Friday, November 28, 2014

How to Blast Belly Fat The Day After Turkey Day Diet

Former Diet and Nutrition writer for Woman's World
Pounds Off article cover story every week
Blast Belly Fat the Day After Turkey Day
By Cal Orey

This is Thanksgiving and I’m feeling it, sort of.  It’s a national holiday in America known for religious celebrations and a classic meal including a turkey. This day goes back to harvest time celebrated by the Pilgrims centuries ago on the last Thursday in November.
Instead of following tradition, I’m breaking away and doing my own thing in the kitchen for my mind, body, and spirit.

I’ve included turkey-for you--since I’m a vegetarian (a sometimes vegan).  So, it’s special leftovers that I’m dishing up for Callie’s cabin. Nope, there will be no Cranberry-Orange Cupcakes, no pumpkin pie, forget hens and cheesecake didn’t make it to the party either. But I do have some good-for-you dishes that’ll fill you up, not out.
Get a move to burn calories.
still fit in size 4 skinny jeans

Diet Tips with Coffee, Vinegar and Honey

Boost your calorie-burning power by:
* Drink a large cup of coffee in the a.m.
* Have an orange
* Before lunch try a Tbs. of apple cider vinegar, 1 tsp. honey with a cup of herbal tea
* Savor the turkey leftover lunch
* Drink a a cup of tea with vinegar before 
dinner: turkey, salad, fresh fruit
* Do not eat after 7 p.m.
* Drink fresh water and herbal tea throughout the day

Several years ago on the South Shore, rather than dine out, I went to work in the kitchen. I created delicious Mediterranean-style appetizers with, a honey-glazed pricey all natural big bird, two types of stuffing, mashed potatoes, mixed vegetables, cookies, and two pies. After the feast for me, family, and friends—I laid down on the couch and played possum. Some folks stared at me and darted: “Are you okay?” Others laughed.  My sibling pointed at me and shook his head, “You don’t look so good.” I mumbled, “I ate the whole thing.” But I survived.

In retrospect, I realize that my fave time of Thanksgiving dinner is the day after. As a kid I anticipated hitting the fridge during the meal for a yummy turkey sandwich on white bread. The stuffing has always been my love throughout the years. So, that’s what I’ve got on the table for you but I’ve given it a European touch. Blame it on my recent trip to the French province Quebec, a place where homemade baguettes and gourmet coffee make every day feel like Thanksgiving.
Fresh veggies, fruit, herbal tea and small portions to lose lbs

Turkey-Cheese Baguette

·        1 sourdough baguette
·        Mayonnaise with olive oil
·        4 thick slices roasted deli turkey
·        4 slices cheese, gouda or Swiss
·        2 Roma tomatoes, sliced
·        ½ cup baby spinach, raw
·        Ground pepper and sea salt to taste

Stuffing is high is salt so moderation is key, not
deprivation...Eggnog gelato shake--savor half!
Slice in half one fresh baguette. Spread with mayo. Layer turkey and cheese and top with cheese. Add tomatoes and spinach. Sprinkle with pepper and salt. Cut in diagonal pieces.  Serves 2-3.

Apple-Walnut Dressing

·        1/3-1/2 cup European style butter
·        ¼ cup onion, yellow, roughly chopped
·        ½ cup celery, diced
·        ½ cup apples, Fuji, chopped
·        ½ cup walnuts, chopped
·        ¾ cup water
·        8 ounces pre-seasoned dressing (store-bought box)

In a large skillet, melt butter and sauté vegetables. Remove from stove. Add dressing and stir in water. Spread into a square or round casserole dish. Cover with foil and bake 40-50 minutes. Take off foil for extra brown crunch. Serves approximately 6.

These familiar foods gleaned from a Thanksgiving real meal are easy to make and aren’t too far off from Turkey Day tradition. Plating the sandwiches with a small dish of dressing (it’s high in sodium), and fresh fruit, such as purple grapes, is perfect. Also, for a special treat serve flavored coffee (such as pumpkin spice with a dollop of whipped cream and a dash of nutmeg) and a few gourmet dark chocolates.

