Friday, December 14, 2018

Foodie Friday: Pumpkin Muffins

Sun Oven sitting in the wagon.
     When some friends came to visit us near Borrego Springs, we got to talking about my Sun Oven. So of course I had to show them how quickly it got up to 300-325. Then I had this hot oven just begging to be filled with something delicious, so I decided pumpkin muffins were in order. By the time I got them mixed up, they didn't get in the oven until 2pm. At this time of year the sun is on its downward slide and it goes behind the hills around 4:30, so it was a bit of a race for them to get done in time. The Sun Oven uses the angle of the sun to shine on the reflectors and collect the solar energy to heat up. When the angle gets too low, it's hard to maintain the temperature, and when the sun goes down it cools off. I did manage to get them baked, although at a lower temp, so it took a bit longer than usual.
     I then shared some around the Happy Hour group which included more discussion about the Sun Oven. And happy sounds of appreciation for how they turned out, plus a bit of surprise for a few people at how good something healthy could taste. Score! Since I use 1/2 of a can of pumpkin to make the muffins, and Jerry was kind enough to go into town to get me more eggs, I made another batch then next day. Getting them in the oven before noon, they only took about 45 min to cook the second day. They were just as tasty and moist as the first batch. They were so well received I thought I'd post the recipe here. I have a link to the original recipe, but of course, since I can't leave any recipe alone, I'm posting what I actually do. 

Linda's Pumpkin Muffins,  original recipe HERE that uses honey instead of stevia

1 stick butter, melted (I put this in my Sun Oven as it's heating up), set aside to cool a bit, add at end.
1/2 can pumpkin, stir to smooth
6 eggs, beat into pumpkin
1 tsp vanilla (I make my own extract) add to above,
4 droppers (half way up the dropper) of English Toffee Stevia, add to above
4 droppers Vanilla Stevia, add to above.
      In a small bowl mix the dry ingredients all together:
1/2 c coconut flour (or 1/4 c almond flour, 1/4 c coconut flour)
1/2 tsp baking powder (original calls for baking soda, but I like the taste of baking powder better)
1/4 tsp sea salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1/2 tsp ground allspice
1/2 tsp ground ginger

Combine the dry with the wet, then add in the melted butter. Mix thoroughly. Add nuts if desired (1/2 cup) and spoon into muffin cups. I use silicone muffin cups. Paper will stick when using coconut flour, so I don't recommend them. Bake 400 degrees for 15 - 19 min. Or until top is set and lightly browned. In the Sun Oven, it bakes at 300 - 350 for 45 min to 1-1/2 hrs depending. If you push on the top and they spring back, they're done. With the extra pumpkin, these are fairly moist.

      This is my favorite recipe for gluten-free and grain-free baking. They don't seem to last long, even when I don't have help eating them all! Of course, they disappeared pretty quickly at Happy Hour, so if I want to indulge in more of them, I'll have to bake again the next sunny and low wind day. I put my Sun Oven in a folding wagon which makes it easier to move around. It lifts it up and keeps it pretty stable. At our home base in Olympia, I have to chase the sun around our lot since we are surrounded by so many tall trees, so the wagon is super helpful. I love that I can avoid using the generator or heating up the rig when we are out Boondocking with no hookups.There are lots of things I like to cook in my Sun Oven. Below is pictured a couple of my other favorites. If you notice, the pans are dark. The dark color helps to absorb the heat which is what you want. Highly reflective silver cookware doesn't work as well. Enamelware is great! Plus it feels more like I'm camping when I'm using it. It brings back good memories of camp outs.
Chicken and veggies with herbs, and pumpkin cheesecake. Yum!

Saturday, December 1, 2018

Sanctified Saturday: "Exchange"

A place of serenity where I feel the Lord's presence.


I recently had a dream where I saw the word "Exchange" hovering in the background as the ideas of what God exchanges were floating up in front of me one after another. What He
has done for me takes my breath away! What kind of crazy, extravagant love is this?!

