Light

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My word for 2017 is light.

I’ve started this post ten different times and each time I reread it I erased it.  How does one write about lightness and goodness without it coming off like a sermon? It’s been hard these past few weeks and I feel like things will just get harder. For those who are new to my blog, I’m an activist. If that brings pictures to your head of me tying myself to a tree you’re close. Unfortunately, I lack the kind of courage that kind of action needs. Instead, I donate my time, and money and do everything short of tying myself to that tree to fight for the environment, to fight against climate change, to recycle and reuse, and be the best activist I can for those that don’t have a voice–the animals that walk our earth.  I’m a food activist hence this blog and the many years of research I’ve got under my belt about it. I also volunteer at a homeless shelter and provide money, time and resources to those less fortunate than I.

I can’t turn the news on right now because I can’t handle everything I see being done that goes against everything so many people tirelessly worked towards. All of the work, effort, research and time being deleted, darkened and destroyed. It’s heartbreaking and I’m not sure what if anything I can do about it? I can protest sure, and I can give money and give more of my time. But what changes when programs against the things I believe become the new norm? Another thing I can’t wrap my head around is why it is always the very vital things to all our livelihoods always under fire? It’s hard for me to be full of light and goodness when people so blatantly bash the very things that give them light, and air and peace and life. It’s hard for someone like me who has been a nature lover for over 45 years to reason out other people’s disbelief in proven facts. It’s hard for me to understand the never ending plight and disgrace of racism. So that is where I am at. I’m always telling my husband he can’t keep coming at something from a defensive point of view. But that’s where I feel I’m heading and what I really want is for everyone to just sit down together and maybe agree to disagree, but let’s not go back 100 years or more to censoring everything that goes against the government’s opinions.

When someone acts or reacts from a  defensive point of view they aren’t listening to you. First and foremost to them is defending their opinion or points and really bashing you for having one opposite of theirs. More times than not this kind of conversation ends in threats from one or both sides.

Listening is an art. Communication involves both talking and listening. In a country that considers itself democratic all opinions should be on the table, but they are not. The opinions of one side are starting to be deleted, darkened and oppressed. Keywords to note- delete, darkness and oppressed.

I make a point of not talking about politics or religion on my blog, in my real life, even amongst friends and co-workers.  Because these two subjects are hot buttons of conflict here and I guess just about everywhere.  I don’t think either particularly call a person to defend the earth, or defend its people or defend the animals that walk upon it. Humans do that. I’m human. I’m trying as hard as I can to walk in the light, do the right thing and keep moving forward. The here and now is important but what I do, what we all do to ensure there is a future is equally if not more important. Many cannot see tomorrow or refuse to safeguard tomorrow over today.  Even though tomorrow isn’t promised and never comes for some of us, it still comes. And I’ll be right here God willing to protect it because no matter how dark things get, there will be light.

What’s your word for 2017?

Easy Homemade Pizza Crust

Pizza is a love of mine. In my early twenties I was considered a pizza connoisseur. One of my three jobs at the time was pizza maker. I took this job very seriously, so seriously I took day trips to pizza shops to try their pizza. Why? Because I loved pizza and because I wanted the pizza where I worked to be the best pizza around. There was a time in my life I could have easily ate pizza every day without issue. Even today pizza is my favorite meal. Aside from going out to a pizzeria one can always buy a premade pizza found in the freezer department of every store. We’ve tried them all and even though there are some that are pretty good (Paul Newman, Digiorno), nothing beats homemade. I bought the kits for years to make homemade pizza, but grew tired of the dough not rising or being too sticky or ? So this past Decemember I started to try my hand once again at making homemade crust. I found a recipe here that makes perfect easy to work with pizza dough every time. Try it!

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True North

Ask Wikipedia about true north and you’ll find–true north is different from magnetic north. True north lies a long the earth’s surface  towards the geographic north poles.  It’s quite a complex direction that is found by carefully  adjusting magnetic forces from the compass to remove compass deviations.

Metaphorically speaking someone’s true north could be made up of many things-lines they don’t cross, when they feel they are at their best, when they feel right with the world and so many more possibilities. For me it is the best version of myself; when I feel I am representing the truest version of myself. My true north was discovered several years back during a self-imposed sabbatical. That it exists for me and I can feel it’s presence is what makes it such a beautiful and necessary thing for me.  My true north can and does get weighed down by certain “magnetic forces” around me. For example negative people, hurtful people, unjust circumstances or outcomes and of course things I see happening in the world via the news, newspapers, news sources and the many documentaries I watch a year.

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During times like these the first thing I do is pray.  I pray for strength and I pray for forgiveness and I pray for more patience and tolerance. Prayer reminds me to stay focused and on course. Nothing can be gained by acting out or going against one’s own moral code. I don’t let anyone push me off center to the point I would cross a line that I’ve self imposed or act out of character altogether.

