Finding Joy Each Day

Pink on Father's Day

Me and my pink cap from my hubby with flowers from Lowe’s

Finding joy even in a desert is possible. Life is filled with ups and downs, smooth places, rocky places, hot and dry days, mountains, valleys, etc.

It’s up to you to find the joy.

I made a decision to create joy. Allow me to take a few moments to tell you about my joy today.

Yesterday was July 26th, a day significant in my life. I recalled another July 26th when I was 12 years old. I was in Southeast Texas. My dad was going to drive our pickup and tow my brother’s Cougar to the car dealership he liked to do service with about three hours away in a town we used to live in.

That morning my mother begged me to go with her to see my grandmother and visit some relatives. I wanted to go with my dad and brother, Darrell, so she let me go on with them.

We went through a little town called Jasper and had gotten eight miles out of town when things changed drastically.

Going over a hill, we were met with a car passing four other cars. The car that passed the others would have hit us head on if my dad hadn’t pulled over on the shoulder of the road. The driver that caused the accident never stopped.

The pickup jack-knifed, and the pickup and Cougar were totaled, horribly.

My only memory of the wreck itself was my screaming over and over, “JESUS!”

When I became conscious, I heard my dad telling people, “I know she’s in there. I heard her.”

I couldn’t see and was frightened, not understanding exactly where I was. Then it dawned on me that I was inside the wreckage, and nobody could see me. Finally, I saw a pinpoint of light and crawled toward the light. I was suddenly outside. I stood and walked to find my dad and brother. An older gentleman saw me and helped me over to lie on the ground.

My dad and brother were so relieved to see that I was alive. All the other cars stopped, and people were everywhere. They put a tourniquet on my arm that was dangling and did something to stop the bleeding on my head.

The ambulance came and took us all to the hospital. I was grateful that my life was spared.

Later my brother told me something told him to get in the floorboard and hold onto my leg. Seat-belts weren’t required back then. I was sitting in the middle, and my head was cut by the rear-view mirror. Had Darrell not held onto my leg tightly, I would have flown out of the windshield and may not have lived.

Yesterday, I felt so grateful for life. I thanked God for life, thanked Him for sparing all of our lives that day.

I am thankful for the presence of God, His beauty I see in the earth, love of family and friends, beauty in the color of flowers, hearing birds sing and chirp, and so much more I could mention.

Planting pink flowers in pots

Pink Aster













I look around me and feel joy, joy of living.


Happy Birthday, Beverly, with How Sweet the Sound and Pink Saturday! She brings joy to those who join Pink Saturday each week. Thank you, Beverly, for bringing joy to all who are blessed by your blogging and by Pink Saturday!

Categories: Joy | Tags: , , , | 1 Comment

Recreational Bicycling

Safe Bicycle Tips

Tony and Terri, Tandem Bicycling in the High Desert












“Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance, you must keep moving.”

― Albert Einstein

High Desert tandem bicyclists Tony and Terri that I met on Sunday, July 20, 2014 could agree with Einstein’s quote, especially in regard to pedaling. When the dual peddling gets out of sync, the ride is not so balanced. I was on my way to church when Tony and Terri rode by. Fascinated with the tandem bike, I called out, “Can I take a picture of you?”

“Are you serious?” they asked, turning around.

“Yes, I’m serious. I have a high desert blog and would love to blog about you.” Little did I know about tandem cycling, and I began to ask questions. Tony told me about the necessity of both cyclists pedaling at the same time. Their bike folds unlike some other tandem bicycles. Another benefit of riding this way is conversing while riding. Pedaling together is a fun way of exercise. Find out more on tandem bicycling from

An acquaintance told me this week that he rides a bicycle in the Inland Empire with a group of cyclists at least two days a week. It’s exercise, and it’s fun he said. Riding in a group also increases safety. They watch out for each other, calling out from the back of the group to the lead cyclist when there is a car.