Where once:
     I was entrapped by anger----->He filled me with His peace and forgiveness
     I was threatened with destruction----->He established me in His safety and protection
     I was trapped in sin------>He set me free with His forgiveness and His righteousness
     I was a captive----->He gave me freedom
     I believed lies----->He spoke Truth, and taught me to hear His voice
     I compromised----->He filled me with His Holiness and and taught me integrity   
     I felt I was an incompetent failure----->He taught me to walk in victory
     I was dying----->God gave me Life!
     I was in despair----->His hope lifted me up
     I had fear and axiety----->He taught me that I could really trust Him and be at peace
     I was awash in sorrow------->He filled me with Joy
     I was wounded and in pain----->He poured the oil of healing over me
     I had a life of chaos------->He brought order and peace
In my areas of lack----->His abundance overflows
In my sickness------>He restores my health
In times of confusion----->He gave me His clarity and wisdom
In the midst of my weakness------>His strength overflows
From my life's pile of ashes----->He created beauty
Where once I was so broken----->He restored me and made me whole

Whatever my need, He is there with His exchange. There's no limit! I don't have to prioritize the top five needs and settle for living with the rest. Wow. Jesus nailed all of it to the cross, He gave His life, His blood for me, for all of it. "It is finished!" It's a done deal. My part is to believe it and receive it, to walk in it. His resurrection life is alive in me and as I walk with Him He renews me; my mind, my body, my emotions. As I seek Him with all my heart, as I put Him before everything else, He exchanges more and more.  I just ask. "Papa God I'm feeling anxious right now about something, I need Your peace", "Papa God, this situation seems pretty bad, I need Your hope and wisdom." As I seek His presence, as I rest in His company, fears evaporate, hope springs up, strength arises, joy explodes. There is nothing to compare with His presence, with hanging out with Papa God, sitting in His lap, getting loved on by the One Whose love is so perfect, so complete, so indescribable.


Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Throwback Travel Tuesday: Canyon de Chelly

Overlooking the canyon where farms operate alongside centuries-old ruins.
  We went to Chinle, AZ last Spring in mid-April on our way home. I didn't blog about it then, but I plan to catch up on some of the spectacular and fun places we visited. This is in the NE corner of Arizona on Navajo land. We enjoyed it more than the Grand Canyon. The people there are so ready to share their culture and we were able to talk to several and learn different aspects of their life. In the Visitor's Center when I asked how the name was pronounced, I got a very interesting lesson in semantics and history. It's pronounced Canyon de-SHAY and is derived from the Navajo word "tsegi" which means "rock canyon". So it means "Canyon of the rock canyon". An amusing redundancy. Also, the Navajo people call themselves the Dine (di-NEH) which means "The People". They claim that 'Navajo' is a Spaniard word for 'horse thief'. You can easily see why they would prefer their own name for themselves! However, I think they're stuck with 'Navajo' at least to outsiders.
   We stayed in the Cottonwood Campground near the Visitor's Center since there really isn't anywhere to boondock nearby. It's a beautiful place and we appreciated the services. Within walking distance is a nice little motel and gift shop and we enjoyed browsing and then talking to one of the Navajo weavers and she explained how the beautiful rugs were woven. It was fun to get that first hand. They are quite expensive, but worth every bit, I'm sure. Just not in my budget!
It was an impressive site, and well worth the hike.
Proof I made it to the "White House' ruins.
   It's free to enter the park and drive the rim drives both north and south. You're able to see quite a bit, but from a distance.There are tours with local guides which is the only way to get into the lower canyon with the exception of White House trail. We opted not to do a tour, but perhaps we will next visit. There are many families that still farm in the valley and it was amazing to us to look down and see the farms, the fences, the animals, houses, etc so near the ancient ruins of the Anasazi. We did do the White House hike, 2-1/2 miles round trip with a drop of about 800+ft. It was a great trail and they did a good job of making it reasonably gradual. We took our time and did fine. It was well worth it to get closer to the ruins. On our return and near the top we chatted with a Navajo who had some artwork he was selling. It was beautiful work and I was sorely tempted, but I contented myself with learning about his childhood living in the canyon and his grandmother who still lives and farms there.
Spider Rock, a rock climbers challenge! 
Farther up the Canyon stands Spider Rock, a spire that is a lofty 1000ft high. I asked why it's called "Spider Rock" and was told by our Navajo friend that the story is passed from the elder women to the younger women in the Hogans where the women gather. I got the sense that it would be a privilege to be allowed to know this story, so I let it go. He was so gracious and fun to talk to, and we learned many other things. He now lives 'up top' where cell phone reception is better and life is not quite so hard as it is for his grandmother. There are many enterprising and artistic Navajo who sell their wares in the parking lots or wherever tourists are likely to be stopped. Some of their work is whimsical, some quite exquisite. As much as I wanted to help support them, the question of 'where to put it' or 'how much does it weigh' keeps me from getting carried away. The rock formations are spectacular and we enjoyed our visit there very much. Even after seeing some of the more famous parks, it still remains our favorite.

Looking down at the floor of the canyon and trail near the White House Ruins.

