Enjoy the Journey

Laughter and irony are at heart reminders that we are not prisoners in this world but voyagers through it.

From Proof of Heaven: A Neurosurgeon’s Journey into the Afterlife by Eben Alexander, M.D.

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Love & Pride Don’t Mix

Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

Love never fails. But whether there are prophecies, they will fail; whether there are tongues, they will cease; whether there is knowledge, it will vanish away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part. 10 But when that which is perfect has come, then that which is in part will be done away. – 1 Cor. 13: 4-10

 

When pride comes, then comes shame; But with the humble is wisdom. – Prov. 11:2

By pride comes nothing but strife, But with the well-advised is wisdom. – Prov. 13:10

Easy Vegan Organic Energy Bars

vegan energy barsYesterday I had a craving for a high-energy, chocolatey snack, so I decided to make my own all-organic, vegan energy bars. I have seen various versions of these online lately so I had a basic idea of what goes in them and in what quantities. I made this recipe up myself as I went along and I was very pleased with the results. There’s no baking involved, but I did stick them in the freezer for 45 min. to set before I cut them. My two-year-old wasn’t crazy about them but the rest of the family gave rave reviews.

Ingredients:
1 c. dried fruit (I used a combination of apricots & raisins)
1 c. almond meal (if you use almond butter you can reduce the amount of water you add)
1/2 cup unsweetened shredded coconut (plus about 1/4 c. more to sprinkle on top just before freezing)
1/2
cup water
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1 tbs. maple syrup
1 tbs. walnut oil
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 tsp. pumpkin pie spice blend
2 cups raw nuts and or seeds of choice (I used pumpkin and sunflower seeds)

Blend all ingredients except the 2 cups of nuts in a Vitamix or food processor. The mixture should be moist but not soupy, kind of like chunky nut butter. Scrape into a bowl and stir in 2 cups nuts and seeds. Press into an 8″ x 8″ square pan and sprinkle the additional shredded coconut on top. Freeze for 45 min., then cut and enjoy.

 

Paleo Vegan Blueberry Lime “Cheesecake”

2015-03-01 14.19.47My family LOVES dessert. Being the health conscious mom that I am, I usually serve dark chocolate or one of my homemade frozen banana ice creams, but today I decided to go for something a little different. This dessert is a recipe I adapted from Vegan Family Recipes. I didn’t have all the ingredients called for, so I substituted with a little of this and a little of that. If you have a variety of healthy fats and natural, low glycemic sweeteners on hand, it’s very easy to make healthier, or just slightly different, versions of various desserts. It’s fun to experiment, even when it doesn’t come out that great!

The first change I made to this recipe was to use a muffin tin and paper baking cups, since I didn’t have a spring form pan. Neither did I have the nuts listed. No problem! For the crust I used 2/3 cups of almond meal, a tablespoon of sunflower seed butter, 2 dried apricots, and maybe a teaspoon of maple syrup. It was a little bit too sticky after I blended it, so I stirred in some shredded coconut to help me pat down the crust. I’d say I used about a tablespoon.

Next came the filling. The only substitution I made here was to use about 2 teaspoons of sunflower seed butter in place of the cashews. And I added an extra tablespoon of lime juice just because.

Finally, the blueberry topping. I didn’t have fresh blueberries since I live in the currently Arctic Northeast, so I thawed some frozen organic ones. Didn’t have dates either, but again, no biggie. I used some raw, unfiltered wildflower honey… maybe a tablespoon? For extra protein and omega 3, I sprinkled some raw hemp seed hearts on top. The result was absolutely delish!

Immunity Boosting Spicy Lime Hummus

hummusI love to make my own hummus when I have the time. It is so much fresher and more flavorful than what you usually find in grocery stores. I prefer to use dried chick peas and soak them overnight, which also adds to the freshness, but you can use canned chick peas as well. The variety of spices in here, as well as the lime juice and apple cider vinegar, are all great for your immune system. A little disclaimer here: I find it very difficult to follow recipes without making my own modifications to suit my tastes and available ingredients. Therefore, I also have a hard time measuring very accurately and providing exact recipes, but I think this is the closest I’ve come so far. It’s almost exact, so here goes…