Sometimes things happen in my life that kind of shake me off my course. During times like these the first thing I do is gather my thoughts and decide if there is anything that can be done to change things. Part of what stresses people out during uneasy or challenging times is their inability to realize that they can change their reaction to them;they change how they deal with something challenging. Their go to may be worry, and worry until the challenge is over.  Instead I try to think of a better way, or a less stressed way I can react to these kind of times. Distraction also helps, as long as you don’t escape too long.

My true north is my center. I am grounded when I am centered.  When I am centered I am productive and I’m also the best version of myself.   Staying grounded for me means staying open, not closed. Open to talking, open to listening, open to understanding and open to dealing with fear, and uncertainly which are usually two things humans are challenged by the most. Uncertainty is hard for me–it seems like most uncertain things are dealt with by the passing of time. Thus why I pray for patience (ahem). Fear, well fear is a part of everyone’s life. Fear is often the unknown. Fear is sometimes the well known and your still not being able to deal with something.  I take what I am afraid of and said it out loud at the time I feel fear the most. I recognize what it is and then it becomes so much easier to deal with.

Soon my posts will be less philosophical and more about food again (promise). My seed catalogs just came in and I can’t wait to order seeds and start my seedlings. Until next time–be well!

Moving forward dragging feet

I’ve been stuck in kind of a mental limbo since this past fall.  I think the biggest reason why is because I watched too much news.  I watch, or did watch too much. I haven’t had the news on now for nearly two months. I also haven’t been reading the front page of my newspaper for quite some time.  Something shifted for me a  few months back that I have not been able to forget. It’s left me pondering the intent of humans, and trying to rationalize or understand bad behavior, or find some kind of explanation for the way things are around me and in the world. It’s not been often that I have to think about some of the kind of things I’ve thought about over the past two months. To the point, as my title states, moving forward dragging feet.

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The last couple of weekends my husband and I have been taking it easy. We manage to pluck  off an ornament or two and then quit. Not at all anxious to let go of the feelings we feel at Christmas time- hope, peace and faith.  This past summer and fall we spent a lot of time in nature, often driving for almost an hour to walk peacefully in one of our favorite places in Wisconsin, a wildlife refuge.  Each day now as I take my morning walk I hear a group, it would seem the same group, of Canadian geese fly over my head towards the state park we live by. Then by nightfall they fly back over our home toward the wildlife refuge to sleep. Each time I hear, then see them, they bring a sense of peace to my heart.

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This past years election news and the candidates coverage really caused me to fall into a pit of lost hope. Lost hope in people, in the process of election, and my faith in human kind. As a lifelong advocate for human rights, and a caretaker for over twenty years for people with disabilities, watching someone in the position of power (who I shall not name here) make fun of someone with a disability really broke me.  I kept thinking that this cannot be happening, I cannot be the only person who sees this as  the lowest, cruelest thing a person could do to another. Though I knew deep down inside I was not, I truly felt like this person was rewarded time and time again for his cruelness, negativity, deceitful behaviors and general overall feelings and actions toward those in society who may not be in the position to defend themselves against someone like him. I kept looking for good news and the bad just kept coming and coming.  Darkness fell and though we had a wonderful Christmas, I just kept feeling more and more uneasy about starting the New Year. But it came and we made it through and both feel a renewed sense of faith. I’ve read so many blog posts lately of people just like me who feel like I do and in their posts I have found the light that I so need.  I am moving forward now only slightly dragging my feet. It’s a new year and I must move forward and be a part of it. I hope there is a lot more happiness and light in 2017 than there was in 2016. In the words of Maria Shriver– ” I hope we can all stand up and say this is what I’m FOR rather than this is what I’m AGAINST” in the coming new year. ”

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It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas!

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Happy Sinterklaas Day!!

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My Sinterklaas gift! – Beekman 1802 Snow Globe String Lights (sold out in stores)

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Welcome December and busy schedule. Time is moving quickly as it usually does this time of year. Between trying to catch holiday lights and holiday movies, and Hallmark’s Christmas shows there is work, baking, entertaining and of course our volunteer schedule to keep up on. I’ve baked peanut butter cookies with chocolate stars, lefse, sugar cookies and rosettes thus far. More to come before Christmas I am sure. Here in Wisconsin the snow has finally arrived a long with the bitterly cold temperatures of this time of year. I hope this December day finds you happy, healthy, and full of the spirit of Christmas!

