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Friday, May 31, 2019

Around the House

Here we are, the final day of May! So far a cool, wet spring. The peonies are beginning to open, the trees are fully in leaf, summer is almost here even though the temperatures don't feel like it.

This morning while out walking I turned a corner and was wowed by the sunrise, the sun was just a large orange-pink-red circle, it was truly beautiful, my picture does not do it justice.

This is not a good picture, because it was really beautiful and rather stunning in reality.

Also on my walk I came across a strange creature, something I have not seen before, and I do not know what it is, if you have any ideas let me know. It was about eight inches long, appeared to have many teeny-tiny legs, and moved rather like a worm. It was in the road heading into grass, not too far from a pond and a wetland, it looks as if it is more at home in a wet or damp environment.

What on earth is this creature?
This week I learned about sprouted grains, the health benefits of eating them and how to sprout them. Armed with my new information I went to my favorite health food shop and picked up three whole grains, rye, wheat, and spelt, and a fine mesh strainer lid for my mason jars. I started the sprouting process on Wednesday, and this morning the sprouts have started to emerge. I will store the fully sprouted grains in the refrigerator to retard further growth, and enjoy some with each of my meals. Sprouted grains are good to add to salads, cooked foods, and to my morning oats. The benefits of eating sprouted grain are many, there are numerous YouTube videos to watch if you wish to learn more.

I attempted to make Vegan Yogurt this week with unsweetened soy milk and probiotics, using a recipe I found online. The yogurt thickened up somewhat, more like a buttermilk consistency, but it was so tangy, and I mean tangy, that I ended up throwing it away. I am going to look for another recipe to try. As the saying goes, try, try, and try again :)

The other week my grandsons brought over a dragon fruit, a fruit I have no experience with. We googled to find out how to eat it. I must say it was rather odd, the pulp inside is an unappetizing gray color with little seeds, rather like a kiwi in texture and taste, but the color is so off putting. The outside of the fruit is beautiful, a ruby pink fading to a yellowish green, it is so shocking to cut it open and be faced with a very bland gray pulp. I think I can honestly say I have had dragon fruit and doubt I will ever choose to eat it again.

Last weekend Dave and I went shopping for glider for our front porch, we had a porch swing for many years, but it eventually fell victim to the weather and was no longer safe to use. I missed the porch swing, but decided a glider would work better on the porch as it would not need a frame to hang from, the frame takes up a lot of room.  We went to several stores and eventually picked out this glider, we really like it and it fits well on the porch.

We decided to really limit the amount of plastic we bring into our home, we now take our own bags to any store that we visit, and I choose glass containers over plastic when there is a choice. But to avoid bringing any plastic into our home seems to be an impossibility, so many items are in plastic and I can understand why, it is a versatile material, lightweight, not easily broken, but when we are done with it what do we do with it?  Due to years of not using our own bags we have tons of plastic grocery bags in our home and I was feeling frustrated about what to do with them and then I discovered PLARN, lol.
Plarn is yarn created out of strips of plastic bags, there are many tutorials online to see how to turn your bags into plarn. Once the balls of plarn are rolled you simply crochet with the stuff, I am going to make a tote bag. I think this is an excellent way to up-cycle our plastic bags. The tote will be useful, practical, and long lasting, and those plastic bags get to live a second life, a much, much longer life of usefulness. I will post an update on this new to me project, wish me luck with my plarn adventure.

I really like that I am fifty-five years old and every week learn or experience something new to me for the first time. What new things have you experienced or learned recently?

Peace be with you,


Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Reading and Random Thoughts

Our grandchildren on Easter Sunday

Yesterday evening I finished The Seven Storey Mountain by Thomas Merton. This book is NOT a fast read, and it should not be, it is a read a bit everyday and absorb the wisdom kind of book, it took me five weeks of daily reading to finish, and I am sad I reached the end. An autobiography of faith is the blurb on the cover, and that is an accurate description. We start with the arrival of Thomas Merton into the world, his nomadic childhood living in France, the US, Bermuda, France, England, back to the US. His mother died when he was a young boy, Thomas roamed the world with his restless artist father while his younger brother remained in the US with the grandparents. 
The book is so much more than historical detail, it is a book of a spiritual journey and a "coming home" to God. As a child there really was no formal religious practice in the Merton family, but the few exposures Thomas had left a deep impact. 
.he book quickly moves to the college years and Thomas seeking more in life rather than drifting with no real purpose, perhaps a desire to be grounded, in a way his own father never was. Thomas becomes Catholic and then the spiritual journey goes into overdrive, the steps of the journey are told beautifully and in a slow, meaningful way, allowing the reader to journey too. I cannot imagine that anyone reading this book could walk away unchanged. 
I was deeply moved by the writings of Thomas Merton and am grateful that this book found me. My next daily spiritual reading book is another by Thomas Merton, Sign of Jonas. 

