Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Chocolate Chip Blondies

I thought I would get a head start on the recipes so here is one more very delicious one for you, taken from my teachers book. To die for delicious, I'm serious. Gluten free as well!

Chocolate Chip Blondies 
Taken from The Ice Dream Cookbook by Rachel Albert-Matesz
Hands-On: 30 mins   Cooking: 25-30 mins   Yield: 16 Brownies
Wet Ingredients
1/2 cup packed soft, pitted dates
1/3 cup virgin-pressed coconut oil or palm shortening, at room temperature
1/4 cup honey or agave nectar
2 medium to large eggs, at room temperature
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract or alcohol free vanilla flavoring
Dry Ingredients
1/3 sweet brown rice flour, millet flours, or sorghum flour (lightly spoon into measuring cup and level)
2 tablespoons unmodified potato starch (spoon into measuring cup and level)
1/3 cup almond, walnut, pecan or pumpkinseed meal (from toasted, pulverized nuts or seeds)
1/2 teaspoon gluten free, non-aluminum  baking powder
1/2 teaspoon xanthan gum or guar gum
1/4 teaspoon finely ground unrefined sea salt
1/4 teaspoon pure stevia extract powder or 1/2 teaspoon clear stevia extract liquid added with the wet ingredients
1/2 cup bitter sweet chocolate chips or coarsely chopped bittersweet dark chocolate (70-73% cocoa content)

  1. Place the dates into a bowl. Add water to cover by 1 inch. Let soak for 1 to 2 hours, then drain and place dates aside.
  2. Position the rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Generously grease an 8-inch square baking pan or a 9 inch round cake pan. 
  3. Combine wet ingredients in a blender, Vita Mix, or a food processor. Blend until smooth. If using a blender of Vita Mix, scrape puree into a medium bowl.
  4. Whisk dry ingredients, then add to wet ingredients and blend. Fold in chocolate chips. Scrape batter into prepared pan. Smooth top with a damp spatula.
  5. Bake until edges begin to pull away from sides and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, 20-30 minutes. The center will firm as it cools.
  6. Cut into 16 squares. Allow to cool, then store in covered container at room temp for up to 1 week or refrigerate for longer storage.

Sunflower Seed Pate

I'm going to make a very serious attempt to do a recipe of the week. If I fail at that then I will call it recipe of the whenever I remember. We shall see how this goes.

This is an incredibly delicious raw food recipe that I got from my lovely friend, Mary. While I'm not really a raw food girl I am hooked on this one. It's easy, makes a great filler for things like celery sticks or even as a stand alone meal, and you can make it yours by changing up ingredients or adding smoked salmon to the nori wrap, which is a favorite of mine for lunch. Enjoy!

After making, cover and add to Nori Wrap or use in celery slices,
as a dip for carrots, whatever you want.
Sunflower Seed Pate
2 Cups Sunflower Seeds (Raw, soaked for 8-12 hours  or Roasted)
1/3 Cup Red or Sweet Onion, chopped
1/2 Bell Pepper, any color
1 Piece of Ginger, chopped
1/4 Cup Lemon Juice
1-2 TSP Sea Salt
1 TBSP Honey or Agave (optional)

Place all ingredients in food processor and blend until thoroughly mixed. It makes 3 cups and will last for 5 days refrigerated.

Suggested Use: Nori Wraps
Needed: Raw nori sheets, Avocado cut into strips, cucumber cut into strips, sprouts of choice, lettuce, celery cut into strips.
Lay out nori sheet on clean, dry surface. Arrange a romaine leaf on top of the nori sheet so that it completely covers the length of one side of the nori. The romaine prevents the vegetables from getting the nori sheet wet, which makes it prone for tearing.
Place some pate in the pocket of the romaine leaf along the length of the nori sheet. Top with a layer of the other vegetables that are cut up, keeping the ingredients in a narrow pile. Fold the edge of the nori closest to you over the filling. Gently roll the nori away from you, tightly and evenly, into a firm, snuglly wrapped roll. Seal the exposed edge of the nori roll by wetting it with a little water. 

Optional: Add smoked salmon. It is amazing made this way. Like your own sushi at home. Well, like a giant sushi burrito, but it's fantastic.

