Image

Salad Challenge

I dearly believe that children watch you, learn from you, and mimic you.  With that said, I want to be a great influence for them. Some days, my patience wears thin as I feel tired and worn out, but I strive to be an image for them that I hope will create great thinkers, adventurers, cooks, friends, and generally good people.

Meals are an important part of physical performance.  Being sensitive to my body chemistry, I can feel when I’ve had too much salt, sugar, bread, not enough water,  & not enough sleep.  Being that today marks a year since our move, I figured I’d give myself a challenge.  I already eat really well, mostly cook from scratch, extremely limit processed food items, and drink ample water each day.  Since watching FedUp, I’ve cut down heavily on the amount of sugar I was allowing; which quite honestly was not too shabby anyways…but I am trying to abide by the recommended 25 grams/day. So, what does that mean?  I figured my challenge was to have a salad a day for a month, with the aim to go longer once I hit that mark.

Having an organic garden within 30 steps from our place, this is completely feasible.  My mom is great at getting my children to taste things they would otherwise turn their nose up; if it were me suggesting it.  It’s pretty funny that kids will listen to grandparents over parents sometimes. I’m thrilled that my own parents create an environment of curiosity. They now regularly partake dandelions flowers, nasturtiums, violets, fennel fronds, alpine strawberries, arugula, uncooked green beans, sweet peas, etc. They pretty much eat their body weight in the fresh food from these 6 acres. They are always full of chagrin when they’ve spent time with my mom in the garden and are eager beavers to get busy making their own salad. There are so many salads one can make: bean salad, fruit salad, green salad, etc. Hopefully, my children will join me on my salad challenge.  Will you?

IMG_6493

 

Today’s Salad: swiss chard, arugula, nasturtiums greens/flowers, quinoa, fennel fronds, dried cranberries, avocado, & toasted pine nuts dressed with home-made Honey-Dijon dressing.

Image

Bolo De Laranja- Orange and Olive Oil Bundt Cake with Candied Orange

Last August after moving from Southern California to Washington State, I was eager to find some new recipes and crept into my wordpress feed to see an inspiring recipe by nutmegandwhiskey.wordpress.com

The recipe she put up called for 5 eggs; quite a challenge to make vegan.  Strapped for cash, I put this recipe aside to make later, not realizing it has been almost a year.  Yikes.  Alas, today was that day.  I am sitting beside it with the wafting aroma of orange. Having made the alterations to it that I desired, I cannot wait to take a bite. It looks absolutely incredible.  It smells even better.

This cake is a dessert that is served in Portugal.  Thank you nutmegandwhiskey for such an incredible recipe to work off of.  I enjoy reading your blog.

 

Image

Intrigue

I am sitting in my yoga pants as I write this, reflecting on a certain article I read this morning.

Who knew that at seventeen I’d have been lucky enough to find a guy who respected me, who loved me for who I was, who nurtured personal growth and motivated me in ways only he knew?  I certainly didn’t think it possible. My previous job working with teens, would tell me it was impossible because they seemed so unsure of themselves; so immature. As I look at my own three girls, I think that when they turn seventeen, I’d try to steer them completely clear of such a serious relationship. But, it worked for us…..because we found God together.

We were young, made mistakes, had our break ups. But, there was always something that kept us bound together.  Creating memories together, saturated our relationship with tons of familiarity and understanding that paved way the desire to make more. What challenges we did have, only made us stronger; creating a relationship that was honest with the intent for strong communication.

What first led me to him, was purely physical.  As I am sure, was the same for him. I was attracted to his style, his tanned skin, long blond hair, and the fact he drove a “hot boy” red pick-up truck.  He on the other hand, loved me best in my train conductor striped baggy overalls and baseball cap. Was I being alluring by wearing this?  No.

