A Tall, Cool Glass of Jamaica

I first had this refreshing drink when I visited Tijuana Mexico to pick up my son who had spent two years there doing volunteer work for our church.  We were invited to dinner by the president of the mission where he was working, and we were served the delicious beverage with our meal  At first, I thought maybe it was cranberry juice mixed with something else – it had a similar tart-ness to it – but after inquiring, I learned it was Jamaica. (pronounced ha-mike-ah)


Jamaica or hibiscus flowers are dried and sold in bulk in plastic bags.  You can find them in almost every corner market in Mexico and in the US in a variety of Latino grocery stores.  Here’s the recipe for making a cool, refreshing drink that is perfect for a hot summer day.

2 c. dried jamaica blossoms
3 c. water
4 c. cold water
sugar (or artificial sweetener) to taste

Place the flowers in 3 cups water and bring to a boil over medium high heat.  Boil for about 2 minutes.  Turn off the heat and let rest for 4 hours, or overnight.

Strain the liquid and discard the flowers.  Combine the liquid with the 4 c. cold water and sugar, adjusting to your desired sweetness.  I like mine a little on the tart side, so I don’t add much sweetener.

Pour over ice and enjoy!

Jamaica doesn’t just taste good — it’s good for you as well.  It is rich in antioxidants and can speed up your metabolism, giving you more energy.  It has been shown to maintain fluid levels in your body and lower bad cholesterol too.

Give it a try.  I bet you will like it!



Jalisco-Style Salmon and Avocado Lettuce Cups

It has been so hot here in Northern California, and I have been searching for ways to eat healthy and keep the kitchen cool at the same time.  We had these for dinner last night and they were amazing.  This recipe is based on a taco recipe by Cooking Classy, with just a few changes due to my Paleo-ish eating style.

Jalisco-Style Salmon and Avocado Lettuce Cups


    • 1 1/2 lbs boneless salmon, skinned and sliced into 3 equal portions
    • 1 Tbsp coconut oil, plus more for pan
    • 1 Tbsp fresh lime juice
    • 1 tsp chili powder
    • 3/4 tsp ground cumin
    • 3/4 tsp onion powder
    • 1/2 tsp paprika
    • 1/2 tsp oregano
    • 1/2 tsp salt, then more to taste
    • 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
Avocado Salsa
    • 2 medium avocados (ripe but semi-firm), peeled, cored and diced
    • 1/3 cup small diced red onion, run under cool water to remove harsh bite and drain
    • 3 Tbsp chopped cilantro
    • 1 jalapeno, seeded and minced
    • 1 clove garlic, minced
    • 2 Tbsp fresh lime juice
    • 1 Tbsp coconut oil
    • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
For serving
  • 1 head of butter lettuce, separate leaves, wash and dry
  • 1/2 cup crumbled Cotija cheese or 1/2 cup of other soft mexican-style cheese

For salmon, mix all ingredients (except salmon) together to form a paste.  Lightly coat all surfaces of each piece of fish with the paste.  Heat coconut oil in a well-seasoned cast iron pan to medium heat.  Cook salmon pieces for 3-4 minutes on each side or until done – fish flakes easily.

Make salsa by combining all ingredients well.

To serve, place lettuce leaves on plates and top with pieces of salmon, a spoonful of avocado salsa and a bit of cheese.  Then sit back and enjoy!



Minimalist Tag

As some of you may have guessed, I am a budding minimalism enthusiast.  I still have lots to learn, but I have been successful in decluttering a lot of my home and I have been able to simplify my work schedule a little too.  Several of the minimalist and simple living bloggers that I follow have answered the following questions, so I thought I would too — just to give you some more background on why have chosen to live this way.

1. What drew you to minimalism?

In the fall of 2014, I was diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis, an auto-immune disease that attacks the joints.  It was a wakeup call of sorts, and prompted me to take a look at my life and my lifestyle and make some changes.  In doing research, (I always do research), I started reading blogs and watching YouTube videos about the minimalist lifestyle.  It struck a cord with me, and I immediately began implementing some of the processes I was learning.   Despite my extended family thinking that this is just a fad, I have no plans to go back to my previous way of life.

2. How did you start the de-cluttering process?

I started with my wardrobe first.  It seemed the easiest, and there were plenty of decluttering how-to’s.  Project 333 was an inspiration as well.  Since then,  I have decluttered and simplified most of our little cottage, and I am now beginning the really difficult process of working on the garage.  Read why this is such a daunting task here.

