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Feb 5, 2014

Happy World Nutella Day!

These days, we have so many quirky holidays that almost nothing is left out. I can live without most of them, but I make a grand exception for Nutella! 

My family knows that I periodically hide a jar of this silky elixir as insurance: 1.) to maintain my inventory and 2.) to protect it from double-dippers. I do share, but on my own terms.

Theodore Roosevelt's "walk softly" quote has found new meaning, and it does have to do with foreign policy...


Happy World Nutella Day!

Jan 25, 2014



Have you ever noticed that changing a habit can become a sparring match! Samuel Johnson is quoted as saying, "The chains of habit are too weak to be felt until they are too strong to be broken." I personally believe that no habit is invincible, but changing one can feel like pulling a weed, only to find out that it is attached to your neighbor's refrigerator!


My previous post, "Mindful Eating," mentioned slowing down meals in order to naturally arrive at satiation. Chewing seemed like a good place to start, so I prepared a splendid breakfast and sat down to eat. My objective was to chew 26 times, hands free of utensils.

I took my first bite and began to chew. I immediately noticed that I was still holding my fork, so I laid it down. I took a second bite and this time my fork was parked. Before arriving at 26 chews, however, I picked up the fork, began reloading, put it back down, and then picked it up again. On the third bite, I ignored my fork, but I began chewing faster in anticipation of my next fork-lift. I even thought of things I needed to do and walked away from my plate several times until my 26 chews were over! I eventually began to focus on the flavor and texture of my meal, but oh what a battle!


I have observed people as they shovel food into their mouths. Their chewing seems obligatory and minimal. They quickly swallow and then reload. Twenty minutes later, they have sometimes eaten the equivalent of 3 or more meals and their appestat is out of a job. 

I am not an assembly line eater, but the mechanics of my own meal glared back at me. Plainly, I was uncomfortable not managing my fork between bites and I recognized that I was robbing myself of pleasure.


While shopping, I often see something I want and give myself full permission to come back the next day IF my desire is still strong. I rarely return. So, I recently tried this with 3 small, spicy chicken sandwiches. I ate one and wanted another. I gave myself permission to indulge again in 15 minutes if I was still hungry. In 15 minutes, I was full. My 8th grade son, Brock, picked up where I left off.

As I introduce more whole, fresh, and seasonal foods into my lifestyle, you might say that my chew-chew train is on track.

P.S. My inspiration comes from Darya Pino Rose, author of Foodist.

Jan 19, 2014

Mindful Eating


I look forward to women's ministry potlucks. The food is scrumptious and the conversation entertaining. The topics of religion and politics rarely create problems because we most often agree. I cringe, however, when an enthusiastic dieter uses mealtime to detail their latest diet and weight loss — usually while abstaining from what the rest of us are enjoying. I can sweep my eyes around the table and see people becoming more aware of their plates. And there are plenty of leftovers.

I mentioned this scenario to my husband and his reply was, "You sure don't have this problem at men's retreats."

My internal dialogue does not wish the dieter failure, but I am predicting that the diet will end soon and the weight will return. I am usually right. Being that most diets are unnatural in the first place, they are almost doomed to failure.


I was a chunky toddler when it was considered healthy to be so. In later years, it was discovered that early weight determines how one will deal with pounds for the rest of their life. For me, that was true. I have always struggled with weight gain; and I am certain that Wonder and Weber's bread were not my friends.

I have tried most popular diets, only to have my success erode as soon as I got bored and let up on the restrictions. In fact, I hate the word "diet" because I enjoy the diversity, culture, and creativity of food too much to abandon an entire food group, eat like a caveman, or pretend to like Chicharrón (fried pork rinds.)


My ultimate desire is to experience real food without deprivation. Yes, life is too short to be fat, but it is also too short not to enjoy the bountiful food choices that God saw fit to stock the planet with.

I have concluded that my healthy pursuit needs to focus on balance and better habits. So, I am not on a diet. I am not following a prescribed meal plan. I am not counting calories or weighing food. I am simply forging a healthier relationship with fresh, in-season, whole, organic, and unprocessed food. I am employing habits that slow down and increase the pleasure-factor of eating, while bringing my body back to a healthy rhythm.

I am grateful to authors Michael Polan (Cooked, Food Rules: An Eater's Manual, and In Defense of Food) and Darya Pino Rose (Foodist) for offering common sense and affirmation. Due to their illumination, I am employing the following new habits...

