Dragons, Dandelions, Dry Wine & Dark Chocolate

DThis sounds like the beginning of a great adventure. Day four in the A to Z Blogging Challenge brings us the letter D. At first all I could find were Dandelion Greens. (Yes, I’m making a face) If you like them, well… that’s good and you should keep eating those bitter green stems. I hear they’re good with eggs. (My mother taught me not to gag.) I would rather spend time talking about dragons, dry wine and dark chocolate.

I had seen dragon fruit in the store but it looks so exotic I had no idea what to do with it, so I waked right past. With the challenge I wanted to take pictures of it and  I went to on-line videos on-line.  What did I find? It is one incredible fruit that is easier to use than it looks. It also has a very mild flavor (between a kiwi and melon).

Before we get the knife and dig in, lets look at everything this gorgeous fruit can do for you.

 

  • Dragon fruit is rich in vitamin C and fibers that help provide an overall healthy body. Dragon fruit boosts immune system and promotes healing of wounds and cuts.
  •  Because of the richness in fibers, Dragon fruit aids in the digestion of food. We have learned how important this is to a healthy body and weight loss. Studies also suggest that Dragon fruit promotes the growth of pro-biotics.
  • Dragon fruit can help lower blood glucose levels in type 2 diabetes. Studies also suggest that the the glucose found in Dragon fruit aids in controlling the blood sugar level for diabetes patients.
  • Dragon fruit prevent formation of cancer causing free radicals.
  • Dragon fruit helps to control cholesterol level. Dragon fruit is also rich in flavonoids that are known to have favorable effects against cardio related disease.
  • Dragon fruit improves eye sight.
  • Dragon fruit improves memory.

Wow! So why have I waited do long to try it?Dragon fruit how to use it

With the mighty dragon flying into my kitchen you would think I’d be done with the Dd, but there is more! I am loving my smoothies, but enjoying a meal is still important. Remember I’m in this for the long haul so I need to be able to sustain this dry wine & dark chocoletenew lifestyle.

This evening when I got home the sun was just starting to set and the breeze was cool, so we grabbed a bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon along with some dark chocolate, strawberries and raspberries. Now set back and relax. Yes, wine (the dry kind has the most health benefits.) It does have to be a dry. Here’s a list:

Dry Reds
Pinot noir: 0.68g carbs per ounce
Cabernet franc: 0.71g
Merlot: 0.74g
Cabernet sauvignon: 0.75g
Shiraz/syrah: 0.76g
Zinfandel: 0.84g

Dry Whites
Pinot blanc: 0.57g carbs per ounce
Sauvignon blanc: 0.6g
Pinot grigio: 0.6g

In the Mediterranean diet, wine has also long been considered one of the key health-promoting components.Some population-based studies point to a relationship between wine intake and improvements in insulin sensitivity. When your body is more efficient at using carbs, you will have better health and easier fat loss.

It’s not about red or white, it has more to do with dry or sweet. Dry wines have a lower sugar count. Sorry to say for many of the fruity wine lovers that dry wines generally have less than 1 gram (g) of carbohydrates (sugars) per ounce while the carb content of sweet wines can be upwards of 1.5 to 2g per ounce. Yes, it seems the dry wine is the good guy.

Healthy living in not about starvation and denial – it’s about finding balance and moderation. Pour a glass of your favorite wine, and munch on some berries with the dark chocolate. The mix of flavors on your taste buds is divine.

So when it comes to Dds what did I miss? Any favorite treats or places that just make life better?

 

 

Planting Words of a Lost Friend.

Over time, a memory can take on a new meaning. Sometimes you don’t get to cherish and enjoy a marking of time, because you don’t know it will be the last time you go there, do that, or talk to them.

Going into 2016, I have classmates that lost their fathers, the world has lost some of our most creative entertainers, and I lost my friend, Marilyn Tucker. Below is a picture of a table that I have posted many times. It’s at a house on Canyon Lake in the Texas Hill Country. I often joke about it being my favorite office, my favorite place to write. It looks out over the water and in the early morning I would sit there and watch the sun rise from behind the hills.