The Adventures of Monica and Rachel

The first time I met Becky was in 7th Grade. She had long dark hair that she kept braided, perfect handwriting, and the best posture I had ever seen. I thought she was awesome immediately, especially since I write like twenty doctors combined, all scratchy and elusive to the point where I don't even know what I was trying to say. Little did I know at that time that this handwriting master was going to be one of the most important people in my life.

Whenever Beck and I would go out to a place where no one knew us, for example a dance or out of town for the day, or even when we were incredibly bored and wanted to throw someone off, we would use code names just for fun. She was Monica and I was Rachel. No one ever caught on. Maybe if we had a Joey and Phoebe with us they would have, but never once did anyone act like our identities had been stolen from a popular TV show. It worked well except for the fact that we usually forgot we had these code names and ended up having to explain why we had other names we used for each other. Those were tough times. Although we used the monikers of our famous Friends, we really have always credited ourselves to being the modern day version of Lucy and Ethel. Whenever one of us sees an I Love Lucy Ethel and Lucy friendship magnet or what have you, we get it for the other person. Good times we've had.

Here are some of our more adventurous stories. Please feel free to shake your head and laugh at us.

Let's go for a Walk
Becky and I used to go on four mile walks several times a week when we were teenagers. We had one particular route we loved taking but would sometimes venture out into other areas of town for fun. No matter the path we took, we always ran into trouble of the four legged variety. There was this one time when I was ahead of Beck and turned around to look at her only to spot a dog quietly and angrily walking up behind her. Never before has my brain shut down so quickly. I couldn't talk. I literally just stood there making little sounds while trying to find a rock on the ground until I realized I was never, ever going to be able to tell her what was about to go down. So, I decided to run. I figured that running would convey to her the message my mouth was unable to spit out. Hey, if you saw your friend fleeing away wouldn't you run too? That was my thought. At some point I did yell back "DOG! DOOOOOOOOOG!" and she got the idea. When she caught up with me she hit me promptly on the arm, as any good friend would do, as a way of thanking me for saving her life with the warning run/yell.

We were attacked so regularly by dogs that you would think we would've just given up walking altogether, but nope. Not us. We're not quitters. We developed keen walking senses where we would either sense one coming up and take a turn to avoid it or, more commonly, scream and hold onto each other for dear life while trying to escape.

Just recently when I went back home we decided to go on our favorite route. It was nice to see how our walking senses had stayed with us all these years later. Several times we jumped at nothing and we even freaked out appropriately at a fake coyote statue in someones yard. Yep, we've still got it.

The Scream
Payson is a small town. You have to be creative to entertain yourself. Beck and I would go driving a lot to do such entertaining. Heck, we still do when I go back and visit. On one particular occasion we were driving through a neighborhood and there were some guys outside this house hanging out. Becky told me to scream at them...so I did. I screamed my most blood curdling scream ever. Ever! At one point I even heard my scream branch off into two different sound tones, which impressed me as I didn't think that was even possible. Anyway, I scream, Becky's happy face takes a look of sheer terror, the guys look at us weirdly and we take off in her truck at the speed of light. She then leaned over and hit me (this is a signature trademark of true friendship) as we rounded the corner out of there.

Becky: Why did you do that!?!
Me: You told me to scream!
Becky: Not like that! Like a sexy scream!
Me: A what? Huh...oh. Ohhhhhh.

I told her she would need to clarify since I obviously didn't know what a sexy scream was. I mean really, I watched a lot of horror movies back then. A lot, a lot, a lot of horror movies. There was one scream I knew and it was the one that told your entire neighborhood a serial killer was in your house. That was the extent of my screaming capabilities. I then proceeded to tell her of my new found ability to scream in two voices when she informed me that I had scared her so much with my unexpected shriek that what I was hearing was her screaming along with me. I had startled her, to say the least.

So picture this: You're some poor innocent guys hanging out at your house when two girls in a truck drive by. One minute the blonde girl is smiling, the next she's screaming her head off. Then the brunette freaks out because of the blonde and starts screaming too. Then they turn around as quickly as possible and almost crash into the neighbors house while doing so.

