Sunday, November 1, 2015

Consumers vs. Constituents

Do you plan to go to the polls on Tuesday? I've already voted by mail. If your confidence in the political process is waning, vote with your dollars. Shopping online is like voting using an absentee ballet. You can do both from home in your underwear.

The Zions Bank Utah Consumer Attitude Index (CAI) increased 5.6 points to 115.6 in October. Both subcategories of the CAI contributed to the increase, showing that consumers are confident in the current and future economic conditions in Utah. Sadly, disparaging consumer reports, the number of shoppers trampled on Black Friday and boycotts get more media attention than positive shopping experiences.

Make no mistake, consumers are voting for “winners” and “losers”. Your purchases drive future investment and production choices. Products that do not sell as well as expected receive fewer resources. I'm going to share with you a few places I support with my dollars and why. Your choices may differ from mine, but every purchase counts, so go out there and shop your conscience.

Trader Joe's grocery store includes a tasting station that offers a free cup of joe. Customers are treated like rock stars; every time I'm there, I have a WOW experience. Donned in cool Hawaiian shirts TJ's crew are full of product knowledge and shopping suggestions for any and everything in the store. I frequent their Salt Lake City store, conveniently located just south of Trolley TRAX Station. A second Utah location in Cottonwood Heights is at 6989 S 1300 E, the site of a former Fresh Market grocery store.

Eat to give at Even Stevens in downtown Salt Lake City, 200 S 414 E. For every sandwich sold in their restaurant, a nutritious sandwich is donated to a local non-profit. Every sandwich, every day, no baloney! Food is more than just the means to end hunger; it's an opportunity to build a strong and healthy community. All donated sandwiches are made with sprouted wheat bread, high quality deli meat and natural cheddar cheese. For more information visit

IconoCLAD offers exciting new clothing, local art, d├ęcor, crafts, Seeds of the Sesame brand Jewelry and more. Bring your lightly worn clothes to 300 S 414 E and you keep 50%! Anything that doesn't sell will be donated. The creator of Seeds of the Sesame brand jewelry has a new line for her feline Hedwig, with all proceeds going towards her diabetic care. Please check the beginning of November when a new product line will be unveiled in time for the holidays!

Happy shopping!

Wednesday, October 14, 2015


Being a lover of all things raccoon, Furiously Happy's book cover jumped out at me from the librarian's choice shelf. Warning: This book contains bad language and a number of rambling non-sequiturs. Jenny Lawson's humor is so clever, she doesn't need expletives to pack a punchline. Lawson treats religion with disdain, sardonic comments are sprinkled throughout the book. As an added bonus I learned kangaroo genitals are even weirder than I thought. Female kangaroos have three vaginas. The outside two are for sperm and lead to the uteruses. The middle one is for giving birth. To go with the two sperm-vaginas, male kangaroos often have two-pronged penises.

"I didn't know if I had another book in me." she said in an interview in front of a thousand people. After reading, Furiously Happy, I knew what she meant. Experiences shared about her life, as an author, public speaker, mother, and wife with few exceptions have little or nothing to do with mental health. I was ready to take it all back after reading, The Spoon Theory, then she added it came from a neighbor. On page 130 she describes depression's like when you meticulously scroll up through hundreds of pages in a word document to find a specific paragraph you need to fix, and then you try to type but it automatically takes you right back down to the bottom because you forgot to place your cursor where you wanted to type.

While confident I can manage physical diagnoses like type 2 diabetes, I literally suffer with depression/anxiety. Being newly single can be difficult for anyone. For me it has been excruciating. Though I frequently remind myself our relationship was unhealthy and I'm better off navigating the world on my own, I miss having a good friend. The coping strategies suggested in the book for dealing with depression aren't realistic for me because they involve either having more money/friends. If either of those were easy for me to come by, would I still be chronically depressed?

My greatest enemy is do-nothingism. Any block of time that allows me to sit and stew is dangerous. To give you an example: while sitting on a Trax (express transit) platform for only ten minutes my mood went from homeostasis to self abhorrent and homicidal, bad combination. When the train arrived its cars were jam packed with Ute fans. I begged off the idea of going east to TJ's for free samples, despite suspecting I may have been experiencing low blood sugar. Instead I rode my bike in the opposite direction, stopping at the next Trax station on the line and headed home. During downtime on the train I write stuff, such as this blog post and the darkness recedes.