Friday, November 23, 2018

Foodie Fridays: Thanksgiving Feast

From up on the hill, our rig is on the left next to the darker one.
We are camped at Anza-Borrego State Park near Borrego Springs with our Boondocker friends. Last year we had 90 degree weather for our Thanksgiving Potluck. This year it was more comfortable, but we had to move our potluck to Friday since Thursday had clouds and ferocious winds. Not something we want to contend with while eating outside in a large group. Today the weather was great and the meal was wonderful.

In order to do a potluck, I bring food that I can eat (and that I want to eat). Usually I'll just do a simple all-in-one dish and fill up on that. But today was special and I just wanted to make several different things and be able to share them.
I fixed:
Raw veggie tray with *cultured cream dip
green salad with honey-mustard dressing (on the side)
turkey thighs baked with turnips, carrots, onions and celery
turkey ham sliced and fried
*mashed cauliflower with flaxseed oil
*dried apple pie
*Avocado Grasshoppers
*Lemon/Orange Kombucha-Water kefir drink

It was yummy and I love all the left overs! I cooked the turkey thighs in my Sun Oven. Another reason to be thankful for a calm and sunny day! I placed the thighs on chopped carrots, turnips, celery and onions, topped it with rosemary, sage, basil, marjoram, salt and pepper. They cooked beautifully and were ready in plenty of time for the 2:00 meal. I got started around 9 am and they were done by 1:15 pm. I love using my Sun Oven here in the Southwest where I have plenty of sun and no electrical hookups. Cooking with a Sun Oven means planning ahead and taking advantage of the angle of the sun at different times of day. But well worth it to not heat up the rig or have to turn on the generator to run the convection oven. These could easily be cooked in a crock pot or Instant Pot.


Cultured cream dip is very easy if you make your own milk kefir. Just put the grains into whipping cream for a day. When it's ready, take a 1/2 cup and mix in 2 tsp dried onion, 1/4 tsp dried dill weed, salt and pepper to taste. Stir and let sit for 30 min or more. Keeps well.

Mashed Cauliflower is perhaps the easiest. I took a head of cauliflower, cut it into chunks and steamed it. When it was soft, I used my Bamix stick blender to puree it, adding a bit of the cooking water as needed, then flaxseed oil, salt and pepper. I usually use butter, but I was making it so that someone sensitive to dairy could enjoy it.

Dried apple pie: Since we have an apple tree on our lot in Olympia, I was busy drying apple slices this Fall in order to have plenty for making pies this winter. Last year I made the pie with blueberries, but I wasn't happy with the color of it. The taste was great, but I decided to just do apple this time. I didn't account for having less fruit, so it was a bit flatter than I would have liked. I'm not happy with the crust/crumble recipe I used, so I won't share that.

For the apple filling:
2-1/2 cups of dried apple slices OR 3-1/2 cups if not using blueberries
2-1/4 c water OR 3 cups if not using blueberries
1 cup blueberries (frozen are fine) OR leave out increase apple amount
1 TBSP cinnamon
small squeeze of lemon juice
1-2 TBSP honey (not sure how much, just a big glob!),
2 droppers of English Toffee Stevia
1 tsp plain gelatin (optional)

Simmer apples in water for about 30 min or until apples begin to soften, then add the other ingredients. The gelatin is to make sure it isn't runny (optional depending on how much water gets absorbed by the apples) I drained some of the extra water into a small container and mixed up the gelatin thoroughly before adding it to the mix. When everything is blended and apples are fairly soft. Pour into a crust or a pie pan and top with a crumble or crisp topping and bake. I wish I had used my favorite crisp recipe today! I used a new recipe and it was not as good. I'll have to do that recipe another time. The link to where I found it is broken.

Avocado Grasshoppers
Avocado Grasshoppers This seems to be a favorite at potlucks. I try to keep it cold and only serve it at the end as it keeps well in the freezer, but doesn't do so well when it gets warm. There are a few changes I make to this recipe, but not many.  I double the chocolate layer on top, and I use stevia for at least half of the honey called for. So for 1/4 c of honey, I use 2 TBSP honey and add 2 - 3 droppers of liquid stevia, either plain or flavored. In the chocolate, I love to use English Toffee Stevia. It gives it a lovely flavor. Click here for the original recipe.

Lemon/Orange Kombucha-Kefir. The is a lovely probiotic rich drink. I do the kombucha as well as the water kefir in my motorhome. I love to mix them together since they really enhance each other. I mix roughly half kombucha and half water kefir, with just a bit of water to tone it down (optional), add a few slices of lemon and some orange flavored stevia and you have a refreshing and delicious drink.

