Tan your hide in Oceanside

Oceanside is a dreamy coastal city in California where palm dotted streets and long sandy beaches make it a thing of postcards and tropical dreams. Perched up on the north side of the city our charming harbor and marina features shops and restaurants. Stretched along the center of the city in our downtown city center connecting the harbor to our south side via Highway 101 (Coast Hwy.) At the lower end you’ll find the eclectic beachy neighborhood locals call South O’. Oceanside offers all the playfulness a beach community can offer along with the highlights any visitor would want to experience. Experiences from surfing to skydiving can be found. check out the list below. Tourist attractions from the Mission San Luis Rey to the surf museum will spark your interests. You’ll find a comprehensive list below. 

Genuine Godfather Spaghetti Sauce

Deep rich red sauce poured over a heaping swirl of al dente pasta is the star of the show for most of my food fantasies. I feel my inner spirit soar with the vision of myself perched upon velvety high back chair across from my husband while sopping up the last bit of sauce with generous chunks of sourdough bread and washing it down with the tallest of glasses of extra brut champagne. Such a treat wouldn’t be so difficult to achieve considering the immense variety of sauces offered at the myriad of grocery stores dotted on every street corner. To be honest, Prego has been my go-to brand since my days as a fresh new adult at San Diego State University. Still, every pasts dinner left me yearning for the sauce my elementary school best friend’s dad made from scratch several times each year. He generously shared his recipe with me but alas I have never been able to recreate the magic. I’m guilty of polluting the ocean with gallons of mediocre sauce of which even Oliver Twist wouldn’t touch. I was giddy with delight and a breeze of renewed faith in my culinary genius wafted across my kitchen when I attempted a new recipe for the red sauce I’ve been craving since college. This recipe if for you, so that you will dream of red sauce and crave this liquid gold. Now, all you need is a tall glass of Moet

1 tablespoon olive oil

1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

1/2 onion, chopped

3 garlic cloves, chopped

14 ounces of chopped tomatoes

14 ounces crushed tomatoes

3 ounces tomato paste 

1 tablespoon sugar

1 tablespoon dried oregano

1 tablespoon dried oregano

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon fresh ground pepper

4 ounces of dry red wine

In a large pot over medium heat, add the oil, red pepper flakes, stirring 45 seconds then add onions, sauté 3 minutes, add garlic and sauté another minute then add all other ingredients stir well, lower heat and add half a cup of water. Simmer on low heat for 2 hours, stirring often adding little bits of water or red wine if sauce becomes too thick. Sauce becomes thicker as it cooks. Enjoy over pasta or any other way you usually use your sauce.

