Monday, October 3, 2016

Swim A Mile for Women with Cancer October 2016

For the 19th year, I swam the Swim A Mile for Women with Cancer, a fundraising event for the Women's Cancer Resource Center (WCRC) in Oakland California. The Swim takes place on the first weekend of October each year.

 I swam in Honor of 47 people and in Memory of 37 people.  Those I honor/remember are friends and family of those who sponsor my swim. Many are my personal friends and family

My team of five, "Beverly's Angels" were Pam, Amy, Janet, Harriet, and me.

The weather was threatening at times, with showers every so often.  But, as long as there is no thunder or lightning, swimmers have no problem with raindrops...we are quite wet already!

After the swim, here are the four of us feeling very accomplished.  Team member Harriet was not able to swim this year but became our official photographer and cheerleader.

We all got GOLD MEDALS for our accomplishments!

And, then, we enjoyed the good food and company on the lawn by the pool.

Many thanks to all who sponsored me in the Swim A Mile.  So far, I've raised over $3000 for WCRC and know that more donations will be coming in.

Looking forward to Swim A Mile 2017!!!

Thursday, August 25, 2016

My 103 year old Friend Sue, gets back in the pool

Today was a big day at the Heather Farm Pool and for my longtime friend, neighbor and swim buddy, Sue. 

For at least 8 years, Sue has been talking about getting back into the pool. She was regularly swimming with and competing for the Walnut Creek Masters team well into her 90’s, at the 6:45 a.m. workout.

At age 103 year and 4 months, she continues to be a woman who does not take “no” for an answer. Each morning, rain or shine, cold or hot, she walks about a mile around her neighborhood, a neighborhood that includes some hills!!!

A few years ago, she moved out of her house to an nearby Assisted Living residence, right in the neighborhood.

She’s been regularly heckling the Activities Director to organize a swim at the Clarke Memorial Pool in Heather Farm Park, the pool where Walnut Creek Masters trains.

Today was the day she got her swim wish.  She swam at least 6 laps, doing both freestyle and backstroke.   One of her backstroke laps clocked at 1:05:03!!! She’s already planning her return when she plans to give her butterfly and breast stroke a try.

Arriving at the pool with her friend Michele

Suited up and ready to take the plunge.

Masters swim buddies Felicia, Donna, Beverly, Michele, and Martha came to cheer her on.

Michele and Martha help Sue into the water…She had expected to just dive in, but was convinced to use the stairs.

Coach Steve provided Sue with a WCM swim cap and came by to offer a few swim tips.

Lots of laughter today.

After a few laps on the kick board, Sue decided to add fins.

And, she takes off…

Next up, several laps of backstroke

And, some rests between sets.

Posing for her fans.

The Activities Director and several friends from her residence cheered Sue on and were inspired to, perhaps, return for a swim or water aerobics class themselves.

Happy Swimming to all!  


Friday, June 24, 2016

Washington DC, May 2016

May took me to Washington DC and some nearby Virginia suburbs for a quick visit to see Sister Virginia and other friends and family.

No visit to DC is complete without going to some of the Smithsonian Museums.  The Smithsonian, founded in 1846, is the world's largest museum, education and research complex.  Admission to its museums is free. Most of its 19 museums are in Washington DC. 

The Renwick Gallery, a branch of the larger Smithsonian American Art Museum, exhibits American contemporary craft and decorative arts from the 19th to 21st centuries. The Renwick has the distinction of being the first building in the United States to be built as an art gallery. It is directly across from the White House.

I've not been to the Renwick before and wanted to see the current exhibit, WONDER, which celebrates the reopening of the Renwick after a two-year renovation. Several leading American contemporary artists were invited to create works specifically for this exhibit. 

Virginia, Kathy, and I stand among artist Janet Echelon's looming spires that she created by stacking index cards.

Virginia was intrigued to be able to walk into the monumental structures by Patrick Dougherty that the artist created on site from tree samplings.

One of my favorite works is by Janet Echelman who created volumetric forms of hand-woven net that hang across the entire 100-foot Grand Salon.  She used colored lighting that constantly changes the mood and colors of this piece.  Many visitors lie down on the floor to take in the light show that this work becomes. 

Of course, no American crafts museum is complete without at least one piece by glass artist Dale Chihuly.  This Seafoam and Amber-Tipped Chandelier is part of the Renwick's permanent collection. 

For lunch with friends John and Kathy, we went to the nearby Exchange Saloon which boasts being DC's Oldest Sports Saloon. It's proximity to the White House, as well as many museums, makes it a popular spot with locals, visitors, and sports fans.

The only other Smithsonian museum we had time for was the Freer/Sackler, the Smithsonian's Asian Art Museum. 

We went specifically for the Turquoise Mountain: Artists Transforming Afghanistan, a small exhibit that chronicles how a British organization, Turquoise Mountain, has transformed the destroyed Murad Khani district of Old Kabul from slums to a vibrant cultural and economic center. Turquoise Mountain enabled Afghan artists and artisans to restore old Kabul. 

The Turquoise Mountain exhibit will be at the Sackler Gallery through the end of January 2017.