During a time when friends and family are far away, I try to connect via telephone or Internet and show my interest. Plus, as an intuitive, I will be working the networks for those sensitive souls who need a bit of chicken soup-type comfort to lessen the ups and downs during the holiday season. So, I’m doing my part and won’t have a muffin top come the New Year!

Motto: Thanksgiving at Lake Tahoe is a time for good food, but also a time for gratitude of our blessings.

 Cal Orey, M.A.  is an author and journalist. Her website is .  Diet recipes in the Healing Powers Series.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Home Sweet Home Vinegar Cures

Nature opened the first drugstore.
--D.C. Jarvis, M.D.

Available at amazon, barnes and noble
Walmart, and most bookstores

Chances are, apple cider, red wine, rice, and other vinegar—your everyday household products—even more extraordinary healing powers that you might not know about. The next time you need a natural remedy for a minor ailment, check this list first to see if a cure is as close as your kitchen cabinet or pantry.
Lose lbs., lower blood pressure
and more!

Here are several common health ailments, from A to Z, and provide common at-home vinegar folk remedies. Some treatments can be used inside and others outside the body. Keep in mind, these are based on anecdotal evidence. There are no double-blind studies to back up their effectiveness and make it conclusive. Still, read on, and you’ll see why it’s an amazing remedy that you want to have in your home.

Pair with honey for a double punch

1 Tame Arthritis: Folk medicine holds that apple cider vinegar can help fight ache and pains. While no scientific studies prove this to be true, conventional doctors frown at the thought of vinegar as an anti-arthritis remedy, testimony gives nutrient-rich apple cider vinegar kudos for providing relief for the debilitating disease.
What Vinegar Remedy to Use:  The popular cure is simple. Take 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar and honey in a glass of water several times daily.
Why You’ll Like It: If it works for you, you will be happy because it’s natural, which means there will be no ill side effects from pain medications. Plus, it’s low-cost and easy to use.

2 Soothe Burns: Ever burn yourself on the stovetop, iron, or fireplace? Ouch!  Any burn that affects your body should be attended to ASAP. The reason: You’ll want to keep inflammation and swelling at a minimum.
What Vinegar Remedy to Use: Apply apple cider vinegar, straight out of the bottle, to a burn on the surface of the body. Better yet, apply ice cold vinegar right away for fast relief.
Why You’ll Like It:  Vinegar contains both anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory properties that may help alleviate smarting and soreness and prevents blisters.

3 Steady Dizziness:  Feeling dizzy can be attributed to many causes, from prescription meds to hormonal changes. The fact remains, dizziness is not fun, and if you have ever felt this unsettling feeling, you might be willing to try vinegar to help keep your grounded.
What Vinegar Remedy to Use: DC Jarvis, Folk Medicine: A New England Almanac of Natural Care from a Noted Vermont Country Doctor notes that Vermont folk medicine is successful in treating dizziness, which he claims is due to “an alkaline reaction of the urine.” He recommends the apple cider treatment, with the timing and dosage similar to those used for other ailments. Take a tablespoon or two a few times per day as needed.
Why You’ll Like It:  If you have felt lightheaded or like your world is spinning, you’ll love this apple cider treatment, which will keep your feet and head steady without pesky side effects.

4 Embrace An Energizer:  Feeling tired, run-down, a lack of drive? You’re hardly alone. According to Edward Conley, D.O., in Grand Blanc, Michigan, an estimated 80 percent of adults complain of fatigue at one time or another. It is believed by many health gurus that vinegar can help you to feel more alert and physically energized.
What Vinegar Remedy to Use: Take 1 tablespoon of the potassium-rich energizer three times a day, preferably in 1 cup of water each time.
Why You’ll Like It: While caffeinated sodas can give you an instant boost, they can leave you feeling like you’re on a roller coaster with their ups and downs. Vinegar beats fatigue and leaves you energized without ill effects. 8 Put Insomnia To Bed: Your eyes are wide open. The fear of not getting a good night’s sleep tonight haunts you like a spooky Stephen King nightmare. The neon numbers on the clock (2:00 A.M.) are a glowing reminder of the sleepless zombie you’ll be tomorrow morning. You toss, you turn. Now it’s 3:20 A.M. Still not asleep. Whether you’ve had too much caffeine, didn’t say not to your nightcap, or didn’t solve your problems during the daytime, it’s time to try an old secret for sweet dreams.