Canyon Lake Office
My office at the lake


It was more than the beautiful view, it was the people that were there with me. The fellow writers that understood the creative process. The moments of silence that are needed when creating a fictional world that is real in your head. Marilyn Tucker gave this gift to me, not just the place, but a tribe. When I sat there in November I didn’t know it would be the last time. The last weekend with our tribal leader.

Story-tellers telling stories. Sasha Summers, Marilyn Tucker and Jodi Thomas
Story-tellers telling stories. Sasha Summers, Marilyn Tucker and Jodi Thomas

This has been a year of many blessings, joys, and wonderful accomplishments. But as tragedy often does, I was blindsided. In my fifty years, (it might only be forty eight, but I lose track), I have had unexpected losses, but the depth of this one caught me by surprise. She was not my mother, my sister, or my child. She was my friend, my tribal leader.
Almost three years ago, Marilyn Tucker invited me to be part of her tribe. A tribe that truly loves, supports, and understands each other, even our flaws and scars. We were very protective of this small group.
mar
Let me back up a moment and tell you about my experience in being a writer.
Every writer needs a tribe, and not just any tribe, but one that is drama free. Not free from the ups and downs of life. Not an everything-is-good-all-the-time type of crap, but free of the self-created drama, of not knowing the difference between pride and truth. Drama brought on by jealousy, envy and bitterness. It can swallow you whole before you’re even aware it has snuck up behind you.
There are times it seems as if everyone is doing better than you, finishing their stories, selling their stories, multi-book contracts, making more sells, going to bigger events, making more money, better marketing, winning awards and getting better reviews. We create illusions for a living and sometimes the best illusion is our own life.
Every writer needs a drama free zone were we can laugh at petty insecurities and self-doubt. The business of writing is exciting, thrilling and soul sucking.
You have people in your head that have stories to tell. You create a world from bits and pieces of who you are. If you’re truly honest and authentic you get to create characters that no one else can create. Your secret thoughts, desires, wishes and dreams are given life. Your view of the world and the people in it shape your story. You take the real and create a fantasy.
Eventually you will get brave enough to send it out for others to read, to strangers that have no care for your heart.
You want people to love your baby, to tell you and everyone they know that you have the most beautiful, creative, poignant story. You can’t wait to hear how the characters made them laugh…made them cry. You want them to see your baby as special and unique. You want the world to accept your baby and lift her up, to celebrate her.
Your story is the best part of your secrets, your heart. Sometimes it’s the part you hide and keep buried, and when you bring it to light, you want people to understand.
Some will, but others won’t. They might even call your baby names: unpolished, not worth reading, unbelievable, unmarketable, predictable or worse, boring. Yes, there will be people for whatever reason that don’t understand and they will let the public know.
If you let them, they will make you doubt yourself – Like we need any help in that area, right?
You tell yourself it will be better when you….get published, have more followers, get more books out, make the bestseller list, win awards or get that multi-book deal.
But the pressure gets worse, then you move into feeling like a fraud…what happens when they find out the truth? You aren’t really smart or creative – it was a fluke. The voices turn the self-doubt to a new level. I’ll never write another story anyone wants.
This, my friend, is where the tribe comes in, where they chase away the bad voices and get to the truth. My tribe leader, Marilyn Tucker, created a safe haven where we could create, brainstorm and vent. A group that spent time laughing at our own insecurities and looked honestly at our goals.
A group that reminds you of the joy of writing, the excitement of creating a new world. The emotion you create on the page becomes real and you remember why you write. What do you do when you lose your leader?
Talking story with Storm Navarro, Joni Hahn, Sasha Summers, Jodi Thomas, and Marilyn Tucker
You go adrift for a second. You come across a problem that you would have called her for and stumble when you remember she’s not available anymore.
What do you do? You move forward in her honor. You reach out to her other friends and together you build a new tribe. You take every encouraging word she said to you and plant it in your heart until it has roots and you harvest those words when you need them. You tell stories and you laugh. Marilyn lived to make others laugh. When she was reading her work out loud, she would count the times people laughed, that was how she knew if she succeeded in her goal. We remember her stories and laugh in her honor.
And we remember most of all, we are story tellers – we tell stories. We have the power to look at life, to take the joys and the sorrow and create a world that we can share with others. Our stories are not for those that don’t understand. They are for the ones that want to understand, that want to be reminded that even in our darkest moments, there is love. In the midst of a storm, we can find peace. For a moment, we can connect to others through words. Marilyn Tucker, you will be missed every day. Thank you for making me a better writer and more importantly, a better person.