     26 Chews while Utensils are Parked
     Less Distraction
     Mindful Eating
     Farmers Market
     Whole Foods
     Organic Food Co-ops
     Frozen when Fresh is Unavailable

Cafe Karen
     Real Food and Seasonal Ingredients
     Minimal Processed Food (especially sugar and flour)
     Batch Cooking
     Advance Preparation
     A High Protein Breakfast
     Meals of 50% Vegetables
     Fruit as Snacks
     Palm Sized Meat, Fish, and Poultry Portions
     Non-Sugared Beverages
     Sweets: Worth-the-splurge

Dining Out
     Dining: Worth-the-Splurge

     1000 Footsteps (with the aide of a FitBit)
     Strengthening Exercises


Dec 21, 2013

Ornament Box Poetry

I collect all sorts of interesting ornaments and Hallmark™ has a home in that collection. In the last decade, I have begun to acquire nostalgic and retro ornaments, as well as those that relate to cooking. 

One charming Hallmark™ feature — that can easily be overlooked — are the charming verses printed on the ornament boxes. Just like the keepsake ornaments that they are paired with, they evoke warm Christmas memories. Here are a few of those verses...

2008 Hallmark™Ornament

Twas the night before Christmas,
and Kitty was stirring,
lapping up milk and happily purring,
when, what to her mischievous eyes did appear,
but Santa himself, who smiled through his beard.
"I believe that's my milk," Santa said with a pat,
"but you're welcome to it—
you've been such a good cat."
2011 Hallmark™Ornament

Spicy, yummy gingerbread
can warm the coldest day,
And baking it is less like work
than merry treat-filled play!
That's why a cozy ginger-house
and cookies baked to match
Deliver holiday delight—
batch after tasty batch!

2009 Hallmark™Ornament

In the middle of the Christmas rush,
there's still no better way
to find that sense of wonder
than to designate a day
for old-fashioned Christmas baking
just like Grandma used to do...
make each cookie bright and merry,
and you'll soon be merry, too.

2007 Hallmark™Ornament

Your cooking might be family-style
or maybe French cuisine—
From amateur to gourmet chef,
the kitchen's just your scene!
There's always some new fancy treat
or down-home dish to savor—
So stir up something magnifique,
and do yourself a flavor!

2009 Hallmark™ Ornament

The Sugar-Plumped Fairy
brings holiday wishes
For taste-tempting treats
that are truly delicious.
She sparkles and shimmers,
and everyone knows
She's sweeter than sweet
from her head to her toes!

Merry Christmas!

Dec 11, 2013


My Nativity Snow Globe | Taken by Karen June Miller

For unto us a Child is born,
Unto us a Son is given;
And the government will be upon His shoulder.
And His name will be called
Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

Isaiah 9:7 (NKJV)


Nov 11, 2013

Saveur the Season!

Pumpkin Cheesecake Tart with Gingersnap Crust
Saveur Magazine | Credit: Helen Rosner

SAVEUR is my favorite culinary magazine! In their own words, "It celebrates the cultures and environments in which dishes are created and the people who create them." I so agree! I am continually challenged and inspired.

I am gung-ho for tradition, but shaking things up a bit is very fun! Currently, SAVEUR is featuring 50 Thanksgiving Potluck Recipes to add pizzazz to your feast! Take a look at the preview below and I guarantee something will say HELLO! Also, the how-to for the Pumpkin Cheesecake Tart with Gingersnap Crust follows!

  • Autumn Panzanella Salad
  • Pecan Cheese Wafers
  • Cumin-Roasted Carrots and Parsnips
  • Sautéed Green Beans with Pickled Shallots
  • Mashed Yams with Lime and Honey
  • Pecan Cream Cake
  • Roasted Beets with Orange and Crème Fraîche
  • Spinach Madeleine
  • Van Valkenberg Hot Slaw
  • Kale and Sweet Potato Gratin
  • Piquant Corn Bread
  • Green Beans with Lemons and Capers
  • Creamed Onion Gratin
  • Salata Adas (Garlicky Lentil Salad)
  • Brussels Sprouts Gratin
  • Winter Salad with Buttermilk Dressing
  • Roasted Butternut Squash Salad with Cranberries and Candied Pecans
  • Broiled Spaghetti Squash with Walnut-Miso Glaze
  • Grizzly Bear Pie
  • Potato and Rutabaga Gratin

Serves 8 

4 cups finely crushed gingersnaps (about 60 cookies)
8 tbsp. unsalted butter, melted
1 tbsp. grated ginger
1 lb. cream cheese, softened
½ cup packed light brown sugar
½ tsp. ground cinnamon
¼ tsp. kosher salt
⅛ tsp. ground allspice
⅛ tsp. ground cloves
¾ cup fresh or canned pumpkin purée
2 eggs
Whipped cream, for serving (optional)

1.) Heat oven to 325°. Mix gingersnaps and butter in a bowl; press crumbs into the bottom and halfway up the sides of a 10" springform or tart pan. Bake until crust is just set, 8–10 minutes; let cool.

