Speaking at Sibley’s – Hiking for the Couch Potato

Come by Sibley’s West in Downtown Chandler Friday night – March 14 – for a book-signing from 6 to 8 pm.

Four Arizona authors will be speaking and signing books at Sibley’s West – the shop at 72 S. San Marcos Place that features Arizona-made gifts, including my Hiking for the Couch Potato books – with the theme “Explore Arizona.”

In addition to myself, participating will be:

  • ·        Pam Hait, author of “Day Trips … from Phoenix, Tucson and Flagstaff.” Pam has written for national and international publications, including USA Today, Travel & Leisure, Metropolitan Home, Arizona Highways, Utne Reader, Ladies Home Journ al, Forbes, Sunset and many others. She has written extensively about western, Native American and regional art for national and regional publications including Art West, Artists of the Rockies and Southwest Art and is the author of a dozen books.
  • ·        Colleen Miniuk-Sperry, co-author of “Photographing Arizona’s Wildflowers.” Colleen visited Sibley’s last year and discussed her photography with guests. As spring tends to be the best time for photos, her visit is timely. Colleen enjoys leading photography workshops for the Arizona Highways Photography Workshops, Arizona Wildlife Federation, The Nature Conservancy, Through Each Others Eyes, and numerous private clients, where she has become known for her instruction-intensive style, inquisitive storytelling approach, and enthusiasm for exploration.
  • ·        Marty Campbell, author of Arizona Family Field Trips. Marty highlights many of his family’s favorite Arizona destinations. Each of the nine sections in this informative guide includes a regional map, site descriptions, location and directions, amenities, fees, and helpful planning tips.

Learn more about the outdoors in Arizona with the authors who are Speaking at Sibleys!


Overcoming hiking fears

Yesterday at my book signing (Great event – met a lot of interesting people!), I met a man who said he was really afraid of hiking.  He kept hearing about people having to be rescued.

Overcoming hiking fears can be an easy thing if you use the following suggestions:

1) If you are new to hiking or , with any level of experience, you are unfamiliar with a trail, look the trail up online!

Choose hikes that you can handle.  Most hikes will be rated easy, moderate or strenuous.  If they are mostly flat and level, they would be easy.  Also, look for trails that are shorter and in developed areas.

2) Hike with someone else or a group, if at all possible.

3) Before you begin a hike, check out the weather.  Don’t start if there are severe weather warnings.  Wait until things clear or choose another day.

4) Before you leave to go hiking, let someone else know where you’re going and when you plan to be back. (At the end of your hike, remember to call the other person to let them know you’re fine – just a courtesy!)

5) Bring a cell phone, but remember that in some remote areas, cell phone service is sketchy.

6) Bring enough water for the duration of the hike – per person.

7) Bring a small, portable snack.  We like Clif Bars and Larabars or a homemade trail mix or healthful snack.

8) Wear proper hiking boots to protect your feet with thick, cushiony hiking socks. (I’ve talked about this in another blog. See - http://bit.ly/11d1DZZ)

9) If possible, review the trail head maps and any postings that tell of trail closures and obstacles.

10) Enjoy yourself while viewing nature!

You can have a good time hiking!

Overcoming hiking fears is simple:  Be prepared!

Don’t let the frantic news stories of people who have usually not prepared and wind up needing help deter you from hiking.

From being a couch potato, I transitioned to someone who loves hiking and the natural sights along the way.

Overcoming hiking fears can be achieved- and the rewards are enormous – a chance to expand your mind and stretch your body!

A short walk/hike down to river level gave us the opportunity to see these falls – a great reward for not that much effort! We were within view of “civilization” the entire time on the Big Island of Hawaii.


Bird builds nest

Posted by on Apr 16, 2013 in Healthy Living, Kids Blog, Nature Sights | No Comments

We feel fortunate that nature has made its home on our patio.  A bird has chosen to build its nest on a grill gadget.  Two eggs are in the nest and the beige-colored bird has been nesting for days now.  It is a very inspiring and nurturing sight.  We saw a father bird briefly come, visit and leave.  The mother bird did leave briefly, but returned and has stayed – like Horton the Elephant on its nest – and stayed!

Nature sighting right at home - Bird nesting

Sometimes you don’t need to go hiking to see nature. This bird has been nesting on our patio in a grill basket for several days. When it left briefly, we saw two eggs.

We wondered why it was so noisy outside our window!  The bird was obviously being territorial, protecting its nest and eggs.

