Friday, January 27, 2012

recipe follow-ups and a few whole food goodies worth mentioning

Thanks for all your kindness, my friends. I'm so glad you guys are here. xo

I'm doing a little catch up today with Daniele's question on how I make focaccia, as well as Lisa (welcome to you and all new readers!) wanting to know a little more about that salad I had for lunch the other day.

Before I get to those, I want to share a few interesting and exciting things that have made me happy these past few weeks.

Last Thursday, my friend Monique and I went to a lecture given by local Robyn Openshaw of  Green Smoothie Girl fame. I've greatly benefited and now implement her 12 Steps to Whole Foods plan/book and website and I also read her blog faithfully. However, I had yet to listen to her speak. I'm really glad I went. Although much of what she spoke was not new to me, I left there more committed and energized than ever about this path I'm on.

Before she began speaking, I was so pleased to be able to purchase two of the newest titles in her cookbook series. These two volumes are some of her reader's favorite healthy recipes. By healthy, I mean, "55% raw, 85% vegan, and 90% gluten free." I love these types of tried and true, real life people kinds of cookbooks, don't you?

To give you a little more of an idea, Volume 1 (each book 162 pages) contains: Breads, Muffins, Pancakes, Cereals, Milks & Creams, "Cheeses", Salsas, Sauces, Relishes, Cookies, Candy, Bars and Balls, Chips & Crackers, Dips & Spreads, Munchies, Smoothies, Other Drinks.

Volume 2: Main Dishes, Side Dishes, Chili, Soups, Stews, Sandwiches, Mixed Green Salads, Fruit & Veggie Salads, Pasta, Grain, & Legume Salads, Dressings, Pies, Cakes, Frostings, Frozen Treats, Puddings and Custard, Other Desserts.

You know I've been trying to get more greens into my system. So many benefits that I'm sure you're all aware of. Alkalizing and cleansing to the system. Amazing source of enzymes, vitamins, minerals, and fiber. etc, etc. Besides drinking a blender full of green smoothie most days, I've tried a few powdered greens mixed with water (sometimes in addition to or taking the place of) over the last couple of years. These have been helpful, especially, when I've run out of greens, when I'm too lazy to make a one, when it's cold and a smoothies aren't that appealing, or when traveling.

I'll be honest. These powdered green mixes taste like horse water. You either gag or need to buck up big time to gulp all this lovely nutrition down.

Until now!

I decided give Ormus Greens a try this week. I'm convinced that I'll stick with this powder. Actually pretty pleasant and palatable with a little hint of peppermint and a titch of sweet from the stevia. Not cheap, but one 1 pound package with two teaspoons a day will last quite a long time. Go here to find out more.

(Any one using this product? I'd love to know your experience or thoughts.)

Get this. Earlier this week, I came downstairs at 1:30 am and found Keith (after working, exhausted until after 10:30) sitting at the computer. He was there for hours reading all about the China Study and all the science behind everything he's heard from me.

I think he's catching on, intrigued with it all. This is beyond cool.

I've wanted to watch the documentary Forks Over Knives for a while now. I found it at Barnes and Noble this week and felt it was worth buying, as I knew I'd want to share it with others. And it was the perfect time as far as Keith is concerned. (If you live near me, I'd love to lend it, or you can get it off Netflix.)

Let me just tell you, you MUST see this film if you care about your health.  All the science, in an engaging, easy to understand format behind the whole foods- plant based diet hoopla. Documenting real people whose diabetes, heart disease,  high cholesterol, obesity, and even cancer have been reversed through following this lifestyle. So interesting and so well done that Eliza and even Isaac (and my Wisconsin sister Sara, too) enjoyed it with me. (They are on the bandwagon!)

Anyone seen this? Thoughts?

Okay, now on to those recipes.

I've used this versatile bread stick dough for years and years. I discovered that it made excellent fococcia. I tend to make this more often in the summer- so good with our garden tomatoes and fresh herbs- but once in a while, it's sure nice to have this to make a pasta dinner or a soup night extra special.

Quick Bread Sticks or Focaccia Dough

1 T. yeast
1 1/2 cup warm water
1 T. honey
1 t. salt
3-4 1/2 cups flour

In a mixing bowl, mix yeast with warm water. Add salt and blend. Add flour, gradually blending until dough pulls away from sides of bowl. Divide dough into twelve balls, roll into "snakes", and place on greased cookie sheets. Brush with olive oil or butter and sprinkle with seasonings (garlic powder, paprika, parsley) and allow to rise 10-15 minutes, if desired, but not necessary. Bake at 400 degrees for 15 to 20 minutes or until golden.


