Dec 31

10 Reasons Hiking and Camping Should Be Your New Year’s Resolution!

Every New Year, we hear people say a million different resolutions that will change their lives for the better. Some of the classic, cliché resolutions are to get in shape, save more money, travel more, or even find love. I believe if you commit to getting off the couch, and into the outdoors, you can fulfill all of your resolutions and more! Think about the clean mountain air, the picturesque views, and the mountain man/woman skills you can learn by spending more nights under the stars! Here are 10 reasons Hiking and Camping Should Be Your New Year’s Resolution.

Read 10 Reasons Hiking and Camping Should Be Your New Year’s Resolution!

Dec 26

Uteki’s Songs of 2016

It was an incredible year of music as I highlighted in the Albums of 2016 post earlier this month. Here is a list of my favorite 50 songs of 2016, along with playlists for your listening pleasure.

Uteki’s Songs of 2016 after the jump…

Dec 25

Use Those Leftover Candy Canes In This Peppermint Dessert!

Wondering what to do with all of those candy canes?  Make a candy cane pavlova with them!

Candy Cane Pavlova

Peppermint candy cane could be the official taste of Christmas. For added whimsy, add a sprig of holly and a bow to make this dessert look like a festive wreath.

Find the recipe for Candy Cane Pavlova here…

Dec 19

How to Make an Invigorating Lemon Verbena Sugar Scrub

Lemon Verbena Sugar Scrub

It’s been in the single digits and snowy here this weekend, so I’ve been transforming the snow day into a spa day with this invigorating, easy-to-make sugar scrub!  I chose this scent for today because in the aromatherapy world, lemon verbena is a naturally uplifting scent combination, which is great for a cold day like this when all I want to do is stay inside.

Read more…

Dec 18

How to Make Christmas Decorations From Nature

Making Christmas decorations from nature is a very old tradition. The very first holiday decorations were garlands made from tree branches, live Christmas trees, and evergreen wreaths. Natural materials have always been and will always be part of decorating for the holidays. You can decorate your home with items gotten from nature and not only be both modern and traditional, but save a lot of money at the same time. Here are some ideas to get you started:

Read the rest of How to Make Christmas Decorations From Nature.

Dec 14

December 14th Birthday Love: Jane Birkin

Getty Images

Getty Images

On December 14th 1946, Jane Birkin was born in Marylebone, London, and has been charming audiences over the years with her many talents, which include singing, songwriting, acting, and directing.

Jane-Birkin-2One of her most well-known songs, and my very favorite work of hers, was this duet with her lover, Serge Gainsbourg, “Je t’aime… moi non plus” (“I love you… me either”), a song which Gainsbourg had originally written for Brigitte Bardot, recorded in 1969.


But before Jane and Serge became a couple, Birkin was married to John Barry from 1965-1968, and together John and Jane had a daughter, Kate Barry, who would later become a photographer, on 8 April 1967. Kate passed away on December 11, 2013.

Jane Birkin and Kate Barry

Jane Birkin and Kate Barry

Jane and Serge Gainsbourg met on the set of the French film L’amour et l’amour in 1968. The iconic couple were lovers for 13 years, and although they never married, they were known to have a close, passionate, and creative relationship. Together they had Jane’s second daughter, Charlotte Gainsbourg, in 1971. Serge Gainsbourg died in 1991.

Jane, Lou, Serge, and Charlotte

Jane, Lou, Serge, and Charlotte

In 1982 she gave birth to her third daughter, Lou Doillon, from her relationship with the director Jacques Doillon. They broke up in the 90’s and Doillon is said to have commented that he “could not compete with her grief for Gainsbourg.”

Jane and Serge

Jane and Serge

Jane Birkin has also found time to devote to several humanitarian efforts, including being a persistent spokesperson for democracy in Myanmar (Burma), and working with Amnesty International on immigrant welfare and AIDS issues.

Charlotte Gainsbourg and Mom, Jane Birkin

Charlotte Gainsbourg and Mom, Jane Birkin

By Olivier Pacteau from Paris, France – Jane Birkin, Charlotte Gainsbourg, CC BY 2.0,

Dec 11

Uteki’s Albums of 2016

I started working on the music section of this site of this site on January 1, 2016, and I’m so glad I did, because 2016 was an incredible year of music.  For many music lovers, this year’s musical offerings kept us sane during some turbulent times.  Some of these albums the were acutely indicative of the times, and many offered new sounds that brought us to mysteriously delicate places.

Uteki’s Albums of 2016 after the jump!

Dec 11

Christmas in Dairyville!

Christmas in Dairyville

Last weekend my family and I had the pleasure of visiting Alpenrose Dairy in Portland, Oregon.  We were looking for something fun and Christmas-y to do and Christmas in Dairyville fit the bill!

Alpenrose Dairy Farm

This year marks the 100 year anniversary of Alpenrose Dairy farm.  They’re truly considered a mandatory staple in the Pacific Northwest with delicious milks, creams and ice cream.

Cozy Piggies at Alpenrose Dairy Farm

During the holiday Alpenrose Dairyville delivers a replica of a western frontier town and transforms into a glorious winter wonderland.  It’s old timey and homey and great for kids and families.

Pedro, the miniature donkey at Christmas in Dairyville

An array of farm animals are on display in the nostalgic and quaint Storybook Lane.  Adorable vintage storefronts, friendly choirs singing, holiday plays in the Opera House, and a visit to Santa are all part of the fun!

Christmas in Dairyville is definitely going to be a new holiday tradition in our home.

Another great thing – admission is free!

Dec 01

How to Make Festive Christmas Bath Bombs

christmas-bath-bombsLooking for that perfect, unique handmade holiday gift idea?  Here’s a lovely and useful gift idea!

Bath bombs are an excellent choice for a handmade Christmas gift or stocking stuffer. It’s a good idea to make a big batch at the beginning of the Christmas season to keep on hand for hostess gifts or last minute office gift exchanges.

Find out how to make your own festive bath bombs for the holidays here…

Nov 29

Spread Holiday Cheer with Gingerbread Butter

Gingerbread Butter

Gingerbread Butter

‘Tis the season of baking delicious desserts and pastries filled with festive flavours. For many of us, it’s a time to bake and fill our cookie tins with the traditional holiday taste of gingerbread.

This year, try experimenting the flavours of gingerbread in more than just cookies. Follow this recipe to purée the perfect gingerbread spread. Made in less than 10 minutes, spread the sweetness of gingerbread butter on your homemade or store-bought cookies, toast, pancakes, and more.

Recipe after the jump…