I hope you enjoy these recipes. Let me know if you try any of them.

Friday, November 16, 2018

Sanctified Saturdays: Musings on Fall

Musings on Fall

Colors. Change. Rain.
I love the colors of Fall. The dark green of the fir trees contrasting with the changing colors of the maples, alders, and other deciduous trees. It’s a feast for the eyes. Especially on a sunny day; the sun turning the leaves a brilliant gold or a fiery orange to contrast with the blue of the sky. Spectacular!
I love the changes that come with Fall. I like that some things stay the same, but I also love that there are changes to spice things up. Changes in weather, changes in colors, changes in daylight hours. We often don’t welcome change, but we need it! What new season is God going to take us into?
And then...
Click here to read the rest of it.....

(Note: because of our travel schedule this is being published a day early)

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Travel Tuesday "On The Road Again"

Departure Day!
My Featherweight set up in the rig.
    To most people it's known as Halloween. Yeah, clearly we're not 'most people'! Pulling out of Olympia was a bit harder this year since we've made so many good friends here. In Canby, OR, we parked at our friend's place.  Last year while parked there, there were no trick-or-treaters all night, but this year they ran out of candy! Fortunately, they ran out of kids at the same time. Or maybe turning off the lights helped....!
     We went on to Albany the next day to park in front of my sister Sue's house where she taught me all the steps to oiling my Featherweight Singer Sewing Machine. I haven't used it a whole lot, but it did need the oil and I was glad to get that done and learn of all the places the oil goes. Modern machines make this unnecessary, but I love the dependability of the vintage machine! Plus they're cute.
Hobbit House designed and built by my nephew-in-law.
    My other sister, Judy,  came on Saturday morning and we had a gab-fest catching up on everything. I played my songs for them and we sang them together which was a huge treat for me! Love those harmonies, love singing with my sisters. Blessing on blessing.

    There are only a couple of places we can park a rig this size, but my niece's driveway is a pretty nice landing pad and we moved there on Saturday. From there we were able to visit my other niece next door, and drive up to Salem to visit other members of the family. On Sunday morning we had a mini family reunion at Gateway Foursquare Church in South Salem. It was a great service and fun to share with a good dozen family members, 3 of which were littles previously not seen in the flesh. Love Facebook for helping me keep up!
     We got to see my Dad on Monday. As soon as he saw us he said "You've just made my day!", a very fun start to the visit. Having my brother Dave join us made it even better. He had some questions for Dad and pictures of his 'project house' and the ladder firetruck he bought off Craigslist. He got it for dealing with 4th story siding, also helpful for trimming trees. It was good to see that my brother is doing well and staying stable and that Dad is better than the last time I saw him. At 92, he's doing pretty good!
Jerry wearing one of Dad's "Hooton Electric" hats from when he had that business.
    Wednesday we said our goodbyes and headed out. We did a fairly short hop to Canyonville, OR  where we stayed at the Rest Area overnight. We got up early to head over the Siskyous. It was such a beautiful drive and by 10am we were seeing blue sky after the fog had lifted. No snow, yet, but there was plenty of frost in the passes. We arrived in the early afternoon in Redding, CA where we plan to spend the next 4 days attending different services at Bethel Church. More about that adventure later. We were glad to be north of the big fires with a north wind keeping the air fresh. But our hearts went out to those who lost everything and to the whole town of Paradise that is now anything but. The town of Redding knows very well what they are going through and plans for help were under way.

Friday, November 2, 2018

Foodie Friday: Favorite Morning Tea

My morning drink. Ah!
       Recently I was in a group setting with my morning tea along. Someone asked what it was. I explained that it was my morning tea; not actually a tea but an infusion of herbs I consider my herbal multivitamin. She wanted to know what I put it in and I thought this would be a good blog post. I like being able to get my nutrients from foods whenever possible. Herbs are more nutrient dense than many foods and an infusion is a great way to get those nutrients. Different herbs do different things, so it's nice to have a mix.
      I first started doing just nettle and peppermint first thing in the morning. A very nurturing and friendly start to the day. Then I read in a herbal Facebook group what some others were drinking and decided I wanted to up my game a bit! I had started with just tea bags, one each of nettle and peppermint. Then I started to do loose leaf, which is more economical. Then I added chopped stevia leaf, which is much better for you than the extract. Whenever you can get something in its whole form, you are getting a superior version as far as how your body uses it.
Pouring in 1/4 cup of herbs.
      By doing this recipe in units instead of cups, it's easier to make whatever quantity you prefer. I usually use a 1/2 cup measure, so I measure out 2 of nettle, 1 or peppermint, and so on. When it comes to the 3/4 of stevia, I just make my best estimate. My herbs are all dried and I either get them locally when I'm in the Olympia area, or I order them from Mountain Rose Herbs. Those marked "optional" I use sometimes. Those marked "driver" are important to include since they help the body assimilate the other herbs.

