Saturday, August 18, 2012

Setting Limits, Not Limitations
by Traci Roberti of Anderson

Today I had my first session with a professional organizer helping put my house "together".  I think, much like having a personal trainer, a professional organizer isn't "making me do" something I didn't already know how to do, but helping me use my space and time in a way that helps me get the results I am looking for.  Unlike what I was thinking I believed about myself before Heather Gold started helping me, I do actually know how to organize, just like I already know how to exercise. Today, I learned a more effective way to do what I already know how to do and in a way that I can actually see results. So why couldn't I get organize without her help? I think 1) because I was fully invested in the idea that I don't know how to organize and C) because it's much harder to get discouraged, quit a project or get distracted when someone is standing there smiling, asking you simple questions and waiting patently for you to answer.

I have a couple of habits I'd like to toss out to make room for new habits. One habit that can go is the habit of being really positive (as in "up-beat") about a thing or situation while at the same time completely self deprecating. Example: "Cleaning is fun, even though I suck at it."........ "What a great idea, let's hope I don't screw it up too bad." ..... "This place will look great when I'm done; too bad it won't help me look any better."

Another habit that can go is the habit of coming up with all the reasons it will never work or "it" can't be done. I choose instead to think of all the reasons I could give it a try and be willing to see what happens.  It's not about having life all figured out. It's about allowing room for possibilities on what could happen or how things can be in a way that is new and different.  Just because I have a certain expectation (usually based on past experience), doesn't mean that everything will happen that way Unless I am locked into the belief that my expectation is the only outcome which is allowed to occur. My life can be better than I could've ever imagined when I allow for the possibilities and entertain the notion that something different could work for me. Heck, I might even Love it!

"Setting Limits, not Limitations" is my new slogan. I can have an abundance of crafting items or containers or hangers or boxes, but if I choose to have those things in moderate supply, they will not take over my house. I can put things where ever the heck I want, but if I choose to pick a spot and stick to it, then I open to the possibility of always knowing where it is, how many I have and saving time to do other things I enjoy instead of always searching for an item. When I eat, I can have brie and burgers and cake, but if I make healthier choices, I could experience happy body instead of only happy taste buds. It's not about cleaning my house with a shovel and a dumpster, or dieting by starving, it's about being who I am and who I want to be in a way that serves all of me and not just the single-focused, myopic crazy parts of me. To me, a limitation says, "I can't", "I'm not allowed", "the rule says it has to be done this way, not that way".... But a limit says, "The bin/belly is full, do you really want more of this?" It is a choice, instead of a law. The joy of free will is that I can always choose behaviors/habits/ideas/beliefs that are for or against me, and I find it most helpful when someone reflects back, "is this really what you wanted or now that you are paying attention, do you want to make a different choice?"

Party at my house, BYOB (bring your own beliefs : )

The Fantom Foodie's Feed

In this issue I decided rather than do a review on a local restaurant, I would like to take the opportunity to educate people on what I call ‘casual etiquette’ when dining in a public place. I’m not talking about using the right fork, or putting your napkin on your knee type of etiquette, I’m talking about those little things that “other people” do that annoy a good majority of folks in restaurants. So if you catch yourself doing any of the following things, please think about your behavior and realize that you are possibly “one of those people”.

I have a few pet peeves when I am in a restaurant. Probably the biggest peeve for me when I am dining is smelling someone’s perfume or cologne. I don’t wear perfume myself, because I get headaches and start coughing when I smell most perfumes. I don’t think waitresses should wear perfume because it clashes with the smell of good food and ruins the aroma of your meal, even after she’s walked away and you’re ready to eat, that perfume is still lingering in the air. I also am highly offended when I am seated next to someone who clearly doesn’t know how to wear perfume. I am one of the few women who believes perfume should come with instructions that say, “If you can smell the perfume on yourself, you’re wearing too much”. The purpose of perfume is to barely catch a whiff of the fragrance so your brain tells your nose, “smell that again to identify and/or remember it”.

