Cofrin Park

Cofrin Park
Cofrin Nature Park


Friday, March 27, 2015


“Money makes the world go around... A mark, a yen, a buck or a pound…it makes the world go ‘round!(From the musical CABARET.)

Wouldn’t it be lov-er-ly to be rich (but not necessarily famous?) YES. But how do you travel to the financial mountain top and stake your claim, when the mountain is craggy, steep and you have no gear and no helicopter or the like? Tony Robbins, in his new 616 page book, MONEY Master the Game: 7 Simple Steps to Financial Freedom, wants to help you answer that query.

But first, some editorial housekeeping…
MONEY MASTER THE GAME 7 Simple Steps to Financial Freedom should be entitled YOUR MONEY, Plant the Seeds and Let them Grow, or something similar, because the book is mainly about investing for the masses who work at jobs outside the financial industry. It is not a wealth creation book whereby the reader can learn income producing strategies outside the stock market.

In an interview with Brendon Burchard, Tony Robbins characterized his book: “This is a lifestyle book as well as how do you create wealth and abundance for the long term.” Sounds like an identity crisis from the get-go—Tony’s book sets an admirable goal that tries to be all things to all people—which may detract from the main idea.

I learned that good writing utilizes exclamation points very sparingly, so am surprised that both Tony Robbins and Richard Branson excessively use exclamation points in their recent books. Tony defends his writing style saying it’s not a mistake, but a “technique designed to mark out key ideas and to build knowledge into your mind, body, and spirit so that action becomes automatic.” (p.43) Instead of absorbing the points, however, I focused on the irritating writing style.
 “Repetition is the mother of skill,” as Tony often says, and I agree. However, constant repetition works poorly in book form—it’s exasperating and makes the reader want to skip through the book. Chapter end summaries work well—no need to sprinkle the book with redundancies. The book should have been half the size.
MONEY MASTER THE GAME: 7 Simple Steps to Financial Freedom presupposes that the reader has a fairly regular paycheck or small business income, and hopefully little or no debt hindering the ability to save and invest. The ideal reader: someone just beginning their career. The message: start investing and reinvesting early in order to take advantage of compound interest.  Compounding appears slow and boring in the beginning, but once it gets going, exciting things happen like exponential growth.

Critics scorn Tony for straying from his lifestyle coaching work in order to write about investing your money. I disagree: given Tony’s access to leaders of the financial world, and his obsession with figuring out what works, Tony is uniquely qualified to write about how the little guy can become financially savvy and secure. He has opened up a dialogue about investing today. He reveals some rather new investment vehicles, like income insurance, that have previously been available only to the ultra wealthy.
No way can “outsiders” trade with traders who have access to micro-trading apparatus. No way can “outsiders” spend the hours it takes to keep tabs on the thousands of investment opportunities; complicated investment methods like derivatives and short sales; the tax rules, etc. So where does that leave the “outsiders” aka the rest of us? Tony focuses on answering that question.

Most people do not understand why they invest in the first place, according to Tony. They have vague ideas, for example: invest for retirement or invest to build assets. However, those reasons lack focus and oomph. No wonder we don't make investing a priority.

The only reason to invest is INCOME. You spend income, not assets. Therefore, becoming financially free depends upon creating a nest egg as quickly as possible and then turning that egg into an income-producing machine.  But how to build that nest egg, you ask? You need an income, to start with (just like the old saying goes, “it takes money to make money.”)
1) Become an Investor, not a Consumer: Automate your saving by taking a percentage of your paycheck (ideally 10% or more, but you can start with as little as 3 and ½ percent), and systematically invest it in a low-cost index fund, like Vanguard’s S&P 500 (also known as dollar cost averaging ;)

2) Become an Insider on Investing; Apprise yourself of the rules of the money game; i.e. understand how mutual funds operate, because, 401(k)’s sink your contributions into them, and most of the world invests in mutual funds;
3) Make the Game Winnable by Getting a Plan: Get a financial advisor, who is a fiduciary, to help build and manage your wealth through other means in addition to an index fund. (Tony promotes Stronghold Financial for just such a purpose;)
4) Evaluate Your Asset Allocation: Diversify your investment portfolio through an “All Season” asset allocation strategy. (pg 411) Most of the book refers to investor Ray Dalio’s strategy for asset allocation. However, Dalio’s successful hedge fund work involves complicated derivatives and other insider hedge-fund manager techniques that require sophistication and a constant pulse-reading of “the market.”
For the book, Tony cajoled Ray into giving investment advice for the masses. The simplified version of Ray’s stratagem, for readers of Money Master the Game, consists of an investment portfolio with: 7.5% Commodities, 7.5% Gold, 30% Stocks, 40% Long Term US Bonds, 15% Intermittent US Bonds. Accumulating and proactively rebalancing such a portfolio may require a fiduciary financial advisor to optimize results. Because, as Tony admits, who has time to learn all this stuff when we have a life, job, kids? We need help!