2 nettle
1 peppermint   (driver)
1 red raspberry leaf
1 dandelion leaf
1 horsetail
1 oatstraw
1 alfalfa
1 lemon grass
3/4 stevia leaf (not ground)
1/2 habiscus (optional)
1/2 orange peel (optional, driver)

Soaking overnight. 
Straining the herbs in the a.m.
       I mix this all up in a big bowl, then once it's stirred really well I put in into a container. I scoop out 1/4 cup into a jar before I go to bed and pour hot, but not boiling, water in the jar. I put a lid on it and in the morning I use a small strainer to strain out the leaves. Sometimes I top off my drinking jar with hot water to warm it up. This is so yummy and body friendly. I love to start my day with this.
      If you want to know how each herb is used, what its benefits are, you can look them up pretty easily. Here is one of many resources:  Herbie's Herbs. If you click on the individual herb, it takes you to a page that explains the herb and allows you to purchase it as well. I actually like to buy mine from Mountain Rose Herbs and they also have explanations, although perhaps not as much detail. It's always good to check more than one resource to get a more rounded view.

Saturday, October 27, 2018

Sanctified Saturdays: Childlike Trust in God's Love

For my first Sanctified Saturday post, I'd like to share the post that recently ran on our Church's Blog (Restoration Church) that I wrote several weeks ago. I've been doing more writing lately, and was encouraged to submit it to the church blog and was accepted as a regular contributor! Sometimes what's in my heart just has to get out on 'paper' or into a document. And then it must be shared!

Childlike Trust in God's Love

My almost 2 year old grandchild captured my imagination with her beautiful dependence on her Mama. There was a house full of people and several times she felt a bit overwhelmed, so she just got closer to her Mama. When Mama went into the bathroom, she plastered her face against the door and called "Mama? Mama?". And when we were praying over her Mama, she planted her face in Mama's lap, pressing in, in a beautiful picture of serene dependence. Even when eating and taking on foods she couldn't chew and spitting it out and creating a mess, she knew she was loved and safe........
click here for the rest of the story!

Thank you for coming on this journey with me. If you want to subscribe to my posts, find the "Follow by Email" on the right side and enter your email address. Have a blessed day!

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

"Travel Tuesday" and changes coming

My peony dressed up for Fall.
You may have noticed a lack of posts lately. I got behind and couldn't figure out how to 'catch up' on our travels, so I didn't post. But now I'm ready to start blogging again, this time with some changes. I want to add a bit of diversity. What had started as primarily a travel blog for family has become a resource for teaching fermenting. To add to the mix I want to include musings of my spiritual journey. I hope you'll want to join me on this journey as well.

This is the format I'm going to work with:
"Travel Tuesdays" where I write about our travels, thoughts about our travels, or catch up on those I missed--we saw some awesome places last Spring that I still want to post.
 "Foodie Fridays" where I talk about recipes, fermenting ideas and experiences, and other food related topics.
"Sanctified Saturdays" will be about my Big God Adventure as I learn more about pressing into the great big heart of Father God, learning more of His ways and seeing where He leads me.