Use the Quick Bread Stick Dough and instead of dividing it, spread out on a small greased cookie sheet, pizza pan, or onto a sheet of parchment dusted with cornmeal (which I then transfer with a pizza peel to a hot baking stone). Let it rise for about 15 minutes and then push little holes or "dimples" into the dough. I like to chop up some fresh rosemary and garlic and put it in a little bowl of olive oil, then spread this all over top of the dough. Next,  I place thinly sliced slivers of red onion and thinly sliced tomatoes on top, sprinkling over with a few tablespoons of grated Parmesan cheese and a bit of kosher salt and black pepper. You may let it rise for another 15 minutes (or not) and bake at 400 for 20 minutes until golden. 

A Very Spontaneous, "Whatever Sounds Good and I Have In The Fridge" Kind of Salad

~ crisp green leaf lettuce, washed and torn into bite sized pieces
~raw broccoli florets
~chopped yellow sweet bell pepper
~canned pineapple tidbits
~sliced almonds sprinkled on top
~a drizzle of yummy to make it complete

Poppy Seed Dressing

3 T. honey
1 1/2 T. poppy seed
1 t. dry mustard
1 t. sea salt
1 T. grated onion or juice
1/3 cup rice vinegar
3/4 cup olive oil

Combine everything except poppy seeds in mason jar shake together. (I like to use my handy immersion blender for dressings.) Stir in the poppy seeds.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

on learning life's lessons the hard way

How is it.

When all you can do is cry,
look up at that sky,
and ask why.

This husband.

The pressure,
employer demanding seven days a week
work load
leaving before the sun rises,
walking in the door
at last
after they've all gone to bed.
The children stop asking
if Dad's coming home tonight,
and that wife of his,
wrestling herself 
with that selfish, all too familiar
demon named
And besides
and in addition to all this,
there's his four day-gone away weekends,
relieving his sister,
assisting hospice in their care for Grandpa.
What it must mean, wiping the poop off your own father's bum,
off the bathroom floor.
But there's that reward
of a smile,
that once in a while
glimmering glimpse of recognition
of his own son.

A lesson given
of what it means to endure.
To love.
With all your might, mind, and strength.

This sister.

How could this happen,
we all wonder.
This stress fracture to her hip
and still so young.
Stuck on the couch now
internet word games, the dog
her only companions.
All she ever wanted.
To be the mom she wants to be.
To help pay the bills,
To run that race they planned,
And just when she found her joy in movement, too.
Wondering now what her future holds.

While she waits.
Learning patience
while she heals.

This son.

Such disappointment.
And all he wanted was to play with that ball,
with his friends,
on their team.
Broken dream,
first with that hand of his
being out for a month and everything.
Then the crash,
landing him hard on the hardwood
that game two weeks ago.
And now with yesterday's MRI confirming
his own stress fracture to his poor aching back,

he learns a lesson the hard way;
accepting what is given.

This friend.

My own secret admirer.
This fearless woman, pinnacle of success 
epitome of strength,
beyond generous and with a heart of gold.
Yesterday's shock of the phone call and email.
I sit there on the bed,
speechless, warm lump in my throat
that I still can't seem to swallow
while she lies there in that lonely hospital room,
tube down her throat.
Body ravaged.
While this aggressive
ovarian cancer
battle rages on.
Her world turned upside down,
she searches her soul
seeking peace,
sweet relief
and most of all
fighting for her boys.

All the while
holding onto hope,
trying to fight, to not fear.
To trust Jesus.

"Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.
Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.
For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light." Matthew 11: 28-30

"Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid. " John 14:27

Monday, January 23, 2012

"Looking Younger"... Gray Hair... Raw Foods: Is There A Connection?

I always feel a little dorky taking a full blown picture of myself.

Besides a tad bit embarrassing, it ain't an easy thing to do, managing the camera with one hand and all.

Anyways, I guess I just want to prove my point.

Last night in bed, lying there in the dark, Keith broke the silence with this question he posed at me:

"Did you dye your hair recently or something?"

(Long pause from me, taking this all in.)

"What?" I respond, incredulously.

"It's just that I was looking at you tonight, and I'm noticing how much younger you look. Like your hair looks darker or something. Not as gray as it's been before." And the clincher, here:

"I'm thinking that it's probably from all that nutrition you're getting."

Seriously. (My face breaking into a wide grin.)

It got me thinking. Maybe it's the fact that he's been gone a lot. Seeing me with fresh eyes today. But, with more prodding from me, (I'm really wanting to hear more at this point!) he says that he's been noticing this for a while now.

Still thinking about what he said. Analyzing my hair, my skin a little more than usual today in the mirror.

What he's saying might actually be true.