5) Create a Lifetime Income Plan: Once your investments reach a threshold amount, which can accommodate the lifestyle you want to maintain, plan to extract an income from that nest egg you built. Tony suggests a fixed annuity with a lifetime income rider (which guarantees a minimum withdrawal benefit.) offers an annual income annuity calculator. (pg 437)
 6) Invest like the top .001%: Study and learn from those who have mastered financial freedom. Also, find ways to increase your income as much as you can and invest the extra income;
7) Just Do It, Enjoy It and Share It: Get started immediately with aggressively investing your money. Additionally, spend a portion on yourself and others in need. Spending is fun. Contribution satisfies a basic human need and feels good. Psychologically, you will not continue a plan if all you notice are numbers adding up on a monthly statement and get no tangible benefits.
Since Tony targets mutual funds throughout most of the book, I have detailed the 9 myths related to investing that he presents in Section 2:

1) Actively managed funds beat the market.
Well, 4% of them do, and it’s not the same funds either, so good luck finding “the one;”

2) Managed funds’ fees are a small price to pay.
Turns out, that the average fees (around 3.17% to own a managed mutual fund, versus 0.14% to own an Index Fund like S&P 500) add up to quite a tidy sum for the mutual fund company—not you. Example: One million dollars, invested at 8% annualized return over 30 years, grows to $7,612,256, with a 1% annual fee. That same one million dollars only grows to $4,321,943, with a larger 3% annual fee. You lose almost HALF your investment monies with only a tiny, 2% fee increase.)

3) Transparent returns in mutual funds.
NOT! The reported returns by mutual funds are not actually earned by investors, according to Jack Bogle, founder of Vanguard. (p. 116) The mutual fund advertises a specific return; however, they advertise time-weighted returns based upon putting all your money in at once, which is not what people really do; because contributions come out of every paycheck throughout the year. Real returns are called “dollar-weighted returns."

4) I’m Your Broker, and I’m here to Help.
Well sort of—Brokers who work on commission help themselves to your money. Brokers are accountable to the Fund, not you. UNLESS your financial advisor is a fee-only based fiduciary, financial advisors sell products for commission, and they sell it to you.

5) Your Retirement is just a 401(k) Away.
But for the excessive fees that eat away your portfolio and add years to reaching your retirement goals.

6) “Just set it and Forget it.”
You must take full responsibility for your financial health.

7) Annuities suck.
Many do, however, the annuity industry is becoming more transparent and accessible to those with fewer funds to invest. The book identifies a few annuity options.

8) “You Gotta Take Huge Risks to Get Big Rewards!”
Always protect your downside in order to mitigate risk/reward ratio. The book gives detailed examples of how some experts evaluate an investment and protect the downside.

9) “The Lies We Tell Ourselves.”
Get your head out of the sand and take action regarding your financial health.

Tony recommends several tools, besides obtaining your own financial advisor, in order to achieve better investing results as quickly as possible. The reason to use such tools: reach retirement goals up to 10 years sooner than you would without these tools. For example, he starts with a downloadable app designed for the book, to get investors to create an investment roadmap.

1) A fee calculator at analyzes investors’ current plan administration fees (p.111)
2) America's Best 401k checks the fees your current, actively managed 401k collects. Americas Best 401k offer low cost index funds to replace an investor’s fee-laden managed fund.
3) Stronghold Financial, a company that Tony promotes throughout the book, offers a complimentary analysis of investors’ current portfolios.

Tony spent about 4 years interviewing several masters of the game; billionaires like Ray Dalio and Warren Buffet (a chance meeting with Warren, really.) Good read. I like to learn about how ultra wealthy people operate and perhaps glean some insights. Nevertheless, the interesting interviews were not necessarily relevant to the book’s main idea of investment strategies for the little guy.
Let’s face it, for most of us, investing our hard-earned money is a necessary evil and probably boring. We'd all rather be golfing, even if we hate golfing. Maybe that’s why Tony included a chapter about the future of technology, which I found fascinating, fun and hopeful. That chapter gave the greatest final pep talk and valid reasons to take personal financial wealth seriously. Financial freedom will make it far easier to apprise ourselves of the amazing things to come, like 3-D printing biological body parts, for example. Need a new bone, liver or lung? Technology may have that need covered in our lifetime. And you know that insurance companies will lag far behind, so you'll need some extra money.

