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.

Thursday, November 2, 2017

On the Road Again!

Fun gift and perfect for the road.
    After several months at our summer home in Olympia, we have put away the deck furniture, battened down the hatches, and hit the road. This will be the first time to leave so soon, and we don't expect to return until May when the weather get nicer. I've really enjoyed the Fall weather which has mostly been beautiful, but I'm happy to be back on the road and headed for the desert and the many friends we've made on our travels. Before we left, we had a Holiday Celebration, rolling them all together; giving gifts, and eating until we were stuffed! And all before Halloween. Crazy! But efficient. I love the tea towel I got from my daughter; it says it all!

Looking out their kitchen window to our parking space, home for one night. 

Dad is 91 and hanging in there!
My sisters, Judy and Sue sharing pics at Dad's place.
    Our first stop was in Canby, OR to visit some dear friends we've know for decades. It was handy to be able to park right across the street from their house in the field they own. We had a good visit and the next morning it was on to Albany and sister Sue's place. As soon as we got parked on the street across from her house, we took off for Turner to go visit my Dad, with sister Judy meeting us there. It was fun to gather there and visit with Dad. He was greatly cheered up by our visit. After relaxing for the evening, we were off to bed early and then up before dawn the next day so we could get over the Siskiyou Mountains before the coming storm made our trip difficult. We had thought to spend a couple of days in the area, but the weather changed our plans and added some urgency to our departure. Thankfully, we only encountered a few sprinkles and had a good trip. Stopping several times for breakfast, potty breaks and walking helped to keep us from getting too tired. But now, settled in for the night in Corning, CA, we are glad to no longer to moving, and to be able to relax a bit before another day of travel.
    Dinner was a green salad with avocados, steamed California Blend frozen veggies (appropriate!) with  and beef heart previously cooked, sliced and frozen and put in the steamer with the veggies. Yum! Top that off with Bubbies live sauerkraut and my homemade Curtido fermented cabbage mix and you have a delicious dinner. Desert you say? But of course: kefir cream with toffee flavored stevia, cocoa powder and nuts. I may have to cook all my food, but we're definitely not suffering.

Sunday, April 30, 2017

Lava Beds National Monument

The smallest entrance we did, but worth it. 
Sunshine Cave.
    While looking for a new route home that didn't involve I-5 any sooner than necessary, we discovered the Lava Beds National Monument and thought it would be fun to explore. Have I mentioned how much I love Google Maps? Well I have 'visited' many places via Google Maps and it's an invaluable tool when planning a route since I can zoom in a see if a motorhome of our size can actually get into that gas station, a parking lot at a grocery store, or where is that turn-off-- really?--so we don't have to unhitch to turn around. A fair amount of preplanning takes place before each leg of a trip and it has prevented several problems and revealed some real gems along the way. Lava Beds was a real gem as was the RV Park where we stayed. Tionesta, CA is a tiny collection of less than 20 homes and 2 RV parks. The first one you come to (Hawk's Nest) has several small cabins that can be rented and it's a cute and well kept place. At the end of the road is the one I had chosen (Eagle's Nest) and it turned out to be a win; free Wi-Fi, great phone reception, grass and friendly and helpful hosts. We splurged and got full hookups for the 3 nights we were there since the night time temps got down to freezing and below.
Headache Rock: thankful for those hard hats!
    After a visit to the Visitor's Center, we checked out several nearby caves. At the last one we went in, I twisted my ankle a bit, so we curtailed our tromping around. After putting some Arnica and other herbs on it and resting and elevating it, the next morning we checked out a cave our hosts told us about. It turned out to be a really fun cave, once you got past the opening! The bottom was sandy and not as rugged as some of the other caves.
Glittery ceiling, colorful and fascinating.
    Our hosts provided hard hats for spelunking and we each had a hat light as well as a hand held one. Being well equipped helped and after seeing other people who we not, we were thankful. It's amazing how much each cave differed. In "Golden Cave" there is an abundance of a bacteria that creates a golden (and sometimes silver) sparkle. To look up on the ceiling and see what looks like an explosion of glitter was pretty fun. Some caves had craggy, rocky ceilings and rough floors. Some were damp, some dry. Some more smooth and others with broken areas that let in the sunshine after a hundred feet or so. Some fairly level and some that went way down deep. Some you could stand up straight with high ceilings, some had sections you had to crab walk through or crawl. The caves are rated so you have an idea of what you're getting into and we skipped the more difficult ones. I'm sure hard core spelunkers would have a great time in those and we left them to it!
  Before we left, we drove all around the Monument and encountered many different terrains, lava flows and rocky outcrops. We couldn't see it all since some of it was still under a blanket of snow, but we were satisfied with what we saw.  It's a fascinating place and one we'd enjoy returning to some day.

