Category Archives: Beautiful Things

Best Store-bought Salsa I’ve Found

I’m weary of the usual brands of salsa sold in grocery stores that are basically a chunky mess of chopped tomato, onion, and pepper. One of the nice things about dining out at a Mexican restaurant is that the salsa is usually much more blended and smooth, with a subtler, stronger, spicy flavor. For a long time we were unable to find such a salsa in a jar at the store, so my husband sometimes would make his own large batches of it on the stove.

At last, though, we found it: Melina’s brand salsa! Sold at large chains like Hy-Vee, Cub Foods, Target, and many smaller grocery stores. This salsa has a smooth, soft texture–no big chunks of anything! The basic flavor is sweet, pure tomato, mixed with plenty of sweet chili pepper, garlic, cooling cilantro, and a little spicy jalapeno zing! Melina’s Mild is strong enough to pack a punch, but is still enjoyed by the smaller kids and doesn’t burn. The Medium is much stronger than a Medium in most of the typical brands–it will really heat up your mouth, and my little kids find it much too powerful. I’m not brave enough to try the Hot, so I leave that to those willing to have a mouth in flames!


Today in History

June 24th, 1901 marked the beginning of Pablo Picasso’s first Paris exhibition, at the age of 19. Later that year, he entered his famous “Blue Period”. The two paintings featured here are from 1901. Some of the distinctive elements of Picasso’s style are already apparent, but the style is also quite different from what we see in many of his later works. It’s fascinating to trace the development of such a genius and prolific creator.

A Lovely View

Sunset over South Platte River, Nebraska

Sea Turtle on the beach at Punalu’u, Big Island, Hawaii

I took this photo two summers ago. Several turtles were sunning themselves on this fabulous expanse of black sand. Though many stopped to view and take pictures, I was glad that nobody went close to the turtles or bothered them. They lay taking their naps uninterrupted.

More on the Keystone XL Pipeline

[Above: near Burwell, Nebraska, west of the proposed Keystone XL route.]

After its recent suspension for safety reasons, the Keystone pipeline has resumed operations. Meanwhile, both Nebraska Senators Nelson and Johanns are encouraging state legislators to take up the issue of the proposed Keystone XL pipeline’s planned route through the Nebraska Sandhills. The headline and first paragraphs of the news article from the World-Herald make it seem like this is Nelson’s position, but later in the article Johanns is also quoted expressing concerns about the Sandhills location and the need for the state to take up the issue itself. It seems that Gov. Heineman and others in the Legislature are waiting for national action from the State Dept. or elsewhere, but the real responsibility for addressing local safety issues before the pipeline is built will come from Nebraska itself. The state cannot afford to defer or ignore this issue.

Today Reuters published an article on the EPA’s response to the most recent State Department report on the proposed pipeline. It includes much more detail and discusses Sen. Johanns’ letter to Clinton, requesting a meeting held in the Sandhills. He says, “(State) Department officials should wade ankle-deep in the water of the aquifer and feel the soft composition of the sandhills to get an idea of what will be required to dig a trench and bury a pipeline in such a sensitive environment,” the Republican stated upon releasing his letter. “Holding a meeting 100 miles outside the sandhills won’t cut it; the State Department needs to understand the fragile nature of the proposed route and ensure affected Nebraska landowners have easy access to the meeting.”

New Baby Bag

Though I’m not usually one for sighing over new purchases and materialistic delights, today marks an exception because of this marvelous item:

Just arrived on my doorstep is The Sak’s Artist Circle Baby Bag. As diaper bags go, it is certainly the cream of the crop! As the picture shows, it comes with a small insulated case for bottles or other consumables, and a matching changing pad. The picture does not capture, however, the softness and lightness of the bag, with a comfortable woven shoulder strap, and beautiful design and stitching detail all over. The interior is roomy, with all sorts of handy pockets and special areas to place your keys or water bottle. I carried one cheap, no-nonsense diaper bag around for both of my kids, but at last its vinyl lining started to peel and the fabric began to stiffen and crack. I figured I’d replace it with something similar before stumbling upon this delightful Sak! Its regular price is steep, but after a big sale and another nice item-discount coupon, it was as inexpensive as my old bag. Yay! It’s fun to finally have a beautiful AND useful diaper bag for the next baby due later this summer–presumably also the last baby!