It’s in the offing: Star Trek comes to life for us all. We'd better be financially prepared and fully stifle the greatest fear amongst retirees: it's not death; it's outliving one's money. 







Friday, March 20, 2015


Greens v. Golytely/GaviLyte G

Elizabeth. Romance is cotton candy. Real Love is what you do for each other.”
   --Michael Finnegan, Finnegan Begin Again

Forget the dinner, drinks and movies. If you really want to bedazzle your beloved, then offer to be his accomplice during his colonoscopy prep and accompany him to the appointment.

I begged my beloved to start the prep earlier than 2:00pm, the written directions leaving him to drink the last half gallon of Golytely at 9:00pm. Also, we were instructed to report to the hospital at 6:00am, despite the fact that the hospital crew doesn’t show up until 7:00am. Paperwork. G and I compromised for a 6:30am arrival.

 “Do you really want to be sitting on the toilet all night, or would you rather get some sleep?”
G opted for the latter. He started the pills at 12:30pm and the liquid love, Golytely, at 1:30pm.
“Holly Golightly! Breakfast at Tiffany’s;” we chimed in unison.

G proceeded to sit down and contentedly work at his computer, which he had connected to his client’s computer through the Internet.

“I think you’d better be prepared to camp out on the toilet. You won’t be able to sit here and work.”
“I might as well get some work done. I don’t feel much of anything.”

I peaked in on him every 30 minutes for the next 3 hours. He was engrossed in numbers and columns.

And then hurricane Golytely struck without warning, and my sweet pea did not make it to the safes pot in time. A mushy torrent of terds sprayed the porcelain princess and spilled onto the floor.

As I prepped the week’s meals, G waltzed into the kitchen and confiscated the paper towels. Oh-oh. I better check this out.

G tried to clean up the mess, politely draping soiled boxer-briefs on the countertop. I’d better take over. Important order: “Please do not place poopy panties on the clean counter—throw them away! We can sacrifice as many shorts as it takes, dear!”

After copious amounts of bleach-spray and half a roll of paper towels, I deemed the clean-up acceptable, having scoured the nooks and crannies associated with a commode. I instructed G to please “listen to your body! At the first hint of pressure, get yourself onto that toilet! You will not be able to hold it in!”

I went to bed early in anticipation of the 5:00am wake up call. I got up for my nocturnal nature call around 12:30am. My upstairs neighbors decided to shower noisily around 2:30am, and that got my mind going and going and I tossed and turned and about 4:30am I drifted off. At 5:30am G came in to wake me for our day of adventure. I felt dazed, unaccustomed to an early rising without a nap first. So the first words I spoke: “Are you clear? What’s the color?”
“No, not clear.  It’s brown.”
“Dark brown or light brown?”
“Dark brown.”
“Is it solid, or liquid like diarrhea?”
“Mostly liquid and I can’t see the bottom of the toilet.”
“What time did you go last?”
“About 2:30 this morning.”

We would repeat these phrases at the hospital several times over.

“Call the doctor, and tell them. There’s no way they will do the procedure if you are not clear, or at least yellow.”

No call made.

At 5:40am, I confronted G: “If you do not call, then I am returning to bed and will not go with you. Call the doc and let me know. I’m going back to bed and wait for your report.”

Call made.

G’s Report: “The doctor gave me choices: continue prepping today by drinking another gallon of Golytely and reschedule for Tuesday; go in now and they can prepare an enema; or reschedule and start over. I’m not missing another work day this week. I want to get it over with. The on call doctor will call the hospital and let them know my situation.”

“So we’re going.”
I wanted to get it over with as well, even though I KNEW it would not happen today. My little voice of denial told me that maybe the enema administered by the nurses at the hospital would do the trick. They must have handled this before? Damn that little voice. ALWAYS trust your gut! It’s NEVER wrong!

We arrived at the hospital around 6:45am. The lovely valets let me keep the car in the 10 minute spot as long as I needed—another benefit of small town kindness.