5  Put Insomnia To Bed: Your eyes are wide open. The fear of not getting a good night’s sleep tonight haunts you like a spooky Stephen King nightmare. The neon numbers on the clock (2:00 A.M.) are a glowing reminder of the sleepless zombie you’ll be tomorrow morning. You toss, you turn. Now it’s 3:20 A.M. Still not asleep. Whether you’ve had too much caffeine, didn’t say not to your nightcap, or didn’t solve your problems during the daytime, it’s time to try an old secret for sweet dreams.
What Vinegar Remedy to Use:  Dr. Jarvis recommends making a mixture of 3 teaspoons of apple cider vinegar to 1 cup of honey, and keeping it on the night table to a wide-mouthed bottle or jar along with a teaspoon.
Why You’ll Like It: The Vermont folk medicine doctor touts honey as the ideal remedy for getting shut-eye. Vinegar and honey are worth a try and may beat being sleep-deprived, which can wreak havoc on your health.

6 Blast Low Libido:  A diet rich in vegetables, fruits, and whole grains enhances good health, which result in better sexual energy. Some aficionados claim apple cider vinegar is also a love potion due to its antioxidants boosting the libido. Eating a nutrient-dense low-fat, high fiber diet can help men and women stave off obesity, heart disease, and the need to use medications, all of which can put a damper on sex drive.
What Vinegar Remedy to Use:  Try 1 or 2 teaspoons of apple cider vinegar in a glass of spring water three times a day.
Why You’ll Like It: Vinegar beats those little blue pills (for men) which have potential side effects that can make any man or woman lose that loving feeling.

7 Lose Muscle Cramps:  Ever wake up in the middle of the night and cringe at that sharp, painful muscle cramp? They can strike the feet, legs, and even the stomach. What to do?
What Vinegar Remedy to Use:  Doctors Patricia and Paul Bragg recommend taking 2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar and 1 teaspoon of honey in a glass of distilled water three times per day.
Why You’ll Like It:  It may work, claim the Braggs, by allowing the precipitated acid crystals in your circulatory system to enter into a solution and pass out the body.

8 Rub Out Poison Ivy, Oak, and Sumac:  These three plants contain a poisonous sap that causes dermatitis—a pesky skin disorder. Symptoms include severe itching of the skin and oozing sores. While most cases of poisoning go away in 7-10 days, you can find relief without going to the drugstore.
What Vinegar Remedy to Use: Neal Schultz, M.D., a dermatologist in New York, recommends two vinegar solutions: mix equal parts vinegar and rubbing alcohol and apply to rash. Be sure to wash—thoroughly—plus everything that came in contact with the plant. Or mix equal parts buttermilk, vinegar, and salt and apply.s supposed to do for your health? Evidently, one way to find out is to let vinegar tell you what’s up.
What Vinegar Remedy to Use: Drop your vitamin into ½ cup of vinegar. Stir the solution a few times during the course of 20 minutes. If the vitamin separates into tiny pieces, it’s good. If not, it may be time to look for a different brand.
Why You’ll Like It:  When trying this do-it-yourself system, it may work, so you can get a thumbs-up or down for your choice of brand and take care of you and your body.

9 Stop Swimmer’s Ear: A common ailment that I remember getting as a teenage competitive simmer. You can develop this ailment by swimming and showering as well.
What Vinegar Remedy to Use:  To protect against ear infections from swimming pools, a popular folk remedy is to try is using a mixture of one part white vinegar to one part rubbing alcohol.
Why You’ll Like It:  Vinegar is a good preventive strategy that can help keep pesky swimmer’s ear at bay, while you splash in the pool or indulge in long showers.