There is a certain woman who is in the media because she blogged about her desire to stop wearing yoga pants or leggings in public because she and her husband find that those articles of clothing draw unnecessary attention to her sexually.  I have to say, as a Christian woman, it has never crossed my mind that an item I wear for comfort to exercise in, would create a stir from the opposite gender.  It was a bit eyebrow raising on my part, reading this article, “really?”  But, I honestly think what one person feels convicted for, the next does not.  Do I think she’s ridiculous for feeling this way? Not at all. I really feel that God places things on each of our hearts that we can choose to listen to and obey, or to ignore and continue to feel convicted for.

I also feel that a woman can be completely covered up, and an intrigue can come simply by her stunning eyes displayed amongst a drapery of attire. Think back to the iconic National Geographic woman who is completely robed and her stunning green eyes grace the cover.  She is completely gorgeous. While it is only natural to feel attracted to others, and find beauty in them, I do agree that dressing provocatively cheapens the package.  But, then comes the argument of what is provocative and what is not? Besides, isn’t it our hearts God wants us to work on?

http://www.bagnewsnotes.com/2013/10/thoughts-on-afghan-girls-third-cover-as-national-geographic-looks-back-forward/

In a world where we are constantly sending the message to girls to be alluring, accept their bodies, cover up because we will attract the wrong type of attention, ….we send mixed messages.  A child who grows up with a moral foundation and a parent modeling good choices, hopefully helps shape the way for their young minds. And, I mean this for BOTH sexes.  Why is it solely the responsiblity of a woman to cover up?  Temptation has been there since the beginning; The Garden of Eden.  Raising both sexes to respect the other is the responsiblity of a parent. You’re not going to find support in the media or in pop culture.

In an age where there is so much pressure to grow up, to be cool, to fit in…..I really hope to raise my children to focus on intelligence, sense of humor, adventure, and exploration.  I hope they find someone as wonderful as their dad. I know those teen years are right around the corner, and my window of time to instill wholesomeness in them is greater than me. It seems that age of innocence is getting more and more narrow.  I try not to put God in a box for what he is capable of doing and where he leads each of us. We all have our own paths to take in life, we all have our own agendas, and what leads one person to stumble does not lead the next.

Image

Author Book Signing/Reading.

If you’re in the San Francisco (Noe Valley location) on January 22nd, please come by Rare Device.  At 10:30 a.m. my wonderful husband, Kevin Gard, will be reading his book “Oh, Sully!” aloud and signing copies available for purchase at Rare Device. He is both the author and illustrator of this book. His second book, “Sully and His Bike”, will be available for purchase at the end of spring 2015.

Currently, on a month long author’s tour, Kevin will be presenting his book at elementary schools, at book stores/boutique shops, blessing children in need through his book-for-book campaign, and presenting/attending an annual Author’s Festival in Southern California.

Don’t miss out on visiting Rare Device. This store is incredibly cute with workshops available and carries some pretty wonderful items.  http://raredevice.net/blogs/blog

Image

Apple-Kuzu Drink

1999 served me well.  It was the year I left Cal State Long Beach where I was attending college to major in Audiology/Speech Pathology.  Sign language and interpreting were part of my minor that really interested me. But, I left all that behind to pursue a passion instead; culinary school.  It was also the year I gained a best friend, the one I feel is the sister I never had; Dawn Sandoval.  She and I roomed together across from Gramercy Park in Manhattan in an extremely quaint women’s dorm.  So strict were they with the male race that it was like the soup nazi from Seinfeld.  NO MEN! So, it was something hysterical when my friend Myra snuck her boyfriend up 9 floors.  I have such amazingly fond memories of Natural Gourmet Cookery School run by Anne Marie Colban, the friends I met, and the experience/culture I was able to embrace. This was truly a highlight in my life.

Dawn and I had a close-knit group of friends that we acquired there along with our cooking skills. Together Mafalda Pinto Leite, Tracy Horwitz-Milenkovik, Myra Jane Church, Dawn, and I would spend days at school developing recipes to our hearts content, and race home to weave our way through the city partaking of fine food and spending afternoons in the warm glow of a community garden filled with stuffed animals as decor, roller skating in Central Park, or catching the underground to go see shows.  It was incredible. So much to see. So much to do. I am still friends with these wonderful gals to this day. We all still enjoy cooking whether professionally of personally.  I  also still have a permanent burn from breaking the dorm rules and extending my alotted 30 minutes in the gated park adjacent to the front lounge. It was sunny, and I was missing green grass and Dawn and I finagled the keys for a whole hour, piggy backing our time there.