Practice safety tips when riding alone or with a group. Is it safe for a bicyclist to ride on a busy two-lane road without a shoulder? I don’t think it’s a good idea. Imagine the scenario of a cyclist riding along, no shoulder, a car coming behind and one coming from the opposite direction. Someone has to move out of the way. Not a good situation. Ride safely and keep up with safety tips for bicycling in your neighborhood.

Einstein’s bicycle quote can also be applied to blogging. To keep your blogging balance, you must keep moving. If you sit for too long, it’s not a good thing physically. It can cause blood clots. This I know because it happened to my husband. Since then, I have become more conscious of the importance of taking breaks when blogging. Choose bicycling outdoors or a stationary bike indoors. If not a bike, get your exercise walking, jogging, 5k, swimming, or gardening.


Categories: Fitness | Tags: , , , , , | 2 Comments

High Desert’s Heat Can Make You Wish You Had a Jacket?






Can you recall the strange warm weather we had in February this year? I was so frustrated that the High Desert didn’t really enjoy a winter. Sure if you call two weeks of temps dipping into 20s and 30s fulfilling the  required Winter season, then you’re right. Let’s just say it was disappointing.

My closet, especially my coat closet, is full of new coats for the season. Two still have tags on them. I live in So Calif and we’re breaking heat temps for this month!! 93 degrees in Riverside! 78 on my patio in the Mojave Desert, for crissakes!! Talk about the weather never changing… I’d love to see some snow, sleet, rain, even a seagull fly over… anything white so I can wear my new coats!!

Sound a little crazy? Daffy even?  That’s what I wrote about in my blog notes for February. I wanted cold weather; I needed to know the seasons were changing as they were expected to.

No change.

Big Bear flowers

Summer yellow goldenrod in Big Bear

 Now I figure if reverse psychology works so well on children, that maybe, just maybe, I can use reverse meteorology on the Weather.

Who said it can’t be done.

American Indian tribes believed and Rainmakers driving their wagons across the plains believed the weather could be changed. I don’t know what the magic words are or what dance to do, but if I put on a nice parka, and shuffle around the yard a few times, I might attract a quizzical cloud or two.

I know for a fact that hail often falls in summer months due to the disturbance of upper ice-filled clouds colliding with warm updraughts from the desert. I’m seeing a few gather now.

As the summer gets hotter and we’re just now entering the hottest month of August, I’m wearing my poncho and a sweater underneath. The clouds have been building every afternoon. I heard the monsoon weather from Arizona is reaching far into California’s High Desert. Storm warnings are now on the evening news. Do you think it might?

I just came in from wearing my floor-length quilted coat; it’s the one still sporting a store tag. I figure if I keep this up I’ll have snow by September! And even if I don’t get that cold Arctic Blast, we might just get a cold front in two weeks. So mark your calendars.

Now the downside to wearing heavy coats in summer is the amount of profuse sweating that I’m doing. I did plan to lose weight but not this way. And I just noticed the shadows crossing the valley are the type of clouds that will carry ice: I’m sure of it. The upside of wearing coats in summer is that you have “broken them in” — is there a break in time for coats?

storm clouds coming

Dark Clouds over Big Bear

Now that I think of it, rain on my best coat would not be good. I don’t want to ruin it. And I don’t want to send it to the cleaners in summer, that would just be too weird. However, those storm clouds are brewing. Did I hear a rumble?

If you want an icy storm to lead winter into So Cal now, just go put on your newest coat and dance around; it has to be outside, silly. Think of it as a Flash Mob. We can do it!

 Oh, no. I just thought of something I hadn’t considered. By the time winter does officially return to the High Desert, the newest styles will be on the racks. I’ll be wearing the blase last-year styles. My coats will become has-beens, passe, even dare I say, ready for Goodwill.

I’m changing my mind, I’m allowed. I’ll need to write a classified ad: High Fashion Coats & Jackets. Need new homes. Slightly sweaty but still worth wearing to a NASCAR race. If someone spills icy soda on you, the coat won’t mind at all.

shoppers in rain storm

And getting caught in a downpour of icy rain will feel refreshing, right? To the coat and to you.