In all my studies, I've heard it repeatedly said that eating a lot of raw foods combats the aging process for a great majority of people who follow this lifestyle. Vitamins, minerals, and enzymes from superfoods, specifically from those amazing greens that I've learned to love and crave (and seem to magnetically gravitate toward when I'm in the produce section) which feed, cleanse, and build right at the cellular level. All that fiber, sweeping out congesting toxins, easing up burdens to the liver, especially.

I've seen it for myself, intrigued, with every single person I know whose diet is plant-based and mostly raw. These folks seem to glow. Radiate. Skin supple, wrinkle-free, and firm, with what I like to call a rosy, vibrant "apple cheek" kind of smile. 

I've read accounts of people miraculously being able to reverse graying hair to their natural color by drinking a lot of green juices and smoothies, cutting out dead, processed, and fried foods. Just this morning, to feed my curiosity and interest even further, I did a little more research on this topic. (Here, here if you are interested.) 

For the last year and a half, I, too, have crowded in more raw plant foods and I think it's making a huge difference not only in the way I feel, but apparently, now, in the way I look. 

Today's lunch. So good.

There have obviously been other factors to this, as well. Efforts in drinking more pure water. Daily exercise. Incorporating those beneficial healthy fats in my diet. Good fats such as those found in seeds and nuts, avocados, and nourishing oils like coconut, olive, and flax seed oils.

Speaking of oils, my so called "beauty regimen" is really very simple. After washing my body with soaps where the natural forming by-product glycerin is still intact, I moisturize with either a blend of sweet almond and olive oils or take a scoop of raw coconut oil I keep in a tin in my cabinet bathroom, rubbing this in all over my body, as well as my face. Yes, I eat fat and I wear fat! It's as simple as that. No need for expensive, cosmetic counter moisturizers for me.

I believe that true beauty naturally starts from the inside; manifesting itself on the outside. It's that inner peace and happiness that radiates light, comeliness, confidence, and purity.

That's the kind of beauty I'm seeking.

Hoping more than ever, that I'm on the right path to a more beautiful life and a more beautiful me.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

images of a sunday

~We wake up to a little bit of crusty snowfall.

~ New Christmas scarf pulled it all together.

~Dinner table made more beautiful with my favorite Indian tablecloth.

Remembering you, Uncle Gene.

~Focaccia is always welcomed around here.

~and Dad is, too.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

to run in the rain

she couldn't resist.

with that central bank weather phone man's
voice stating a morning
temperature of near 50 degrees,
(so unbelievably balmy for a january morn)
and noticing that it was only a drizzle,
and it just might be now or never,
she heads out the door
and down the street
mustering up what it takes
for this sort of thing. 

glad that the drive
which comes and goes
is here
especially on this day.

beneath these falling droplets
now gathering in strength,
she wends her way
between, around, and through
concentric, ever widening
circle puddles.

pressing onward,
this solitary
alone on the road.

who does this sort of thing?
she asks herself
as craned neck motorists
pass her by
with looks
all a mixture of 
and pity.

altered state of consciousness
the music
this body
her thoughts
these surroundings.

she takes it all in:

the freshly powdered mountains
now mist-veiled.

damp earth,
bits of green 
among the rotting leaves,
spongy soft to her pounding feet.

this musty, yet clean
breathed in 
so deeply.

hillside thicket hidden,
those four noble deer
emerge into view
one by one,
so peaceful,
they stare back
by either her
or the rain.

down hill
they race
side by side
this rushing
gutter water
leading the way.

and all at once,
before she knows it,
the familiar trail
now ending
with home view in sight,

and despite
finding herself
soaked to the skin,
sopping socks
peeling off
wet feet and all,

she feels glad,
playful like a child 
once again,
energized, invigorated, refreshed
welcoming the fun,
the chance to run
in the rain.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012


Noticing: Rain falling. Cozy. Sound coming down through the fireplace.

Creating: Can you believe Eliza cranked this "commission" portrait of a friend at school just under an hour tonight, earning $50 in "Neider" bucks as part of their class economy. Earning "income" through payed classroom upkeep jobs, using entrepreneurial skills to barter or purchase hot ticket items like prime real estate (renting or owning preferred zones and desks) or like when Eliza bakes and sells her- especially popular with the 8th grade boys- homemade peanut butter cookies.  With all this, it doesn't surprise me one bit that Eliza has a monopoly now with owning and rent payed on the most desks in the room. You go, girl!

Preparing: made a big batch of fruit and nut energy bars to stock the freezer. (Jennifer, you inspired me!) First time and everyone giving them a thumbs up. After tonight's dinner, I made a chocolate sheet cake for tomorrow's funeral luncheon. (Boyd, our dear neighbor and fellow church member who passed away last Friday.)  I'll be helping in the kitchen most of the afternoon tomorrow.