In the waiting room, I try to make light of the situation and administer moral support with a few jokes.

“You sure are spunky for this early in the morning,” G remarked.
“I feel like crap. I’m faking it. I’m your loyal Sheppard always at your side on guard. Woof.” I bared my teeth and growled.

We get called back to the procedure arena around 7:30am. G describes the color and texture of brown to three more attendants. Nurse Wade tells us that we may still get information from a partial procedure if G does the enema.

“What should I do?”
“I cannot tell you what to do, dear. You must decide by what feels right for you now. I’ll support you either way. We can leave at once, if that’s what you want.”
“I’m already here, so might as well do it and at least get some information.”

Although he made several attempt with the enema apparatus, G could not manage the big E. He looked at me forlornly and asked me for assistance.
“Huh? I’m not qualified. Wouldn’t you rather have the professional do it?” I exited the water closet in haste, to search for that damn nurse, Wade.

“Wade, he can’t manage. I think you need to help.”
"I’ll be right in.”

What a liar.

Meanwhile, I could not leave G to hold a thin plastic tube in the air while seated on the toilet; especially since I had already humiliated and perturbed him by recording the moment of truth with my iPhone.

I had to step up. I had to gird my loins. I had to glove up. I’m going in…how hard could it be, really? I’ve changed lots of diapers…

But then I made another quick retreat. “I’m afraid I’ll hurt you. I’ve never done this before. I don’t know how!”

I set out on another search for the elusive nurse Wade—MIA.

I’m thirsty. I need some water, please. “This is only for you!” the nurse reminds me the patient is not allowed anything by mouth (but butt is o.k. apparently.)

That’s it! I MUST suck it up and do it! I must come to the aid of my love when he’s in such desperate need! I’ll just pretend I’m the doctor…

I re-glove, completely forgetting I had no eye-cover or mask, in case of an accidental eruption.  I swiftly enter the bathroom. I’m in the zone!  I take the tube from G’s gloved hand. We set the game plan of attack. ACTION! G arises, bends over, steadying himself on the handicap rail. I insert the thin plastic tube into the appropriate orifice adjacent to purple orbs. Purple? Is that normal?

“Can you feel it?
“I think so.”
“Does it hurt?”
“Not really.”
“Is it in far enough?”
“I don’t know.”
“Well neither do I. Just try it out.”

All systems go. G releases the valve that controls the water flow and the bag empties by half.

Wade appears, “I just spoke with the doctors. The doctor who does the procedure says it’d be a waste of time to do the colonoscopy when you are not clear. You need to return no matter what. Since you are not bleeding, and this is a screening procedure, you need to reschedule.”

“Thanks Wade! You couldn’t have showed up 2 minutes sooner and saved me from this?” I may need therapy.

We all scientifically examine the toilet’s contents. This time it’s dark forest green. I defend the excrement by disclosing that I feed G lots of green salads fresh from the Farmer’s Market.
Obviously, a gallon of Golytely is no match for gobs of greens…

It may seem like we wasted the weekend, having failed the colonoscopy prep. But a cancelled colonoscopy, the waiting, the paperwork, the boredom and the scary Big E do not constitute a total loss. Because through it all, I have successfully performed an operation of Real Love! And this time, Real Love is the color purple.



Friday, February 13, 2015


Missed out on the Christmas cookies, so thought I'd make my favorite cookie, with a few gluten-free and dairy-free changes. These chocolate chip cookies, made with almond butter and organic coconut oil, taste amazing! I have not made cookies in over 15 years, but it all came back to me: the smell! The chocolate!

(makes 13 rather large cookies)

1/4 cup organic virgin coconut oil
1/4 cup raw honey
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon real salt
1 cup regular organic oats
1 cup dark chocolate chips
1/2 cup raw almond butter (unsalted)
1 large organic egg
1 and 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

Cream together the coconut oil, almond butter, honey, egg, vanilla extract, salt and baking soda until smooth and creamy.

Stir in the oats and chocolate chips. Mix until combined.

Drop tablespoon sized balls of dough onto ungreased baking sheet.

Bake for 10-12 minutes, until the cookies began to lightly brown.

Let cool for 5 to 8 minutes on the baking sheet; then, transfer cookies to cooling rack to cool completely. Enjoy!

Happy Valentine's Day!

Wednesday, February 4, 2015


Because intimate relationships most acutely accommodate our basic human need for love. We need a love that gives us profound feelings of  connection, companionship and affection. Our need for such love must be satisfied-- and we will commit terrible acts of embarrassment to get that need met. So off we go, and dive into the deep end of the dating pool...