Matthew 6:34 Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow
My office at the lake
Moon over New York City.

U for Untied States of America all represented in New York……Home of the brave…

U for United States of America
U for United States of America

The United State of America…Home of the Brave…Sometimes they’re just words. Do you ever stop and think what they mean?

For many it was and is leaving everything you know for a hope of something better. In New York City the storyteller in me became enthralled, I felt the shadow of fear, hope and determination left by millions of immigrants. I could imagine them seeing the Statue of Liberty for the first time after a long grueling voyage.

Imagine, arriving in the harbor and seeing the Statue of Liberty for the first time
Imagine, arriving in the harbor and seeing the Statue of Liberty for the first time
Lady Liberty from the boat. photo  taken by Jolene Navarro
Lady Liberty from the boat. photo taken by Jolene Navarro
I think sometimes we forget New York is surrounded by water and is a port city. Old ships in the docks of New York.
I think sometimes we forget New York is surrounded by water and is a port city. Old ships in the docks of New York.
New York, surrounded by water
New York, surrounded by water. Photo by Jolene Navarro

On 9/11 the fear as they tried to flee on boats that were taking people away from the horrific destruction. The day we all turned to New York, helpless. Just like everything else on this small piece of Earth the 9/11 Memorial is overwhelming.

911 Memorial as the set sets. Photo by Jolene Navarro
911 Memorial as the set sets. Photo by Jolene Navarro

I walk the streets of New York, filled with people from around the world that now make America their home – the history, spirit and feel of America was in every stone, brick, window and steel frame that makes up the city. I have to say man’s ability to create a habitat beyond our imagination is awe inspiring and maybe a bit scary.
Here are a few of my favorite pictures.

The old reflected in the new.

Taken from our hotel window, Andaz. The old and new next to each other. Photo by Jolene Navarro
Taken from our hotel window, Andaz. The old and new next to each other. Photo by Jolene Navarro
View from Central Park. Photo by Jolene Navarro
View from Central Park. Photo by Jolene Navarro
Sensory overload in New York City.
Sensory overload in New York City. Photo by Jolene Navarro
Central Park - Loved this part of New York.
Central Park – Loved this part of New York.
Approaching Central Park
Approaching Central Park
New York from Central Park. Photo by Jolene Navarro
New York from Central Park. Photo by Jolene Navarro
On the edge of Time Square. Have to say my least favorite part of New York City.
On the edge of Time Square. Have to say my least favorite part of New York City.
Hanging out in the M & M Store, waiting for the rain to slow down. Photo by Jolene Navarro
Hanging out in the M & M Store, waiting for the rain to slow down. Photo by Jolene Navarro
Time Square New York- the rain had started
Time Square New York- the rain had started
The storm is rolling into the city.
The storm is rolling into the city.
The Financial District.
The Financial District.
View from the Financial District.
View from the Financial District. Photo by Jolene Navarro

Then there is the art…everywhere.

New York Art
New York Art photo by Jolene Navarro

One thing that was suggested to us was to go to the website of The Metropolitan Museum of Art and map out what you want to see and go to those rooms first. This is a must or you might miss the art you really want to see – there is no way to see this museum in one day. They art they house is incredible so go with a plan and when you see the originals up close…well words can not do the emotions justice.  I could do a whole blog on the art of New York.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art. The ancient civilization among the newbies.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art. The ancient civilization among the newbies. By Jolene Navarro
The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Degas.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Degas
The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Degas
The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Degas

To see the textures and colors up close is simply amazing. Even if you can’t make it to the museum, you should follow them on facebook. They share a piece of art each day.

http://www.metmuseum.org/visit

This summer I get to go back to New York for the Romance Writers of America conference. I’m excited to go back to the city. Is there a place you would love to visit again? Have you been to New York? What is your MUST do when you are in the city.

