Saturday, February 6, 2016

Raw Date Fudge on Saturday

 Allow my to introduce you ...


Raw date fudge...meet the hungry. Hungry...meet date fudge. 
You belong together.
I wish I could take the credit for coming up with this chocolaty, peanut butter concoction,
but alas...
I can not. I can take the credit for trying something different. Taking a chance did not disappoint.
Here's a tutorial - takes four simple ingredients and a little elbow grease.


It's yummy by itself but I took it a heavenly step further by blending up some frozen bananas and berries, added a little vanilla extract and then stirred in bits of the fudge. Joy in a mug. Raw Vegan ice cream ... delish. We had it for dinner.


As for the leftover bits ... they would have kept well in the fridge in an airtight container. But after making myself a cup of golden milk nothing would do but to roll the fudge in bits of coconut for an evening treat. I think I had four pieces...but who's counting?

Happy Weekend Friends.

P.S. I made my golden milk with unsweetened almond milk...just as yummy.

“Saturday mornings, I’ve learned, are a great opportunity for kids to sneak into your bed, fall back asleep, and kick you in the face.” 
― Dan PearceSingle Dad Laughing

Thursday, February 4, 2016

7 Steps To a More Beautiful Life

1.
Love all life. 
Cherish every single life, no exceptions.
Love people without judgment. Love the poor, love the rich, love the unkind and the kind. Love.
Love the trees...love the flowers...see the worth in animals. 
Watch the bumble bees and be grateful for their hard work...if it wasn't for them we wouldn't have apple blossoms or sticky sweet honey. Spring would be empty and lifeless if it wasn't for their diligence.  Listen to the bird's sweet, haunting calls to each other. Remember that God sees the sparrow and takes notice of them and cares for them - live this way. Life is a gift. 
Love all life.


2.
See Art Intentionally.
When you look at the sky don't just see blue. See an ocean. See depth. Notice the shadows of the clouds. See color. Look at a tree and pretend you are taking a mental picture of it ... frame the branches. Seeing art nurtures gratitude and makes us more aware of perception. Seeing art can help you grow. Seeing art can make one flexible.


3.
Do it Today.
There are a lot of things in my life I want to try. Yes...not everything can be done today. If I wanted to skydive...I couldn't just call a taxi and have them tote me off to some field where an airplane and instructor would be waiting. Maybe I can't actually jump today, but I can plan the jump. I can prepare for the jump. Maybe I can't take a painting class today but I can still paint. Will it be perfect and will I know what I'm doing? Probably not. But I can try. I can't play a piano today because I don't own one, but I can start teaching myself to read music...I can watch tutorials online. I can listen to beautiful pieces on the radio. Maybe you can't leave the kids and go for a long jog ... can you dance in the living room with them and get your heart rate up? Do it today. Don't wait. 


4.
Say Thank You.
When something good comes your way, have gratitude. If you happen to be driving down the road and you see an accident in the other lane, thank God that you are okay (maybe say a prayer for the ones involved.) If your electricity bill is lower this month...say thank you. Any good thing that comes in life...whether it be a warm meal or a great deal on something you've been wanting ... say thank you. This simple act will instill gratitude and will change your thinking ... things that you use to take for granted will become gifts. 
Everyone likes presents ... why not give them to yourself everyday?


5.
Start rituals.
Light candles...have a favorite scent. I love to put lavender in my diffuser at night. Zen Radio is my favorite station on Pandora - as soon as I push play I start to feel calm. Wash your face in the evenings ... take care of your skin. Take time to really care for your teeth ...actually floss. Establishing rituals helps you to take better care of yourself and yours...it signals the brain that you belong. Rituals bring structure. In a busy world, structure in our homes is essential.