Listening: Coldplay, Keane, Rachmaninoff, Dave Brubeck (Jazz pianist).

Eating: Breakfast was a big bowl of fruit before my run, followed by a sprouted English muffin topped with almond butter, banana slices, and a drizzle of maple syrup later mid morning. Lunch was leftover taco salad from last night. Dinner was veggie stir fry noodles with spicy orange sauce and a tangerine.

Exercising: nice 6 mile run this morning. Again, no jacket and discarded my beanie mid run. Excited to see Jane's status on Facebook tonight: Nothing feels more refreshing as a run in the rain. Whoo-hoo. That's my girl.

Feeling and Wishing: I could feel a little more inspiration with this here blog space. I guess I'm in a dry spell or rut, but I know it's only a phase. Not sure if anyone finds my day-to-day engaging, but I guess it's better than nothing.

Entertaining: I feel like I'm the last person on earth to see the popular Masterpiece Theater Downton Abbey series. Disappointed this afternoon that I missed seeing the first season (free online download) a day too late. Darn.

Reading: Finished my monastery book yesterday and am getting near the conclusion of The House of Tyneford I picked up last week at Costco. Not surprised that Mom also picked it up; it appealing to both of us at the same time. Isaac is putting the pressure on me big time to read the City of Ember sequel he just finished and loved. Taking him all but one day.

Loving: that I was able to have a good long talk on the phone with my sister Sara. So worried about her, as she is now bedridden with a stress fracture to her hip. No fall and she's younger than me. Busy mom of four. Wishing there was a way I could go out and help her.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

thoughts on a tuesday morn

It feels like a Monday, but it isn't. Everyone out the door and I'm trying to get into the rhythm of a new week.

You would think that with Saturday's "warm before the storm" and yesterday's blustery chill, something would blow in. Like a snowstorm. But with all that trying, nothing noteworthy came to fruition. Yesterday morning found me mustering the gumption to run against that cold wind. Not an easy task. Left me chilled to the bone for the rest of the day.

The kids were happy to have the day off. Basketball practice, Sunday's leftover peanut butter brownies, library books, and a rousing game of Scrabble were the order of the day. I picked Jane up later and we all enjoyed going to the dollar movie to see The Muppets movie. My own laughter rising above everyone else in that theater, it seemed.  

My eyes popped open at quarter to five this morning and I made the efforts to get all ready for the pool. After making the drive to the recreation center and pulling the van into the parking stall, I realized, much to my dismay, that my bag (containing my towel, cap, and goggles- very necessary items) was left back on the couch at home. A La-La Land moment, I'm sure. I turned the car home and knew that the allotted time was lost.

Nice, though, enjoying the still quiet house and time for scripture, the paper, and one of the library books I've got going-  Another World: A Retreat to the Ozarks  ("...William Claassen explores day-to-day life in a small Trappist monastery..."). Just another of the many books satisfying my interest and fascination with monastic life.

Glad for what looks like a warmer, sunnier day here.

I think I'll eat my oatmeal and blueberries now. Maybe go back to bed and read for awhile. Tidy things up. Get to those dishes in the sink. Grind some wheat, make some bread, cook up some beans for the week.

Happy to be home. Choosing the simple life.

A nice and easy welcome to a new week.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

a journal entry

Remembered, on opening my eyes, that I was alone in the bed. Woke up several times in the night. Cozy, though, in my little nest with the extra warmth from the quilt pulled up. Not that I needed much more, as I noticed on going out to get the paper (my weather gauge, it seems)  that there was no real sign of frost on the windshield.

Keith has been gone since Thursday. This pattern of him going away to assist in the care of his dad will continue now every week for the rest of the month and into the first part of February. (Yes, I'm trying to gear up.) After being on a plateau for so long, Grandpa is showing signs of steady decline; becoming weaker and weaker as the days go by. Grateful Keith has this opportunity, that his company has been so accommodating to let him work "from home" while he's there to serve his dad that he loves so much. 

After some time puttering about, Isaac, who was up by this time, and I decided to head back up to my bed for some snuggles. Still on cloud nine from yesterday and asked me "if it was all a dream". (Smile)

The sun was up by this time and Eliza was, too. Time for me to head out for a run. What a beautiful day. The sun shining warmly, there was no need for a jacket. I felt strong; could have gone longer than my typical 6 miles, but I didn't feel the need today.