It was at culinary school where I first tasted Apple-Kuzu Drink; a beverage containing the root starch.  It was something I stumbled upon.  It was a normal morning, rushing about the kitchens locating ingredients to create splendid meals for our instructors to grade.  I recall the school was fixing a broken refrigerator and it was mentioned to stay aware of the wires.  I happened to glance back as I was reaching in, and changed my glance to face the fridge while extending my reach, only to have a wire go straight into my eye.  It was so sudden, and so painful, that I stumbled backwards dropping the food from my grasp and crying aloud. I was instantly anxious because I had lasik surgery the year before and was in a panic that I had ruined it.

My instructor came to my aid, and instructed her assistant to prepare some apple-kuzu; for a relaxant. Truly, this combination worked on my nerves within 10 minutes.  It is something I use for my children when they have tummy aches, on myself when I feel stressed, or for treating colds.  It’s remedies include treatment of minor indigestion, treating colds, and minor aches and pains.  It’s also said to aid in treating headaches, colitis, sinus issues, tonsillitis, etc. Paired with ginger and umeboshi paste, it’s especially potent. The ginger aids in digestion while the umeboshi neutralizes lactic acid and eliminates it.

I have enjoyed mine several ways, but really love the following recipe:

Ingredients:

1/2 cup apple juice

1/2 cup filtered water

1 rounded tsp. kuzu (crush with back of spoon before measuring)

1-2 Tbsp. water for dissolving kuzu

1 Tbsp. minced ginger

1 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice

Directions:

Heat the apple juice, ginger, and water in a small saucepan over medium heat until it begins to bubble around the edges. Remove from heat.  Thoroughly dissolve the kudzu in water in water, add it to the juice while stirring, then return the pot to the burner.  Stir constantly until the kudzu thickens and becomes translucent. Simmer a bit longer, then remove from heat and pour 1 Tbsp. of lemon juice into mixture. Allow to cool for a minute before serving.

IMG_5597 IMG_5601

 

Image

Laughter. Indeed, the Best Medicine.

I have anxiously awaited these last few weeks where I have longed to pour my soul into a recipe, yet the desire was absent.   Sometimes my passion for cooking is directly related to my eagerness to spread my love around through food; to create atmosphere and social outlets.  Since we’ve distanced ourselves from such a steady flow of that because of our move, my creative outlet seems caught in a storm of busy.

IMG_3533

(Mt. Rainier, Washington)

IMG_3365

(stuffed family orchard apples roasted on an open fire)

We’ve been taking these last few weeks to pour ourselves into each daylight minute.  Being in the northwest, it is commonplace that the sun sets around 4:30. By 6 pm that evening fatigue sets in and all ambitions are lost to the dusk and the cry of nighttime critters. Sitting ringside around a fire to keep the chill from your nape, is the only thing worthy of unspent energy while sipping on Adagio tea.

IMG_3591

(Lake Cushman, Washington State)

IMG_8014

Nothing is sweeter than the blessings of time for the wonderful company that we have been graced over this holiday season.  When your soul aches for the companionship of family and friends, it is in every effort one minimizes time spent on chores and instead calculates promoting self indulging activities with others; be it kayaking bay side or simply preparing meals together while embracing table side conversation with utter delight that fills oneself with complacency.  Each laugh noted; memories engrained.

IMG_7980 (Staircase, WA.) IMG_8019

 

 

 

 

 

Image

Whispers!