6.
Appreciate Simple
Rice and beans, cucumbers with a little dill, slices of tomato sprinkled with salt. Simple. Your body understands simple ... it loves to know what it's dealing with. When you eat an apple your cells clap and cheer because they know exactly where to send those nutrients. When you squeeze some fresh lemon into water or grate some ginger into a tea you reap the benefits not only from the complex SIMPLE nutrients but also from the natural oils. Using ingredients that take no prep except maybe to peel or to slice frees you up to do other things, it costs less money generally speaking, and it instills in you gratitude for the things that were made perfectly by the Creator. 


7.
Love You.
Maybe those two words bother you...maybe you find them selfish. I know, I know "but we are suppose to focus on others, not ourselves. We are to live selflessly." Yes and yes again. However, you will never be able to love others if you can't love yourself. If you are critical of you, you will naturally be critical of others. If you see your flaws, you will see all of theirs. 
For me, looking in the mirror and loving what I see is a challenge. Looking inside and loving what is represented in my soul can be a challenge. But when I really stop and dissect who I am as a person...I'm kind, I'm nurturing ... I can be funny. I have strong legs and freckles on my shoulders. Today I found a freckle in my eye...right below my iris and I felt special, different. There are things about me that are lovable, that are valuable. 
 There are always things you can love about yourself. If it's a foreign concept for you ... start by saying things like "thank you for my eyes that can see " and "I have strong arms that can carry my sweet baby" or "my hair shines in the sun." Start noticing simple things about yourself...then be thankful for them and start loving them. Love yourself as the One that made you does. 


“whatever you do
be gentle with yourself.
you don’t just live
in this world
or your home
or your skin.
you also live
in someone’s eyes.” 
― Sanober Khan

Thursday : Recipe Edition *Vegan Coconut Curry Alfredo*

Here's the situation ... sometimes comfort food is a must.
Sometimes there is no other option except to stuff our faces with creamy carbs.
Most people these days think that carbs are the devil ... they should be cast into a lake of fire and never again rear their complex soluble little heads. 
I am not one of these people. I have options.
You can have options too ... no guilt involved. 
Food should be pleasurable. Food should be tasty. Food should nourish our bodies. Food should spread love. Food should fill our bellies with warmth and gratitude. Food should be shared with family and friends and given to the hungry. 
Allow me to introduce you to one meal that can do all of the above.
Without further ado...I bring you my very own:

Coconut Curry Alfredo



This meal was invented when my kids were wanting some mac and cheese. I didn't want to feed them dairy, and vegan boxed mac and cheese isn't exactly budget friendly when you are a family of six. I broke down the components of mac and cheese - noodles, yellow, creamy. 

This is the point where I introduce you to my magical yellow ingredients. They are dye free. They do not make children spin or bang their heads on the wall. They do heal the body of inflammation and also they warm the blood (great for our current blizzard like conditions.) 
Curry and Turmeric 
Mix in a can of coconut milk, a little garlic powder and some sea salt and you have kid approved, stick to your ribs good fat, a creamy (cheap) golden concoction. 

~ Here's what I do ~

Cook some noodles (currently I'm using the ronzoni whole wheat brand because it's GMO free and we no longer are going gluten free.) I cook my noodles until al dente and drain. 
In a large skillet I melt a tablespoon of coconut oil just for kicks. You can skip this step if you don't want the fat. I have four active kids that get their fat from plant based sources and coconut oil is a great way to add some calories. I pour in one can of full fat coconut milk and whisk in a tablespoon of powder and one to two teaspoons of turmeric. I also like to add some garlic powder (about a half teaspoon) and about two teaspoons of sea salt. Once this is all mixed together ( I love the process of turning the milky white coconut milk into sunshine yellow) I like to add a cup of frozen organic corn. You could also use a can of drained organic corn...just make sure it's organic. In the United States, unless corn is labeled organic, it's GMO. Don't know why you should be avoiding GMO's ? Here's a link for you to check out
I then dump my drained noodles into the coconut mixture and slowly toss until coated. Turn off the heat and cover and let the curry delishness meld a little.