Hilarious, right? And maybe a little terrifying mixed with some confusion.

The truth is, we screamed a lot when we drove, and not the sexy kind either. The I'm Terrified kind. We used to drive and talk and a lot of that driving was done out in dark places, like Doll Baby Ranch road, which is in the middle of nowhere. We used to think we saw all kinds of things. If we hadn't lost our voices by the time we were done hanging out, it was a miracle. 

The Boulder
Speaking of Doll Baby Ranch, there was this one lovely evening when we decided to go out there and park the truck and talk. Just get out of town and hang out. Becky found a little pull out where we could back in, in case other trucks came up the road. Unfortunately, she ended up backing us up onto a boulder. Yes, a boulder. It was about three feet tall and round. Mind you, it's nighttime and we're in a forest like area with nothing around but miles of...nothing. Terrifying, silent nothing. This is an excellent horror story kind of place for all of those reasons. Try as we might, we could not get off of the boulder. It was awful. I'm not even sure how much time passed as we tried to figure out a way out of our mess. Finally, she came up with a horrible plan which consisted of me having to get out of the truck and go jump up and down on the truck bed to try to, I don't know, bounce it off the rock while she would try and pull away from it. This, I was not happy with.

Me plus the forest plus stranded in the middle of nowhere at night is bad. Add on to that my fear of werewolves (due to above mentioned horror movies) and there is no way, NO WAY, I am getting out of the perceived safety of the truck.  I did though. Why on earth, I don't know. I'm pretty sure the fear of being stuck there all night outweighed the fear of stepping out of the truck for a few moments, in the hopes of securing our freedom.

I don't remember the rest of this story well, but Becky does because she reminds me every so often that I was in the pickup bed jumping up and down yelling, "Noooooo bears. Noooo wolves. Don't eat me. I cannot believe this...Beck...Beck, did you hear that?? BECKY! Did you? I think I see...oh shoot...I think...ughhh...please no wolves, please no coyotes. Beck, BECKY! I am never, not never, ever, ever coming back out here at night...Beck. Psst! Did you hear that?!" It continued on like that for a while, I'm sure. I don't even know how we got off the boulder, but clearly we did because here I am writing this. See how traumatized I was? I have blocked that portion out completely. 

Four Wheeling
I remember very clearly the time I almost died. Twice, actually, when we were four wheeling. There for a little while Becky was really into ATV's and I was up for trying any new adventure. She would drive, because I couldn't - we tried and it was very, very bad - and I hopped on the back. We were on this dirt road out by her house when she suddenly went down a hill. A small hill, mind you, but a hill. It's not like I didn't see the hill or anything, I just didn't realize that I wasn't holding on tight enough for dear life. One second I'm sitting up straight having a ball and the next my legs are literally flying up over her head. All I can do at that point is grip onto the bottom of the ATV to keep from doing a back flip type thing off of it.  It was like I was trying to do a Cirque du Soleil kind of move without actually meaning to. How I didn't fall off, I don't know, but I imagine my guardian angel must have been frantically trying to keep me on and shunning me for being an idiot. I do remember that it freaked Becky out pretty good and we took it easy the rest of that day, key phrase being that day.

On a completely different occasion we went out to where there were some other trails and a very steep, very large hill that kind of went into a river ravine and back up. The perfect hill for anyone who wanted to go dirt bike riding or, like us, four wheeling. By this time we had done a little more riding and I had successfully kept my legs and myself firmly planted on the seat. I was ready for this hill. Bring it on! Going down was a piece of cake but up was the trick. The first time we were fine. The second time, not so much. I accidentally did the legs in the air death trick again and this time Becky almost came with me. That ended our four wheeling with any hills. It was flat ground for us only.

The very last time we ever went on one of these adventures was when it was summer and we wanted to go cool off at this river by her house.  We loaded the four wheeler into her truck and took off for the water. While wheeling around we spotted some guy fishing in the river. I decided he looked like Heath Ledger from a distance, which therefore meant we should go talk to him. I had just read some teen magazine article on how these random people bumped into Heath Ledger somewhere when they were hanging out so I was certain this was the same case for us. I was clearly in love with him during this time in my life. We get closer and he gets far less Heath like and much more creepy looking. We attempt to turn around and go unnoticed, but to our misfortune he spots us and says hello. We're friendly (and stupid) so we say hello back. Then he proceeds to tell us he just got out of jail. For stealing a car. Uh-huh...time to go.