We've been experiencing spring like weather around these parts. I can't remember the last time it snowed, and I'm noticing the usual January white mountains aren't so white any more. It's kind of worrisome thinking what all this will mean for our water situation, but in many ways, I like it. I am concerned, though, seeing things start to bud so early.

Can't really put my finger on it, but I've just felt a tad bit on the melancholy side today. I think it started last night when I found out that our dear elderly neighbor Boyd passed away late that afternoon. This couple, along with their daughter and her family who also live on our street are neighbors that we've become close to over the years.

On seeing several cars parked in front of the home today and last night, I wasn't sure if a visit from me would be more intrusive than helpful. I went ahead and purchased a beautiful planter, communicated my concern and love with a card and dropped it off at the door to a kind grandson. Doing that made me feel good.

A bit more about the melancholy. I know that last night's basketball game really upset me. While I won't go into all the details, I will say that it makes me so sad, so upset when I hear parents berate, belittle, and yell at these poor, trying ever so hard sons of theirs. Being in the middle of that all evening, witnessing quite a bit of mean spirited  sportsmanship from the visiting school, and our team getting absolutely creamed both games, well, it just made for an especially negative experience.

Good thing Sammy and I ended the night on a good note with our late night burger and a shake jaunt. 

Back to today. I guess you'd call it while the cat's away, the mice will play. Not that Keith is the taskmaster as far as Saturday chores go (that's usually me). But I will say that it was a pretty laid back kind of day. The highlight being a trip to the good old library, filling our trusty cart with goodies to tide us over this long weekend.

Among other things, I picked up a book on Japanese cookery (which I devoured this afternoon.) and since I haven't been able to get sushi out of my mind for the past few weeks... well, it's obvious what would be on the menu for tonight.

We had a little version of our own Japanese party, Eliza and Isaac, and I. First time ever attempt at sushi making. Very fun. Why did I wait so long? Eliza made our favorite spicy dipping sauce to go along, and the accompanying miso soup I put together at the last minute sure hit the spot. I'm so happy that these two have turned out to be good eaters, willing to try the new and the different.

Now, as I write, they are off watching Tangled for the first time and Sam is visiting a friends house. As soon as I wrap this up, I'll  head up for my own movie time.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Isaac's Big 2nd Place Spelling Bee Win!

You can see it on his face.

The excitement.
The joy.
The confidence.

Each of the first through eighth grade classes sent their two winners on to today's final round.
Sixteen kids in all, seated on the stand.
Fellow students cheering them on.
All of us parents, nervous in our chairs.
Every time he steps up to that microphone, I can hardly look at him. Most of the time, head bowed and eyes closed.

All my kids each have had their thing-
whether it was geography, violin, basketball, art...
But for this my youngest child,
this is where he shines.
And it makes him happy.
And he knows he's good at it.

I sit there.
Amazed at his confidence. Breezing through those words.
How hard that would be with the whole school there and all those parent's eyes watching you.
His teacher and I sharing -we're so nervous- we're so proud- how much longer can he hold out- glances at each other.

Finally, it gets down to him, this little shrimpy 2nd grader and a big 8th grade girl.

And then he misses his word.

But you should have heard the cheers in that room
for my little man.

Especially mine.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Gratitude Wednesday

:: sunlight streaming, shining down on warm pancakes.

:: drawn out science fair project completion.

:: full moon ball hovering near the horizon.

:: a fresh new bouquet of beauty-cheer gracing the kitchen table.

::his feet warming mine.

:: trailing and one second left to go three-point victory shots.

:: teenage boy son's emerging biceps. 

:: not getting over this gift of love from the hands and the heart of this potter man we've never met. Believing it would make her, especially, happy. Happy enough for tears. And hearing that it did, tears filling his own eyes.

::deadline met with relief and satisfaction.

:: getting to be the Star of the Week.

:: the luxury of having time to shell the peanuts Santa left in the foot of their stockings.

:: a bursting pantry and fridge.

:: having a neighbor generously let you, freezing and sweaty and it's morning, hang out in her house for awhile because you got locked out after your run. 

:: knowing that a bowl of kale for lunch will make a her a very happy camper.

:: the wonder of puffing, bubbling tortillas frying on the griddle.

:: the excitement, the dreams coming true for two college students this new semester.
Ballet for her and Hebrew for him.

:: seeing the look on his face as he walked in the door, she prepared for what would come next. Knowing in her heart, feeling real peace, that whatever would happen today, they'd be still be okay.
And when she called him at lunchtime, a mix of emotion. So grateful he still has his job after all. Making it year after year of those rounds of layoffs. Concerned and praying and hoping for all his friends and their families.

And once again, she feels so humbled getting to live such a blessed, rewarding life full of abundance and freedom and joy.