Homemade Turkey Gravy

Over the years I have perfected two things Thanksgiving dinner related- the turkey and the turkey gravy. The only thing about my thanksgiving meal that never turns out is the stuffing. I’m not one to stuff my bird– I’ve tried bread crumbs and day old dried bread but it never tastes as good as store bought. But store bought has so many ingredients in it. Have you ever looked at the ingredient list for Stove Top stuffing? We cannot eat it. So no stuffing this year, but of course there will be a well made Turkey and lump free gravy.  And lots more, but this post is about turkey gravy (ahem).

My tried and true recipe is here . Where it says gravy or cornstarch, I always use cornstarch. You are to dissolve the cornstarch in water ( as little as needed to make a thin paste) and while it is dissolving I take a clean finger and stir it around until fully dissolved and then add to the drippings in the pan. When I used to use a spoon to help dissolve it, the cornstarch (clumps of it) would stick to my spoon. Make sure your paste of cornstarch is thin. Besides being a simple recipe, it is simply delicious and your people will thank you.

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Here’s wishing all who are following my blog, or who just stop to read a post or two, a wonderful Thanksgiving Day!

My journey to becoming a foodie!@

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Before I was introduced to all the wonderful chefs of Food Network back in 1999 there was Jamie Oliver–the Naked Chef. I admit that the first time I heard the title of his show on BBC I thought “I wonder if they’ll show it here on American TV seeing as how he is naked”.  Much to my surprise the title of his show was just that and not to be taken quite so literally. Previous to my love for American chefs, and American cooking I was also highly influenced, and still am, by these British chefs also- Nigella Lawson, Gordon Ramsay, and Delia Smith. Of course before Jamie there were the fabulous French chefs on PBS every afternoon at 4pm. Now those chefs have been in my life for many years starting with Julia Child (American chef) whom I still watch today (dvd collection). I love the cooking shows and documentaries on PBS – to this day PBS is still my favorite television station. Some of the very first blogs I read, way back in the late 90s, were foodie blogs. My favorite to this day, that I’ve followed for twelve years, is Sarah Cooks .

So to continue my journey’s beginning- my favorite cookbook of Jamie’s is Jamie at Home. My favorite recipe is Roasted Carrot and Avocado Salad. I love that Jamie was one of the first chefs to create and promote healthy recipes/living. At the same time I was watching Jamie’s show I was also watching the first of Martha Stewart’s cooking shows.

From Jamie the Naked Chef and Martha Stewart’s food segment’s on the Martha Stewart Living shows in the early nineties to Ina Garten, Tyler Florence, Mario Batali and Paula Deen. I became utterly and completely smitten with Food Network and its cooking shows. Eventually I began collecting cookbooks and instead of just watching the chefs cook or bake something– I began cooking or baking their dishes . From that came wanting to source the best ingredients and the beginnings of a love affair of ordering exotic ingredients or hard to find ingredients online. From that came my passion for building a beautifully stocked pantry and purchasing the best pots and pans and cooking gadgets available on the market. Finally all of it led to my ambition in 2004  to cook and bake with whole foods, whole food ingredients- which is were chef Alice Waters and documentarian Michael Pollan come in. From this ambition and life changing way of living came this blog which started in 2008.

After having sourced most of our food from farmer’s markets for so many years, I eventually became quite interested in homesteading. Which is were following blogs like The Elliott Homestead and so many others has come in to play. From my absolute love of farming, growing my own and living a more sustainable life has come the desire to buy land and grow my own food.

Relocating has been something we’ve talked about for quite some time. It was always going to be something we did by our retirements. Finally the stars have all come into alignment and we’ve decided to return back to the country I was born and raised for some time in and buy a piece of land. I am still a citizen of that country so our relocating there is a lot easier for me (and my family) to do than it might be for others. Our plan is to purchase the land very soon and then start the moving process shortly after. We hope to be settled by this time next year.

I hope you have enjoyed my journey on becoming a foodie. Until next time–do your body a big favor and choose to eat good food!

Cranberry Sauce

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The recipe I use is — Cranberry Sauce

It’s almost that time again for some to fix the turkey, prepare the stuffing and serve the cranberry sauce or mold to friends, family or in my case- both plus I will also serve dinner at one of the shelters I volunteer at.  I didn’t always like the tartness of cranberry sauce, but over the years it has grown on me. Now, it seems my turkey would be naked without a spoonful or two by its side.

This coming weekend we are running to Hobby Lobby and Target to look at all their Christmas decorations. We were at both places two weeks ago when they were just starting to put stuff out. Usually we don’t buy things at the beginning of the season. For years we really haven’t bought much new because we have totes and totes and more totes filled with Christmas. This year, though, we just couldn’t resist and we were able to get some things I really wanted before they were all sold out.  So far how we are decorating for the holidays seems to be what is trending right now. Woodland creatures are everywhere, but I still believe glitter and fur will be the trendiest.

Until next time–stay safe and enjoy the nice weather outdoors!