We're not going to be grilling soon - the two eggs nesting on our patio look too fragile!

Two eggs nesting on our grill basket. We’re waiting to see the baby birds.

Obviously, we won’t be grilling for a while.

We’ll keep people posted on what happens!


Book signing for Couch Potato

Couch Potato – alias Shelley Gillespie is pleased to announce that she will be hosted for a book signing for both Couch Potato books at the new Book Warehouse at the north end of the new Phoenix Premium Outlet in Chandler, Arizona.  Come by between 12 noon and 3:00 p.m. on Saturday, April 20.

The book is on sale now at the store.  The new Premium Outlet is gorgeous and has misting to keep it cool!

We’ll have information helpful to hikers, potential hikers and people who just want to know more.  Special discounts are available!

Stop by and say hi!

Couch Potato Kid gets active

With today’s inauguration, you may be thinking it’s time to begin things for the future that can make life better for you and your family.

We had some feedback that reinforces the view that one book, one parent, and one child CAN make a difference.

Our kid’s book – Hiking for the Couch Potato Kid – received a rave review from our dental hygienist, Elaine.

Her -then -four-year-old hated the outdoors.  Elaine read the book with her daughter.   The next thing she knew, her daughter grabbed her by the hand and said, “Mommy, let’s go jogging and look at the bugs!”

Mommy and daughter got outdoors, got active and got to see some creatures in nature.

And – additional excitement – her daughter – now five – is using the book to learn to read.

Results like these can work for you and your family! A healthy new beginning -start now!

Take a chance, take a look, take a hike!


Monarch butterflies visiting Arizona for the season

Monarch butterflies, a truly regal-looking butterfly with gold, orange-yellow, white and black coloring, is now on view in nature – and places like the Desert Botanical Garden in Phoenix, Arizona.

Monarch butterfly

Monarch butterflies have a short but beautiful life

Some of the monarchs are migratory and might live for months while they migrate.  Others only live about a month.  Some are in residence at the Desert Botanical Garden’s exhibit until November 25.   They feed from the colorful nectar plants with their antennae.

Monarch butterflies sipping nectar and resting

Monarch butterflies sipping nectar and resting

Monarch butterflies require milkweed for nesting.  The butterfly’s larvae – the caterpillars – feed on the poisonous sap of the milkweed, which makes them poisonous, too.   So, they have a natural defense against other creatures, even when they are adult butterflies.  To keep the butterflies from laying larvae at the Desert Botanical Garden, they are not given milkweed to nest on.  They are given nectar plants so they can sip and get nourishment.

Monarch butterflies rest as night comes

Monarch butterflies seek warmth from the sun as they rest for the night

They may not live long, but their beautiful colors are very memorable.

Setting monarch butterflies free!

On many Thursdays at the Desert Botanical Garden, butterflies are let loose after tagging so scientists can follow their flight patterns.  The tagging allows the butterflies to be tracked and people may attend the butterfly launches.

Visiting Bob’s Red Mill

Visiting Bob’s Red Mill recently was a fun experience!

Since the Couch Potato likes to learn about healthy food and activities, we took their hour tour of Bob’s Red Mill and even met Bob!  (More on that later.)

Bob's Red Mill's familiar sign at their processing plant near Portland Oregon

Tours are offered Monday through Friday at the Bob’s Red Mill plant in Oregon

We were able to see how Bob’s Red Mill processes their grains and how very clean their facility is kept.

For many years, they have believed that healthy food helps people be healthy, so they produce products they are proud of – and people can tell.

For people who have worries about eating gluten and who try to find gluten-free products, Bob’s Red Mill is a wonderful discovery for them. Gluten is a part of some grains – like wheat, barley, rye, and other grains – that can cause some people problems in digesting their food and even make them very ill.

The part of their facility that produces gluten-free – or “GF” foods is separated from the sections that produce products with gluten.

Clean and separate from other processing, Gluten free processing at Bob's Red Mill

While visiting Bob’s Red Mill, we could see (through a window) the very clean gluten free processing area

If you are trying to be healthy, whole grain products are the best kind because they have more of the nutrients available.  For example, it is better to eat brown rice, because it has more of the nutrients.  When brown rice has the bran stripped off, it gets rid of the B vitamins, which are very important for keeping our bodies health

Bob’s Red Mill grinds their products with old-fashioned grinding stones that allow the whole, healthy, grain to be turned to flours, cereals or other products (like pizza crusts).

