Peet’s Coffee Connoisseur Sampler Gift – The Perfect Addition to the Holidays!

Peets CoffeeToday is a big day of Christmas preparations for me, so I started the morning off with a nice boost: some Peet’s Coffee from my Connoisseur Sampler Gift set. Being a bit of a coffee snob, I love Peet’s and have talked about them before. But it’s been a long while since I’ve indulged. Peet’s sent me a beautiful Holiday gift set to review, and I have to say it felt like Christmas came early!

The set comes in a beautiful box (I’m keeping it for the storage of some treasures) and includes four delicious bags of ground coffee. The first one I tried is their Holiday blend, and I have to say it would make the perfect choice for holiday get-togethers. It’s not too bold, so you won’t jack up Aunt Martha like you did last year, serving her the dark roast. I’d definitely call that one  a crowd pleaser. Major Dickason is a full bodied brew. It’s what I had this morning so I can attack the baking with vigor. Garuda, the nutty, earthy choice is also full bodied and definitely high on my list of favorites. But it’s the Uzuri Blend that stays, as always, on the top of my Peet’s coffee preferences. Uzuri is an East African blend from small farms, and it has the hint of dark berries that I love in coffee.

Here’s another thing I appreciate about Peet’s: They roast high quality fair trade beans, and because of this, there’s no need to hide their product with artificial flavoring. (I want coffee that tastes like berries or nuts or earth because of how it was grown, darn it! There’s my coffee snobbery again for you.) AND Peet’s has the very first LEED Gold certified roasting facility in the country! That’s where they roast 100% of their beans. But no worries, you don’t have to fly to Berkeley, California, to get your brew. You can find Peet’s all across the country, at your local grocery store or in Peet’s own stores.

So whether you’re looking for a last-minute gift idea that anyone would flip over, or you want to stock up on a fantastic selection of coffee for all those holiday meals, parties, and get-togethers, let me suggest Peet’s Coffee Connoisseur Sampler Gift – if it satisfies this bean snob, it’ll satisfy you, too.

Super Easy Emergency Pie Crust Recipe for Thanksgiving and Beyond

pumpkin pieIf you’re in charge of the pies this year and your crust just totally flopped, have no fear; I’ve got a super easy emergency pie crust recipe that will save your Thanksgiving, your Christmas, and your morale. Would Martha Stewart approve? No. But we’re not gonna tell her, are we?


1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

2 tsp. white sugar

1 tsp. salt

1/2 cup vegetable oil

2 Tbs. milk

1. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees F (200 Celsius).

2. IN YOUR PIE PAN, mix together the dry ingredients. Then, dump in the oil and milk. Mash it up with a fork until it starts looking like dough. (Don’t add more liquid. It’ll look like it doesn’t work at first, but have no fear – it will.)

3. Once it starts sticking together, you can finish kneading it with your hands until it’s a uniform doughy texture. Push the dough into the pie pan, smoothing it out to the edges. Poke the dough with a fork.

4. Bake for 15 minutes, or until it’s light brown.

5. When the crust has cooled, fill with your pumpkin pie mixture, fruit filling, etc. Use as directed in your pie recipe.

And that, my friends, is it! This recipe is the sole reason I even make pies. I don’t even bother messing up the usual dough, and while I must admit a properly executed pie crust is a beautiful thing, it is one beautiful thing I cannot create. Besides, my family hasn’t complained once. I don’t think they know how easy it is, so shhh! Our secret.

I hope this easy emergency pie crust recipe saves someone from a Thanksgiving or Christmas disaster; and Happy Holidays!

Pueblo & Company – Bead Loom Jewelry for the Mother Earth Inside You

Mexican Rainbow

Mexican Rainbow

My new Etsy bead loom and silver jewelry shop, Pueblo & Company, is growing fast. Last time I updated you, it was brand new and our items were only available on Square Market. But now we’re almost exclusively Etsy.

In case you haven’t visited the Etsy shop yet, it has about 100 hand beaded items. And very soon (maybe even later today), there will be hand crafted silver jewelry such as chains and bracelets.

The bead loom style, which I’ve been in love with since my grandpa gave me an old bead loom set he magically found in his garage one day, fits my “earthiness” side perfectly. And since I’m now in Albuquerque, New Mexico, I’m surrounded by inspiration for the designs.

Guatemalan Garden

Guatemalan Garden

All the jewelry on the site is designed and hand beaded by me. There’s just something about those tiny seed beads and the mostly Native American inspired patterns that merge seamlessly with my life as a writer and an herbalist. Combined with desert living, I’m pretty sure I’m in heaven.

If you get a chance, I’d love to have you visit Pueblo & Company; or check out my bead loom jewelry (and my awesome new city) on Instagram, Pinterest, Tumblr, Facebook…. oh my.