2.) Pass grated ginger through a fine-mesh strainer into a bowl, pressing on and discarding solids; set ginger extract aside. Using a hand mixer, beat cream cheese, sugar, cinnamon, salt, allspice, and cloves in a bowl until combined. Beat in reserved ginger extract and pumpkin until smooth. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Pour filling into crust and smooth top with a rubber spatula. Bake until lightly browned on top and center of filling is just set, about 30 minutes. Cool to room temperature; cover and refrigerate at least 2 hours or overnight. Serve with a dollop of whipped cream, if you like.

Have a SNAPPY day!

Nov 3, 2013

Millies Savory Teas

Millies Savory Teas

I was recently introduced to Millies Savory Teas through an outreach called Love with Food. I was delighted! Millies (no apostrophe) has created green tea infused sipping broths that come in 5 flavors: Spicy Tortilla, Tomato Basil, Thai Lemongrass, Indian Spice, and Smoky Facon — all of which are natural and vegan. The teas are satisfying and a great way to curb cravings. To learn more, click HERE.

Love with Food is a monthly sampling of healthful snacks, delivered by US mail. Each purchase provides 1 meal to a hungry child. It is a wonderful way to explore wholesome options while nourishing others. To visit their site, click HERE.

Happy sipping,

Oct 27, 2013


Please do not use without permission.
Old Downtown Caldwell — By Karen June Miller

My blog hiatus was due, in part, to a move from the Boise National Forest to Idaho's Treasure Valley. I am now a flatlander, living in a newer subdivision, surrounded by rural countryside. This is one step closer to owning a home. Our desire is to be planted firmly amongst the farmers, but that will take a year or two.

I embrace new adventure, but I do miss mountain life. I was intrigued with small town idiosyncrasies. I enjoyed living in the woods, gazing at a glittered night sky, watching snowfall frost the forest, and encountering wildlife on mountain roads. My 3 seasons at the Boise Basin Museum introduced me to people from all over the world, affirming my deep love for culture and history. I made many friends and memories. It is only 90 minutes away, but I am now a visitor.

Please do not use without permission.
Nampa Countryside — Taken by Karen June Miller

Presently, instead of photographing old mining town relics and forestal scenes, I am capturing farms, vineyards, livestock, rural decay, vintage homes, farm stands, and charming old downtown districts. The brilliant colors of Fall have begun to form paled piles of leaves; however, my photos ensure their memory.

A drive through Downtown Caldwell reminds me of where my grandparents, Sam and Jane Drummy, resided in North Platte, Nebraska. Two-story homes, with basements and large front porches, line Blaine Street. Both of my grandparents retired from the Union Pacific Railroad and those trains rumble through Caldwell, sounding their tri-toned whistles around the clock.

I already have much to report as I continue to explore and take ownership of my new romping grounds. Perhaps this is why I was not posting on my blog. I was busy gathering new material.

Autumnally yours,

Jul 20, 2013

Civil War Reenactment

Our Idaho City Frontier Days featured a Civil War Reenactment group. I was not only thrilled to pick their brains, but I had an incredible photo opportunity! I used my iPhone's Hipstamatic camera app. It has a retro feel and the virtual camera cases, lenses, and film can be mixed and matched to achieve high resolution photos. Here I used the Libatique73 lens and DTypePlate film, reminicent of the old Daguerreotype plates used during Civil War times.

Civil War Camp Canteen and Garments
Civil War Camp Half Shelter
Civil War Camp Tent and Equipment Rack
Civil War Woman and Soldier
Civil War Free Time
Civil War Soldier and Canon
Civil War Woman and Embroidery

Special thanks goes out to the Idaho Civil War Volunteers for posing authentically for these shots. They can be followed on Facebook by clicking HERE.

NOTE: Please do not use these photos for personal use without my permission. They have been documented as my original work on Instagram and Ogle.

Jun 20, 2013

Seasonal Adjustments

Wintered Leaf

I am out of the loop due to seasonal jobs. While subbing, I was able to use a computer during breaks and prep hours, so my blog and networking were well attended to. Here at the Boise Basin Museum, we don't have the ability to take credit cards let alone use the Internet. 

I return home to email, messages, notifications, and a neglected To-Do List. The only game that I play is Words with Friends, which suits my love of words, but even that requires some catching up. After walking up the hot and dusty mountain road toward home each afternoon, I don't always feel like doing much. 

"W. Days" is an iPhone app that provides the tablet for my exploits. I can easily write posts, email them to myself later, and then transfer them to my blog. This fills time if the museum becomes slow.