Another peeve of mine is wild kids. I don’t mind most kids, but when I am in a restaurant and there are kids running around instead of sitting down eating their meals with their parents, that just drives me crazy. People have become more and more disrespectful in the last 20 years; it seems like teaching their children proper manners and respect has become less important. If you go out to any restaurant (except Chuck-E-Cheese) you’d better think about the people around you when your kid starts screaming because you told him/her that they couldn’t have desert tonight, or when they decide they need to get up from their seat and run up and down the isles. It’s so rude of parents to let their kids do this. It’s bad manners and it just goes to show how the old statement is true: “People are a mirror image of their parents.”

When I go to a restaurant and the host or hostess seats us in a booth stacked up with all the other customers in that section, I always ask for a different table. It’s not that I don’t like to be social or get seated like sheep with the rest of the herd, but I prefer not to watch other people eat or smell the perfume of the old lady whose back is against mine in the booth. Call me weird, call me anti-social, whatever... it’s my personal choice.

So, the next time you’re out on a hot date, or you’re just wearing your every day perfume, please take a second whiff and if you smell yourself, think about all the other people who can smell you too. Just because you think you smell good, doesn’t mean everyone else does... and please consider that you quite possibly are wearing too much fragrance. Also, people with little kids, please be considerate of the other folks dining in the restaurant with you. CONTROL your children or I might be inclined to teach you about birth control methods.

The Political Penguin

The Fantom Funny

Saturday, August 11, 2012

State of Jefferson Paranormal Society

Photo by Joe McGarity

This Fantom Penguin story is brought to you by Palo Cedro Printing, a locally owned green printer, Palo Cedro Printing.

If you need scientific spirit investigators like the kind they have in the big city, who you gonna call?

Around here, I mean?

There is an answer.  The Fantom Penguin stayed up all night talking about ghosts with Marcelo Chavez and the State of Jefferson Paranormal Society.

“Well, on a normal investigation we usually get hits of any kind of urban legend or stories involving paranormal activity or just claims of paranormal activity and we go out and try and document these claims or anything that correlates with their claim.  We tend to go out and just find reasonable explanations for it, whether it’s environmental and we just collect our data.”

Does that mean you’re willing to accept a normal explanation without any ‘para’?

“As our team comes in we train them into debunking and skepticism on anything so there’s no biased opinion with our team.  Rather than going in there and jumping on the paranormal bandwagon, we actually try to find normal explanations for everything.”

And what sorts of places have you investigated?

“We’ve done certain cemeteries that have had some kind of paranormal claim throughout Northern California.  We’ve had some residences, private residences which they are on our website.  We tend to be very private with their information.”

SJPS Co-Founder, Angela Rowden continued,

“We keep it really discrete.  We never disclose private residences’ locations.  We just label them as a private residence investigation.  They get copies of everything we’ve gone through, everything we find.  On our website, one of our private residences were actually not home at the time.  It was a family member’s home and our best evidence really has come from this residence.  And it’s all on our website, our best EVP’s and just personal experiences.  And this home actually was just part of a training ‘maybe something’s there, maybe something’s not; can you come debunk what goes bump in the night’ and we actually found things. So it was really, really interesting at that one.”

Evidence that the group gathers is available online for review by the public, including evidence of potential supernatural activity.

“We label them as ‘unexplained’.  We don’t label them ‘paranormal’.  Certain things on pictures we can’t debunk as far as saying, ‘yes, this is something paranormal’ or ‘no, it’s not; this is environmental’, so we put that out there for the public to decide on their own to see what they picture from what we’ve put as evidence.”

“There’s a couple of the EVP’s we have on our website where certain members in the group, the EVP has voices on it (it’s Electric Voice Phenomenon) and the voices match certain family members.  And somebody on the outside of listening to that EVP wouldn’t recognize it, but within the group we’ve come to the conclusion that this might or might not be a certain other family member trying to communicate.”

“Everyone’s entitled to their own opinion.  If you don’t believe in the paranormal, you don’t believe in the paranormal.  It’s the same as a religion.  If you believe in a certain religion, that doesn’t make another religion bad.  It doesn’t mean they’re wrong.  You can look at what we do as wasting our time or whatever we get we imagine it ourselves somehow.  We know what we do.  We know what we have.  We put it out to the public for them to decide.”

What about the other kind of skeptic, the one who believes that what you do is real but that it is dangerous to stir up the spirits?