You’re welcome

How to cure insomnia

It’s a foggy summer morning in California, and I just kissed the kids goodbye for their weekend at their Dad’s house. It’s one town over, but there, where they call home for half of every week, they live an entirely separate life. The mad rush of mornings always ends up to be less than a postcard perfect start to the day. My youngest child is a night owl. Her most intense bouts of creativity and energy come out after midnight, a rhythm no doubt picked up early in life by her mom, me. Back in the day before computers were in every home, cell phones in every hand, social media and an internet connection graced our lives and connected us to the universe, being a stay at home mom was virtually a dead zone, socially speaking. In the lonely and long days, weeks, months and years, raising my children solo the cycle of parenthood and lack of sleep made time feel elastic. Was it Sunday or Wednesday, who even knew?  Every day seemed exactly like the last and there was nothing beyond my field of vision that could make it feel any other way. My husband at the time was absent, not a deadbeat dad, but more like a shadow that passed in the night leaving me to be both mom and dad 24/7 for 15 years of marriage.  As a young mother with insomnia, (whose husband was always away from home and didn’t participate in our family life,) Rather than the world being my oyster, I felt isolated and the world seemed smaller than small. While the other moms in my life were savoring every moment of parenthood with their husbands, spending nights rejoicing the tiny accomplishments of first steps, first words or tiny milestones, I was passing this news to my husband who listened with empty ears, distracted annoyance and uninterested stares. I quickly realized that this parenthood thing would be a solo gig and despite my lack of sleep, the show must go on. Over the next 15 years I saw myself pushed up against the limits of what a human could accomplish on 3 hours of sleep and dragging through life with overwhelming exhaustion. Being a mom was a dream come true and I craved the opportunity to immerse myself and my children in the experiences of a well lived and enriched life. Trips to the park, museum, beach and library electrified my children’s senses. But for me, my brain was numb and I moved through the days and experiences in a trance like a sleepwalker. Each day I awoke craving a nap, and something else, but I couldn’t pin point just what that something else was. If I am searching for meaning, or solace or even a bit of clarity about those years of motherhood I know I won’t find it. It all fades into the landscape of my life. If I put those years into a word, the word would be “cheated.” But not cheated for me, cheated for my children. Had they been given a mother who could sleep, they could have enjoyed so many more experiences like going to the county fair, swimming with friends every summer day, camping at the beach every weekend, taking dance classes, participating in sports teams and having a mom who would sit down in the evening meticulously helping to solve each homework question before bedtime stories. Having a Dad who wanted to be a participant in their lives, they could have had a person to fill in the empty spaces left blank by my disability. But no, I was too exhausted to do make any of those things happen and Dad just wasn’t interested in anything relating to the children. My social life suffered. In a zombie existence, it feels impossible to nurture relationships with friends and loved ones therefore my children and I were homebodies making cameo appearances at birthday parties and holiday celebrations. It took me nearly fifteen years to seek help for my insomnia. At first I was reluctant to share my concern with my physician. I had no idea that roughly 60 million Americans are affected by the sleep disorder each year. I was certain that my case was hopeless and more than that, now that my children were older, I felt that any relief for me would be too late to reverse all the years I felt I had been cheated out of my kids’ childhood. Even if I could learn to sleep, I would always live with the regrets of not being the kind of mother I wish I could have been for them. Since my divorce from my kids’ father 10 years ago, I have taken my quest to find relief for this insomnia to a new level. Working with my family doctor I have tried numerous medications. Some such as Ambien and Zoloft had such extreme side effects that I quickly rejected them. While others such as over the counter sleep aids only accentuated my insomnia. I learned that whatever worries or stresses that crossed my mind by day, compounded my insomnia at night. While that alone didn’t explain my complex issue with sleep, it was a window into this debilitation condition. After 48 years battling this awful condition I am fortunate to have a small arsenal of pills, tips and tricks that provide me with a bit of relief most nights of the week (I’d be happy to share the prescription details with you, just drop me an email.) While not perfect, I feel more alive than I have ever been. The years have a way of slipping away. I am no longer the isolated lonely young mom I was 23 years ago when I first became a mom. Nowadays I am married to the man of my dreams who is the ideal step dad to my children. I have to work hard not to spend too much time imagining how perfect our lives would have been parenting our children together since day one. I really must let go of those types of thoughts and embrace the idea that we get to create the life we want for our children from this day forward, no matter how old they are. The internet and social media make me feel more connected to my friends and family and have cultivated new friendships and nurtured old ones and made my tiny world into an endless ocean. I am so thankful for the invention of the internet and cell phones. Besides putting the world at my fingertips, it gives me something to do on those sleepless nights when the pills and sleep techniques fail me. If you want to fix your insomnia i have four tips for you. 1. Ditch the heavy baggage. My ex husband and his withholding of love and support was such a weight on my subconscious and worked as a poison in my head. That type of burden effects your body more than you realize. 2) create routines. Organize things before bed. Set your alarm, lay out the clothes you intend to wear the next day, pack your lunch the night before, set your bags or purse you plan to take to work by the front door and make lists if you’re worried about forgetting something. Do whatever it takes to clear your mind before bed. 3) avoid caffeine 8-10 hours before bed. Even tea. Learn that although alcohol initially makes you sleepy, it may impair sleep. 4) seek medical advice. A prescription might be just what you need. I share this hard learned knowledge with anyone who will listen, especially my kids. I see it in my little one, her insomnia and struggles but I have confidence that it will not be so debilitating for her. She has a world of knowledge about handing the disability. She can scout the internet for the best careers for those who never sleep such as firefighting, paramedics, law enforcement. She spends her sleepless nights watching YouTube videos and scrolling through her social media feeds. I’m sure her Dad notices these things on the nights she spends with him across town. She never complains about her insomnia and I feel like she has accepted it as a normal part of her life. I try not to worry for her. If anything, at least she knows there’s someone else awake who is always a phone call away at any hour of the night. Thank you for reading my story. If you’d like to share your experience with insomnia or parenthood, please leave a comment or feel free to email me at ninascorner@hotmail.com