Rusty LaGrange

If you like what you read here, go to A Flair For Words and see my other blogs.

Categories: High Desert Living, High Desert Nature, Uncategorized | Tags: , , | 2 Comments

Do “Moochers” Tie Your Sales in Knots?

Selling content, whether it’s in a book, CD, DVD, a training program, or content on a blog,  a case study, or for a large web site, has the same inherent problem of facing the “moocher.” You write a piece of advertising hoping to hook a buyer by offering little free goodies: an e-Book; a free article; a discount; an item sent through surface mail, the list is


The “moochers” seem to troll the streams of opportunity looking for freebies. And while that’s not illegal, it costs time and resources to others who are truly looking for advice or a product you have.

Moochers come in all sizes. They like free stuff. Never mind that the free DVD on raising worms in your backyard is furthest from their mind. They’re just little hoarders.

The problem is that a lot of people, who were not qualified  prospects for those services, would call and demand the free CD anyway.  This wasted the time and money it cost to fulfill these requests  for that free CD.

This is what happened to Bob Bly, a long-time guru in Direct Marketing for large clients as well as  selling his helpful how-to books to entrepreneurs. For him it was worse!

“I resented these freeloaders — big-time. It annoyed the bejeezus out of me, truth be told.

“Why?  These moochers knew I offered the free CD to get copywriting  clients.  They knew they were NOT potential clients — and yet they were  telling me to send the CD because, after all, I had advertised it.

“Recently I changed the offer from a physical audio CD to a  downloadable PDF e-book, so as to eliminate the expense of  fulfilling the requests.  But I had the same problem: non-prospects who had no intention  of buying my paid services mooching free stuff off me.

“This problem is not unique to me, by the way.  It is a universal flaw in the content marketing model:

“Namely, when you offer valuable free content as a bribe to get  response, you generate a lot of response from people who want  the content only but have no interest in your product or service. So, here is my easy solution for stopping these “content moochers”  cold.

“I humbly recommend it to you, too — if you, like me, don’t want to waste time and effort giving away valuable free stuff to people who are not potential customers and never will be.  To get my free e-book, you have to type into your browser the URL of a landing page where the book can be downloaded.

“The landing page copy used to say — ”fill in this form to get your  free e-book” — which to me says anyone and everyone can get it.

“But a few months ago I changed the landing page copy to say —  “fill in this form to see if you qualify to receive this free  e-book.”  This clearly communicates that not everyone is entitled to it.

“You have to qualify. And who decides whether you qualify? I do — based on how you fill in the order form. Importantly, I believe the copy, as worded, frees me from the
obligation to send the e-book to anyone I don’t want to. And I don’t. It’s my call — at my discretion.

“It’s a small thing, but I came to resent the freeloaders who  wanted an e-book that regularly sells for $49 for free.

“So I don’t send it to just anyone any more. It’s only for  prospects I might consider taking on as clients — (or customers we might sell a book to) —  a very small subset of the universe.

“If you are using landing pages to give away free content, and you want to separate qualified leads from freebie seekers, here are a few tips:

** As stated, change “to get” for the phrase “to see if you qualify” — clearly indicating that whether they get the freebie is your  call, not theirs.

** Also have a separate check box they can use to request more  information on your product or service. If they only check the box for the free content and not for more information on what you sell, they are most likely a bad lead and you can act accordingly. Exceptions? Of course.

** Require them to give you their web site. By clicking on it you can instantly see whether they are a real prospect and a good fit for your services.

** If they disrespect you by filling in fields on the form with nonsense or gibberish – don’t respond or send them a thing.

** Make phone number and e-mail addresses required fields. If the information they fill in is fake, again they are not a good lead.”


Thanks to Bob Bly’s insight, we can tighten up the sales funnel and make more sales through prospects that are actually interested in the products, books, or services we sell.