“There are certain dangers.  When you go out and some people might say ‘open doors’, there are a couple of things that go along with that, but our group is trained to identify certain situations, not to poke and pry too much.  We don’t ever use things like Ouija boards or opening portals or things like that.  We go in just with equipment.”


“We go in with equipment and document it scientifically.  The only thing we’ll experiment with is electronic devices, anything that could be used to document any of those claims and provide evidence for future use.”

What about this thing called ‘provoking’ spirits? 

“Provoking is used to force a contacting point.  Teams will use provoking, whether it’s just to call out to have anything, any paranormal activity to make their presence known or to provoke some kind of emotional response if an entity has any emotion.  It’s pretty much just drawing something out by using your emotion.  They would use something from time frame that would contradict if a spirit’s there, so they would come out and show their presence.  Provoking can go farther by other teams using spiritual means or by contacting using spiritual relics, which we do not do.  As she said, we don’t use Ouija boards.  There’s certain things that we won’t try because we’ve seen evidence of it backfiring.  We do have points that we don’t cross.  There’s certain points of provoking that we use and then certain ones that depending on the claims we will not even attempt.”


“It also depends on what kind of activity we’re getting at a certain point.  If we get into an area where it’s been a hot hit, we’re hearing things; we’re seeing things; we’re feeling things; we’re getting unexplained pictures or happen to see things out of the corner of our eyes, we’ll start provoking more.  So, instead of seeing personal experience or feeling personal experiences, we want that hard evidence.  So, we’ll provoke to get them to come out more, ‘cause it’s kind of like a little game, kind of hide and seek, ‘come find me’.  So we try to provoke to give them more energy to be like, ‘Hey, we’re not here to hurt you.  Give us something that we can show everyone else that you guys do exist.’”

And when it comes time to go over the evidence, how do you keep it secure?


“With every team, they go out with certain equipment they’re assigned and when they come back, when we go to gather the findings we make sure that the devices go out to the people who did not have them so that there won’t be any bias to the video or pictures or audio.  So, the opposite member will actually go over the data and write down the information.  If there’s a questionable piece of evidence, they’ll write down a time or an image number and then it would be shared with the other members to get multiple opinions on the piece of evidence.”


“So, pretty much if I’m walking around with a Handi-Cam during an investigation and I’m in a group with two other people, that Handi-Cam would not be given back to myself or the two other people in my group.  It would be given to another group within SJPS to go over, so there’s not that biased ‘I knew I saw this when we were out there; I know it’s going to be on the camera’.  That won’t happen because you’re not going over your own piece of evidence, somebody else is.  So if they happen to stumble upon something you know is on it, they ask the group before they come ask you.  So you know there’s no contamination of evidence.”


“And any bit of information that we can’t find an explanation for, we usually before we even label it anything whatsoever, if we have a chance of debunking it, we will go back several times and actually try and debunk that piece of evidence.  And if there’s any chance that we can duplicate it then we actually just throw it aside as a possible contamination.”


“The other thing too with doing it that way, not going over your own evidence when somebody else is, if they’re going over, like I said if I’m having the Handi-Cam and they go over that evidence and they think they caught something really legit and they bring it to the group because you haven’t seen that video, you can go, ‘No, that’s a reflection of my flashlight.  I know what that is.  You can pull that off the evidence locker.  It’s nothing.’  So, I mean it goes both ways.  We’ve done that a couple of times, pictures.  You’ve been taking pictures and the group will think it’s some hard-core evidence and it turns out when the person taking the picture knows exactly where they were standing, what they were doing, what was in their pocket, they’ll be the ones that can debunk that specific evidence.”

The Fantom Foodie's Feed: Mazatlán Grill

Photo by Joey Ortez

Mazatlán Grill
by Joey Ortez

Recently I had the opportunity to design and print menus for a new Mexican restaurant opening up in the old Italian Cottage location. It’s called “Mazatlán Grill”. It was La Conquista most recently, but everyone my age remembers that place as the Italian Cottage. It’s on the corner of the off-ramp from I-5 and Hilltop Drive in Redding (across from the Petco Shopping center). Anyway, they really did a nice job remodeling the inside. When it was Italian Cottage it had sawdust on the floor and it was really rustic “old world” inside (always felt kinda dirty to me). Then as the tequila bar La Conquista, it was made to have that dark bar atmosphere. Not real inviting unless you’re trying to hide from someone under the cover of darkness behind a row of tequila shots.