Cacao Tree Planting Instructions

Your plant requires temperatures between 75-85 degrees Fahrenheit. The lowest temperature your tree can handle is 60 degrees Fahrenheit. no wild temperature fluctuations. High humidity is very important as well as good air circulation, but never expose plant to dry wind/air. Dry air will kill this plant, so maintaining a humid environment is vital. Lots of water but not standing water, you can water every day if drainage is good. never let it dry (it will kill a plant in a day and cacao plant will not recover) Full shade for the first 3 months, then full shade to partial shade. Will tolerate some sun when 4-5 foot tall. Sun will kill this plant. Cacao plant does not need direct sun, filtered sunlight is optimal. Very fertile soil. If planted in pots, I would recommend mixing Pro-Mix BX potting soil (for keeping moisture) mixed with Pro mix HP CC (for good drainage) and with good organic potting soil or very well rotted compost (for fertilizing) 1:1:1. You can also add 1/10 part of sand. Optional- polystyrene beads (not biodegradable) on the bottom of the pot (1-2 inch) Plant it in 5-7 gallon pot when received or a week later and increase the pot size to 10-20 gallon pot in 6-12 months. Many hydroponic fertilizers (organic or not) will work just fine (6:2:8 or similar) Water, rain water or rain water with reduced PH to 6-6-4. Non organic fertilizer (cheap)- miracle grow for acid loving plants – 1/2 tsp in 5 gallon bucket.  you can also add Epsom salt 1/4-1/2 tsp in 5 gallons bucket. many growers prefer the organic fertilizer. Lower leaves turn yellow and fall off. It is normal for this plant when nicely growing at the top.

Cacao seed planting instructions

Sow your cacao seeds as soon as possible, 2 inches deep, in regular potting mix soil. Keep moist with sufficient lighting. Room temperature should not drop below 68 degrees Fahrenheit/ 20 degrees Celsius. You can cover the pot with plastic wrap to increase humidity (make sure to remove it when the sprout appears.) Repot in a bigger container when your cacao has true leaves. An ideal mix would be potting soil, garden soil (or sand) and compost. In summer, take the plant out but avoid harsh sun rays on the delicate leaves. In winter, sprinkle the leaves with water  (without chlorine) to increase humidity if the air is too dry. In their natural environment, there are always leaves on the ground, so consider mulching your tree. If the temperature where you live never drops below 68 decrees Fahrenheit or 20 degrees Celsius, you can plant the tree outside, otherwise, it will need to remain in a large container in a greenhouse or inside your home.