10 Rate Your Vitamin Supplement:  Ever wonder if your multivitamin is doing what it iinclude medications that you, your family, and your pet are taking, you also want to have a first-aid kit and handbook.
What Remedy to Use: Pour apple cider vinegar into a large plastic container (or two), and store it with your emergency supplies.

Why You’ll Like It:  It is the medicine of the twenty-first century. Rather than trying to remember if you have every type of ailment remedy, you will be covered whether you cut yourself, get a bruise, come down with a sore throat, or run into anything health-wise that will irk you during a disaster.

Surprising Vinegar facts you didn’t know…

·        * Red wine vinegar contains flavonoids (and perhaps heart-healthy resveratrol), which can help prevent high blood pressure, stroke, and heart attack.
·        * Balsamic vinegar is high in antioxidant polyphenols, fat-free, high in potassium, tasty, and paired with olive oil is the dressing of the 21st century.
·       *  Fruit-flavored vinegars have a wide variety of health benefits. Persimmon vinegar, rich in vitamins A and C, is “hot” in Korea and good for the body. Shanxi  vinegar, made from barley and peas, is a nutritional powerhouse and appreciated in China.
·        * Amino-rich rice vinegar can help fight aches, congestion, and irregularity.
·       *  Herbal vinegar including chamomile, fennel, rosemary, and thyme also have therapeutic effects for your body, mind, and spirit. 

— Cal Orey, M.A. is an author and journalist. Her books include "The Healing Powers" series (Olive Oil, Chocolate, Honey, and Coffee) published by Kensington. (All books were featured by Literary Guild, Book of the Month, One Spirit and Good Cook Book clubs.) Her website is

Excerpt from The Healing Powers of Vinegar, Revised and Updated (Kensington), translated in 20 languages, 27th printing

Sunday, November 23, 2014

A Tribute to My Aussie, Happy Birthday

By Cal Orey
A pre-Valentine's Day gift waiting for me

My fur child and I bonded quickly
TODAY I LOVE MY DOG(S): I am dedicating a photo diary of my Australian Shepherd, Skyler "Skye"...  (See his mother/father/my words two years ago.) 
In Red Bluff, CA before pick-up in SAC
my native Californian pup 

He will be two-years-old on December 1. Recently, I discovered he was born early in the morning which is good news. My boy is a Fire Sign (Sag) and his Rising Sign is Libra, like me, and very compatible with my Aries cat Zen and Air Sign Gemini Brittany, Simon...

The only boy, I chose him in a heartbeat
Neutering a 10-month-old Aussie
is a challenge!
REMEMBERING BITTERSWEET NOVEMBER...Two years ago, November was a challenging month. I lost my six-year-old Brittany, Seth, to a neurological disorder. My family was grieving: Simon, his best canine pal, Zen, my sensitive kitty, my sibling, and me. I was lost. I was hurt. I needed a healing dog. I found another Britt--but the breeder gave the male to the sire's owner. Another dog, an English Setter, turned out to have some health issues. During the Christmas season my home was full a giant void. One morning, an ad caught my eye. Within days I was blessed with a male Aussie. I put my order in for the little guy who would win my heart and soul on Groundhog Day.
My herding dog makes me smile

Ah, fluffy puppy fur and paws
WELCOME GROUNDHOG DAY! Raising a pup is not easy when you aren't a puppy yourself.  (Memories in February 2013 with a new pup.) We're talking broken sleep, a few puddles of puppy pee, chewing anything and everything in sight. But in hindsight, I would do it all over again. 

HEALTHY AND HAPPY...Two years, so far his health is excellent. Although last week I took Skye to the vet for his left ear--scratching it was something that needed to be looked at. A minor yeast infection to be washed out and ear drops for one week. Reminds me of me: Ever since I moved to the mountains ear infections when it gets colder. 