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Meandering Homeward

South of Wickenberg, a BLM spot to overnight.
Since it is late April and warm enough to do so, we are heading homeward east of the Sierras. The two years before, it was cold enough in late March to be concerned about snow, so we stuck to I-5. This year we get to see some new scenery. But it also means we have to hunt out new places to stay.
Overlooking Kingman, AZ on BLM land again.
  Our first night after leaving Tucson was spent at a BLM spot outside of Wickenberg. What a beautiful view we had there! Then it was on to Kingman where we found another BLM spot up in the foothills that overlooked the valley. Another gorgeous view and for free.
  As we headed north and westward, we passed Las Vegas and I got some pictures of the high rises. We didn't stop, but went on to Pahrump where we stayed at the Escapees Pair-O-Dice Park to see what it was like. Pretty quiet, but we enjoyed our walks around the park. The scenery is beautiful, surrounded by mountains. It was nice to take a few days to rest, do laundry and stock up on groceries.
Flowers at the Kingman overlook.
Rock formation along the way.
Amazing rocks near the Hoover Dam; we didn't stop.
  We had one day where the wind was pretty intense, and looking at the forecast we debated where to land and when to drive there. Jerry woke up early with hitch-itch and I woke up to the sensation of the truck getting hooked up! So up I got and we got all travel ready and off down the road just after 7am. For us that's pretty early, but sometimes we like to do that on travel days. Especially when the wind picks up in the afternoon. Driving and dealing with the wind is not fun. Our first stop at a rest stop just west of Tonopah turned out to be a great place to park head into the wind and wait it out.
North towards Las Vegas, the road turns West to bypass it.
  We left early the next morning as well, getting on the road before anyone else (I think a first for us!) and getting on the road before 7am. When we leave early, I make Bullet Proof Coffee and my porridge and we take off. We eat breakfast somewhere along the way, although breakfast on Wednesday wasn't until we arrived at the rest area around noon! I'm glad I had my snacks because Jerry can go much longer than I can without food.
  Tonight we are staying in Fernley, and when we head out tomorrow we'll head for Tionesta an RV park there near the Lava Beds National Monument.

Bypassing Las Vegas, we headed through this beautiful pass to Pahrump.

At Pair-O-Dice park in Pahrump surrounded by mountains.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Tucson camping

sunset turning the Catalina mountains to pink.
After leaving Phoenix, we went back to Tucson and stayed at Catalina State Park for a few days. Jerry's friend and one-time next door neighbor from gradeschool is living part of the year in Oro Valley, and we wanted to spend a bit more time with he and his wife and see his house. Just before we left Phoenix, the truck started acting up and even though Jerry replaced the cap and rotor, it still wasn't running smoothly. We decided to go ahead and go to Tucson and see about getting it fixed there. We're getting pretty good at finding decent repair places! We love the online reviews. They help quite a bit. We got it fixed at Oro Valley Automotive. They were quick and it runs great now.