Yesterday morning, I am an early riser, getting up at 4:30 to say my prayers and read the daily readings, and then do a couple of crosswords before starting the rest of my day. The sun had begun to rise and I walked into the kitchen to get a glass of water, I was filling my glass when I looked up and out of the window and saw the MOST GLORIOUS rainbow I have ever seen in my life. The colors were so vibrant, the entire rainbow could be seen, it was simply spectacular. I took a few pictures but they hardly do it justice, better pictures can be found here: RAINBOW PICS.  
After a short while the rainbow disappeared but nature continued to stun, the western sky was dark, due to rain moving into the area, but the eastern sky was bright with the rising sun, this created a golden light that spectacularly lit up our morning. 

And last but not least, isn't this just the cutest Cutie you have ever seen? I don't think in all the years I purchased bags of Cuties I have ever seen one with a leaf still attached, it just looks so perfect!

Monday, May 20, 2019

Vegan Eats - YUMMY

 I really enjoy being Vegan, I enjoy the foods I eat, lots of veggies and fresh fruit, legumes and grains. It is a varied and enjoyable way to eat, truly indulging in the fruits (and veggies) of the earth. The goodness of the fresh food nourishes my body.

I recently started reading a book By Will Tuttle, Ph.D, The World Peace Diet, it explores eating for spiritual health and social harmony, and promotes veganism as the way to achieve this. The book is empowering, profound, may I even say, life changing. The intended audience is everyone and it will certainly make you think about where your food comes from and how it affects your mind, body and spirit. The book has excellent reviews, I borrowed this copy from the library, but plan to purchase a used copy for myself.

Veganism became a reality in November of 1944, when Donald Watson and his wife Dorothy coined the term Veganism. Donald founded the Vegan Society in England, and  he wrote, published, and distributed the newsletters by himself for several years.
Donald lived a life of "clean eating" before such a term was thought of, he didn't drink, didn't smoke, ate a whole food plant based vegan diet, and was an avid Fells walker. Donald lived to be 95 and never took any medication in his life. Here is a link to his obituary issued by the Vegan Society Donald Watson - Founder of the Vegan Movement it is worth a click.
The newsletter gives a brief biography of Donald, and includes photographs of him and some quotes on veganism. A simple man, who lived a simple life, never looking for fame, riches, or notoriety, yet he created a movement that is now known world wide and every day more and more people choose to go vegan.  RIP Donald Watson.

I am the only vegan in my family, so meat is cooked and served in our home, I wish it was not so. I do my best to promote veganism and produce side dishes and deserts that are vegan and do my best to encourage healthy eating. During January I only made vegan meals for our big family Sunday dinner, our daughter Amber, her husband Brad and the five boys all joined in and humored me and enjoyed the meals. I did vegan meatloaf one Sunday, and a vegan Mexican fiesta, another, and cannot remember what other meals I prepared. Our other children for the most part simply avoided the meals, I was disappointed that they would not even give it a try.

I recently watched a YouTube video called  Hot Diggity Carrot Dogs by Jane and Ann Esselstyn, I cannot begin to tell you just how perfectly a cooked carrot mimics a hot dog, weird, right? I cooked my carrot, for the bun I lightly toasted seven grain sprouted bread which I then covered in spicy mustard, popped my carrot dog on the folded toast and topped it off with vegan coleslaw. IT WAS AMAZINGLY GOOD!
The vegan coleslaw is easy to make, I found a recipe online to make mayo using extra firm silken tofu, it is quite nice and only 8 calories per serving, so win win all around. I used the mayo to make the slaw dressing and mixed it with purple (red?) cabbage.
There are so many healthy vegan recipes online, I am sure Donald Watson would be mightily happy to know that veganism has become very mainstream.

Here are some pictures of various vegan dishes I have made for the family and myself:

Vegan Truffles, my grandchildren renamed them Chocolate Balls! Warning, these disappear quickly,

Vegan Waldorf Salad, the dressing is made by whizzing up orange juice and dates in the blender, it is a very refreshing side.

Fresh Fruit Salad, a big hit with the grandchildren.

A healthy afternoon snack for the grands children

Vegan Coleslaw, made with homemade vegan mayo as the base for the dressing.

Tofu Scramble, this is such a nice quick meal with a piece of whole grain toast.

A Vegan Slaw Dog, the "hot dog" is a cooked carrot.

Apple Bars, and Banana Zucchini Oat muffins