We go back to the four wheeler only to realize we are out of gas. Like completely and totally out of gas and cannot load the four wheeler into the truck at all. We debate leaving it there but don't want Becky's mom to kill her when the ex-con steals it, so we do the only thing we can think of - we ask him to help push it in the truck. Brilliant, right? See, I was fresh out of martial arts, me and my purple belt, plus I had recently taken down a football player with one swift move when he tried to kiss me at school, so I was certain I could take this guy, me and all of my 5 feet and 3 inches. No problemo. He obliged us and loaded the four wheeler in the truck, but asked for our numbers to which we gave him completely fake ones that probably didn't even exist in our area code. But hey, we made it out alive and with the four wheeler, which was the goal. That little event put an end to our four wheeling adventures and our approaching of strangers that resembled movie stars.

Flagstaff and the Blizzard
One of our most memorable and death defying acts was our trip to Flagstaff one winter. This would be the one my mom knew nothing about, the one where she thought I was at Becky's house all day. We left early and got to Flag to have our fun day out of town. The weather was cold, but nice. We had finals that night in our college psych class so we weren't going to stay too long. We were having fun checking out little stores here and there when all of a sudden it started to snow. We had brought my gigantic Suburban so we thought we were fine.

We're driving through town and it's getting so icy that at a corner light where I'm making a turn, I slide into the sidewalk. I do this several more times before I realize things have gotten bad. Really bad. Other people are sliding off the road into other things, such as cars and ditches, and I didn't have four wheel drive nor did I own snow chains, which are both important things for a blizzard. Plus, we need to get home soon for class. Shoot! We find a place to go get food and attempt to figure this out. As we're eating it gets worse. We debate on buying a bunch of bags of gravel to put in the back to weigh us down but decide we can wait this baby out. Soon it becomes clear that we are either going to have to leave or get a hotel room and stay for the entire winter. We call our professor, tell him our situation, and beg for his mercy to let us take the test another time. He agrees. Whew. Now to just get home.

We load up and set out on the road. Normally the drive from Payson to Flagstaff and back is lovely. Trees everywhere, a lake, pretty scenery. When you're in a blizzard, however, things are just white and terrifying. Our normal two hour drive turned into a 5 hour screamathon with some intermittent praying and awkward we're-going-to-die laughter. As you know from my prior story, we two girls can scream. As for the praying, I was yelling out loud for some unknown reason even though the blizzard left everything eerily silent. I was hoping to get The Big Man's attention more quickly in our dire situation. Becky and I also thanked each other several times for the good memories over the years as a way of getting our final words in "just in case".  It went something like this...

Me: We are going to DIE!!! Becky, you have been such...*sniffle*...a good...friend...
Becky: We are not...*uncertainty to her voice*...going to die...I think...probably...
Me: I don't know what we were...AHHHHHHHHHHH! 
Me: Whoa - whoa. That was close. 
Both of us laughing like crazy maniacs: Ha..haha..hahahah....ahhahahahahah!!
Me: Whew! We almost actually died there just then, can you believe that?! 
Beck: Yeah, I was totally kidding earlier but now I'm not so sure.
Me: We should pray. 
Beck: OK...
Me: Dear God...
Beck: Are you writing Him a letter?
Me: Noooooo. I am trying to be formal.
Beck: I was just checking.
Me: Uh-huh...anyway.  Dear God, I know it was a really bad idea to come here in winter but we're DUMB SOMETIMES! I mean, we're supposed to be, we're TEENAGERS! That should be ALLOWED! Right? I think so. Anyway, PLEASE DON'T LET US DIE!!!! Please...
Beck: Why are you yelling?
Me: WHAT? Oh. 