Butterscotch horizons accompany
Whispers of sagebrush
Whilst toes delight in dampness with
Sugar cookie coating

The salty air tingles hearts galore
Passionate embraces, one explores
Calling from dawn till dusk
With lofty sea kisses soaking deeply

Sun kissed skies
Battle bruises
Laughter fills the air
Light hearted relaxation

A golden hue dyes till Fall
When crisp air takes form
Ringside dusk, flames dance loudly
Strokes of lyrical genius

Touches my soul
Glory abound
Fourty years, rooted deeply
Lost, not yet found

Confusing paths
Silent nights
Grass is greener, in images anew
But memories hold tight

Can’t shake the wonder
Left so much behind
Where God leads
Twilst sure to find

Beachy dreams amongst mountaintops
Where bathing suits lay tucked away
Golden skies call my name
The sea whispers loudly!

 

Image

Minestrone Soup with Chickpeas

It’s been a hair-raising couple of weeks with brisk weather.  Coming from Southern California, where 38 degrees sends residents into anxiety, is nothing compared to waking at 4:15 in the morning to your car covered in ice glitter. I am not used to having to warm my car longer then 5 minutes.

We live in a converted barn. Our sleeping area is separated by a woodworking shop, that leads to our kitchen/school room/office/living room.  This bitter cold walk to and from each living quarter must be done in a snow jacket, and your hands feel like you have stuck them in snow while standing amidst the workshop to change out the laundry.  It’s interesting. It makes you toughen up.  Acclimated. Not yet.

Soup. Lots of soup.  Lots of hot food and hot beverages these days. I do adore my forest drives;  penetrating the dark route with my high beams to avoid hitting deer. I love my drives over the ridge in anticipation of spotting snow-covered Mt. Rainier. I am fond of being able to bundle up.  But, what I have not yet gotten acclimated to is the 28 degree runs.  My husband is tougher then I. I think it’s fantastic I live in an area that gets snow.  Such a change we have made in setting!  As I find myself missing the beach, I remind myself that we are experiencing actual seasons!

Hope you enjoy the minestrone.

INGREDIENTS:

1/4 cup leeks, sliced

2 stalks of celery, cut on the bias

1 cup carrots, roll cut

1 clove garlic, minced

1 cup broccoli stalks

1 1/2 cup cooked garbanzos (chickpeas)

8 cups filtered water

1 cup gluten-free pasta

4 bouillon cubes

1 cup green cabbage, sliced

1/2 zucchini, sliced

16 oz. fire roasted peeled tomatoes

1 Tbsp. dried oregano

1 tsp. sea salt, adjust to taste

1/2 tsp. pepper

1/2 cup fresh basil, minced

DIRECTIONS:

In a soup pot saute leeks, celery, carrots, and garlic for 5 minutes.  Add the water, and bouillon cubes.  Bring to boil, then allow to simmer for 15 minutes.  Add broccoli stalks, and pasta and simmer for 8 more minutes.  Add the chickpeas, zucchini, cabbage, oregano, sea salt, pepper, and fresh basil.  Allow to simmer for 5 more minutes. Adjust the salt and pepper to taste.

 

Image

Coping

Why a photo of my daughter with electrodes? I used to drive with tears in my eyes and a lump in my throat as I left work early some days knowing my epileptic 5-month old was having more seizures. If you read this true but little story about life, the photo will make more sense.

Working at a coffee joint, I suppose, is quite like being a hair dresser.  You are in the service business, so you’re completely surrounded by regular customers whom you end up getting to know in the short time span you’re providing a service to them. Nothing new. I know we all know this.

But, those minutes you spend with each customer can provide a positive or a negative impression, and can lend to a good or bad day.

11/17/14 scenario 5:45 a.m.  Customer A drives through the drive-through to order her regular coffee. Nothing new, except she apparently cut off the gal behind her and the gal behind her has made it quite obvious that she is completely ticked off.  Customer A expresses her guilt and pays for Customer B whom she cut off.  Paying if forward, changing customer B’s start to the day; or so she hopes.

Customer B drives forward as customer A drives off.  Customer B is completely fuming and with expletives flying, arrogantly says, “well, that B**th cut me off, she SHOULD pay for my drink”, and continues to express rage, regardless of the free drink.