Now that makes sense.

Bob Bly, Copywriter / Consultant and author of over 70 books, can be reached at or

Rusty LaGrange

If you like what you read here,
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Categories: Blogging, Entrepreneurs, High Desert Writers, Uncategorized | Tags: , | Leave a comment

How to Meet People in a New Community

Feeling alone in a new community without close family and friends nearby is a terrible feeling. Finding the solutions to the loneliness begins when you go where the people are.

When my husband and I purchased a cabin in the High Desert of southern California, I didn’t know people in the community. My mother and mother-in-law had both just passed away. Grief hit and didn’t let up for a long season. Grief and loneliness became too much for me to deal with. Then I happened to read an article about the High Desert branch of California Writers Club (HDCWC) held at Apple Valley’s library the second Saturday of each month.

I went to the next meeting. No seats were available in the back. I had to go up to one of the front rows. Talk about intimidating! They even asked visitors to stand and introduce themselves, including their writing interests or publications.

You might feel intimidated at first like I did at the first HDCWC meeting. It’s okay to feel that way at first. Remember that it’s the beginning of finding solutions to your loneliness. Either you become a hermit or get out and meet people. I got out and met people. It worked, but it took time.

Look around your new community for places that look interesting. Do research online for hobbies you enjoy. Find a 5K to participate in. Visit churches until you find one that you feel is best for you and your family. Join an improv comedy, a scrapbook, or blogging group or start your own. Get involved in the community.

Darwin's A Team, Victorville, CA

Victorville’s Improv Comedy Troupe, Darwin’s A Team













And there they go!

And there they go!











High Desert Bloggers, Route 66 Molly Brown's

High Desert Bloggers at Molly Brown’s on National Trails Highway




Categories: Community | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

Is There No Integrity Among Bloggers?

file0001462552138The topic of this post has been rolling around in my mind for at least the last six months.  For those of you who don’t know me, I am a French lingerie model.  I am 5 feet 11 inches tall, and I weigh 120 pounds.  Because of my success as a model, I am independently wealthy, and I spend about six months of the year living on my Lürssen yacht.  For those of you who know me and are wondering what the &$@# I’m talking about, everything I just said was all a lie.  Of course, since it’s on the internet, it must be true.  Actually, I need to make a correction.  I should say that all of it was a lie except for the part about the topic of the post rolling around the back of my mind for the last six months.

It all started with the Daddy Long Legs who was hanging out on some equipment where I work.  I was vanquishing him with my hands because I had been raised to believe that they were beneficial spiders that would kill poisonous spiders and eat them.  In other words, Daddy Long Legs was a friend.    A co-worker immediately began freaking out because she believed that these spiders were poisonous.  I am by no means a spider expert, but I was certain that my mother would have mentioned to me the fact that they were poisonous if that were the case.  She treated black widows and brown recluse spiders in a very different way than she treated the daddy long legs.  I questioned my co-worker further and she stated that they were poisonous but that they couldn’t bite because of the position of their mouths.  If that was the case, I wondered why she was so freaked out.  Regardless, her opinion about the spider didn’t seem right to me.

When I got home, I did an internet search and discovered the following.  There were a bunch of blogs that solemnly proclaimed her opinion as  fact and to be true.  Some even stated that the venom of the daddy long legs spider was more toxic than the black widow.  When I went to University of California at Riverside’s website, though, I discovered the following.

  1. My mother was correct.  Daddy long legs is not poisonous.  He will eat other spiders and other bugs.
  2. My c0-worker was wrong.  Daddy long legs can bite.  His mouth is in the same position as the brown recluse and we have all heard that Mr. Brown Recluse is certainly capable of biting.  In fact. the bite of the Brown Recluse has been shown to result in tissue death which can result in serious infection.
  3. Some bloggers post anything they want on their websites without regard to the accuracy of the information they present.
  4. There are people like that girl from the State Farm commercial who believe that if it’s on the internet it must be true.