To add to all of this we also suffered embarrassment as many, many smaller SUV's that were fully equipped for snowy weather passed us on our super slow journey home. Once we reached our home-sweet-home town I literally got out of the car and kissed the ground. From my new eyesight angle I then noticed that large icicles had formed all over the bottom of my suburban making it look like some kind of a freak death trap. Mind you, back in Payson there wasn't a drop of snow not anywhere at all. It wasn't even cold enough to snow. Since we had "just been at Becky's house all day" we proceeded to kick off as many icicles as we could, which wasn't very many. They were so incredibly frozen to my car that I thought for sure we were going to take some paint off and I was not having that. I drove home and prayed that my mother would not see them, but just to be safe I told her there had been a freak snow storm at Becky's house, which is slightly out of the main part of town and therefore in it's own weather zone (in my teenager mind) and left it at that.

More adventures to come!

Ever done anything crazy with your friends? 

Related Post
Withholding the Truth

What You See

I got this in an email from my subscription to Martha Beck's blog. I love this particular piece of her message.

Taken from: Zero Attachment, Zero Anxiety
Insight from Martha Beck

When the temperature of a day reaches the dew point, the moisture in the air, which is invisible to the eye, suddenly appears everywhere. It was always there; it just needed a certain temperature to become visible. Similarly, everything we need to make us happy is waiting for the “temperature” of our inner life to create the dew point where it can become material form. The dew point temperature of all your desires is a feeling of normalcy. It is not high excitement, nor grasping, nor yearning. All of those emotions contain anxiety and attachment — try them right now, you’ll see.
To give you an example of what this feels like, think about the feeling you have watching a beautiful sunrise. You may experience awe and intense gratitude, but you will not be thunderstruck, amazed or hysterical. A sunrise is glorious, but it is normal. We aren’t attached to the sun continuing to shine because we are sure it will.  If you can feel that way about the arrival of your soul mate or the success of your business, my recent experience convinces me it will appear around you like dew. Everything you want is there right now, waiting to become visible.

Lovely, right? Thoughts??

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Food, Inc. - This Will Change Everything

I am just ticked off to no end right now.

If I had super human powers right at this very moment I would be using them for evil, I'm just certain of it. The evil I would be doing, however, would actually benefit all of mankind. I would hopefully have the power to magically zap horrible people out of our atmosphere into some other realm of which they could never escape, ever, thus ensuring our food safety and wellness for the rest of time. Since I can't do that I am at least going to point you in the direction of a video you must absolutely, positively watch immediately.

Food, Inc. is a movie I've heard I should watch for years now, but never actually got around to doing so until just a bit ago. I kid you not - I just finished it and had to come type this up to let you all know about what I saw because I am deeply irritated while simultaneously being motivated to somehow stop this insanity. Don't be like me and put this off. Watch it as soon as you can. You'll be glad you did. You'll be grossed out and incredibly disturbed, true, but those feelings will help move you to make better, healthy decisions from here on out.

I thought The Future of Food was good. This, however, is ten times better (in my opinion). It hits on how foods are processed, how farmers are treated, GMO's, Monsanto aka The Devil, food contamination, Kevin's Law (VERY important), and many other things you need to know about to protect yourself and your family. 

I could sit here all night and write about the awesomeness of this movie but it's really just better if you see it for yourself. Let me point out again that I'm not into bogus conspiracy theory type things and that this is not one of those things. This is another glimpse of the absolute truth that is being kept from you. I know this for several reasons. 

One: There is a farm near my house where cows are herded in by the hundreds with no room to move and no grass to eat. I have to drive by this almost daily. It smells like death and I mean that in every sense of the word. It literally makes you ill as you drive by. The cows are filthy and covered in muck 24/7. On more than one occasion I have mentally plotted out how to free those poor, miserable cows. I'm still working on the master plan...

Two: I buy my beef, chicken, and eggs from a grass-fed farmer here in my state. There is a huge difference. The animals are treated humanely, the people you deal with are as kind as can be and remind you of family, the food tastes ten times better, and everything about it makes you feel like you're doing a good thing. It just feels right. It makes my heart happy.

Three: This is exactly what my hundreds and hundreds of hours of studying in school were all about. These things are real, they do happen, often, and the people that are supposed to take care of us are the ones that are making us sick. 