I like to pair this meal with a salad or some green beans. I feel like green beans have gotten a bad rap here lately. When I was growing up green beans were the veggie of choice .... now it's all spinach this and kale that. I'm a fan of spinach and kale, but lets not neglect the long standing green bean. My favorite way of preparing them is to toss them in a skillet with a teeny bit of water...just enough to steam. I drizzle in a little balsamic vinegar, thyme , and then sprinkle with my Himalayan salt grinder. They are fantastic this way. If you really want to get fancy throw in a handful of chopped up walnuts and take those beans to whole nother' level. Food is as good as your spices ... remember this. 


This meal is cheap, kid approved, tummy filling, void of acidic dairy and pus (don't get me started) and most important .... delicious. 


Bon Apetite 

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Wednesday ... Imagination

At dusk last night there was about 17 inches of snow. Gorgeous sparkly stacked powder over ever surface of everything near.
Our house has so much natural light that this is the first time I've been stuck inside for days and NOT felt like I want to climb the walls or scratch my eyeballs out. No, quite the opposite actually. I feel quite content. Beautiful beautiful world.


I made this yummy little salad that someone had posted on facebook. It's pretty darn delicious - chopped cucumbers and red pepper and tomato, a drizzle of olive oil, lemon juice and some pink Himalayan sea salt - add in some fresh chopped parsley and viola ... health in a bowl. 
 I tried to eat a whole bowl of it but it got to be a little too much for me. BUT, I added it this morning to a hummus wrap with kalamata olives and it was positively delish. 


The sunshine came out this morning and the mask of fog lifted and revealed a white world as far as the eye can see. Those mountains are pretty spectacular. 
Today in Trinity's geography book she was learning the different parts of hills and mountains. It was pretty handy just looking out our window and saying "so to the left you will see a hill...find the foot and the hilltop. Great! Now over to the right you will find mountains..." It's great to have a poster world just on the other side of the window pane. Now if we could just get a island and a volcano we would be set.


My orange handled sewing scissors also came out this morning. The kids have been asking me to help Trin create a Rey costume for one of Brady's many "films." I had a pretty thick canvas curtain I was able to cut up and added some ace bandages around her little birdlike arms...the results was pretty spectacular. I'm pretty in love with the way she took on the role ....


... fierce.


... warrior like
... intense
... classy
... elegant


I just pointed the camera ... the leg business was all hers. 
Like I said, in love.


Brady also worked his camera magic


... high elbows, low hands.


Let's not forget young Luke...


... and his sidekick "ninja."


I've never seen Finn so happy to have his picture taken. He watched the other kids pose and then when it was his turn in front of the white wall all his moves came out ... I even got a little eye contact.


As for my own creativity ... I wood burned Zac and my initials into our kitchen table just for kicks. I love the concept of family meals and color crayons and play doh and glitter all being done on this table. Perhaps some day dress making and bouquets of flowers being put together for graduations and weddings will be done on this surface. Who knows, someday maybe a little grand baby will be sitting here, tracing the hearts with their little tiny finger. Either way, it's ours, but now it's even more ours

Have a blessed Wednesday friends. 

“Imagination is everything. It is the preview of life's coming attractions.” 
― Albert Einstein

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Favorite Things ... Tuesday Edition

These are a few of my favorite things...


... snow speckled children
... chilly giggles
... Carhart coveralls
... little boys looking like little elf men


... sunny bedroom
... my new scented relax balls


... glowing diffuser
... lemon essential oil, makes a snowy day balmy


... geode hardware (need I say more? I'm gaga for rocks)
... closet in the bathroom
... storage galore


... taking care of my teeth the natural way
... cinnamon


... taking care of my lips the natural way
... oversize lip balm
... vegan


... thrifted jewelry tree
... boho 
... wispy
... dangly earrings


... yellow rug for my "library"
... tassels
... beautiful prints 
... dealin' and wheelin' at Ross


... green walls
... glowing curtains
... collages
... black and white prints


... having space for my old books
... the camera I learned to take photos on in high school
... film
... driftwood


... lights on a dimmer
... chandelier
... rustic modern
... angles and lines and curves


... World Market birds on a string
... bells
... beads


... Ikea cactus
... Southwest
... 4 bucks


... blue


... more blue


... the bluest blue
... colored glass
... teeny winter scenes
... mason jars
... antique glass


... the frosted world outside my bedroom window
... pine trees
... fog

*Hope you are all enjoying your winter wonderlands today ... whether they be snowy or sunny or windy or calm. Soak in the beauty that surrounds you ... may you see your world in pictures. *


Friday, January 29, 2016

Home

“Tears before God water dreams.” 
― Junaid e Mustafa


My dream came true. The dream and the hope and the longing and ALL of it, in a week's time, became reality. We bought a home. We have a place. We have a city that will be ours. 
 I'm not sure how many hours I had spent on the floor of our rental home asking God for my own place. I was born when my parents were in mission's training. I'm not really sure how many times I've moved in my childhood, but I know it was a lot. The better part of my life has been about saying hello to people, learning to love them...settling into a house...and then a year or two later, sometimes  a month or two...sometimes just a week - packing up, saying good bye, putting on a brave face and starting over. I loved so many things about my childhood....the scenery, the friendships, the long road trips full of fun snacks, the radio blaring and the light poles flashing past my window. I use to try to see how many times I could blink between light poles - it's a wonder I didn't give myself some kind of crazy eye dysfunction. Yes, seeing new places was a highlight of my nomad beginning.
 All that to say ... there was a time for travel and for newness. This is the time for roots. 
 I'm a creative - I longed to make somewhere mine. I wanted to paint the walls my colors, hang shelves without risking damaging a wall that didn't belong to me. I wanted to look out my window and know that if I planted something in my backyard it would be mine and could be mine for a long long time. My great grandmother has a tree in her front yard that she planted with my oldest brother when he was just a little toddler. She named it "Josh's Tree" and now, more then 30 years later, it's big and tall and shades the front yard. I wanted a Josh's Tree. 


We use to visit this family in Indiana when I was growing up. There was so much to love about this older couple ... piano music, always a pan of rice crispy treats...they even took us to the fair one time. The thing though that stuck out to me the most though was their home. It was traditional...but to me it was luxury. Growing up in Mexico there was a lot of tile and cement. Most homes there didn't have bathtubs or pianos or grassy front yards. I remember this house because there was a staircase with garland wrapped around it for Christmas. Their was a set of french doors at the back of the house that opened up to a piano room and so much sunlight. I remember a hutch in the kitchen with pretty china and a long gleaming dining table. I loved it. I remember standing in their living room, looking around and thinking "this is what I want." Now, thinking back, it was a modest home. Middle class. But it was homey and different and they had lived in it for years ... and that's what I loved - the stability.


Saying goodbye to our neighborhood was hard. I had actually learned my cross streets, knew how long it took me to get to a grocery store, had a very close friend about a 7 minute drive away. I was familiar ... and packing up again to move AGAIN to discover the unfamiliar AGAIN was a little overwhelming....not to mention there are four littles in my life that I worry about on a hourly basis. I was scared for them to adjust. I was excited for them to have new opportunities - a park, a backyard with a pretty view, more space to run in play in this new house. It was a bit confusing to know what I should feel..or to be okay with feeling however I felt. 
All in all, I knew that this move was the right thing at the right time. I asked God for a sign if we should go ahead and buy, and the day we made the offer on our house our landlord sent us a letter saying that they were needing to increase our rent $250.00 at the beginning of February. As my Papa John use to say "Here's your sign." 
I thanked God and started packing like a crazy person. 
I figured, if He is giving me what I've been wanting the least I can do is be brave and work hard.


It was a long process - this moving business is pretty rough. We have a lot to do but, honestly,...it's because we want to not because we have to. I've always wanted an open concept home so we are rather dustily creating it. I've always wanted to pick out paint colors...so we are painting the perfectly fine cream color walls. We took out a closet in order to put a bit of railing so that I could "wrap garland" at Christmas. I have a spot for that used piano I hope to find one day.
The cabinets in the kitchen...don't get me started. Let's just say it has taken an extreme amount of effort but when you're "home" and it's going to be yours for a long time...it's worth it. I even bought myself this house warming gift - that was another one of my dreams. There's nothing quite like a bit of leaded glass with blue sky shining through over the kitchen sink - makes washing dishes almost bearable. 


Finn ran down the stairs to me yesterday calling "mommmmmmm!!!!" He grabbed my hand and started pulling me towards his room saying "come see, come see." When we got to his room he points at the window and showed me a wee bitty lady bug enjoying some sunshine. It was pretty much a perfect moment for my little Bug to find his favorite bug in his new room. I told Zac "see, it was definitely meant to be." (then I sped off to find my camera before the moment was gone.)



Brady Bunch has been quite contented. He loves the carpet in his room. I'm a fan of hardwoods myself, but I have agreed to keeping the carpet in the bedrooms just because Brady finds them so cozy. For a little boy that needs to roll on the floor and is also constantly cold "I get it." I can give him that at least. I also gave him Star Wars decals all over his new green bedroom walls - I think he finds me rather awesome after spending the better part of an hour creating the perfect "scene" surrounding the Death Star. 
I think his favorite part of our new place though is the fireplace. Every time Zac has built one Brady will pop in the room and say "oh, how cozy mommers (what he calls me these days) a good, warm fire." Then he will sit just about as close as one can sit to fire. I love that kid. 


Tristan is loving the unfinished basement and all the space to play. Today at lunch he grabbed my camera and told me to cup my face in my hands so he could take a picture. He did a pretty good job and I would have to say I did a pretty good job mimicking the expression he wanted me to make.

Trin's room is blue and I'm trying my very best to make her little space as whimsical and girly as I can. Tomorrow an electrician is coming to install lights in our bedrooms (yes indeed, we have no lights in our rooms...I guess it was a popular notion in the 80's that I find ridiculous.) Zac is stopping by Ikea on his way home to pick up a sparkly chandelier for a very sparkly little girl. Squirrel Girl use to tell me that her dream room would have a chandelier and a window seat. Heaven help me, but I'm going to make that dream come true if it kills me - just call me ol' Fairy Godmother (or a loving mother, whichever you choose.)


I've spent the last two days organizing books by color (yes, you read that right) and painting a cabinet green. Oh green...I have dreamt of you and waited for you and now you're here, a part of my life. I can't wait to show all of the befores and afters to everyone...but for now I'm at the place where it all looks worse then the before and you wouldn't get the "after" so you'll have to be patient. My sweet husband has been great at trying to make all of my visions come to fruition. He is love. 


I stood at this window a couple days ago, my hands wrapped around a warm mug of coffee ... just looking at all of my trees, wondering what I will get to discover under that patch of snow come spring. I had Pandora playing and my song from long ago, "Home" by David Nevue, came on.
 This warm feeling came over my whole being and I felt so extremely loved by Heavenly Father. I can't really explain it to you - you would have to be in love with Him to get it. It was a feeling of being absolutely cared for in every kind of way. Absolutely loved in every type of way. Absolutely known in every type of way. It was a remarkable feeling.
 I use to listen to that piano piece all of the time when Brady and Trin were little toddlers, Tristan and Finn were still just a dream. I remember sitting on our porch swing in Georgia, barefoot and snapping peas and loving my life so much. A lot has happened since then ... a lot of "journeying." There was a time that I felt I would never feel at peace again ...contented. I stood at the window, the song came on...and I didn't turn it off because this time, the song was true again. All I could do was stand there, sip my coffee with tears rolling down my face and thank God for all He's done for us. He kept hope alive in me, and He brought me Home. 
A new journey has begun.

(if you care to listen....click here "Home") It's lovely.