The thing with the Rodriguez family (the new owners), all of their restaurants are family friendly and have a very inviting atmosphere. The remodel left this place very light feeling, with lots of colors and fun things to look at on the walls. The packed layout leaves room for busy wait-staff to run around and the bar area is really beautiful. As a foodie, I actually prefer to enter a restaurant through two sets of doors. This tells me that they are conscious of flies and other things that may enter the restaurant through the front doors. Mazatlán Grill has the double doors, right on!

The food: Excellent selection, the menu is quite large, and all the Mexican favorites are still there. At first when I looked over all the prices, I was a little apprehensive because I consider myself a “Frugal Foodie”, but after seeing the proportions I was impressed.

I am a fan of vegetarian dishes (even though I am a tried-and-true carnivore who grew up on a red angus farm). So I had the “Veggie Quesadilla” ($9.99). It was a tasty quesadilla with spinach, mushrooms, tomatoes and cheese, with a side of guacamole and sour cream. We also ordered the “Rodriguez Deluxe Nachos” ($10.99) and that plate was enormous! Another plate ordered was the “Fajita Burrito” ($10.49) from the Ala Carte side of the menu. This thing would feed three people! From the Seafood Appetizers side of the menu, I couldn’t resist one of my favorites: “Mazatlán Coconut Shrimp” ($9.99). I love, love love coconut shrimp! These were everything my taste buds were expecting and more! The ‘more’ part was the sweet chili sauce they serve them with, look out! Spicy and sweet with a kick of s’more spicy! I’m an instant fan. Enjoyable dining, lots of parking and very friendly wait staff. I went on a Friday night, and was surprised after it only being their first week open the parking lot was completely full, with the exception of a space for me!

Nana’s Mini Fruit Pies
by the late Betty Bankson of Cottonwood

Serves: 24 Prep Time: 1 Hr Cook Time: 40 Min


1 cup unsalted sweet cream butter - very cold
2 1/2 c all purpose flour • 1/4 tsp salt • 1/3 c ice water


1) in your food processor, add 2-1/2 cups flour and 1/4 tsp salt. cut ice cold sweet cream butter into dice sized pieces and add them. Pulse till butter is in tiny pieces (about 10 pulses). SLOWLY drizzle in the ice water until dough forms a ball, you may need more or less than the designated amount depending on your measuring skills haha! 

2) Pull dough ball out of processor, knead only once or twice and make it into a smooth rectangle about 1 inch thick. Dough should NOT be sticky at all. Wrap in plastic wrap and chill for at least one hour; you can chill overnight if you have the time. 

3) While dough is chilling, you can prepare your own pie filling, or use canned filling. 

4) Pull dough from fridge, roll out onto a lightly floured surface until about 1/8" thick. I use a plastic drinking cup to cut approx. 4" circles. 

5) Spray Pam or hand butter your favorite cupcake pan, then take each circle and lay it over the cupcake hole in the pan; pinch 4 corners inward (see photo), then the dough should line the cupcake hole just like a liner would. Fill with your desired pie filling, then bake for about 35 to 40 minutes at 375 or until the crust is golden. 

6) Completely cool your pies before serving with ice cream or whipped cream! We like using bavarian cream filling mixed with bananas, or even pumpkin pie filling right out of the can works good too. You can even use this shell to make mini quiche pies!

The Fantom Funny

The Political Penguin

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Mona’s Jalapeño Jelly
by Mona Bailey of Cottonwood


4 Bell Peppers (green for green jelly, red for red jelly)
3 Jalapeños (remove seeds if you want mild heat)
1 Cup White Vinegar • 1 Bottle of LIQUID Pectin
5 Cups of White Sugar


Run peppers thru food processor using fine blade, use all juice! Slowly boil all ingredients except Pectin for 10 minutes, remove from heat, add liquid pectin and return to boil for one minute. Pour into sterilized 1/2 pint jars, fill within 1/2 inch of top, secure caps & bands firmly, process in boiling water bath for 5 minutes or seal with paraffin, Yields 5 half pint jars. Recipe will not double, it never sets when doubled.

Optional: mince up multiple colored peppers and sprinkle into jelly so it floats like confetti.