Why is finding a great mate so difficult? After all, the internet gives us a smorgasbord of attractive offerings complete with profile. A few clicks, a few bucks and BAM the right one pops up! Alas, no refund for defective products.

The media, advertisers and dating websites lead us to want to have a relationship all neatly wrapped up and ready for us to consume at will. They sell relationships like a used car dealer sells cars.

So, how do we find a fulfilling intimate relationship in the first place?

Trick question. We do not "find" a relationship. Rather, we create one through choosing someone who is not wrong for us and then going for it. I say that we choose someone "who is not wrong for us," because nobody is perfect, no matter what their bio says.

Where to begin? How about deciphering what we seek?

A relationship is a connection between two parties. But how does that connection materialize?  

An intimate relationship is an evolution established by you and your intended. The daily decisions and actions you take, determine the course of the relationship. It grows by sharing your unique gifts during moments of authentic trust. You trust yourself to allow another into the deepest parts of your soul, and that ethereal experience narrates the relationship. You are both manifesting something brand new, and that's exciting.

A relationship either flourishes or withers according to the personal and spiritual growth of you and your beloved. It also depends upon the friendship you foster. As the relationship matures, you both mutually derive satisfaction and joy through giving all you can to your intimate, without keeping score. Just thinking of how you can make your beloved smile, turns you on and lifts your spirits.

Navigating a successful relationship, however, comes with unexpected storms. Since people do not grow and learn at the same rate, you may find yourself navigating alone in the dark--patiently waiting for your mate to catch up; perhaps guiding your mate back on course. Storms offer periods to review, rebuild and better the relationship.

How to find your true love, the raw material of relationship--some suggestions:

1) Clarify what you must have in a mate in great detail. Listen to Tony Robbins' coaching on the matter. He suggests making a list of what you must have in a mate. If this seems daunting, he says start by listing the things you hate and then choosing the opposite. This method can be fun and funny. For example, a short list of character traits I loathe: Slobs; Drunks; Sloths--watches T.V. incessantly, ignoring me and the world; manic depressives; constant complainers; revolting personal habits... (hopefully this does not describe your current mate.)

The point is that once you decide what you want, the universe opens up and drops the mate of your dreams in your lap. Well, not really, but it does get your subconscious mind on the job, and you start noticing people you may not have otherwise considered.

2) Put yourself out there, and not just on websites or in bars. If you commit to finding your mate, then go the distance. Spruce up and get off the sofa. Go follow your passions, get involved accordingly and let go of the goal.

3) Remember, a relationship is a place you go to give, not to get, as Tony Robbins likes to say. I think he means that you need to take yourself out of the equation and focus on the person in front of you who sparks your interest. Drop your "story" and live completely in the present moment--be curious. Learn to embrace silence in the presence of another human being and notice the magic that occurs.

Getting into an intimate relationship is major risk-taking, but its good for you, because you learn about yourself and what it means to be fully alive. Unfortunately things may go awry. Relationships die. You must objectively do whatever it takes to get from devastation back to your new, improved self, when it's clear the relationship is over.

I cried for 80 miles, just like Doris Day did in "Pillow Talk," over losing my love. I needed my Auntie's arms to comfort me. When I walked through the door, choking back sobs, my aunt said "What's wrong?"

"My boyfriend left me, and I...don'!"

"Oh, is that all;" and she turned and went to her room. I was so shocked by her prosaic reply, that I immediately stopped sobbing. Later that day she comforted me, but in the moment, she did me a favor. Once she interrupted my pattern of despair, I was able to see what I was doing to myself. I was able to move on! Once I gave myself some space, I realized that the guy I allowed to devastate me, I never truly trusted or loved! He was wrong for me on every level, but I was too needy and love-starved to see it. I looked to "him" to feed me, instead of feeding myself. And I'm an excellent chef.

When your beloved dumps you leaving you heartbroken, do not allow yourself to dip into a depression. Instead, if you must grieve, then schedule it: 5 minutes a day for a week; or 1 day and done. Wail, meditate, write in your journal, be grateful for everything in you life, and laugh!  Step-up the self care: eat well, exercise, get out of your routine and change your environment. Do something fun! Realize that this too shall pass.