F is for Flowers or Football?

The Bluebonnet is the most famous of the all the Texas wildflowers
The Bluebonnet is the most famous of the all the Texas wildflowers

It’s spring time, so here in the Texas Hill Country the wildflowers are blooming. Our most famous flower is the beautiful Bluebonnet.

Blooms at the old homestead at the VanPelt Ranch in Con Can Texas
Blooms at the old homestead at the VanPelt Ranch in Con Can Texas
Bluebonnets in Boerne
Bluebonnets in Boerne

Texas wildflowers are hardy, strong and independent, while maintaining their natural beauty. The people of Texas share many of the traits.
Another of my favorites ways to spend time is watching football. Yes my husband coaches it and my boys play it. My daughters truly enjoyed their time playing power-puff football

Storm's Sr. year - on the line. Ended the game as MVP.
Storm’s Sr. year – on the line. Ended the game as MVP.
.

This year was my oldest son’s last year to play, my youngest has at least two more years. So I still have a bit of drama, conflict and excitement for a few future Friday nights.

Friday Night Lights in Texas means High School Football
Friday Night Lights in Texas means High School Football
Tate Navarro Defending the line
Tate Navarro Defending the line

Just for fun I’ll throw in a bit of NFL action.

Julius Thomas running with the ball.
Julius Thomas running with the ball.

So are you more of a flower fairy or a football fan?

Dancing in the Rain, New York Style.

Our second day in New York and the weather has been a pleasant surprise, cool and sunny. After a day at the museums (picture to come later), we headed to Times Square. Have to say, I felt as if we had fallen into the land of the unknown giants. Image

Everything is louder, faster, and taller. The rain started as we waited for our night tour to start. So we ran to the Hershey Store.

More chocolate than one person can handle at the Time Square Hershey Store in New York
More chocolate than one person can handle at the Time Square Hershey Store in New York

Than the M&M store.

Hanging out in the M&M Store, waiting for our tour to start.
Hanging out in the M&M Store, waiting for our tour to start.
Times Square from the M&M Store
Times Square from the M&M Store

As the rain came down, some people left. Being from Texas we always love the rain. I do have to say it was not cold, so that made it easier to handle.

Time Square New York, - view from the M&M store
Time Square New York, – view from the M&M store
Time Square New York- the rain had started
Time Square New York- the rain had started
The storm is rolling into the city.
The storm is rolling into the city.

Even with my dead phone and camera – we had a great time dancing in the rain New York Style.

Dancing in the Rain - Times Square New Yourk
Dancing in the Rain – Times Square New Yourk

Celebrating the Sunrise and Sunset

In the sky I see my smallness and my greatness. The knowledge that the world spins, seasons come and go and each day will have a new beginning and an end comforts me in it routine. Great things will happen and I will celebrate; bad things will happen and I will survive. The mysteries of life are in God’s hands and I’m just to do the best I can.
My father loved and savored the daily events of a sunrise and sunset. I’ve been known to make my family stop so I can take a picture and for a moment think of the permanent change that is our life. Add your favorite sky picture you have taken.

Here are a few of my pictures along with a poem by Elizabeth Barrett Browning

THE HOUSE OF CLOUDS. 1841

I would build a cloudy house
For my thoughts to live in,

Castroville Texas, the reflection of the sunset over the football game.
Castroville Texas, the reflection of the sunset over the football game.

When for earth too fancy-loose,
And too low for heaven.

Sunset in Texas Hill Country
Sunset in Texas Hill Country

I sleep, and talk my dream aloud,
I build it fair to see—

Boerne Texas Sunset - by Wade Beard
Boerne Texas Sunset – by Wade Beard

I build it on the moonlit cloud,
To which I looked with thee.

Sunset over New Orleans off the Mississippi River
Sunset over New Orleans off the Mississippi River

Cloud-walls of the morning’s grey,
Faced with amber column,

Sunset over Texas Hill Country on the road to Leakey Texas from Bandrea Texas
Sunset over Texas Hill Country on the road to Leakey Texas from Bandrea Texas

Crowned with crimson cupola
From a sunset solemn—

Sunset on the road to Leakey Texas
Sunset on the road to Leakey Texas

For casements, from the valley fetch
May-mists glimmering,—

Early morning back road in Boerne Texas taken by Brandi Quinn
Early morning back road in Boerne Texas taken by Brandi Quinn

With a sunbeam hid in each,
And a smell of spring.