As Skyler was growing, I was concerned about his weight. "How much will my Aussie weigh?" I asked everyone and anyone who had a clue. We missed on the blue eyes but amber with different colors in the light is awesome. "Will he weigh more than 40 pounds?" Indeed, Skye did grow bigger than Simon and once the size of my cat at 12 lbs. Today, my two other fur kids aren't bothered by Skye's weight and strength despite him being the biggest out of the three.
2013 Fall at Lake Tahoe
Getting a blue merle wans't planned
Outdoor-loving Sag, no surprise! Go dog
LADY FATE PAID ME A VISIT... There are no coincidences... Years ago, I wrote an article on Aussies. I never dreamed I'd go to a herding breed. I fell into it and I am glad I did. Australian Shepherds have a similar temperament to Brittanys--Type A and upbeat. Nothing to complain about here.

Snow dog but not off leash due to bully dogs

A great day with my boys
WE ALL GET ALONG IN 2014...As a proud owner of an Aussie, Brittany, and Siamese mix, I'm pleased to say everyone gets along. It took two days for the cat to warm up to Skye...and quite a while for Simon to come around. After all, he was in love with his Britt sidekick. But both the new pup and Simon are growing closer, day by day, and they do play, sleep with us, and Skyler is just what the doctor ordered! He's keeping my 11-year-old Brittany acting like a young two-year-old.

The bottom line: "There is a dog god"... And again, I've been blessed with warmhearted canine who has won my heart but I will never forget the dogs' pawprints (one Maltese, two Labs, and two Brittanys) on my soul in Dog Heaven.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Warm Beaches VS Canada--Author Headed North

By Cal Orey
Eating a vegetarian meal up high at the
Space Needle is on my list

A week before Thanksgiving and thoughts of a book signing at Barnes and Noble in Eastern Seattle/Bellevue is on my mind. While I do love late autumn at Lake Tahoe, I can't help but think about traveling to the PNW--Washington and Canada. Come January, once again I'll be headed north and out of my comfort zone...
Canada is on my mind (again)

GOING NORTH OR SOUTH... My semi-competitive sibling announced he will be going south to Costa Rica when I return from my business-vacation trip. I have tasted and written about coffee from there, a place where men have been tagged "macho" and years ago, I did hitchhike one hundred miles south of the border. Once I heard the news, the green-eyed monster appeared. My big winter escape suddenly didn't seem so exotic. 
Sibling adventurer on the Lake when
I swim at resort pools in the snow
These threads will keep this California girl warm

Sure, flying north to Seattle is still new and exciting to me, despite I've been there a few times--and it's not Alaska (I've written about the great earthquake, and was a kid when it hit and rocked the snow-covered ground for five minutes). Come to think about it, BC is part of the Cascadia Subduction Zone (overdue for a 9.0) and I have watched quake swarms in the region off the coast.

Visiting Vancouver is still a new playground for me. On my list of to do is going to Vancouver Aquarium, savoring coffee shops, finding a non-fish meal at "Sky City" and getting the nerve to book a B.C. Ferry to Victoria. But, but, but...

OLD MAN WINTER IS FICKLE...Wacky weather around the nation is on my mind. In my weather forecast for 2015 (published in December issue of Oracle 20/20 Magazine in my monthly Earth Changes column), I note lots of rain and some snow in the Pacific Northwest. So, while the 6000 mile trip to Quebec didn't come with a lot of "rough air" in flight, I'm sensing that this upcoming adventure may be a little more adventurous. I can do turbulence, sort of. Still, choppy water is another issue. I did take a ferry to Catalina and was fine, smooth sailing. However, when asked numerous times to go on San Francisco Bay waters know for its seasick journeys I passed, time after time. So, I suppose getting my sea legs will be the test. 
According to Wikipedia, 30s in Jan. is the norm for Vancouver
West end of downtown and view of Kitsi Beach

When I was younger in my early twenties, hitchhiking through the Mojave Desert on through Gulf states with warm water was my fantasy come true. These days, for some reason, I'm gravitating north where it's colder. Perhaps living at Lake Tahoe where it used to get below zero in the winter has changed my preference for temperature. I've always loved grey skies and fog, like in San Francisco so maybe that's another reason I'm northbound.  It's romantic.  I will sip coffee day and night since Vancouver is touted to be a top city for its joe.
Note to self: Bring java back from B.C.