EVERYTHING dissolves. Once you recover from your emotional blows, realize that your heartbreak has expanded your capacity for love and connection, not diminished it. Consider the experience as a gift, a practice round, because you WILL "find someone better." Awareness of these facts will help get you through the pain of it all--guaranteed!

It's worth a try, so let's get cooking my dears!

One self-actualized human being
Unconditional love
Great sense of humor
Uncommon sense
Life affirming

Gently incorporate ingredients through all the seasons
Allow to heat and cool, rise and fall for years and years, until matured
Mix it up, as necessary
Share the love!

Tuesday, December 23, 2014


Gluten-free bread that tastes like wheat bread? I looked at several recipes online that made such a ridiculous promise, and did not like any of them. They required too many ingredients, included guar gum and xanthan gum, which I wished to avoid, or added sugar. The photos of the finished "breads" looked dried-out and withered. Not what I was going for. Therefore, I concocted my own gluten-free sourdough recipe, based upon my years of experience making wheat breads.

This was my second attempt at gluten-free bread baking, and it turned out better than the first. This gluten-free buckwheat bread tasted much like rye bread and had a similar texture, only a bit denser. It sliced surprisingly well.

I had a BLT with my bread and it was awesome! I used my bread to make croutons for my Thanksgiving stuffing, and it worked great!

The secret to getting the flavor of bread is in the fermentation process that takes time, but not effort. I used to make my wheat bread by first making a "starter," and thought it might work with the buckwheat flour, which is really not flour at all. Buckwheat is a seed and gluten-free.

I fermented the buckwheat flour, water and a bit of yeast for a couple of days. It smelled nutty and full-bodied just like wheat.

I altered how I made the final dough as well. Instead of rising the dough in the fridge for 12 hours, I immediately made the dough into a loaf and let it rise for 6 hours at room temperature (about 75 degrees.) Success!


DAYS 1and 2


1 ¼  cups Organic Buckwheat Flour (Bob's Red Mill)
1 ¼  cups filtered water
¼ teaspoon active dry yeast
Add the yeast to the room-temperature water. Stir to dissolve the yeast. Stir in the flour.
Stir all ingredients until smooth. Cover with towel and let sit 48 hours at room temperature. (About 74 degrees Fahrenheit.)

FEED  the Starter by adding:

½ cup filtered water
½ cup Brown Rice Flour (I used Arrowhead Mills Organic)

Recover and let ferment for another 24 hours.
Notice the spongy texture and air pockets


Add to the starter:

¼ cup water
½ teaspoon yeast
1½ teaspoons sea salt
1 and ¼ cup Gluten free flour (I used Bob’s Red Mill)
2 Tablespoons Psyllium Husk
1 Tablespoon Arrow Root powder
Mix until dough is formed. I used the food processer fitted with the dough blade.
FORM the loaf into a log form.

PLACE the loaf into a buttered bread pan. Grease the top and cover pan with plastic wrap. Let rise at room temperature for about 6 hours.

PREHEAT the oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit.

Create steam in the oven by pouring ½ cup of hot water in the bottom of the oven.

REDUCE the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Remove the plastic wrap and make 1/4 in cuts on top of loaf, if desired. Place loaf in oven, careful to mind the hot steam!

BAKE the loaf for 30 minutes.

REDUCE the oven temp to 375 degrees Fahrenheit and bake another 10 minutes or so.

REMOVE bread from oven and take out of pan. Cool on cooling rack.
Artisan Gluten-free Sourdough Buckwheat Bread





Friday, September 26, 2014

Become an Ideas Machine

"I have an idea! I have an idea! Let's build a tree fort in the woods and camp out in it! We can live there! We can have pet monkeys! Let's go over to that house they're building and get the leftover wood boards and nails and build it in this humongous tree..."

Ah, the innocence of childhood. And the beauty of it: no editing, no shame, just ideas and action. Let's get back to that way of being. Flow with life and flow with ideas and action.

Have any great ideas lately? How about crappy ideas? Do you immediately dismiss them as stupid? Or worse: somebody else must have already thought of that? I do.

My sweaty hands and feet slip and slide on the yoga mat while in the downward dog position. I hate that. I thought, "why not make some footgear that fits like a glove, with rubber toes so I do not slip?" Great idea. Many years later, the minimalist footwear came out, with rubber toes that fit the foot like a glove. Hey! That was MY idea! And off to mediocrity I went...