If you don’t believe me or the university, try the MythBusters segment that you can view by clicking here.  (If it’s on TV, it’s true, right?)

So, while I continued to ponder a post complaining about the lack of blog-tegrity (integrity among bloggers to ensure, at least, that their information is correct), life continued.  It was something that my son showed me on his Facebook page that finally spurred me into action.  What he presented to me was a link to the following headline:

HOBBY LOBBY STONES GAY EMPLOYEE TO DEATH.  (Click here to follow the link to the original article.)

As I read this article two things occurred to me.  There was no way this story was true, and it was going to go viral.  It did.  Within a day or two of publication, this article was spreading like wild fire.  Suddenly, many bloggers were weighing in with their opinion.  There were several blogs and internet sites that jumped onto the Hobby Lobby and Christian Bashing bandwagon.  I would link to the specific posts on these sites, but after reported that it was a false claim, many of these posts disappeared.    I was particulary horrified by the post that ranted about what people would say if it was a company owned by Muslims who started forcing their religious views on employees and executing women who didn’t wear hijabs or burqas.  Alas, the post is no more, so I can’t link to it.  All I get when I go there is a page not found message.

I am certain that there are many bloggers out there thanking God for the Move to Trash button on their blog sites.  Unlike the “famously incorrect Dewey Defeats Truman banner headline” published by the Chicago Tribune back in the glory days of print newspapers, bloggers can just erase those embarrassing mistakes.  Maybe that’s why no one bothers to ensure that their posts are accurate.  As I write this, there are still a few comment boards on sites and some Facebook comments that you can find, but largely, the moral outrage over the stoning death of the fictitious Hobby Lobby employee has dwindled.

There is no specific code of ethics for bloggers.  Journalistic integrity includes the expectation “that the journalist will  be as accurate as possible given the time allotted to story preparation and the space available, and to seek reliable sources.”   They also publish corrections when errors are made.  They don’t just move the whole thing to the trash and pretend it didn’t happen.  Perhaps, we, as bloggers,  need to establish our own code of ethics and standards of conduct.  Maybe someone already has, and no one bothers to adhere to it.

As bloggers, I believe that we have a certain amount of moral responsibility.  The things that we report should be as accurate as possible.  When I read that article with my outraged son, I did the following research before I allowed myself to become upset.  I checked to see if  Hobby Lobby had any stores in Arkansas.  I discovered that there were at least 7.  I checked to make sure that homicide was against the law in Arkansas, and I found out that it was.  I checked to see which, if any, of the stores were located in Wilson county, and discovered that there was no Wilson county in Arkansas.  Hmmm….I found two problems with the story–no one was arrested for homicide, and there was no Wilson county.     I was convinced that the story was a lie, but my son required further proof.  (He is young and not nearly as cynical as I am.)

I found the proof he needed on the same site as the original article.  If you scroll down to the bottom of the page, past all the comments, and whatever else there is, you will find a link that says ‘About”.  If you click on that link, you will find the following.

The Daily Currant is an English language online satirical newspaper that covers global politics, business, technology, entertainment, science, health and media. It is accessible from over 190 countries worldwide – now including South Sudan.

Our mission is to ridicule the timid ignorance which obstructs our progress, and promote intelligence – which presses forward.

Q. Are your news stories real?

A. No. Our stories are purely fictional. However they are meant to address real-world issues through satire and often refer and link to real events happening in the world

Everyone, calm down.  Put down the picket signs.  Cancel the boycott.   Hobby Lobby did NOT stone an employee to death.  What is my point in this post?  If you are a blogger, before you promote the spread of outrage based on fiction, check your facts.  Know your sources, and please, have some integrity.  Do your homework, and make sure you’re posting accurate information.  Don’t spread baseless rumors.  Granted, a controversial post can be good for boosting traffic and stimulating comments, but I believe that we should be providing information to help and enlighten people.  I don’t believe that my job as a blogger is to enrage people.  If you’re going to post satirical fiction, make sure it’s clear to your readers that’s what you do.  When you get an idea from someone else, give them credit with a link back to their site.  There’s enough web traffic to share.