TROPICAL NEXT IN LINE... So, while this upcoming trip is pre-ordered and ready to go I admit even another trip but south is on my brain. The Gulf states, Jamaica (I almost got there via plane by panhandling in the airport), are places I'm toying with...then Toronto, Canada keeps taunting me. Been there but am tempted to go back one more time. 
The deal is, sub-Mediterranean climate is in Washington and British Columbia. Read: It should be warmer than Tahoe when I leave. No need to rush the trip after the one that is coming up. After all, we're still in autumn, my favorite season, especially at the Lake. I'm sure after the Canada adventure it will come to me what's next.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Taking the Long Way Home with Fantasy Cookies

Rustic cookies are chewy, savory and sweet
I adore peanut butter. As the story goes, when I was just a kid after my mom returned from a trip to Europe she was smitten by dishing out gourmet food. She used me and my siblings as lab rats and tried her fancy fare on us. More times than not I, a picky eater, refused to oblige. Then she'd announce the punishment, “It’s peanut butter and jam sandwiches tonight.” I won.  Peanut butter sandwiches or cookies are like an old reliable friend—they always give you constant comfort.

Last weekend returning home from a Barnes and Noble book signing in Roseville, I accidentally took the long way home on State Route 49-- a north–south state highway that takes you through mining communities. At nighttime, this isn’t the way you want to go with its winding roads—a rural Gold Rush nightmare without street lights. The GPS woman’s directions were off  like a mean-spirited character in a “Twilight Zone” program. I was cold, hungry. “I want peanut butter cookies and hot chocolate,” I mumbled, envisioning cuddling up with my cat Zen and watching a film.  But bottled water and fantasies of cookies sufficed.
Enjoyed Roseville people

My mom baked large old-fashioned peanut butter cookies, the kind leaving a crisscross imprint on top. Mid-week, however, I created a smaller cookie with European style butter, and autumn spices. It promised a warm mix of sweet and savory crunch. These cookies boast an imperfect look—a rustic delight that give a taste of home with present-day flavors that took me into a new comfort zone.

Petite Peanut Butter Cookies
·        2 1/2 cups flour (your choice but all-purpose is traditional)
·        1 ½ teaspoons baking soda
·        1 1 /2 teaspoons (each) ground ginger and cinnamon
·        1/3 cup European style butter
·        1 cup low sodium, all natural peanut butter, creamy (no oil on top)
·        1 cup dark or light brown sugar
·        1/4 cup white granulated sugar
·        1 brown egg
·        1 teaspoon vanilla
·        Mediterranean sea salt
·        Apricot jam, organic

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In a bowl, combine flour, baking soda, and spices. Set aside. Place butter in a small microwavable dish and melt. Add butters and sugars. Mix in egg and vanilla. Combine all ingredients and mix well. (It will be crumbly.) Form cookie dough into a snake-like roll and wrap in parchment paper. (I saw this tip on “Food Network” and it works like a charm.) Chill for at least an hour. Slice dough into 1/4 inch slices, roll into petite balls and place on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Use the bottom of a cup to flatten the balls. Place crisscross marks with fork on top of balls. (You can also use your thumb to make an imprint to place jam.) Bake for about 8-10 minutes. Once out of the oven sprinkle half the cookies with Mediterranean Sea salt and other half with a mini spoonful of jam. This way you'll have both of best worlds. Makes about three dozen.
Finding the right texture in high altitude is a challenge