NOTE: The photo was taken using Hipstamatic's Salvador84 lens and Robusta film. The lens is Dali-esque and interprets a photo by mirroring, layering, and shadowing. The leaf survived winter in an old ore tram. 


Jun 14, 2013


The Boise Basin Museum

Sometimes, I crack myself up. I can be so cotton pickin' eclectic. For example, I am on lunch break at our Boise Basin Museum, a brick and mortar structure built in 1867. Using chopsticks, my meal consists of grape tomatoes, Greek Kalamata olives, smoked Gouda cheese, and strips of seaweed roasted with olive oil and a smidgeon of sea salt. My beverage is hot green tea.

The roasted seaweed is surprisingly good! It is produced by Kevin Nho at Seaweed Love. It is naturally charged with vitamin A and C, calcium, and iron. They can be eaten alone, crumbled on top of salads, or added to crackers with cream cheese. If you enjoy sushi, you might appreciate this product.

Why the chopsticks? I left my fork at home and the museum sells chopsticks in honor of the 6000 Chinese gold miners that were here during the Idaho City Gold Rush. 

 Eclectically yours,

Jun 11, 2013

Mind Travels

The Old Courthouse | Idaho City, ID

the desire to learn or know about anything; inquisitiveness. 

Curiosity is a catalyst in my life. I remember, as a wee lass, being told not to enter a bedroom in my Nana and Papa's Spanish stucco home. That bedroom door became the biggest distraction for me. I must have walked down that short hallway a dozen times before I finally entered the room. To my disappointment, all that awaited me was a spanking.

Of course, being told "no" seems to naturally incite human desire, but I'm talking about inquisitiveness as a way of life. That burning need to know the whys of things and then to make it part of our own experience.

Just this week, I observed sunlight illuminate the crushed diamonds in drill bits (used for mining). I studied the anatomy of an old phonograph. Two museum guests showed me how ham radios work, and a Cajun couple shared the difference between Cajun and Creole cooking. "It's not so much what you cook, but how you cook it," they said as we parted ways.

I have often said that if people are bored, it's their own faults — especially with today's overstimulation. There is way too much information to cram into one lifetime, but I am working on it.

Curiously yours,


May 24, 2013


Hipstamatic: Loftus and DC
John Brogan Park | Idaho City, Idaho

I enjoy taking something familiar and giving it a new angle. John Brogan Park, in Idaho City, is a landmark that many residents pass daily as they traverse Montgomery Street -- one of our 2 main drags. A private home is situated to the right of this fence. The most visited areas (out of view) surround the historical 1860's structures: the Boise Basin Museum, batten and board homes, the blacksmith shop and pest house; as well as picnic tables, a bandstand, and the horseshoe pit seen at the upper left of this photo. This old-style fence can easily blend in.

It was a warmer Spring day when this photo was shot. I used Hipstamatic with the Loftus lens and DC film. I appreciate how the distinctive marks on the fence lead the eye on a dreamy path. A few residents did not recognize where this photo was taken. That made me very happy!

Happy Spring!

May 21, 2013

A Day at the Museum

Hipstamatic: Libatitique 73 lens and GS-O film
Boise Basin Museum | Idaho City, Idaho

Our Boise Basin Museum doors were reopened in April for field trips and tours; providing weekend hours for tourists. Our season begins officially on Memorial Day and will be open 7 days a week, 11:00 AM to 4:00 PM, until Labor Day.

The museum building had former lives as a post office, general store, meat market, and private residence. It was built in 1867 by architect and postmaster, James A. Pinney, as a defense against fire. In just 5 years since its founding, Idaho City had burned down twice and Pinney was not about to lose another post office. Shifting away from the usual board and batten structures, he designed a thick brick building with heavy steel shutters and doors. Even the attic had brick flooring with a layer of earth for further protection.

Hipstamatic: Libatique 73 lens and Ina's 1969
How the West was Won! | Idaho City, Idaho

I am one of 2 Curators and much like my employment at Disneyland in the late 1970's, a work day never feels like work. Each museum guest brings something special to the table, whether it's their own historical tales or simple curiosity. Many visitors have roots in Idaho City and a good portion come to us from other continents.

Hipstamatic: Libatique 73 lens and GS-O film
Old Royal Typewriter | Idaho City, Idaho

This is my 3rd museum season. Despite my familiarity, there is always something new to discover. I love learning, so I often use my work hours to educate myself. There is never a dull moment.

Hipstamatic: Hornbecker lens and Kodot XGrizzled film
1865 Fire House | Idaho City, Idaho

Ironically, this 1865 Fire House is still standing. It was no match against the fires of 1865 and 1867,  largely because Idaho City was constructed of wood and used wood-burning stoves for cooking and heat. Following these fires, fire fighting was beefed up significantly.

At the Museum,