As you're watching it remember these key things: Organic, Local, Grass Fed. While they are more expensive, they are the only ways to avoid the terrible things you're about to see. Instead of spending money on medical bills, spend your money on good food. It's a better trade off and your medical bills will vanish. Instead of having that super fancy cable package, decrease it and get yourself some better food. Your life will be fuller, I promise you this. There is always, always a way if we are just willing to look. Plus, the more people that gravitate to this way of life, the cheaper it will be. It's already gotten more affordable. We are on our way people! We just need to keep it up.

Food, Inc. 
(I hope you can view this easily. If not, it's on Netflix Instant Que)

Warning: This movie will hit home. It will upset you. It will teach you things you never knew about that you need to know about. It will make you clasp your hands over your mouth as you gasp. Most importantly, it will make you wake up to the truth and possibly save your life or the life or someone you love.

After you watch it tell me what you think.

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The Kindness Chronicles: Well, What Do I Eat Now?
The Truth That LIES Before Your Eyes: Monsanto & The FDA

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

The Kindness Chronicles - Diet is a Four Letter Word

Photo Credit: girlsgetstrong.com

Diet. A word that should be relegated to the rankings of all other four letters words that shall remain unmentioned.

Every person I know has either been on a one, wants to go one one, or is on one right now. Some people have been on a diet their entire lives. In the dictionary diet is defined as a kind of food someone eats regularly. Funny how the definition doesn't really mean what we think it does. We think of it as a time when we avoid things on purpose that we would normally consume. As a time when we go to great lengths to lose a few pounds.

We don't set out to gain weight. None of us do. We fall into habits of convenience. We make food be our main entertainment when spending time with friends and family. We eat when we're sad, mad, happy, angry, alone, or bored. We eat when the books tell us to rather than when our bodies do. We eat when we crave something mentally and emotionally and one day we wake up, look in the mirror, and realize something has gone terribly wrong.

Most people fail at diets because they're too restrictive. The mind and body react to starvation. The moment you decide to cut something out is the moment your brain latches on to it. You suddenly want it more than you ever have before. When you start cutting calories too low your body reacts by storing fat. It's preparing itself for starvation and therefore building reserves. This is not what you want, obviously, if you're trying to lose weight.

There are hundreds of books, magazines, and TV shows dedicated to weight loss. If there was just one right way we would know by now. Everyone else would be out of business.  The truth of the matter is, however,  that no two people are the same. Therefore no two people should rank themselves against each other trying to determine if they can be the same, look the same, or diet the same way.

I was recently reading Portia de Rossi's Unbearable Lightness. I found it to be incredibly accurate and telling of what an eating disorder does to a person. The way it makes you think, the way it controls every function of your life, until you have no choice but to literally quit or die trying. The things she does just to remain thin are, actually, unbearable. She cuts back to 300 calories a day, calculates how to lose exactly seven pounds in one week, and then binge eats until she is in so much pain she can only lie there and be miserable.

At the end of her story, when she has recovered fully from her eating disorder, she writes,"I finally understood that by being on a perpetual diet, I had practiced a 'disordered' form of eating my whole life...And Dieting, I discovered, was another form of disordered eating, just as anorexia an bulimia similarly disrupt the natural order of eating."

It's all about one step at a time. Maybe today you ordered a veggie with your meal instead of your usual side of fried-in-terrible-oil fries. You should be proud. Even if you had dessert later, you changed a habit. You did something different. Don't discount the small changes. They will become a pattern and eventually turn into larger changes which then turn into a lifestyle, rather than a diet, which is something everyone can maintain. A lifestyle becomes something you do every day without effort, like breathing or driving. A diet - just the opposite.

Strive for the lifestyle that frees you from the diet. You will find a happy, healthy balance in your body and mind.

How do you feel about diets?

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The Kindness Chronicles: The Truth That LIES Before Your Eyes
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The Kindness Chronicles - The truth that LIES before your eyes: Monsanto & the FDA

When I was a little girl I played with Barbies. I didn't so much dress them up and have them go shopping as much as I had my G.I. Joe's and Transformer toys storm their mansions and take their convertibles. I clearly never really cared for Barbie. She was cool and she did have a lot of nice clothes, but she was annoyingly perfect and therefore boring. Boringly, plasticy, boring.