It's a challenge to bake good cookies in the high altitude. You've got to get a grasp on the right mix of sugars and flour for a chewy texture. And baking requires a higher temperature. I think I've got it down now after a decade of living here in the Sierras. The spices add warm flavors. The salt provides a nice kick and the jam a sweet punch. I wish I had these babies to munch on during that dark and cold Sierra Nevada road but homemade cookies make home even sweeter.
Motto: Infusing old-fashioned foods with a new European twist gives you a feeling of savoring a sophisticated cookie.
— Cal Orey, M.A.  is an author and journalist. Her books include "The HealingPowers" series (health-cookbooks) published by Kensington.  Her website is . 
This article was first published in Tahoe Daily Tribune.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Barnes and Noble Book Signing Shocking Surprise(s)

A customer purchased a coffee book and
 gift for me: a mug with
author T.S. Eliot's words
Leaving Tahoe always makes me remember-
I live in the mountains
By Cal Orey
"I have measured out my life in 
coffee spoons."
--T.S. Eliot

Yesterday, Saturday November 15, I traveled off the hill from Lake Tahoe to Sacramento for a book signing. 
My Healing Powers Series was the featured guest and I was pleasantly surprised. 

The Healing Powers of Honey drew attention like bees on a flower
COFFEE ATTRACTS CUSTOMERS!... For years,  my two popular books The Healing Powers of Vinegar and Olive Oil have been the workerbees or brainchild kids that work for me. I'm talking translated in more than a dozen languages, featured in major books clubs, in the Newsmax store, Walmart, and national magazines to radio talk show topics. But at the very elegant Roseville bookstore things changed! 

The mass market editions (same book, smaller books) didn't draw as much attention as COFFEE and CHOCOLATE.  People talked to me about the health perks of both these neglected once bad foods gone good. It was delightful! Of course, the drawing we offered to win gourmet coffee and Godiva chocolate helped draw attention.  And there were four winners!
Coming into SAC--a Mediterranean climate

BOOK SIGNINGS, PAST AND PRESENT... As noted in my last blog post, I've done dozens of book signings from a busy gathering at the Seattle, WA bookstore to Palmdale,  CA (both geologist Jim Berkland and I were on local TV dishing quakes on the San Andreas). Some signings I read and have a sit down audience; other signings I meet and greet people and chat one-on-one. Both formats work for me. Yesterday,  it was a combination.  Actually, I will take a vow of silence today because I talked so much! In will drink tea with honey to soothe my sore throat. The people who visited me were fascinating. Not only did they purchase my books, I enjoyed the vast variety of conversations with people and both genders of all ages.

GOING BACK HOME--A SPOOKY SCI-FI DARKER CHALLENGE...  Traveling with my adventurous sibling is always fun, sort of.  Ironically, we got there easily following mapquest.  
On the way home, thanks to the eerie know-it-all lady's voice who led us on GPS Navigator--it was a segment out of a Twilight Zone episode. We were duped and got lost on the long, winding road in rural areas headed for Placerville. It happened once before but it was daytime. This time around it was in the dark. You're supposed to drive 20 mph but we were forced to go faster because of people behind us. Think amusement park ride without amusement. In retrospect it was exciting driving all alone without lit roads. I couldn't help but get images of sci-fi films I've seen when the characters get lost in remote regions and monsters appeared. It took us three hours to get back home unlike the two hours mapquest route that allowed me to be at the store an hour early.
We were going to stay in SAC but then I remembered-
Zen was home alone!

I confess I did kennel my dog duo. They will get the pampering--extra walks, brushing (teeth and coat), treats and toys, and piped in music. I forget Simon's blanket and I didn't label their different dog chow... When I arrived home I knew it would be zen-like. My Siamese kitty Zen was waiting for me full of purring and snuggles. I got to sleep in until 10:30 AM. Bliss. 

The dogs? It's 5-6 AM every day and midnight last call. Vacation day/night.  But today in the afternoon I will help my boys escape and all will be back to normal. I pray the sensitive Aussie doesn't have attitude and piddle on my comfy, plush comforter form SAC. Psst. I haven't told them yet about my short trip to Reno bookstore for the next signing on January 3, nor my second longer Canada trip. Well, Santa will bring gifts and lots of love the next month and a half  to make up for my absence. And we will all live happily ever after.