11/18/14 follow-up 6:30 a.m. I learn that the customer A, who paid for her road error, was driving in tears, hence the cut off. Apparently she had just come from radiation from her cancer treatment.  She felt horrible and in an emotional state at her circumstances, ACCIDENTLY cut off customer B.

I was 17 when I experienced road rage, that ended in murder.  Murder. Murder over getting cut off.  I was managing a restaurant. I had just closed up shop, and it was around 10 p.m. I got in my car, and pulled out onto the main road.  I was directly behind two vehicles who were weaving back and forth.  My first thought was that they were friends messing around, so I was careful to keep my distance.  As I saw my opportunity to pass by them, I could feel the error I made in thinking they were buddies.  It was apparent to me as I began to pass them both, that it was clearly road rage.  As I began to drive downhill with them in the right lane, 2 car lengths behind me, a couple of gunshots pierced the air. A chill went up my spine, as I rapidly ducked, hoping to avoid any cross fire; and swerved into the left turn lane.  As it was just the three of us in this experience together, I think I was in disbelief as I glanced in my rear view mirror in time to see the first car swerve off the road, and the last car make a sharp U-turn and go speeding back up the hill.  I was in complete shock, scared, and did not stick around.  I must’ve looked ghostly as I drove up to my home and repeated the scenario to my parents; who decided we should go together to check in on the car that swerved off the road.

A possible 15 minutes passed by, with the sound of sirens in the air. As we left our residential track, there was one street that was packed with emergency personnel.  We proceeded to the area of the shooting, and the car was gone. Thinking the two were related incidents, we drove back to the chaotic scene and I was apparently sole witness to a murder; caused by road rage.  Stupid road rage. This person destroyed a man’s life; an entire families life. This man was in his 30’s, and engaged.  It was around Christmas time and his fiancée was in the passenger seat as her husband to be was shot and killed; over stupid road rage.

I learned my lesson that day, and it’s carried with me to this day, as I get on the road.  You never know what someone is capable of during road rage. You never know what someone is dealing with.  You never know how short life can be.  It’s best not to tailgate. It’s best to let someone who has cut you off, just drive by without following them; chasing them down to teach them a lesson.  It’s best to drive as safely as you can.

Moral of the story, we are surrounded by SO many people in this world. Some times our paths cross and sometimes they don’t. While we are in a car, we have a relationship with everyone else on the road.  That relationship is confined by a cars length, sometimes more.  We do not know what each person is dealing with inside; their life experiences, or their trials or tribulations.  When someone cuts you off, maybe they are dealing with cancer, a passing of a loved one, rushing to get their ill child from school…..so many scenarios.  Regardless, we are all in this life together, and we best try to realize we are all coping with something.  Drive responsibly, pay it forward, and accept that people make errors.

Image

Time

Four months ago we left all we knew behind to give our family a fresh start with a slower pace; in hopes to focus on dreams instead of living as robots.  This adventure has taken the wind from my sails at times, at the hardships and challenges and the financial struggle. But, with this move we have gained so much more than what a dollar could pay for.  My girls have become the best of friends. They have never gotten along as well as they do now.  Time that was once spent commuting is now used for family time; soccer scrimmages, visiting with family, sitting by an open fire.  This change has slowed me down in ways that were necessary.

The constant chase to beat the clock and fit in as much as I could in the hour between picking up children, is gone. I was always strung up so tight that I didn’t feel like I could fart sideways.  Even as hectic as we lived, we still fit in valuable family time, but it was often so rushed.  It feels so good to slow down.  So good.

I’ve sat in traffic twice in four months.  Twice.  Something to be said from my daily commute of 15 minutes to work, that actually took 40 minutes due to bumper to bumper obnoxiousness.  Racing the clock.  Heart beating and face aglow with rage due to stress; no longer there.

Yes, we miss our friends. We miss sidewalks. We miss the beach.  We miss our church.

What is lost is also gained.  We have been meeting new friends. We have the rugged climate a hiker dreams of. We have lakes upon lakes upon lakes to explore. We found a new church that has been feeding us the word just as the one we left; challenging us the way we desire to live.

Taking the risk to continue the pursuit of what truly matters.