UFOs and How to Attack Them

I am 7% creative, 15% inspired, 2% talented, 60% motivated and 92% human so it likely comes to no surprise to anyone that my creativity comes in spurts. I am easily motivated and born to work with my hands. As I scroll through Instagram, a carefully curated album on my feed can jettison me into a tailspin of making. Quilts, collages, crafts and gardens of a multitude of scales and complexities can be attributed to these spurts of motivation and inspiration. I have been easily sidetracked from one adored project to another. Any single misstep, sleepless night, unfortunate combination of occurrences or even a change in my daily routine can be the demise of a once cherished project and send it spiraling to the depths of my collection of UFOs otherwise known as Un Finished Objects. Any quilter, scrapbooker or crafter can tell you stories of their own UFOs and how a project once shining bright at the top of his or her to do list became a forgotten relic only to make appearances in the back of their stockpile of guilt and conscience in the basement of their mind. I know a lot about UFOs. My husband would tell you I know too much about them. My stack of UFOs is taller than I am. Almost all of them are quilts. I sincerely want to finish each one but I can honestly admit that I likely never will. Recently I sat down and took inventory of my UFOs and discovered a commonality. At the moment when I was creating each of them, or to be more specific, when I quit creating each of them I didn’t exactly pin point the reason I abandoned them. Sure, I was sidetracked by life and my creative motivation had slipped away but why didn’t I come back to them the next time I felt creative? Why did I start something completely new? Taking inventory of my collection it became clear. I did love each quilt, I still do. When I made the decision to make each one, I carefully selected the fabric to match the feel of the pattern. I had the machine quilting design in mind when I chose the weight and texture of the fabric. I had an end in mind. But in the end, here they are, in a forgotten pile that I hide in my basement. I pick up my favorite of the bunch. It is a chicken applique quilt that I started about 10 years ago in class at huge quilting store which could be described as more of a warehouse thank a shop. Located in San Marcos, CA, the quilt shop is no longer in business although quilting guru Eleanor Burns purchased most of the stock and sold it in her store Quilt in a Day. So here is what is left of that shop and this quilt. A charming chicken quilt that appears to be close to finished. I remember the day I set this quilt aside. It was the week I found out that my husband of 15 years and the father of my children was divorcing me. I had already been stumped as to the proper technique to measure, cut and sew the inner border on the quilt and with the rug being pulled out from under my life, I knew I just didn’t have the time, luxury, energy or motivation to even try to finish this quilt. In later years I would pull it out and think of finishing it, then realizing I had lost the original fabric to complete the job I would place it in my pile of UFOs once again. My mother recently ordered the fabric for me, I sewed it on, had the piece professionally machine quilted and now it is in my UFO pile again waiting for a binding, my least favorite part of making a quilt. The next UFO I reach for  is a modern block quilt which was given to me by my mom as a kit. A quilt kit usually includes a pattern along with fabric and notions needed to complete the project. Buying a quilt kit for someone is like buying lingerie for someone. You can never get it right. I mean, what do you get? Edible panties, lace strapless bra, a body stocking, lycra, silk, chiffon, fuzzy slippers????? That’s how I feel about quilt kits. A giver will purchase what he or she likes and what matches their aesthetic. My mom gave me a kit that matches her aesthetic perfectly. Retro fabrics in colors of teal, orange, salmon and white were stuffed in a sweet gift bag. I love gifts like this and although it didn’t match my style I was excited to make the quilt my mom gave me but I never did. I put the kit in the mail and sent it to the most talented and meticulous quilter I know, my grandma. Grandma began quilting in the early 80’s taking quilting classes at local quilt shops in California and perfected her skills over the years made easy by retirement and time on her hands. She is meticulous, a discipline she adopted after many classes at Quilt in a Day (no they are not paying me. I just have a immense respect for their teachings) and Grandma cringes when she watches me and my relaxed techniques. Grandma took this quilt and whipped it up in a couple of days, my mom machine quilted it and they turned it back over to me in need of hand stitching on the binding. That was three years ago. See the pattern in my madness? I have a story such as this for my entire UFO stack. It is clear that with each project I found myself puzzled by the next step, unable to move past that step and then a personal roadblock sealed the fate of my creation. I am trying what I can to remedy this habit. Recently I have pulled out a UFO and placed it on my sewing table with the supplies needed to complete it. I admit that even doing this took me nearly a month of contemplation. I’ve have to knock the dust off of it several time so far but I am determined to finish this quilt sooner than later and I promise that it will not ever go back into my pile of UFOs. Have you ever tackled a forgotten or stalled project? Do you have UFOs. What is your best technique for avoiding the creative block that comes from mental or physical roadblocks? I feel like this new system will get me back on track and turn my spurts of creativity into a waterfall of creation. I mean after all, I am just 92% human

Hello world!

What are your plans this summer? I’m thinking about taking the kids on a trip to someplace exotic or at least a place that requires a little advanced planning, real luggage and walking shoes. Ideally this place would have delicious coffee, stunning scenery and air conditioning. Is this too much to ask for? As a mom, I often feel like most requests are too much to ask for. Considering my hometown is practically a vacationer’s paradise, why do I crave a getaway at all? Please tell me why I feel this way every time I intend to plan a trip.

Fashion in the City

It’s not hard to imagine Gwyneth Paltrow in a flowy peasant top and cutoffs or Emilia Clarke in wool cashmere coat by Raph Lauren but can you imagine yourself in your ideal style? If you had the perfect body, perfect skin, perfect face, what style resonates with your consummate aesthetic? Would you wear your feelings on your chest with literal statement pieces with boldface graphics or refine your approach with muted tones and classic features? I say let your freak flag fly if you want and mix it up.

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Bridal Photography

Please stay tuned for features in this area. Guest posts are welcomed and can be submitted via email at ninascorner@hotmail.com

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