 **Patti  can also be found at where she tries to limit her blogging to stocking a pantry, budgeting, and recipes.  She isn’t always successful.

Categories: Blogging, Writing | Tags: , , , , , , | 2 Comments

A Proud Desert Town Celebrates

Fireworks with flag

In our rural desert town, we don’t always get a fireworks show. In fact this year, we grabbed an offer for a discount price on fireworks if we signed up for Thursday — July 3rd — instead. It’s not the first time we’ve been frugal and clever.

So this year, our celebration began Thursday evening with a stroll in the Park, some tasty food from vendors who were eager to have two opportunities to sell on a busy holiday, children racing with tiny flags in their hands, and a swing band with upbeat horns who knew how to “get the joint jumpin.’”

When the heat and sun gave way to the dusk and a soft summer breeze, we sat ready on our picnic blankets or dragged folding chairs to the lawn, anticipating the barrage of light and sound to come.

As the fireworks sprayed across a night sky, an undercurrent of voices drummed in some kind of song. At first, I heard a high nasal tone from a woman far off. Someone near me said, “Is that someone singing?” Then another deeper voice and then a few more in harmony, and as I listened, the lyrics cleared. And as if the fireworks shot up in prearranged percussion, the many voices grew and gathered more angelic, more spiritual, more home-grown … “My Country ‘Tis of Thee,  Sweet Land of Liberty, of thee I sing…” their voGirl with flagices growing and gathering up all the families — no matter their faiths or ethnicities — “Land Where My Fathers’ Died, Land of the Pilgrims’ Pride,” — no matter that they knew the words or not — “From Every Mountainside Let Freedom Ring!”

I cried silently.

It was natural and beautiful. I felt that my little community held the Spirit of every little way station across this huge nation of towering skyscrapers and ribbons of highway. We sang for those who fought for our freedom, strong memories that strummed our heart-strings, as we continued to raise our heads in pure pride and let freedom ring…

From her mamma’s lap, the hesitant, young patriot waved a flag upward to a brilliant starburst of pride.

Rusty LaGrange

Categories: High Desert Living, High Desert People, Holiday, Uncategorized | Tags: , , | 2 Comments

Creating Joy on Independence Day

Happy Independence Day!

It’s a hot day already in the High Desert. Watering flowers in the morning, taking pictures of red, white, and blue, and just being outdoors are part of the freedoms I enjoy.

white flowers in a vintage glass pitcher

White Alyssum on July 4th












Garden flowers on July 4th

Red flowers in my garden










Glass Bowling Ball

My own special-made bowling ball with “A” for Angie – a gift from my husband!














Barbecues and fireworks are among the top-of-the-list July 4th favorite things to do in America. It’s days like today that remind me of nearly ten years that my hubby and daughter and I traveled across America speaking and singing in churches. Those days will forever hold a special place in my heart. We found a Route 66 picture frame and cut out a picture of the three of us and placed it on the Route 66 map. It’s on my July 4th tablescape today along with a picture of hubby when he sacrificed over a year in Iraq working to serve our country and troops.

Red, white, and blue tablescape

Happy Independence Day!












The blue board in the tablescape is a Monopoly board. My July 4th memories are all about enjoying family with games, food, fun and fireworks! Decorating the table for July 4th – even when no company is coming – is how I create my own joy. It’s fun!

John Adams wrote to his wife, Abigail, about Independence Day: “It ought to be commemorated as the day of deliverance, by solemn acts of devotion to God Almighty. It ought to be solemnized with pomp and parade, with shows, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires, and illuminations, from one end of this continent to the other, from this time forward forever more.”

And that’s what we still do – celebrate with pomp and parade, shows, games, sports, and always food!