2 cups organic chick peas (dry, soaked overnight and cooked 1.5 hrs, or canned)
Juice of 3 limes (squeeze out every last drop!)
2 tbs. avocado oil (could also use olive or walnut)
2 tsp. organic apple cider vinegar
1/4 c. purified water (alkaline, ionized if you have it)
1/2 cup chopped red onion
1 tbs. tahini
1 tsp. sea salt
1/2 tsp. smoked paprika
1/2 tsp. garlic powder or 1-2 cloves fresh garlic
1/4 tsp. turmeric
1/4 tsp. curry powder
1/4 tsp. ground cumin
ground rainbow peppercorns to taste (I turned the grinder about 4 times)
dash cayenne pepper

Toss all ingredients into a Vitamix or food processor and blend away. If it’s too thick, try adding a little more of any of the above liquids (lime juice, oil, or water). If you like it spicier, add more of the cayenne. My kids don’t like things too spicy so I kept it mild. Serve with fresh veggies, chips, or if you’re like me, you may just want to eat it plain like a bowl of pudding. My four kids (2, 5, 8, and 9) and I polished this off in a matter of minutes. Enjoy!

#FridayFavorite: Duolingo

duolingoI am so very happy that I discovered Duolingo at the end of last year. As a home schooler and life long learner, I am always looking to try new things, pick up new skills, and spark interests in my kids. This amazing site allows you to learn a host of new languages absolutely FREE, and the quality is very comparable to Rosetta Stone, which we’ve also tried. Thanks to Duolingo, my husband, 8- and 9-year-old, and I are all learning German and Spanish (in my case brushing up on the Spanish, which I had been meaning to do forever) this year.

The site offers brief lessons that are easy to keep up with, and you can select the pace at which you’d like to learn so that you receive reminder e-mails at the right frequency for you. Besides the regular lessons, you can engage in discussions with other language learners, and practice translating documents, so you get a pretty well rounded language experience.

I love, love, love this site and highly recommend you check it out if you’re interested in studying other languages.

Slowing Down to Speed Up

“I don’t want my children’s education to be so fast-paced and so abstract that there is not time to meditate on the fantastical. I do not want them to treat glorious facts as mundane.”
–Leigh Bortins, The Question

I was just meditating today on the concept of slowing down to speed up, and then I got this quote in a Classical Conversations e-mail, validating my thoughts. The slowing down/speeding up concept is that if you stop and think about what is really important to you and just focus on that one thing… or maybe one or two simple goals related to that thing, you’ll soon end up leaps and bounds ahead of where you’d be if you had a checklist of 10-50 things you’re trying to accomplish all at once. It’s so easy to get distracted and over-schedule these days, yet this “busy-ness” is getting us nowhere.

To share a personal example, last year all I really wanted to focus on was home schooling my children well. I just wanted to be a good mom, and a good teacher, and in a good mood, more often than not. Pretty simple conceptually, although all moms know that this is far easier said than done for nearly all of us. As I focused on just this one main goal–whereas I normally have a minimum of 6-7 challenging goals going simultaneously–I started to feel so light and unencumbered. I actually had time to think, and read for pleasure (!), and just sit and enjoy my kids. I was so unaccustomed to these luxuries that I kept feeling guilty or lost at first. I had a sneaking suspicion that I was forgetting something and that my bubble would be burst at any moment. But instead, what happened was that eventually other goals that I had not previously been able to accomplish when I tackled them more directly and distractedly, began to come to fruition as well. Consequently, not only are my kids and I now enjoying home schooling immensely, I am also in my best physical shape in more than a decade, and I have my own business that is actually bringing in money! And those are just two of the bonus goals–there are several other “lesser” goals that would never even have made my top ten list in the past that I am also making progress on.  WOO. HOO.

Slowing down is such an important thing to do. As much as we like to identify ourselves by our occupations or bodies or reputations, we are in fact vibrant, creative spirits that long for beauty and truth and love. In a world that constantly tries to suck the meaning out of everything, we are yearning to make our lives meaningful. For most of us, I’m willing to bet that our dreams are pretty much just sitting there beside us, waiting for us to turn and pick them up, but we’re just flying by, too oblivious to notice. If you think things are moving too fast, or you’re frustrated that you haven’t been able to accomplish things despite putting them on your “list” for years, try slowing down for awhile. Breathe, and assess your values and priorities. And then if you’re really feeling courageous, try organizing your life to actually support those top priorities, at the expense of lesser ones if necessary. I can almost guarantee it won’t be easy, but it will definitely be worth it.