Sunset from my driveway in Texas Hill Country
Sunset from my driveway in Texas Hill Country

Build the entrance high and proud,
Darkening and eke brightening,

Sun rise in Galveston Texas.
Sun rise in Galveston Texas.

Of a riven thunder-cloud
Veinëd with the lightning.

Sun rise ans storms in Galveston
Sun rise ans storms in Galveston

Use one with an iris-stain
For the door within,
Turning to a sound like rain
As we enter in.

Sunset over Hondo Texas
Sunset over Hondo Texas

For the fair hall reached thereby
Walled with cloudy whiteness, Take the blue place in the sky,
Wind-worked into brightness—

Sunset Port Aransas
Sunset Port Aransas

Whence corridores and long degrees
Of cloud-stairs wind away—

Sunset over Castroville during at a high school football game.
Sunset over Castroville during at a high school football game.

Till children wish upon their knees,
They walkëd where they pray.

Early evening over Boerne Texas Main Street. during Dickens On Main
Early evening over Boerne Texas Main Street. during Dickens On Main

Be my chamber tapestried
With the showers of summer,

From my driveway as I arrive home - Texas Hill Country
From my driveway as I arrive home – Texas Hill Country

Close and silent, glorified
When the sunbeams come there—

Sudden harpers, harping on
Every drop as such,—

Early evening over Boerne Texas Main Street. during Dickens On Main
Early evening over Boerne Texas Main Street. during Dickens On Main

Drawing colours like a tune,
Measured to the touch.

Bring a shadow green and still
From the chesnut forest—

On the Mississippi heading into New Orleans
On the Mississippi heading into New Orleans

Bring a purple from the hill
When the heat is sorest,—

Texas Hill Country Sunset from my driveway
Texas Hill Country Sunset from my driveway

Spread them out from wall to wall,
Carpet-wove around;    And thereupon the foot shall fall
In light instead of sound.

Sun rise, from my balcony in Galveston Texas -
Sun rise, from my balcony in Galveston Texas –

Bring a grey cloud from the east
Where the lark was singing—

Clouds and storms trying to block the sun as it climbs into the sky over Galveston, Texas
Clouds and storms trying to block the sun as it climbs into the sky over Galveston, Texas

Something of the song at least
Lost not in the bringing,—

Slow rise over Galveston, Texas
Slow rise over Galveston, Texas

And that shall be a morning chair
For poet-dreams,—when with them
No verse constraint—the floating air
Their only, lovely rhythm.

Te sun rising as I leave for work - leaving the Texas Hill Country and heading to San Antonio
Te sun rising as I leave for work – leaving the Texas Hill Country and heading to San Antonio

Bring the red cloud from the sun—
While he sinketh, catch it,—
Bring it for a couch, with one
Side-long star to watch it—

Fit for a poet’s finest thought,
At curfew time, to lean;

Peaceful morning on my balcony in Galveston Texas
Peaceful morning on my balcony in Galveston Texas

When things invisible are brought
More near him than the seen.     Poet’s thought, not poet’s sigh!—
Alas! they come together!

Cloudy walls divide and fly
As if in April weather.

Castroville Texas, the reflection of the sunset over the football game.
Castroville Texas, the reflection of the sunset over the football game.

Hall, corridore, and column proud—
My chamber fair to see—
All pass—except that moonlit cloud
To which I looked with thee.

Night on the porch as the moon slips across the sky
Night on the porch as the moon slips across the sky

Let them!– Wipe such visionings
From the fancy’s cartel;
Love secures some frailest things,
Dowered with his immortal.

Suns, moons may darken—heaven be bowed,—
But here unchanged shall be,

Walking into Jackson Square late at night.
Walking into Jackson Square late at night.

Here in my soul—that moonlit cloud,
To which I looked with thee.

Show us you best sky picture. Always looking up!