than grunion. IMO. If you want more info on best guesses as to when the grunion are at peak, check the website. Remember these dates and times aren’t carved in stone, so don’t expect these marine critters to perform on demand.


happy St. Patrick’s day

St. Patrick’s Day is an enchanted time – a day to begin transforming winter’s dreams into summer’s magic. ~ Adrienne Cook

hills of ireland

Had your share of green beer? cucumber-lemon-martini-1-1Then try a green martini. Spring is just a few days away and this drink can be served to celebrate the first day of Spring or for Easter.  Recipe can be found at Beyond Mere Substanceshamrock


foodie Friday — Irish stew

Irish Stew

Image credit: Pinterest


What you’ll need.

  • 6 oz Bacon
  • 2 1/2 lb Beef chuck
  • 2 Bay leaves
  • 3 Carrots (peeled and cut into 1/2″ thick pieces)
  • 2 large celery stalks (cut into 1/2″ slices)
  • 3 Garlic cloves
  • 2 Onions, white or yellow
  • 3 sprigs Thyme
Out of the can
  • 3 cups Chicken stock/broth
  • 4 tbsp Tomato paste
Baking & Spices
  • 1 Black pepper
  • 3 tbsp plain flour
  • 3/4 tsp Salt
Oils & Vinegars
  • 2 tbsp Olive oil
  • 1 can Guinness beer
  1. Cut the beef into 2″ chunks. Pat dry then sprinkle with salt and pepper.
  2. Heat oil in a heavy based pot over high heat. Add beef in batches and brown well all over. Remove onto plate. Repeat with remaining beef.
  3. Remove pot from heat to cool slightly and lower heat to medium. If the pot looks dry, add oil.
  4. Return pot to heat, add garlic and onion. Cook for 3 minutes until softening, then add bacon.
  5. Cook until bacon is browned then add flour. Stir flour into the mixture.
  6. Add Guinness. Mix well (to ensure flour dissolves completely) then add remaining ingredients and return beef into the pot (including any juices).
  7. Add enough water so the beef & veggies are almost fully covered.
  8. Cover. Bring to a simmer then lower heat so that it bubbles gently. Cook for 2 hours or until meat is tender. Remove lid then simmer for another 30 – 45 minutes or until the beef falls apart at a touch and the sauce has reduced and thickened slightly.
  9. Skim off fat on surface. Adjust salt and pepper to taste. Remove bay leaves and thyme.
  10. Serve over creamy mashed potatoes!!

TIP: I like to make ahead the night before so that I can let it simmer longer than 3 hours. I want the beef tender enough to cut with a fork.

thank-a-teacher Thursday

Growing up, I had some great teachers who inspired me to do more, to be more. Mrs. Lyles. Mrs. Pruitt. Mrs. Bourek. Mrs. Lawless. You get the picture. Which probably explains why I went through such a wide swing of career choices early on. It wasn’t until an 8th grade English teacher, Mrs. Brown, told me that I could really spin a story that I began to dream of a career in journalism. Did I make it? Not quite. At least not in the newspaper business. But Mrs. Brown’s initial suggestion that I had talent and her yearlong encouragement gave me hope. And from that hope, stories began to emerge. Spinning tales became more natural for me. Short stories gushed out of me I didn’t know I could write. Many a creative writing class later, here I am. So to all the teachers who planted the writing bug in me…thank you! After all this time, I still hear their echoes of optimism, their inspiration, their determination. They instilled in me a forever sense not to give up.

So take it from me, it’s never too late to thank a teacher.