3. Have you ever counted all your things? If so, how many things do you own?

Nope and I’m not gonna do it.  I do count and keep track of my clothing and accessories, but that’s it.  For me, minimalism is a feeling more than set rules.  If my home feels cluttered, then it’s time to get rid of stuff.  This may change in the next year or two as I have plans to move, but for right now, I’ll just stick with how I feel.

4. What are your tips for dealing with the desire for more?

I like to shop online.  I don’t buy much, but I like to look at stuff.  This satisfies my desire to have the item more than actually buying it would.  I know, it’s strange, but it works for me.  When I actually do need something, I do a ton of research first before I make a purchase.  I also talk to my husband about my plans to purchase anything.  This helps me decide if I even really need it or not.  About half the time, I decide I really don’t need it and I can make do with what I already have.  If I do purchase something, then something else has to leave the house.

5. How do you deal with non-minimalists in your life?

As I mentioned above, some of my extended family believes that this is just a phase I am going through and they have actually made fun of me.  This doesn’t bother me because I know how I feel and how minimizing and simplifying has enriched my life.  Why would I ever want to go back to my cluttered, busy life before?  I try not to push my way of thinking on others, even when I see that they could benefit.  It is a little difficult when my boys come home, since neither one is a minimalist, and their stuff tends to take over our small little house.  I just try to remember that it’s just for a short time and that I love them.

6. Do you have any guilty pleasures where minimalism doesn’t apply?

As far as stuff goes, no.  I mean, there are possessions that I really like — like my computer, cell phone, and camera gear — but I since I use them all the time, I don’t think that actually counts.  Unfortunately, there are parts of my life that I still need to work on.  I am a social media junky.  I love to be on Twitter, YouTube, Instagram, Pinterest, and Facebook quite a bit, and it probably is too much.  So, yeah, that would be my guilt pleasure where minimalism doesn’t apply — but probably should!


“Happiness can not be traveled to, owned, earned, won or consumed. Happiness is the spiritual experience of living every moment with love, grace & gratitude.”
~ Denis Waitley .

Little Thoughts on Kindness

“When we feel love and kindness toward others, it not only makes others feel loved and cared for, but it helps us also to develop inner happiness and peace.” —The 14th Dalai Lama

“We rise by lifting others.”  —Robert Ingersoll

“Three things in human life are important: the first is to be kind; the second is to be kind; and the third is to be kind.” -Henry James

“There is overwhelming evidence that the higher the level of self-esteem, the more likely one will be to treat others with respect, kindness, and generosity.” -Nathaniel Branden

“Tenderness and kindness are not signs of weakness and despair, but manifestations of strength and resolution.” —Kahlil Gibran

“Kindness can transform someone’s dark moment with a blaze of light. You’ll never know how much your caring matters. Make a difference for another today.” —Amy Leigh Mercree.

Life is one grand, sweet song… ~Ronald Reagan

When pioneers left their homes in the east to travel west, they put what they could in covered wagons or handcarts.  Much of the time, they had to leave less important things behind for lack of space.  The trek westward was difficult and full of dangers.  The end of each day would find the travelers hungry and weary.

Although they were tired, the pioneers would meet together each evening around a large campfire and play music, sing and dance.  Many of them played fiddles, and other instruments.  The music would ease the burden of the journey and after an evening of singing and dancing , they would retire to bed happy.

Music is a universal language that has the ability to lift souls, buoy up the down-trodden, and enliven the spirit.  Martin Luther stated, “Beautiful music is the art of the prophets that can calm the agitations of the soul; it is one of the most magnificent and delightful presents God has given us.”

Playing a musical instrument can be therapeutic, relieving stress and increasing one’s ability to think creatively.  Studies show that playing an instrument helps in lowering the heart rate and blood pressure, which in turn lowers the stress hormone cortisol, thus making us feel relaxed.

A Time Magazine article entitled, Singing Changes Your Brain, tell us, “When you sing, musical vibrations move through you, altering your physical and emotional landscape.”  Singing releases endorphins, oxytocin, and helps to stave off depression.  This is true whether you have a great singing voice or not.

My favorite songs to sing are children’s songs.  Usually the words are easy to remember and the tune easy to carry.  I also love to listen to beautiful piano music, especially when it is played by my oldest son.  He has some really lovely original pieces that are sweet and soothing.

What has been your experience linking music and happiness?  Leave your thoughts below in the comments section.