Bob's Red Mill products as you might see them packaged for a store

Healthy and freshly ground Bob’s Red Mill products as you might see them ready for a store

When children are on the tour, they are given the chance to see what it is like to thresh the grain – to remove the seeds from the stalks – so the seeds can be ground to make the flour and other healthy food products. And, they give everyone who went on the tour a free sample!

Bob’s Red Mill ships to every supermarket chain in the United States and Canada and 70 other countries.

Bob of Bob’s Red Mill

The “Original Couch Potato,” Shelley Gillespie, was talking with Christy, the tour guide, after the tour was over.  She was so impressed with Christy’s knowledge and enthusiasm that she asked how she could tell Christy’s supervisor what a great job she did.  Who was her supervisor?

Christy, looking over to her right to a man with a red vest sitting on a bench, said, “He is!”

Bob posed with the Couch Potato and Roger

Visiting Bob’s Red Mill gave us a chance to meet Bob himself!

It was Bob, who kindly agreed to pose for a picture with Shelley and Roger Gillespie. Shelley had not seen Bob come down to the tour floor.  We all laughed and really enjoyed our visit to the Mill.

We also went to their store and café, where we had a healthful lunch that tasted great and were able to see a full array of Bob’s Red Mill products, cook books and souvenirs.

If you are in Milwaukie, Oregon near the Portland area, you will find visiting Bob’s Red Mill a fun experience!

Here is a healthy recipe:

Cooking Brown Rice

(Bob’s Red Mill offers brown rice and many other healthful grain products.)

Brown rice takes longer than white or instant rice to make, but it is healthier because it is the whole grain.

Takes 2 cups of water for every cup of brown rice you want to make.  Each cup of rice makes enough for 4 people.

1 cup Brown rice

2 cups of water

Start heating the water until it starts to boil.  Stir the rice into the water – once only – and when the water starts to bubble again, turn the flame to low and cover the pot.  Cook for about 45 minutes.

The trick to tell when the rice is cooked?  Open the lid and tilt the pot.  If the rice doesn’t slide and the water is all absorbed, it is about cooked.  Cover the pot with the flame off and let it sit to absorb just a little more moisture – then serve!

You can add seasonings or add the rice to another recipe, or add butter or oil (Olive oil is really good) and serve!

If you want to make it into a full meal, you can add pieces of meat, or some sauce and cheese – or many other things!

Be healthy and enjoy!


Hummingbirds – the smallest bird

Posted by on Sep 27, 2012 in Kids Blog, Motivation | No Comments

Hummingbirds are the smallest birds.  Their brains are the size of a human tooth, but for how little their bodies are, their brains are very big!


See the green colored hummingbird flapping its wings!

See the green colored hummingbird flapping its wings!

They use up a lot of energy as they flap their wings very quickly. To keep moving, they also have a very fast heartbeat – 1,260 beats per minute!  (Human hearts only beat 60 to 100 beats per minute.)

Hummingbird sips nectar near the bottom of the tall flowers

If you look carefully near the bottom of the tall flower stalk, you can see the hummingbird flapping its wings and hovering.

Hummingbirds eat flower nectar, tree sap, insects, and pollen.  If you want to help hummingbirds have food in the winter when there are less flowers, you can put water with sugar in it and fill a hummingbird feeder. (Put 4 parts of water to the amount of sugar.)  They especially like red flowers.

Hummingbirds live only a few years – maybe four years at the most, but once in a while, one might live a very long time.

Be very quiet around a hummingbird or they will probably fly away.

It is so exciting to see such a tiny, beautiful creature finding food!

The Couch Potato learned about Hummingbirds from the Nina Mason Pulliam Rio Salado AUDUBON CENTER, a place where people really like birds.  If you want to learn more, you can also see audubon.org.

The pictures that you see were taken by Shelley Gillespie, the “Original Couch Potato.”


Visit to a fish hatchery

Posted by on Sep 24, 2012 in Kids Blog | No Comments

The Couch Potato visited the Tonto Creek Fish Hatchery in Arizona to see how fish are raised.  Fish biologist, Larry Duhamell, showed us how they help the fish grow to be healthy. (A fish biologist studies fish and knows the way fish grow, what to feed them, and how to keep them healthy.)