Looking for games to take to my friends’  house for barbecue today, I found a jump-rope given to me awhile back and tried it out this morning. When I was a young girl, jump-rope was one of my favorite things to do outdoors – until my brother and his friend needed a rope for something. (They didn’t even buy me a new one either.)

Two of my favorite games are Upwords and Dominoes. I’ll bring those along with my jump-rope to create a little activity outside with the friends today.

Holidays are fun to spend with family and friends. However, many people live far from their family, and others have to work. Holidays can be depressing because of this. We have to create our own joy in such times. That’s what growing gardens are good for – besides the healthy part of eating fresh vegetables, fruit, and herbs and enjoying the beauty in all the colors of the flowers.

If you do have the holiday off from work and don’t have anywhere to go, do something for yourself. I like to be outside gardening, and I like to read but often don’t have too much time to devote to reading. Here are a few ideas for the reader:

Americana cookbook reading

Cooking Healthy Across America













Presidents' wives' cookbook

Firs Ladies (Presidents’ wives) cookbook and Todd Anton’s No Greater Love baseball book













July 4th food and recipes

Preserving and pickling garden foods, Raw fresh garden foods, and July 4th holiday recipes













Garden Reading Material

Gardening and arranging fresh flowers












July 4th is made even better when you include home-made ice cream or an ice-cream float!


Ice Cream Float












Enjoy your holiday, and take pictures – lots of them! Create more memories. Include your comments about what your favorite July 4th activities and food are. I’d love to hear from you!

Happy July 4th!


I’m joining the fun over at Pink Saturday for July 4th! Don’t miss out on all the beauty displayed in blog land.



Categories: Holiday | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

A Simple Summer Picnic

Independence Day has arrived with it’s full regalia.  That means summer is well underway.    For me, Summer is all about planning outdoor adventures.  The warmer temperatures are all about hikes, camping trips, and picnics in the parks.  It doesn’t really matter what we’re doing as long as we are outside enjoying the great weather.

Of course, with summer temperatures that have been know to get as high as 120 degrees Fahrenheit, outdoor activities in the Mojave Desert can also pose a threat to your health and safety.  It’s important to ensure that you always carry  plenty of water  so that you will stay hydrated, apply sunscreen, wear sunglasses, and take a hat, scarf, or umbrella to provide yourself with some protection from the sun.   It’s also good to avoid exertion in the warmest part of the day.  For information about what you should have with you when hiking in the desert, visit the Bureau of Land Management’s site.

National Park Service has a fun PDF for teachers that you can down load and go over with your kids.  It includes information about desert wildlife and unit 3 is all about safety in the desert.   It’s 99 pages long, but you can read it on-line and only print out the pages that you need or want.  Personally, I’m a big kid, so I really like doing the kid activities, too.  Don’t tell my children.  They already think I’m strange.

I seem to have gotten off of my subject.   Today’s post is supposed to be about picnics.  Specifically, it’s about how to pack a simple picnic so that you can get outside and enjoy yourself without spending hours in the kitchen.  A picnic doesn’t have to be complicated.  It just has to be something that you and your family will enjoy.  With that in mind, here are a few simple suggestions for things that you can quickly pack into a small cooler and take to your local park or to one of our favorite places–Mojave Narrows Regional Park

One of the things we do in order to make it easy to pack up a quick picnic is to keep several bottles of water and boxes or pouches of juice in our freezer.  These help to keep the food from getting too hot.  A general rule of thumb is that picnic food shouldn’t be out for more than 2 hours, but if the weather is over 90 degrees, as it is most days here during the summer here in the high desert, that time is cut in half to one hour.  Keeping things chilled with frozen drinks will help diminish the risk of food born illness.  It also helps to ensure that you will have cool drinks later in the day.  Of course, you should try and keep your cooler out of the sun as much as possible.

Here’s my recipe for a quick and easy picnic.  Of course, you might have to make some adjustments based up on your families preferences.