For lunch after the Turquoise Mountain exhibit, we went to the USDA Cafeteria, which is open to the public on weekdays. This is the place for in-the-know tourists wanting an inexpensive healthy breakfast or lunch. The menu choices change weekly and on each day of the week. There is a Hot Bar, an Asian Bar, a Barbecue Bar, and a Soup Bar, as well plenty of sandwich, salad, and dessert options.  

You do have to go through a quick security check to get in, but, it is worth it for a tasty meal for well under $10 a person.  I think the 6 of us in our group ate very well for closer to $5 a person.

As might be expected at the USDA, the cafeteria is decorated with vintage nutrition posters that seem to be as true today as this one was in 1918.  

Each year, on the first two Saturdays in May, the European Union hosts a free open house at all the Embassies in the Union.  

Despite long lines to get into the Embassies, we braved it.  At each Embassy there are cultural exhibits as well as food and drink tastings. It was fun and interesting. Here is the line outside the Portugal Embassy. 

Of course, given the current uncertainty about what countries will remain in the European Union, it is possible that we may have attended the last such open house.

I'm a fan of the Le Pain Quotidian restaurants that are all over the world.  There are several in Washington DC and we had lunch at the one  around the corner from the Portugal embassy.  My meal was the daily Baker's Lunch.  This day it was Avocado Toast, Gazpacho, and a Chickpea Salad. Virginia had Quiche and Salad. 

Some of our other memorable meals were 

a Lobster Roll lunch at Ford's Fish Shack.


celebrating Virginia's birthday at  Coastal Flats.

On Saturday morning, we went to her local Farmer's Market where I was intrigued that most vendors were featuring Wild Ramps, a sort of onion that, to my knowledge, only grows on the East Coast.

And, the final highlight of my visit was meeting her almost-one-year-old grand daughter, Italia.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Winter Fancy Food Show: What's New? What are the trends for 2016?

I spent yesterday at the Winter Fancy Foods show in San Francisco. Every year, I attend at least one day of this 3-day exposition.

I attend mainly to see what trends there are for the coming year. To determine what's trending, I spend the entire day tasting cheeses, sweets, crackers, sauces, teas, and more.

From what I observed, kale is on its way out and beets are the new super-vegetable. I tasted packaged cooked beets in all shapes and cuts, beet crackers, beet chips, and beet juice.

I even picked up recipes for beet smoothies and beet cocktails.

The main cheese trend that I saw was flavored cheeses, particularly flavored cheddars. My favorite was Rogue Creamery's La-Di-Da Lavender cheddar.  Jarlsberg is even making a line of crackers with its cheese.  They are quite tasty.

Packaged Tuna that is low in mercury showed up at the booths of several vendors. As one who would eat a tuna salad sandwich every day of the week, given the choice, I sampled several tuna salads at the show.  I am very impressed with Safe Catch in Marin County who tests every one of its fishes to assure that its Skipjack and Albacore tuna is even more mercury free than the levels required by the FDA.

The newest of the ancient grains, Freekeh is competing with Quinoa as the go-to supergrain. Could this be because many people don't know how to pronounce Quinoa?
One Quinoa vendor has named its product with the grain's phonetic pronunciation. While Freekeh has its intrigue and undisputed nutritional benefits, I still prefer quinoa or farro as my supergrains of choice.
Hemp turned up in drinks and as a grain to add to salads, soups and other dishes.
Coconut Sugar and Oil turned up in numerous foods as a more healthful alternative to cane sugar.  Several popcorn and snack vendors are using coconut oil in their products.

As for tea, each year brings more and more new flavors as well as the old standards like Earl Grey and English Breakfast.  The Japanese powdered tea, Matcha is one of my favorites (If you've ever eaten Green Tea Ice Cream, its color and flavor is that of Matcha).  This year, several vendors were offering Matchas in single-serving packets.

Teas that claim to "cleanse" or "reduce weight" have been around for awhile.  This year at Fancy Foods, it seems that the big companies are now offering supplemented teas.

And, to go with tea, cheese, dips, or just to eat by themselves the variety of crackers, biscuits, and cookies continues to be infinite.

I particularly enjoyed tasting Effie's Homemade Oatcakes and Ryecakes and would have either of them with a cup of tea or a cocktail.

Ice cream and gelato remains ever-popular.  For Fancy Foods, Choct├íl had tastings of 4 single-origin Vanilla ice creams and 4 single-origin Chocolate ice creams.  For each of the two tastings, they had a special plate and tasting notes.  My favorite Vanilla was the Indonesian Vanilla and my favorite Chocolate the mocha-y Dominican Chocolate.

I didn't see as many barbecue sauce vendors at the show as I have in past years, but did see more spice vendors.  Perhaps spice rubs will be replacing the sweet sauces as a flavoring for meats, poultry, and fish as well as adding salt-free seasonings to vegetables and grain dishes.

Organic and gluten-free products are still numerous.

Even Jelly Belly has introduced jelly beans and other confections made with organic fruits.

Attending the Winter Fancy Food Show is always an interesting and fun day.  The Winter show is usually in San Francisco and the summer version is in New York City.