   RIght now, travel preparations are under way to prepare for 6 months of absence from the Lacey area. It's been a beautiful Fall here and I've enjoyed watching the leaves turn. It seems to be colder, sooner, and even though I enjoy my brisk walks, I'm starting to look forward to wearing my summer type clothes, especially sandals!
   This summer we emptied our our storage unit and purged more of our stuff. I am nearing my goal of making my shed functional even with all the stuff I've kept. I used our 'Harbor Freight' garage as a sorting and purging station for all the boxes and tubs of stuff. While we are gone the van is stored in there, so it's been a race with time to get it all done before we leave. But now it's done with time to spare and I'm doing a happy dance! 
   This past week we took the motorhome in to have the engine looked at because we'd had some problems on our return trip. It turned out to be an oxygen sensor, which we suspected. They took good care of us, but they had to keep it over night to finish fixing it. So we made up beds on the floor of the shed. I did some final purging and stacking to make room, but it's all in there and we still had room to sleep and eat!. I cooked on the BBQ on the deck and used our fridge in the "Costco garage".  We had decided it was a good time to defrost the RV fridge, so all our food was in there. Not terribly convenient running here and there, but it worked and we felt like we were really camping! I'd have been more comfortable wearing my only warm coat that I'd left at my daughter's the previous weekend! Waking up to temps in the 40s and 100% humidity made for some interesting challenges; besides the bone-chilling damp cold, all the tables and dishes on the deck were covered in heavy dew. I washed dishes the night before and left them to dry in the drainer. Odd to wake up and find them wetter than the night before! But I managed fine, and when you're camping, pancakes and bacon hit the spot, so it was worth it! 
Hostas sporting their best Fall colors.
   With only about a week left, it't time to put away the deck chairs, make sure everything is ready for winter, and do the last minute checks. Did we get it all? Did we stock up on what we needed? Did we purge enough stuff from the motorhome? Did we sort through everything we want to take? Jerry is so good with lists; I have good intentions that often fall short! First you have to get it ON the list, then you have to read the list without skipping any lines! Both present challenges for this random thinker! I rely heavily on visual cues: Does it look as it should? Is anything left out?  Sometimes my visual cues don't get me where I need to go, so I rely on The List Maker to double-check me. We make a good team, and I'm thankful for his sequential and methodical self. We don't have a specific day to depart, but my next Travel Tuesday could very well be on Departure Day! Wahoo!

Saturday, June 2, 2018

Fermenting Fun

Showing how fermented salsa is made. Lots to sample!
Friends gathering to taste while I concentrate on a question.
Today at our 'Home Base' in Olympia, WA, I taught another class on fermented foods and their wonderful benefits. I love teaching these classes! Over the winter I did three of them in our travels and it's so much fun to meet up with people again and hear of their successes and the benefits these foods have brought them. I love it that eating live foods brings life to the body. I love sharing this knowledge that I've learned over the years in hunting for answers to my health challenges. To see the lights go on as someone 'gets it' is pure joy! I have long been accustomed to being the odd one who doesn't eat like everyone else. I don't make a big deal out of it, it's just part of my journey. The benefits by FAR outweigh the crazy comments, sidelong looks and no food I want to put in my body at a potluck. I just bring my own food, smile at the looks and joke about being an oddball! So it's a delightful surprise when I encounter people who want to learn about what I do and why I do it, and best of all to embrace it and head off on their own journey of health and a happier gut.
  The microbiome is getting to be quite a buzzword these days. That's the name given to the trillions of microbe friends that live on and in you. They outnumber the cells of your body 10:1! They are super important and do more than was ever suspected. When I first learned about it about 5 years ago after doing the GAPS Diet (which made a huge difference for me--it's a way of healing your gut) you didn't really hear about it. I did find some great books talking about the research on the microbiome and the importance of nurturing my gut microbe friends. (See the list on my Class Notes page). Now that I eat to keep them happy, they return the favor by keeping me healthy and happy. And, yes, keeping your gut happy is more effective than antidepressants.

Monday, January 1, 2018

December adventures

My felt Christmas tree hanging. Easy storage! It even has lights.
After Thanksgiving we stayed at Tamarisk LTVA which is near Holtville, CA and the Mexican border. We saw a lot of Border Patrol activity. Then on to KOFA Ko-op SKP Park in Yuma where I spent some fun time with the Crafter group making a felt Christmas tree for the rig. Some of the ladies were so impressed that they wanted a pattern. Pattern? I wasn't really using one, so I made one up. I sure enjoyed being able to use a large table there to work on it. Jerry especially enjoyed the hot tub.
I didn't have any Christmas earrings, so I made some from the leftovers of the tree project.
Our White Elephant gifts decorated with paper plates and red paper.
  Then we were off to Ogilby Road to meet up with the Boondocker group for Christmas. We had a good sized group, a fun White Elephant gift exchange and a great potluck. I was very touched by several of the ladies coming and consulting with me to make sure they were making something I could eat! I found that with having my class on "Intro to Ferments" and telling my story of how I got into this and why, there has been much more acceptance of my different way of eating. So nice to have the support! I know that eating the way I do makes such a difference in how I feel, but it's a bit of a shock to others who have never considered eating any way other than what they always have. It's interesting to observe that those around me are influenced to eat better and more mindfully even though I'm not trying to push this on anyone. I just do my thing and share with those ready to hear about better choices. People have to be ready for that kind of change. I know I sure didn't get here over night!