First, grab something for dessert.  I know this sounds strange, but we are grabbing things and packing them.  What we eat last, should be on the bottom.  I prefer cookies, brownies, or some type of bars because they are pretty indestructible and they don’t melt.  Avoid things with frosting and pack them in a hard sided plastic container, so they won’t get crushed.

Second, grab some protein.  I prefer italian dry salami because until it’s open, most brands are shelf stable, meaning they don’t require refrigeration.   Likewise, hard cheeses make a good protein source as they hold up well without refrigeration.  You can find a list of some of these cheeses here.

Next, we toss in something to put the cheese and salami on.  Good choices are crackers, tortillas, pita bread, or even a baguette.  If you will be hiking with your food in an insulated backpack, the tortillas and pita bread might be a better choice, but the crackers can handle the trip if they are packed into a hard sided container.

Raw Vegetables such as carrots, celery, zucchini sticks and even sugar snap peas and stips of bell peppers go great with hummus or this zucchini dip.  Just be sure to take only as much dip as you think you’ll eat, and keep it chilled by packing it under those frozen drinks.    Both of these dips are great with crackers or pieces of bread, too.  Always be careful to keep your dip from getting hot and spoiling.  Putting it under the ice packs or frozen drinks works best because while heat rises, cold air descends.

We never take mayonnaise on our summer picnics because of the risk of spoilage.  Most of the time, we use mustard because it tolerates the heat better without spoiling.  If you must have mayonnaise  on your wrap or sandwich, try and take along some of the little packets you can get from the deli.  You can always take along some olives, pickle spears, chips, or even nuts to add variety to your menu.  It’s entirely up to you.

Toss in some fresh fruit.  You could even pack a personal watermelon, but my favorites are grapes, plums, and peaches.  They don’t require cutting and are very portable.

Make sure you snug your pre-chilled, and frozen drinks in around everything that you have packed into your cooler or insulated pack.  Take care not to crush anything fragile.  Remember that hard sided plastic containers can be your friend.  Just make sure they are BPA free.

Remember to put in a knife to cut the salami and cheese with.  I usually buy the pre-sliced salami, and take my cheese cutter for the cheese.  There’s less chance I will slice a hole in my soft sided cooler that way.   Plates, napkins, baby wipes, and hand sanitizer are all handy to have.   Don’t forget to pack plastic cups if you have a large bottle of  juice, wine, or homemade lemonade.

Packing a picnic doesn’t have to be complicated.   Get out there and enjoy the summer sun.

Other picnic ideas can be found here. 

**Patti  can also be found at where she tries to limit her blogging to stocking a pantry, budgeting, and recipes.  She isn’t always successful.

Categories: Food, High Desert Living, Holiday, Summer | Tags: , , | 1 Comment

Red, White, Blue and Things to Do in High Desert of So Cal

Freedom - July 4th

Photo by G.P. Horn










God bless America! July 4th – a day to show thanks and gratefulness for freedom, our country, our families, another day to live.

Things to do…

Ever made a flag clock? This one was special made by Greg Horn, my other half of 35+ years.

Upcycled flag clock

Red, white, and blue flag upcycled clock











Want to go to an improv show in the High Desert? This group, Funny Bizness, is family friendly and hilarious.

Darwin's A Team, Victorville, CA

Victorville’s Improv Comedy Troupe, Funny Bizness












Want to go vintage shopping July 4th weekend? Look up these places on Facebook for special holiday weekend hours and sales.

antique shopping at Antique Station, Oro Grande, CA

Antique Station vintage shopping, Oro Grande, CA










Linda Marie’s Enchanted Treasures – closed on July 4th but opens with a giant sale on Saturday, July 5th…


Shopping vintage in Oro Grande, CA

Linda Marie’s Enchanted Treasures, Oro Grande, CA













Don’t forget to stop by beautiful Carriage House Antiques this weekend…











The Desert Cottage is closed July 4th but open on Saturday, July 5th – lovely place to shop!

vintage shopping at The Desert Cottage

The Desert Cottage, Hesperia, CA










Categories: Holiday | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment