Hello 2013, what ya got to say for yourself?

Well, here I am at the brink of 2013.  I gained 5 pounds over the Christmas Holiday after finally breaking through my personal goal of 199 lbs.  The reasons were the both the usual suspects (tasty food and beverages) but also a bit of a lung thing that kept my my running shoes still and no time clocked in the pool. Returned to working out yesterday and after 10 minutes on the elliptical on level 1 and 30 minutes of strength training got dizzy and nauseated so didn’t swim. Today was just patient care for exercise, tomorrow I will do a walk or swim and a wee bit more strength training. I got goals you see, big goals, at least for me. Here they are

Swim 52 kilometers (not at one time, for the year!)

Bike 104 miles (ditto)

Run 800 Kilometers (in 5k and maybe even 10k stretches)
and be able to pop out 50 pushups, 50 crunches and one real pull-up.

And yup, I will be running a couple races, doing one or more mini triaths and at least one maxi!

Now on to the more important stuff like what am I cooking,

Simple and Cheap with flavor that can’t be beat!

Black Eyed Peas, Vegan Style.

Sort, rinse and soak a pound of dried black eyed peas overnight, rinse again in the morning (this helps make them less “musical” if you catch my drift, LOL)

Poor the hydrated beans in your slow cooker and cover with water (about 4-6 cups), add a tsp of red salt (or kosher or sea), two small bay leaves, 2 tsp of dried oregano, and a 1/4 tsp ground pepper. Close the lid put it on low and get on with your day! In 4-6 hours serve up a delicious and nutritious bowl with cornbread, or for a special treat add collard greens or spinach the last half hour of cooking.

Its cheap and ooooh so good in the cooler months, and purported to bring good luck!

Eating some even as I write this.

Namaste friends

 

White flies (old post that I somehow sent to drafts…posting 12/5 written 11/21)

That is all I can say right now, “White Flies.” They have become the symbol for my November. If you don’t know what a whitefly is, this the the wiki brief  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Whitefly.

They have devastated my garden. It is too late for lady bugs this year, so I lifted the leaves and really, really got in there with the soapy spray.  But it really is too late for this year, all I am doing is preventing an even fiercer battle next growing season.

Life has been that way as well. Everything looks great and green one day, and the next everything has changed and I feel as wilted as my zucchini plants.

But it is not how many time we fall down, or how many times we get a result we weren’t seeking, it’s how many times we try again.

I am buying marigolds and adding them into my half dozen that survived from seed.  Let’s see how this goes.

And on a better note, I met some other amazing nurses today at the hardware store who brightened my day, natures little lady bugs for the white flies attacking my soul.

 

Responsibility and gratitude versus blame and credit, or how I got here from there and how I intend to keep going

The most difficult choices are often the subtle ones. Pairing the green slacks with a blue or brown button down instead of with the shiny orange tank top for a business meeting is an easy choice, but picking which blue has the best base notes to complement the green is more difficult. This practiced nuance is what I work to achieve in sorting that most difficult wardrobe accessory, confidence.

Confidence comes from making good choices. Making good choices is predicated upon discerning what is in my control and empowering myself to continue functional behaviors and to change what isn’t working.  This is where it gets tricky. Persisitence and insanity (doing the same thing, expecting a different result) can look incredibly similar. Acceptance and defeat also share a similar hue.

When life gives me lemons when I ordered bananas, it’s much easier to do make nothing at all except excuses, after all I ordered bananas. I know I have the ingredients for banana bread, I am craving banana bread, and lemons absolutely do not substitute into my bread recipe. So the lemons rot away while I starve to death dreaming of banana bread cursing the heavens for my lack.

Or,

I can begin to look at how to use the lemons. Hey, I have flour and sugar and butter and eggs all available for the banana bread so maybe some scones and lemon curd are in order, and I finally grind the pecans  (I put pecans in my banana bread) to make fresh pecan butter as a perfect complement and thank the universe for my abundance.

How does this look in real life?

I have had many challenges, opportunities to survive. Hey, everybody has challenges, so mine are no bigger than yours, just different. Some of my life challenges have been the kind where people cheer to still have you here, like cancer; some are the kind people inwardly want to blame you for (to protect themselves from realizing it can happen to anyone) like homelessness, poverty, abuse and assault; some are the losses that anyone who has a heart will eventually experience like the death of family members, friends, or relationships.  All of my challenges have come with plenty of opportunity to whine, blame, and wallow in what I didn’t have or couldn’t do.

There is a great little story I will completely mis-tell here as I distill it into what I remember. It is about a boy who dreams each night of two wolves fighting. One wolf represents fear and famine and hopelessness; the other wolf represents love and abundance and persistence. The boy dreams them equally matched over and over again, and he goes to his father and asks which will eventually win, and the father answers that the winner will be the one the boy feeds.

I get that concept, verbally choosing love over fear, that is the easy part; like picking the business blouse instead of the  sports top. Truly implementing it is the tricky part, choosing and change.

What do I actually have the power to change?

To go back to the bananas, some things are obvious, if I only planted Lemon trees the odds of harvesting bananas are really, really slim. A real life example is if I say I want to be healthy and pain free but I do not choose to daily exercise and stretch the muscles  I do have use of, nor do I choose to eat whole, healthy natural foods, then I am planting lemons and seeking bananas.

Also, things we plant do not always grow.  I have core body changes related to health challenges that make balance and certain fine motor and gross motor movements less than reflexive  Sometimes it takes lots of failed attempts to get a desired result. This could be compared to growing bananas where I live. Bananas take lots of moisture and 18 months of no frost to bear fruit; I live in Arizona so bananas are possible although difficult, and as I am still working on actually harvesting zucchini from home grown plants bananas are a loooooooong way off for this gardener.  In time I will master banana growing or I may, in the meantime, develop a real love for lemons which grow pretty easily here and abandon the pursuit of bananas. Here is the subtle part again. Realizing that it is a choice. If I decide to focus on lemons or marigolds or zucchini in my garden, how I tell the story to myself is the difference between responsibility and blame.

If I tell myself and others, “Yea, I grow lemons (or marigolds) because I can’t grow bananas in Arizona, its just too dry.” I am a victim, I will in time resent the harvest and the home. However,  if I say to myself, “You know bananas are taking up too much of my time and I really love lemons so I am going to grow the best lemons I can!” I am empowered and a survivor and glutted on gratitude.

To move back again to real life, surviving survival to again thrive is the toughest challenge of all. Some days it seems like everyone has moved on with their lives and are winning all the races, while I still struggle with running a mile or balancing on a bike.  Those are the days I review my 20 wishes book, reassess where I am today, and recommit myself to who I want to be tomorrow. I am not competing with anyone but me, all I have to do is keep trying, and slowly improve and I am a success.

I have so many dreams still; some involve a healthy pain free body, some involve managing to actually have lasting intimate relationships, some involve formal education, some are about world travel and some just involve feeling safe.  I can tell myself the stories about how and why I hurt, am afraid, isolate, stay home, am not in school; or I can look at the stories and determine where I actually am, what I can change, what I want, and devise the  steps I can take to get there if it is a goal I want to pursue.  Some of these goals are bananas some are lemons. Not all dreams need to be realized, but it is always a choice.

Responsibility and gratitude got me where I am today. I am not dead, in a wheelchair, or homeless and on the streets. I am a nurse, a published author and critic, a mother of amazing sons and surrounded by friends who even if they don’t actually get me most of the time, do at least accept me.  Sometimes life just drops bananas in my lap, today is one of those bananas.

Namaste my friends.

 

Hands in the air, screaming all the way!

What is  “How to ride a roller coaster,” Alex.

September was one of those amazing, scary and fun roller coasters rides I loved when I was young; October has been more like the flume ride where the bumps are milder and the thrill comes from cold water suddenly splashed in your face. Anyway, very little blogging has occurred.

So the important questions on everyone’s mind (although my friend  informed me when we were hanging out last month that she never reads my blog, nor do the other members of our little group, so actually I guess every one’s minds but the group of my closest friends; and before you judge us not friends anymore, realize every Ya Ya Sisterhood grows in different directions eventually, and this in no way precludes continued friendship) is what am I reading, watching and eating.

‘What I Am Reading” is easiest to answer. I will sheepishly admit (“sheep”ishly because my purchase was completely related to marketing hype) I am half way through JK Rowling’s newest adult novel ” Casual Vacancy”.  Rowling’s ability to deliver well rounded and surprising characters in a much less magical setting (Novel is set in modern England,  but for a few vocabulary changes it could just as easily be set in Connecticut or Arizona)  is the highlight so far, and it is still rating a 4 to 5 but I am holding out for a happy ending. I will keep you posted.

I am also rereading Charles Dicken’s “Nicholas Nickelby”, the entire plot just seemed appropriate in the current economic and political climate and Dicken’s delectable word casseroles never disappoint! With his humorous mix of understatement, grandiosity and verbal seasoning, I  easily laugh at the moral-less and manipulative shenanigans in his books while their character twins infuriate me in the current news.

My spiritual book of the day is the Dalai Lama’s “How to See Yourself as you Truly Are”, it is the right book at the right time. In simple concrete meditations his holiness illustrates the emptiness of enlightenment while proving “nothing” is anything but nihilism.

My cookbook of the day is “The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Vegan Baking” as I practice even more and new techniques to make my holiday favorites like pumpkin pie deliciously vegan friendly. Nothing to post yet yet in the way of adapted recipes, but soon…

So that is what I am reading…

What am I watching? Well currently I am watching bugs and roadrunners eat my few squash that appeared….*sad sigh* My plants this fall are big and green and healthy with multiple blossoms but few fruit, and those flora that fruited are being eaten by local fauna.This homesteading experiment thingy makes me truly appreciate the work and luck involved in feeding oneself just a century ago.

But, usually here I have a new favorite TV show or lesser known movie that made me incredibly happy and I want to share. However, there just isn’t a single new one that I can justifiably say you “must see!” However an old favorite from the early 1990’s finally made it onto DVD, so my “watch it” suggestion for this blog is “Leaving Normal” which will forever be my favorite “women’s” movie. I also love “Boys on the Side” and “Fried Green Tomatoes” but they are not my favorites because, although in a less dramatic way, both of these movies still echo the Medea Myth glaringly retold in that decade’s critically lauded ‘women’s” film “Thelma and Louise.” The acting is lovely, the story a bit magical and what I love best about “Leaving Normal” is that no woman has to die just because she is strong and just because she doesn’t make pleasing men or satisfying society her first priority. Go watch it, you will love it too, I promise.

And finally, What am I eating? Well that has to be a whole other blog since my writing time is up for the day….but definitely a recipe and appropriate rambling will appear this week.

Namaste my friends…

L’ Shanah Tovah! L’shana tovah u’metukah! (and a vegan challah recipe included!)

Today is the beginning of the Hebrew holiday Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, a day of  judgement and forgiveness that leads up to Yom Kippur ten days later, the day of Atonement.

If you want to learn more about it, try this sight http://www.myjewishlearning.com/holidays/Jewish_Holidays/Rosh_Hashanah.shtml , if not then just accept the opinions I lay out here as fact and go from there, but ask yourself why not? If you did click the link, you really can just skip to the recipe because I will just be “preaching to the choir”, although if you are the type to click, you will probably read the rest anyway. LOL.

Why learn about other traditions?

At this critical crossroads of human history, I believe the key to change our world into a place with a viable future for humanity requires all of us to practice that kindergarten mantra: “Stop. Look, and listen.”

STOP. Pause for a few minutes a day in the all American pursuit of pleasure and mirrors of self. Halt all the clicking and tweeting and getting and consuming. Pause. Breathe long and slow. We are human “Be”ings not human “Do”ings.

LOOK! Now look around you. Use the next five or ten minutes to actually look for those things that are unfamiliar and appraise the positive aspects. Whether you are you an atheist or fundamentalist or person with just a spiritual path; Republican or Democrat or Independent; literary intellectual or television aficianado or video game guru; there is someone out there you immediately judge and misunderstand. Because, if there isn’t, then not only are  you someone who probably clicked on that link, you are too self-aware to judge yourself prejudice free. ( Case in point, The Dalai Lama admits to struggling with preconceived ideas of others.) If however you can’t identify a culture or religion or point of view that elicits a knee jerk reaction, then just pick some culture or belief system with which you are unfamiliar.

LISTEN! !Once you have identified your “stuck points,” spend some time “listening”.  Dedicate at least one “sitcom” a day (twenty minutes more or less once you eradicate commercials) to familiarizing yourself with and acknowledging the good points of the foreign phenom selected. This can be done as simply as reading a book or Googling the topic on line; maybe try a culturally significant recipe or visit a community event sponsored by the group; borrow a cause friendly documentary  from the library. It doesn’t matter as much how you do it, as that you do it.

Finished with your first personal world peace assignment? Integrated some new ideas? Found some common ground after all?

Rosh Hashanah means “head of the year” and is the celebration of the anniversary of the creation of Adam and Eve, that time long before the descendants of Isaac and the descendants of Ishamel began their sibling rivalry in the middle east over who was actually chosen. The creation of Adam and Eve, though unique, are a common thread between all the followers of Abraham’s God – Christian, Hebrew, Islam and more. Like the head of a river may branch into many tributaries, the beliefs and practices of Rosh Hashanah are diverse, for example

Here is the Kabbalist’s take on the meaning of this important holiday .http://www.chabad.org/holidays/JewishNewYear/template_cdo/aid/3082/jewish/The-Waking-of-Creation.htm.  A take I can both respect and not fully embrace, after all I am not a Kabbalist.

However, a central tradition for all those celebrating this holiday is the dipping of apples in honey. This explanation of the “why” of this tradition, (the how is easy, slice fresh apples, dip in honey, eat) also from the Kabalist site, is my favorite on line, and perhaps a life perspective we can all endorse: http://www.chabad.org/holidays/JewishNewYear/template_cdo/aid/160979/jewish/Sweet-Stings.htm So dip some apples,  because that is what this holiday is really about finding the sweetness in life and savoring it while rising to its challenges.

 

Now finally here is my recipe for a vegan Challah, which just might be why you even opened this blog in the first place.

Whisk 1 1/2 tsp. Ener-G egg replacer into 2 T warm water. Let stand and texturize. (No egg replacer? Try Mixing 1 T ground flax with 3 T of warm water and let stand till thoroughly slimy)

Sprinkle 2 1/4 tsps yeast (this is one packet) over  1 cup warm (not hot) water mixed with 4 T of organic Real Maple syrup (grade A or B works, use agave if you don’t have real maple syrup, DO NOT SUBSTITUTE Honey or maple flavored syrup or bread will not work)  at bottom of Large mixing bowl. Stir lightly and let stand while collecting ingredients (about 5-10 minutes) to proof it.

Add 3 T of organic coconut oil at room temperature (liquid), may also substitute 3 T melted and cooled vegan stick butter; egg replacer; and 1 tsp salt. Whisk vigorously to mix.

Sift in 1 cup wheat flour and approx. 2 cups white flour stirring with wooden spoon until soft dough forms. Should form ball, Cover and let rest 15 minutes.

Lightly flour your kneading surface and place small ball with 1/2 cup white flour to side. Begin a good ten minutes of kneading the bread, slowly incorporating the last 1/2 cup of flour to keep hands from sticking.

Wash, dry and LIGHTLY oil the large mixing bowl (with coconut oil if used, canola oil if vegan margerine is used.) Plop in dough turn the dough ball completely around to coat all sides lightly with oil. Put in warm draft free place to completely rise (anywhere from 40 minutes to an hour depending on yeast and environment), push in your two fingers and if there is no bounce back, punch it down! Reform and repeat (make back into a ball and let second rise occur.)

Punch down again and let rest 15 minutes. To form I recommend this video. http://youtu.be/u7D8PSBsy1M

Cover and let rise 25 to 35 minutes (double in size). Then bake at 375 degree oven for 25 minutes.  Cool and enjoy.

I complete this blog with a rough translation of my initial greeting, in the words of one of my favorite symbols of integration,

“Live Long, and Prosper!”

Read, listen, enjoy, and ya know, talk back!

Here is the promised blog, appearing on the actual day I promised it and not only offering a tasty selection of fashion, travel and writing blogs I peruse and recommend, but also a wonderful, and equally tasty (as those who celebrated Amie’s birthday already know) and extremely versatile vegan crock  pot concoction.

May I also recommend listening to this award show while reading todays blog, or making the chili, or just just sitting smiling and alternately reminiscing of filkers, and authors known and salivating over all the new stuff out there yet to be discovered, http://www.ustream.tv/recorded/25307882, I admit to more of the first, I am after all, mature (code for getting old.)

No geek ever looked so good as one taking fashion advice from the beautiful blonde who pens this blog http://2morrowsdress.com/, and her advice stands strong for those who walk in the normal ways of the world as well. This blog has all kinds of useful advice about choosing, caring for and ways to wear the one thing we all have in common, clothing! From her “little white dress” to her white shirt dilemna I (the fashion challenged costume maker) have enjoyed and employed Jen’s advice. Look for the same brevity and classy taste in her entertainment blog http://jentheredonethat.com/ .

For writer’s or readers of fantasy or of  life fiction check out the blog by novelist Ann Videan  http://anvidean.com. Music is a recurrent theme in her writing, both blogs and novels. Her blog is also a great place to pick up a few marketing tips for those trying to court fame and fortune as a professional pen wielder. On the same wavelength, but perhaps better known among fantasy fans is one of my other favorite author’s blog http://windling.typepad.com/blog/. (I know, if you took my advice you are listening to *gasp* science fiction awards while reading about fantasy blogs, I am sorry if this is jarring, but I am totally a “soup” person. If you don’t know what tha means, feel free to ask, and I will happily explain.)

Totally unrelated blogs but incredibly fascinating (to me at least) http://www.dailycoyote.net/  and http://honeyrockdawn.com/ both from the same lady who is living one of my dreams (but we only have one life so I happily live the one I am in and find blogs that allow me to vicariously live the other dreams). Of course there are always two of my  favorite go to sites: http://whatever.scalzi.com/ , http://wilwheaton.typepad.com/  , reflecting another life I chose not to lead.

Now if you are still with me and haven’t clicked off and become lost in one of these amazing blogs, here is my newest vegan creation, I call it “2 hours till dinner and still lots to do”

Plug in your crock pot or slow cooker, low heat.

Chop a small onion and one or two green peppers into small (1cm or less) pieces. Put two-three tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil in a cast iron skillet (enough to lightly cover the bottom) and as it gets warm toss in the onions first and stir with a wooden spoon. When the onions become translucent add the peppers (and 1 cup mushrooms if you have them and you know your intended audience likes them) and cook another minute or two, turn off the skillet heat if on an electric stove, to very low flame if gas, and press in one clove of garlic, stir and let them all sit together as you stir together 4 cups hot water, a small can of organic tomato paste, two cubes of vegan bullion, and 1 tsp fresh chili powder in the warm crock pot. Add 1 can organic black beans rinsed and drained, or 2 cups of home cooked black beans. Dump in the lovely mixture of onions and peppers, stir again. Add 1 1/2 cups of Trader Joe’s organic red quinoa, OR add 1/2 cup organic red quinoa and 1 cup Trader Joe’s harvest Grains Blend, OR add 1/2 cup organic red quinoa, 1/2 cup couscous, and 1/2 cup yellow lentils. Close the lid and cook for 1.5 to 2 hours (quinoa unfurled and beans soft). Serve with warm crusty bread, or corn chips and enjoy!

finally, where I got my chile powder recipe, or buy a fresh one if not so motivated http://video.about.com/americanfood/How-to-Make-Chili-Powder.htm

 

 

While you were out…

Been an exceptionally long time since I have posted a blog, I hope you have missed me almost as much as I have, because I have missed me as well as missing you, my readers. I am currently balancing two jobs, one of them is seasonal and I am still looking forward to the first of my second paychecks but the additional 22 hours a week are already in full swing.

Also I am proud to report my garden is growing  even better this season. Check out the pre and post transplant pictures. Sadly my marigolds are pathetic and I will be replanting my greens and probably bringing it inside, due to my own watering malfunction it looks like my collards are dead and my arugula is as well. I mulched thoroughly as our weather is so unpredictable and that is supposed to help. My fall crops are melons, watermelon and cantalope; zucchini; cucumbers; and four different kinds of baking pumpkins. Fingers crossed for a bumper crop. Hey, last season was my first “crop” ever in Arizona! It entailed 1 edible cantalope, 1 edible winter squash, loads of arugula and loads of collards. Onward and upward with BrownThumb Homesteading!

I am also learning to knit lace. My goal is a faroese shawl for two special realtives for Christmas out of hand died silk. No pics because, well, they may read this. So that is happening as well.

And there is some professional writing happening as well. And somewhere in all this I am still working with my two wonderful young male patients, trying to train to do a Sprint Triathlon again, absorbing and processing a rather insistent round of losses in my life, perfecting new vegan recipes, learning to read spanish  (want to read poems and literature, still kind of Dick and Jane level) and of course reading for pleasure and seeing friends and family.

These are not meant as excuses, more like a reminder to myself that I do still need to just “BE”, and this blog is part of that.  As rare as comments are it seems sometimes I am talking to myself more than anyone else, but my hit log reminds me others do come and peruse. For the record I read blogs regularly as well and rarely comment, usually they are so well written that I feel I have nothing to say.

But here is my challenge to you, leave a comment here with a link to your blog and I will come and comment there as well.  And tomorrow I will be posting about some of the blogs I regularly read.

For today I now leave you with a funny story and some pics of my fall garden.

Funny Story with a choose your own ending.

I was busily typing away at my laptop when I decided to demonstrate why one should not drink coffee near their computer. The blinds were partially open and the sliding glass door open to the screen as it was early enough in the morning to catch a wee bit of cross breeze. As the coffee swarmed towards my laptop, I realized the only absorbent material readily available was the towel I was wrapped in which I was currently wrapped…..my dilemna: save my computer or save my dignity ( and the sanity of any poor neighbor who might be in eye shot).  You decide, which was more important to me…..              😉

Namaste friends.