Sunday, December 3, 2017

Borrego Springs and Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving potluck with Bud Brown singing to us.
Chicken drumsticks and veggies cooking.
The three groaning tables of food at Borrego Springs, CA where the Boondockers gathered for Thanksgiving soon had us all groaning from eating too much! I think we had about 40 people for our potluck. It was a great turnout and it was fun to meet some new people. It was very hot that day (88 or 90) and we were all looking to get into the shade. Just to the right of center you can see Bud playing his guitar for us as we ate. He's very good and we really enjoyed it.  We had so much food, we decided to meet again the next day for leftovers. There was plenty to eat!.
    I found out there were others coming that were eating gluten and dairy free, so I contributed gluten-free brownies and pumpkin muffins cooked in my Sun Oven the day before. I also made a dried apple pie made from my own apples with blueberries and a date & nut crust. It was nice to have others to appreciate my way of cooking! On Thanksgiving day I cooked 4 turkey thighs in my Sun Oven and then made some mashed cauliflower to go with it. I wanted to make sure there was plenty of dark meat!
   We were at Borrego Springs for about 2 weeks. We took hikes, went into town and visited the grocery store, the library, and a thrift store. The library always has great books for their Friends of the Library sale and we stocked up! We're ready to read and trade. With the internet so pathetic, we had plenty of time to read those books! We got plenty of bars for both phone and hotspot, but the bandwidth was seriously overloaded. It got slightly better when the holiday crowd left, but not by much. I wasn't able to do anything with my blog, and for phone calls I had to walk or drive up the road a bit to be able to talk without the call dropping.

Wire basket I made at Borrego Springs
   During Happy Hour when we all gather to catch up on things, I was busy working on a new project. I like to keep my hands busy while we all talk. I didn't count how many days I worked on it, but it kept me busy through several Happy Hours and I'm pleased with the results. This wire basket is only about 4" across and about 6" high to the top of the hummingbird. It's now holding our collection of small flashlights near the door. It was great fun to do. Already my busy brain is thinking of how I would do it differently next time. I was reading an article about people who can't visualize pictures in their minds. That's very different from my mind which is popping up with pictures all the time! I get flashes of ideas and if I grab them, I can design things in my head before I even start. But usually I just have a general idea and then I'm off and running to see where it takes me. I'm not really a production type of person. I like the challenge of figuring out how to do things. We had at least one day where we all got together and worked on our projects, beading or jewelry or whatever. I love getting together with other creative people because it really inspires me. It also helps me figure out something if I get stuck. I love learning from others. This is such a fun life to live!
Rock snake up on the hill made by someone years ago, the head is a triangular rock and it's pretty long!

Hiking buddies with the snake in the background and the beautiful hills in the background.

Julie, Pauline, Karen and Rod on our hike. Some of these guys can walk fast!

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Sunshine and friends

Boondocking area of Jojoba Hills SKP Park.
  One of the joys of traveling south is to meet up with friends we've made along the way. We are at Jojoba Hills SKP Park in Aguanga, CA and I finally feel like we've 'arrived' in the Southwest! No more Casino camping until our return. We love visiting this place and these people and enjoying the amenities and many activities.
   We went to church on Sunday at the Chapel in a neighboring RV community and it was a great experience. Songs we knew, friendly people, good teaching from the Word of God. And we got to ride over in an old restored trolley! I wish I'd gotten a picture of it, but I didn't even think of it at the time. In the afternoon I joined the Zumba Gold class and really got a workout!
Roasted drumsticks and pumpkin cheesecake cooked in the Sun Oven. Yum!
Roses from Diana Ruelen's garden.
    Now that we're where the sun shines and not in a parking lot I can finally get out my Sun Oven and do some solar cooking. Since the sun goes down so early (whose bright idea is this 'daylight's savings time' anyway?!) I have to get things going pretty early in the day. I made chicken drumsticks and veggies, then wrapped the pot in a wool blanket while I baked pumpkin cheesecake. Yum! We ate dinner a bit earlier than usual, but I didn't mind one bit! Then we went off for a walk, ending up at the Clubhouse. I got pulled into playing Hand and Foot (not at all hard!), but Jerry managed to sneak out. He's not a fan, and that's OK. He has enjoyed jogging the hilly streets around Jojoba as well as relaxing in the hot tub--when he's not puttering around checking or fixing things on the motorhome.
   We have taken advantage of the great shopping in Temecula, so we're all stocked up and ready for the desert. My freezer is packed! I've made more fermented salsa and Curtido, as well as water kefir, milk kefir and kombucha. Travels with my ferment-friends keeps me going. And I love to share these with anyone interested.
   All too soon our visit here is over. A week here just isn't enough time to do all we want to do and see all the people we want to see. But we made the most of our time here and we saw those we wanted to the most. Now off to another lovely place.
2 jars of Curtido and one of fermented salsa. Yumminess!