James Altucher, writer, former hedge fund manager, public speaker, entrepreneur, believes that we can cultivate the idea muscle just like any other. He writes down at least 10 ideas every single day. He says if  you make this effort, in 3 to 6 months you become an idea-making machine that may lead to a business that may lead to riches and the life you deserve. What a great idea. Let's do that!

CHALLENGE:  I challenge myself, and you all, to start an Ideas Journal today!  Keep it up for 3 to 6 months and see what happens. Put some of your ideas in the comment section below. Altucher says the better ideas come together when two seemingly incongruous ideas "mate," and beget a really great idea, so idea-sharing is a good thing.

 Altucher also suggests using two old ideas, mate them, and come up with a great new idea. In his book, Choose Yourself: Be Happy, Make Millions, Live the Dream he gives an example of two strange ideas that mate: the Internet and [cyber] stalking. Those two familiar ideas combine to become Facebook!

Becoming an ideas machine benefits your life even if you do not pursue an idea to start a business. When you consistently flex you ideas muscle, you have greater ability to deal with those little snags in life that just do not go away. You will tackle them more efficiently and effectively. That alone will increase your competence, confidence and joy.

Focused idea-cultivation forces you to live in the present moment, where you are meant to live. You may also become more productive at your work and more interesting at parties.

One great way to think up an idea: ask yourself what irks you in your daily life and come up with any way to fix it. Get thinking, and writing.

Here are my 10 really dumb ideas to get us all going:
1) Virtual wallet that "holds" all credit cards, scanned business cards, etc. in one card that can be used like a traditional credit card, if necessary. Otherwise, it works by using a computer chip to portray the specific card for use. The app must include a security system, in case it falls into the wrong hands. (Damn, Gene just informed me that a similar "wallet" exists called Apple Pay. See what I mean about someone else already thought it?  But my version would not require a cell phone. I guess my idea would be more akin to the Apple Watch, coming out in 2015.)

2) Organizer-gadget-belt/purse: specific pockets for personal items like eyeglasses, sun glasses, phone, wallet (see #1), knife, pen, nail file, lipstick/chapstick, gum, teeth care, etc. It must be sleek, least it take the form of an army or police belt. [I looked this up and found one already made on Amazon, but it was my idea first.]

3) This is hard. I'll sleep on it. Insomnia cure for getting back to sleep in the middle of the night: CD that replaces "stinkin' thinkin' with positive feedback loop that can be personalized for the user.

4) Idea stimulator: CD that gets you in the mood to solve problems with new ideas.

5) Yoga tape that tapes to fingers/hands/feet so you do not slip on sweaty mat. Those yoga shoes/gloves are too bulky. The towels move around too much.

6) Adaptable "Key pad."  For example, phone users should be able to reconfigure the keypad on cell phone or landline in an accounting pad configuration. Produce landline phones with different choices for the key pad configuration. [This is really Gene's idea. He's loves his accounting pad setup and often calls wrong numbers after using his accounting keypad.] It was my idea to steal his idea and add it here, because this idea stuff is hard.

7) Virtual receipt keeper for retail/grocery receipts. Includes Smartphone app for retailers without computerized cash registers. Retailors no longer give paper receipts, but keep them in the Cloud online. If you need to return something, the retailor can go to the Cloud and retrieve the virtual receipt. Never again be asked: "Do you have the receipt?"

8) The hardest part of working out is getting to the gym. "Get to the gym now!" automated calling feature app that calls you at the time you know you should be at the gym, or whatever your workout routine requires, but you made the mistake of "thinking" about it, and were about to bail. Right then, you get the call. You can tailor the call to what works best for you. For example: "Hey Ann! This is the President calling, and I need you to meet me at the gym right now! Get moving, the future of our country is at stake!"

9) I detest leaf blowers! The leaves should be sucked up, not blown around, morons! Leaf-Vacuum to the rescue. It also has a muffler, because it must be quiet! The Leaf-Vacuum not only vacuums up the leaves, but turns them into mulch, for use as fertilizer elsewhere. Its on wheels and runs on solar power. The Leaf-Vacuum works so well, that instead of weekly work, it becomes a monthly job.

10) Who doesn't love to dust? Especially those knick-knacks and electronics? "Dust-Free" leaves your dusting in the dust. It works like a mini air purifier that you set behind the dusting space and it "collects" the dust, rather than the dust collecting on your stuff.

Bonus Idea: Automatic-lap-lane tightener that tightens the lane-dividers in the swimming pool, so the group exercise instructors don't leave "drifting"  lap lane dividers for lap swimmers to jam their hands into.