Visit to a fish hatchery

Fish Biologist Larry Duhamell at Tonto Creek Fish Hatchery takes care of thousands of fish

The Fish Hatchery raises trout, which are brought to the hatchery as eggs or roe.  They are kept in tanks, also called raceways, with water. Once they hatch and have used up the nutrients  (food) left over from the egg, they are fed “granulites” (small pebbly pieces of food) of nutrients that contain many of the same vitamins children take!

Trout roe at fish hatchery

Before they become fish, trout roe arrive at the Fish Hatchery

Mr. Duhamell said one of the biggest dangers for fish is visitors who want to reach in the tank water.  The visitors have germs that can make the fish sick.  So, he hopes that people will not try to touch the fish, so they will stay healthy.  Children can buy granulites to throw in the water, so they can see the fish rush to eat the food.  Because there a thousands of fish in each tank, it gets very busy!

Hatched fish roe on their way to becoming trout

Trout fish roe hatched at the fish hatchery

The trout live in tanks, growing for over a year until they become big enough (about 9 inches) to be sent to places where people will try to catch them!  There are over 20 places in Arizona where the fish are sent.  Maybe some are swimming near you!

Trout living in a tank at the Tonto Creek Fish Hatchery

Trout living in a tank at the Tonto Creek Fish Hatchery

Couch Potato, Heathman Hotel & 50 Shades of Grey

Posted by on Sep 15, 2012 in Couch Potato Events, Healthy Living | One Comment

Couch Potato, Heathman Hotel  & 50 Shades of Grey converged for two evenings - for “Health at the Heathman Hotel,” in Portland, Oregon, the setting where bestseller, 50 Shades of Grey, is purportedly set.

During the evening when Gillespie was available to speak about health, people asked the Heathman Hotel’s librarian if the room we were standing near was where 50 Shades of Grey was set.  The staff is getting used to being asked those questions, but they do not know the 50 Shades’ author.

Being an author in the Heathman Library

The Heathman Hotel has a library that includes books from authors who have stayed in the hotel.  They will not accept a book for the over 3,000-volume library if an author has not stayed with them.  The library has been building for over 50 years.

Couch Potato at The Heathman Hotel - whose books are now in their library

Couch Potato was hosted by The Heathman Hotel and is now in their library

The books have original signatures from the authors, in some cases including caricatures and drawings by the authors.   World-famous authors have stayed at The Heathman Hotel and the library contains a “who’s who” of literary giants, including Don Freeman’s popular children’s book, Corduroy.  Joyce Carol Oates offered a talk a few weeks before the Couch Potato.

Gillespie, the Original Couch Potato, is proud to have been a guest of the Heathman Hotel and even prouder that copies of both Hiking for the Couch Potato and Hiking for the Couch Potato Kid are both now part of the Heathman’s library.

During her talk, Gillespie spoke briefly about the time people have in their days and suggests that some of that time be set aside for physical activity every day.

She also spoke about the need to drink sufficient water.  A good “rule of thumb” formula for the needed amount is based on a person’s weight.  If a person takes the number of pounds they weigh, divides that in half and calls number ounces, they would take that number of ounces and divide it by eight to know how many cups of water they should drink in a day.  Extensive exertion or a hot climate would require drinking even more.

Example:  A person who weighs 150 pounds. Half of that would be 75 – call that ounces.  Divide the 75 by 8 (ounces in a cup) = 9.375 cups of water a day.  (Not soda, not coffee, not sugary drinks – water.)

Couch Potato, Heathman Hotel & 50 Shades of Grey

Greeting visitors at The Heathman Hotel

From the moment you enter until the moment you leave, the staff at The Heathman Hotel provides exemplary service. The Original Couch Potato was hosted for a talk on “Health at the Heathman Hotel.” (The location where 50 Shades of Grey is set.)

Couch Potato stayed at The Heathman Hotel, setting for 50 Shades of Grey.  The Heathman staff does not know the 50 Shades of Grey author, as she may have registered under an assumed name.

If the 50 Shades of Grey author did stay at the Heathman, she would have found that the customer service at The Heathman Hotel is exemplary!  This Couch Potato recommends a stay to experience what old world service and food are like.  Every guest feels cherished and important! We asked for the feather pillows to be removed, since we have allergies, and they were glad to accommodate us.

Rooms are comfortably furnished and there is a welcome gift for each hotel guest.  There is also a nicely set up health facility on the premises with weights, machines, treadmills and the like for guests who do take exercise seriously.

The Hotel is so conveniently located that you can walk or take public transit to most of the major attractions like Powell’s Books, the Portland Public Library, the zoo, and almost everything!