Free Online Herb Classes from University of New Mexico: Curanderismo!

Imagine my surprise when a local news station in Albuquerque, New Mexico covered the announcement of a free herb class through Coursera called Curanderismo! Did I sign up? You know me well if you guessed it took me less than 20 seconds to get online and put my name on the list. The online class, taught by the University of New Mexico, will start on August 18, 2014, and run throughOctober 13, 2014. It’s free to anyone who’d like to sign up. Just visit the Coursera class page for Curanderismo.

If you’re wondering how much work it entails, here’s what’s involved:

• 30 minute Introduction of course and weekly themes
• 20 minute lecture/demonstration videos
• Short quizzes after each video
• Homework including reading of books and articles after each module
Doesn’t sound like much, and as it is with all free university classes on Coursera, no one will flunk you or come to your door and rap your knuckles for not completing homework.
Curanderismo covers traditional medicine from Mexico, Peru, and the United States. Several practitioners from these countries will be teaching throughout the course. If you ask me, it sounds like a fantastic time! I’m counting the days. Let me know if you sign on. I’d love to “share notes” with you!

How to Get Rid of Cockroaches Naturally

dead cockroach

I apologize for this hideous image. I really tried to find a cute cartoon, but there’s no way around it, roaches are ugly. They do look better dead, though, don’t you think?

If you want to learn how to get rid of cockroaches as naturally as possible, you, my friend, have come to the right place. That’s because I’ve been taking the crash course in roach control. In my new home state of New Mexico, if you live within four walls and have a roof, you have cockroaches unless you treat for them. You can put your food in airtight NASA containers. You can scrub the floors three times a day until Mr. Clean shows up at your house and tells you to give it up, already. You can wake up at 3 a.m. and chase them around. But you won’t get rid of them.

A lot of people down here have usual visits from the pest control guys, but I have a little dog who enjoys licking the tile and three birds who would probably hang upside down from the perches, permanently, if we sprayed all over the place. Let’s not even get into the fact that I don’t want the human members of my family exposed to chemicals strong enough to kill bugs capable of outliving a nuclear holocaust. So, what’s a girl to do?

Diatomaceous earth is a naturally occurring soft rock that does some serious damage to cockroaches. The powder is so fine it destroys the exoskeleton of the roach and dehydrates its body. The roach won’t die immediately, but he’ll get that powdery stuff all over himself, take it back to the nest, and get it all over his buddies. Eventually, you might see an uptick in dead little bodies around the house as the roaches come out of hiding to find water as they get thirstier. Not pleasant, but it’ll do the trick. One problem with diatomaceous earth, however, is that even if you get food grade (yes, there’s food grade), it’s still a dangerous inhalant. So if you use it, stuff it way back under the stove, refrigerator, or cupboards. But make sure it cannot be reached or sniffed at by children or pets.

Baking soda is a safer alternative that gives cockroaches worse gas than a burrito festival. You can mix one part baking soda to one part white sugar, then make a paste or soup out of it by adding water, then fill old plastic lids jar caps (like those from a spaghetti sauce jar). Then place the lids around the house, again hiding them underneath things. Again, keep them out of reach of children and pets, although I can’t imagine too many kids or pets would enjoy the taste of baking soda, even when combined with sugar. Roaches, on the other hand, will gobble that stuff up. You can even sprinkle straight baking soda under appliances, where they’ll traipse through the powder and haul it back to the nest. Again, this does damage to the whole group, causing gas and bloating that kills roaches.

One I really like is a little recipe for bug balls. This tasty little treat is too much for a hungry roach to pass up. Since the balls are snack size, they happily roll them back to the nest where everyone can enjoy a bite or two. Here’s what you’ll need:

1 cup Borax (like 20 Muleteam Borax, found in the laundry aisle)

1/4 cup sugar

1/4 cup diced onion (they really dig that stuff)

1 Tbs. cornstarch

1 Tbs. water

Mix everything up and form little balls from the dough. You can put a few tiny balls into an open Ziploc bag or on a jar lid, then tuck them away in the dark places cockroaches like. (Again, keep these away from kids and pets.) The roaches tend to die out of sight, and their loyal family members eat their dead, then they die too. It’s recycling, see.

The bug ball recipe makes about 50 balls, which will last you quite awhile.

So, there you have it. You can kill roaches dead, and you won’t have to tent the house and worry about the Breaking Bad guys setting up shop in your living room. No chemically fumes, no costly monthly visits from the pest control companies. For more ways to do things naturally and chemical free in your home, check out my series of paperbacks and ebooks on Amazon. And if you have any other ideas on how to get rid of cockroaches naturally, comment below or send me an email.