Friday, October 9, 2015


By Christine Ireland

Oscar Wilde said, “They’ve promised that dreams can come true, but forgot to mention that nightmares are dreams too.” Even those dreams that wake us up with our heart pounding and beads of sweat on our forehead can be used as a tool. In his childhood years, Frank Baum dreamt of scarecrows chasing him in a field and that is where he got the idea for one of Dorothy's friends.

Perhaps your dreams have been boring lately. If so, choose to expose yourself to new experiences throughout the day. Dreaming allows our subconscious to process the day’s events. New stimuli will make your dreams become exciting once again. With shut eyes nineteen year old Mary Shelley saw the pale student of the unhallowed arts kneeling beside the thing he had put together. Mary recounted the nightmare in her 1831 preface to Frankenstein "I saw the hideous phantasm of a man stretched out, and then, on the working of some powerful engine show signs of life and stir with an uneasy, half-vital motion."

The very act of recording a dream can have the effect of improving future dream recall. Keeping a dream diary conditions a person to view remembering dreams as important. Dreams can be recorded in a paper diary in the form of text, drawings and paintings. Or keep a tape recorder near your bed or under your pillow so that you can preserve details, many of which are otherwise rapidly forgotten no matter how memorable the dream originally seemed. Whether writing for pleasure or profit, your dream log could be a gateway to published imagination.

Happy writing!

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Author Interview

I met with local author Kathryn Jones at her office in West Valley City, where she helps writers turn their ideas into money making creations. Her publishing services company, Idea Creations Press, utilizes POD (print on demand) technology. “Writers own the rights to their work; decide how they want to market and sell their books, and writers make the profit.” She said.

1. Tell me about your latest book. “The Gift is book 3 in the Virginia Bean Parables series. Readers will travel with Virginia and Richard as they make their journey with God. Seek. Knock. Open. Find. Discover for themselves how an open heart – heals.”

2. What inspired you to write the Virginia Bean Parables series? “My husband thought a retelling of David and Goliath would make a great story. I started thinking about it, why did David gather five smooth stones when he only needed one to kill Goliath? That’s when I came up with the virtues each stone represents.”

3. When did you get your first taste of success? “In August of 1988 my husband and I were living in Murray, Utah. Not enough money and too many children were the excuses we used for staying home on our anniversary year after year. So I came up with some ideas for celebrating at home that can be even more memorable than an evening out. A monthly magazine, distributed worldwide, printed Anniversaries-Home Style.”

4. Do you ever experience writer’s block? “No.” she said. I lifted my chin off the floor. “I am always working on multiple projects. When stuck, I simply work on something else and come back to it.” There’s a knock at the door, she excuses herself. “That was a friend of mine; we’re working on a book of true stories about living heaven on earth entitled, Heaven 24/7. I am also updating, Marketing Your Book on a Budget, for next year’s edition. If you have downloaded the Kindle version you can expect yearly updates for FREE. I am also working on book 3 in my (Susan Cramer) mystery series, titled Hard Boiled. Not to be confused with the hardcore crime fiction genre. I had to use it, how else do you follow Scrambled and Sunny Side-Up?”

5. What does heaven look like to you? "I imagine chocolate bars growing on trees." That way you can go around and gather the ones you like? "You don't have to, there are several kinds on each tree." I smiled broadly as visions of chocolate bearing trees danced in my head.

6. What is your favorite quote? “’Never give up. Never surrender.’ ~ Jason Nesmith (Galaxy Quest)”

7. Where can people learn more about you? “Visit my webpage: Follow my blog:”

I thanked her for meeting with me and she gave me bottled water for the road.

Write Here in Historic Magna

By the Copper Quill Writing Group

It’s happening right here in Magna: Strangers become friends; neighbors share their perspectives and ideas. Copper Quill isn’t just an antique stylist, but a present day gathering of beginners as well as experienced writers. What began as strangers daring to read our stories to one another has developed into a get-together between friends. No matter your interests, our group provides an inviting setting to write. You’ll listen to all kinds of stories from interactions between strangers on a New York street corner to memories of visiting Grandma’s house in Hinckly, Utah. Hear unique voices like talking ducks, the near-death experience of a loved one followed by remarkable recovery and stolen cavern kisses.

We are one of fourteen DWS (DiverseCity Writing Series) groups offering free collaborative writing assistance in a supportive environment. Two of our members are Silver Pen award winners and we are always polishing pieces for submission to various competitions created to encourage writing. The SLCC Community Writing Center believes that writing has the power to unite a community and build bridges over social chasms like economic disparity and racial intolerance. One of our group’s mentors, Jim Kelly, is working on a story about how a visit from his Dad’s old college chum, (a Jewish Diplomat on his way to DC) taught him about the importance of eliminating racial barriers.