Our campsite at this beautiful park.
    In the park we saw a couple of Roadrunner birds, a couple of Jack rabbits--such long ears!--and some small rodents that make a funny clicking/squeaking sound, pound their feet and nibble on the grasses. We took several walks around the campground enjoying the view and checking out the different RVs that were there. We enjoyed the shore power and the AC while we were there as temps got into the low 90s.

  Not only did Neil  and his wife Tammy feed us dinner twice, but they encouraged us to swim in their backyard pool, and they loaned us one of their cars while we had repairs done, It was a fun visit, even the adventure of trying to catch the gecko that their cat had brought inside! They are fast little critters.

From Tucson, we begin our meaderings back to Olympia, WA. Although we are not really in a hurry to get back to the rain, we have some tabs to deal with on our vehicles which gives us a date to aim for. Plus we have things on our lot we want to work on and family to see. We are taking a different route northward this time, so it will be interesting to see the differences.

Saturday, April 8, 2017

Traipsing off to Page, AZ

snow capped mountains near Flagstaff, AZ
While the roof was being repaired, we enjoyed spending the time with my friend Ruth and her new husband Tim. We 'moved in' for 2-1/2 weeks and had a great time. The second week we were there we went on a road trip to Page, AZ. What a beautiful place! It's about a 4 hour drive and our phone cameras were busy. We discovered that we had no way to recharge our phone enroute, so that put a bit of a damper on it. It was a fun surprise to pass snow along the way.
Wahweap overlook of Lake Powell

 We were able to get a 'room' which was like a small 2 bedroom apartment with a full kitchen for a very reasonable price. The owner of the Red Rock Motel was very helpful in pointing out places of interest around Page. We made it to the Wahweap Lookout just as the sun was setting, and it was gorgeous! 360 degree views and fascinating rock formations all around. But the wind was cold, so we didn't linger.
    The next morning we went on a tour of the Glen Canyon dam which was quite interesting. The town of Page essentially grew up around the people who came to build the dam.

With so much to do here, it seems that only 2 nights is not enough time. Next time a week! I really want to do the raft trip that starts at the base of the dam and goes to Horseshoe Bend and back. It's hard to see in the picture, but there are blue rafts in the river.
Jerry and Ruth coming through the slot canyon,

Ruth coming up the ancient aluminum ladder!
Tim climbing up to the rock formations.

This shows the scale of Cathedral Canyon.
The Four Sisters rock formation, a part of our tour.
Ruth had especially wanted to see Antelope Canyon, the most famous of the red rock canyons, but tours were booked out weeks in advance. I think the tour we took to Cathedral Canyon and to see a couple of other rock formations in a group of 7 was much better than dealing with the crowds in Antelope Canyon which can be as many as 200! It was a fun tour and well worth the time and money to see it. We had a 4-wheel ride in to see it on sandy roads which just added to the fun.
Panoramic view of Horseshoe Bend, just south of Page, AZ
When we headed back the next day, we stopped at Horseshoe Bend and hiked the 3/4 mile to the rim. It was pretty amazing to see in person and there were lots of people there. I heard all kinds of languages, and people came from many different countries: China, Japan, Australia, England, Mexico, France, Germany, etc. were some that I identified.
Selfie at Midgley Bridge in front of Oak Creek as it flows towards Sedona, AZ
    What a fun road trip and a great way to spend my birthday.
    But wait, there's more! Not only did I get to spend my birthday with Ruth, but when we got back to Phoenix, she had a dinner party for me. She invited a couple of friends over and after a yummy dinner and candles in gluten free cupcakes, we played games. She even got me a dozen red roses! 
   But wait, there's even more! My cousin Stephanie was able to come from Deming, NM. I haven't seem her for over 30 years and it seemed as if we just picked up where we left off--but with quite a bit to catch up on! The next day we went and had pedicures and manicures together for a fun girly time. Next year it's on my "must-do list" to go to Deming to visit with her and her family.