Tap into what annoys you the most, and come up with a solution. You may become the next Bill Gates or Mark Zuckerberg. Get in the game, and become an ideas machine! I bet you'll surprise yourself!

Tuesday, July 15, 2014



Have you ever tried to make mouthwatering, light and airy meatballs, only to produce ones good for hockey game pucks? Me too. But not this time!  The leanness of the chicken and the sweet fatty pork combination put this recipe over the top. I think the secret is in the apple and onion additions. But the real secret: I used organic, free-range ground pork from Tracy Lee Farms.  And, I did not overcook the meat or fuss with over-mixing the meat mixture. Golden and delicious results!

I like this recipe better than my Oven Baked Turkey Meatballs recipe, because of the lighter texture and sweeter flavors that I developed in this recipe; however this recipe is more complex. It may also require a trip to your local co-op or farmer for the organic pork, which makes all the difference. This recipe depends upon it—as you know the finest ingredients deliver superb results.

THE JOY OF COOKING cookbook says that meatball and meatloaf recipes are interchangeable. So this recipe also works for meatloaf, if you want a simpler preparation. I have given a meatloaf preparation, below.

I've also included an awesome Mushroom Marinara Sauce recipe, for serving suggestions when making meatballs. 


1 pound organic ground pork
1 pound organic hand-chopped or ground chicken tenderloins
1  large handful fresh parsley
4 Tablespoons diced apple
1/3 cup diced onions

4-6 garlic cloves
1 Tablespoon chopped fresh ginger
2 Tablespoons tomato paste
½ cup dry red wine
1/3 cup ground flax meal

1/3 cup finely grated parmesan cheese
1 large egg
2Tablespoons toasted sesame oil
2Tablespoons organic wheat-free soy sauce
½ teaspoon allspice
½ teaspoon white pepper
½ teaspoon sea salt
½ teaspoon fennel seeds
½ teaspoon ground black pepper
1 teaspoon dried sage
1 teaspoon ground coriander

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

Using your hands, gently mix ground meat with dry spices, and flax meal.  Do not over-mix.
Puree apple, onions, garlic, ginger, tomato paste, wine, parsley, sesame oil, soy sauce and egg. I used an emersion blender.

Add the puree to the meat mixture and gently combine, using your hands.

Lightly spray 2 pans or casserole dishes with cooking spray. Form meat into 2 round loaves. Place loaves in pans. Top the meat loaves with 1 Tablespoon tomato paste (if desired.) Cover pans with foil and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes. Bake in preheated 350 degree Fahrenheit oven. Remove the foil after 15 minutes and continue to bake until done, about 20 to 35 minutes. Remove from oven and cover with the foil and let rest for at least 10 minutes before serving.   

Form into round meatballs, about the size of a baseball. (These are large--One meatball per customer. If you choose to make smaller meatballs, adjust the cooking and baking time accordingly.)

The meatballs will be quite wet. Place meatballs on a plate in refrigerator to set up.

Heat a cast iron Dutch oven or large pan with a small amount of olive oil on medium heat.

Brown the meatballs in batches. Do not over-crowd the pan. Treat them gently or they will fall apart.
Place browned meatballs on a greased baking sheet and bake until cooked through, about 25 to 30 minutes. Do not overcook!

Cool the meatballs and refrigerate or freeze, in covered containers.

Warm meatballs for meal in marinara sauce and serve with organic brown rice pasta.


½ pound shitake mushrooms (or porcini or button)
½ cup chopped onions
5 chopped garlic cloves
Olive oil and clarified butter for sautéing
1 can San Marzano tomatoes (crushed or blended)
1 Tablespoon tomato paste
2 Tablespoons  pesto sauce
½ cup chicken stock
¼ cup dry red wine (Cabernet)
½ teaspoon fennel seeds
½ teaspoon ground cumin
½ teaspoon white pepper
Salt and pepper to taste

Sauté mushrooms in olive oil and clarified butter. Add onions and garlic and sauté until softened. Deglaze with red wine and reduce for 2 minutes. Add chicken stock and reduce for a minute or two.  Add the spices, paste and tomatoes. Simmer on low heat for 10 minutes or until flavors combine. Taste it! Do not boil.

Cook wheat-free pasta according to package directions.

Drain pasta and put back in pot. Add enough of the sauce to coat the pasta. Plate the pasta; add more sauce and a meatball.