Our group meets on the first and third Thursdays of each month at 12:30pm in the living room of the Magna Kennecott Senior Center (9228 West Main St. Magna). We’re the rowdy bunch in the corner by the window; so you won’t be able to miss us. We would love to have you bring any type of writing: resumes, essays, or short stories. Don’t worry; we won’t have you diagram sentences or grade your work. The Copper Quill is not a writing class, but resources are available at the Community Writing Center. For a schedule of writing workshops visit

Monday, August 17, 2015

My Favorite Burger Joint

Apollo Burger is a family owned restaurant that's been in business for nearly 30 years and is now serving breakfast seven days a week. Their heart healthy menu offer Cranberry Walnut Salad and proffers, "Get hooked on made-from-scratch rice pilaf or try their broiled chicken sandwich on a whole wheat bun." The Apollo Burger is a quarter-pound, All-American 100% ground beef hamburger broiled to perfection, covered with melted American cheese and topped with layers of cured, deli-sliced pastrami. Personally I love their Gyro (YEE-ros)sandwich and homemade onion rings.

Today I visited their location in West Valley, located on the north side of 3500 South at 2950 West, walking distance from the West Valley Intermodal Hub. Ample parking is available for dine in customers or if you're in a hurry there's a drive through option. One of my favorite sandwiches is the patty melt. I ordered the combo for $8.28+ tax which comes with a regular fry and drink. Patty melts are served on marbled rye with melted cheese and your choice of raw or grilled onions. Apollo Burger fries are thick and tender. Fry sauce is available at no extra charge. Their self serve soda fountain has 8 Coke products to choose from including two non-carbonated and two diet drinks. A container of lemon wedges rests on the counter.

I relaxed in a comfortable booth and listened to Here Comes the Rain Again by the Eurythmics, playing overhead. Tables display a mouthwatering picture of an Oreo shake with the words: Don't let your sweet tooth get you down. Dive into one of our delectable new hand scooped shakes! I always find that particular marketing tack humorous, as if anyone would try to scoop ice cream with their feet. Other dessert menu items include baklava and rice pudding. I notice the little touches, such as (complimentary) individually wrapped mints, to freshen your breath and improve digestion. You bus your own tray, no tip is required. The women's single stall restroom is clean but like the dinning area could do with a makeover. An empty booth for two, sported a burgundy seat-cushion, jutting out of its wood frame.

Thursday, August 6, 2015

How Provincial was my Palate

Having challenged myself to dine somewhere new each month, I asked a wellness guru for her recommendation. "Caffe Niche (pronounced Neesh)," she said, without hesitation, "everything on the menu is good." Conveniently located on the NW corner of 800 E & 300 S, this downtown Salt Lake City neighborhood restaurant is just two blocks from the 900 E. Trax Station. Indoor dining as well as patio seating are available and there's a hitching post for bicycles. The noise level was a little loud because of an event going on that night. The menu lists sixteen different beverages, in addition to adult livations. I had a diet virgin Cuba Libre in a tall glass with a lime wedge.

The atmosphere is relaxed, their decor is simple yet elegant. I was seated promptly. My server made sure my water glass was always full. I began the meal with a house salad consisting of organic mixed greens tossed in zesty lemon vinaigrette, Niche candied walnuts and dried currants. Then ordered an entree, organic half chicken roasted in a marinade of herbs, garlic and lemon with a side of warm red quinoa and arugula. Eating quinoa was a new experience for me. Here's a description from "The taste and texture of quinoa is a bit like brown rice crossed with oatmeal. It's fluffy, creamy, crunchy and somewhat nutty, all rolled into one."

The women's single occupancy restroom was clean and neat with fragrance sticks from Golden Braid Books. After washing, I used a cloth like linen wipe and my hands were in heaven. I had to ask where they order them - Hoffmaster. Having made room for dessert I ordered chocolate verrine. That's what you call chocolate mouse, salted caramel, white chocolate pearls and whipped creme fraicne layered artfully in a small thick glass. Texture is important to me. For instance when enjoying a soft chewy cookie I don't want to bite into a hard candy shell. Though aesthetically pleasing and tasty, balls that go "crunch" don't belong in this mouth, when it's full of rich creamy pudding.