Amazing Sculptures

Let me check your teeth.....
El Zorro!

When we were in Borrego Springs a couple of years ago, we went around to look at all the amazing sculptures that are around town. These sculptures are the work of artist Ricardo Breceda. We were delighted to find that he has his place just a little ways down the road from Jojoba Hills in Aguanga, CA. Even though we weren't going to be around for his open house on the weekend, we stopped by to look at the row upon row of amazing metal sculptures. It was fun to be able to meet him in person and I got a picture with him, too! There is such a fun element of whimsy to them and it was fun to wander around and look at them. He is not only the sculptor, but the designer and as he told me, he has help making all of them. I was glad to hear that since I was astonished at how many there were. If one horse takes 3 weeks to make, the amount of time represented was a bit mind boggling!
Selfie in front of the Stagecoach that's near the road. There are even passengers!

Panning for gold, he's managed to collect a number of different coins.

This Mariachi trio is quite brilliant.

I was tempted by several of these smaller wall sculptures. Everything here is for sale, but no price tags!

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Of meals and eating

By the time we get to Tachi Palace Casino in Lemoore, CA, we're ready for a couple days to rest up. By last night, I'd rested up enough to make a fun dinner. I had all the ingredients and since running the generator is no problem here, I was able to bake a pizza. Yes, grain-free and healthy! I used the crust recipe from Wheat Belly Cookbook (which I would love to share, but that would be stealing). Suffice it to say that is uses almond flour, coconut flour, ground flax, an egg and 1/2 c cheese to hold it together. It's quite filling and we find we can only eat half the pizza at a time. So, leftovers! Yay! I used dried tomato powder reconstituted and with Italian herbs, pepper and fennel added. No waisted 1/2 can of tomato paste! I love the Trader Joe's Chicken Spicy Italian Sausage since it's one of the few without garlic and has decent ingredients. I sliced up the frozen sausages, sauteed them with the onions and added olives and organic mozerella cheese for the toppings. Totally satisfying.
  I often get asked "But what do you eat?!" when people find out I don't eat grains, processed foods, corn, soy or garlic. Well, there's meat and veggies, for starters. Have you even just stood in the produce department and noticed how many different vegetables there are? With meat, we're usually limited to a few varieties of fish, pork, beef or chicken. Not a huge variety there. For grains there's usually wheat. No variety there. Of course if you go gluten free there are the various mixes of rice, almond, millet, quinoa, amaranth, coconut, and teff flours. Variety, but still not huge. But veggies, now there you can find all colors, flavors, and textures. There is so much variety that you can eat a different mix of veggies every meal for a week and still not duplicate. So it just makes sense that focusing on veggies and the nutrients, colors and variety they offer with enrich your eating and well being. I have come by the moniker "The Vegetable Lady" for obvious reasons!
  Healthy fats are another key thing that are so satisfying. Because fats take longer to digest, they keep you from feeling hungry longer. I've been pursuing the healthiest way for me to eat for a long time, and some of those methods left me pacing the kitchen trying to figure out what I could possibly eat that wouldn't cause me problems. I no longer do that. Healthy fats include butter, coconut oil, olive oil, hemp seed oil, avocado oil, flax oil, avocados, nuts and seeds. Unhealthy fats are vegetable fats cooked at high temperature, hydrogenated fats and rancid fats. Corn oil, canola oil and shortening are not good for bodies. The best info on fats I've found is in "Eat Fat, Get Thin" by Dr Hyman. I know there is a lot of conflicting information out there about fats, and he takes you by the hand and walks through the research to sort it out and make sense of it. Worth the read.
 A few weeks ago I took a picture of a typical dinner for us that I'll throw in as a bonus! Large green salad with shredded cabbage, mixed greens, cilantro, avocado, tomato and topped with live sauerkraut and flax oil. Next is steamed veggie mix of carrot, broccoli and cauliflower with melted butter. Mahi Mahi cooked with sauteed mushrooms on top completes it. Often for my desert, if I'm wanting something, it's kefir-cultured cream with English Toffee flavored stevia, cocoa powder creamed together and then some almond butter added. Topped with chopped nuts, it's pretty decadent and satisfying. We certainly aren't suffering any with our healthy and tasty food.