I look at that the same way I look at the food industry and Genetically Modified Organism's, or GMO's.
GMO's vs. real food is the same idea as Ken and Barbie vs. real people. One is manufactured, one is genuine. Ken and Barbie are perfect because they were designed out of a mold that every other Ken and Barbie doll will also be made with. They will always be plastic, always be fake. You cannot live a healthy, fulfilled, and of course sane life if all you do is hang out with your plastic friends. You need real, living, breathing people to make you whole. To make you tick and feel and live your very best life.

GMO foods are the Ken and Barbies of the world. They are foods that are genetically modified to grow a certain way, look a certain way, be repellent to insects so they always appear...perfect. Perfect foods make consumers like us happy, therefore, we buy them over foods that are banged up a little bit or that are not quite as round and shiny, better know as organic or just "real" foods. Take an apple, for instance. The organic one might have a bruise on it. It might not be squeaky clean shiny. In fact, it might even taste completely different that what you're used to, but that's because it's a real apple from a real tree. Organic products aren't as shiny and unblemished as GMO's, but that's because they're real like you and me. Real foods are in no way manufactured or altered from their original DNA. This is important.

Now let's look closer at GMO's.

Let's think about what we know for a fact: Processed foods are bad for you. The chemicals and additives and junk they add in has been proven, time and time again, to cause various types of disease in our bodies. However, we know this. There are labels on them. There are warnings everywhere. We know that what we're eating is bad and if we eat it, then fine, we've made the conscious choice to do so. But what about our fruit and veggies and rice and...? Without labeling we don't know what we're eating. We have no idea if that apple on the right or the other one on the left is a real apple or a GMO apple. We aren't given the choice to decide if we want to eat something that was engineered or something that is all natural. The only way we know this is with organic foods. Outside of them,  no one in power of doing so, is willing to label them. Why? Because there is a huge risk at losing a lot of money if they did so. Not to mention that the amount of GMO foods out there is astronomical. Panic would most likely ensue, sales would drop, people would basically freak out.

I've heard the debate that GMO's are good, especially in the case of starving children and impoverished countries, and I get it. I feel terrible for those poor people and the hunger pains they have, especially when we have so much more than we need. Food is food and we should give it to them, right? What if we just gave them real food instead? I don't see why that can't be accomplished. Yes, it's easier to grow manufactured food. Yes, it's more cost effective for those companies involved. Yes, they make more money in the long run. Yes, they control our food supply...wait a minute. I see a pattern here. I think....I think GMO foods really benefit the companies that make them. Yes! Yes, that's it. It's all about the moolah and the power, and the people that make these have both of those. So who cares if it's not all natural? Who cares if we give those poor, starving kids kind of, sort of, real-ish food instead of actual real food? As long as someone makes money, and they have great marketing campaigns to show how kind and generous they are that then make you feel bad about being negative towards GMO's, then why not?

Here's a few reasons why:

Did you know that cattle that are fed all natural diets PREVENT food poisoning and other illnesses while those fed unnatural diets and GMO grains CAUSE food borne illnesses and disease?

Fact.  Animals, like people, fed a diet natural to their systems then support natural health in turn for us. (I will do a whole post on grass fed vs. grain fed later, as it is one heck of a topic all on it's own, but none the less important here as well)

Did you know that the company in charge of all of this, Monsanto, regularly employs executives from the FDA and vice versa, thus ensuring they get what they want passed and completed all the time?

Also a fact. This is public information, most of us just don't know anything about it. It is unethical to have someone who created the GMO seed then get a job at another company where they are in charge of approving of that same seed being distributed to consumers. It's like having a judge be the jury and the prosecutor of someones case. It's all one sided, completely unfair.

Did you know that Monsanto has actually made it more difficult for farmers to grow their own crops? That they've sued some, shut others down completely, and even created the terminator seed which prevents future crops from growing? 

All sad but true. Monsanto created the suicide or terminator seed. This means that the seed is only good for one harvest, then it dies out to never be used again. In traditional farming the farmer would save all of the seeds from his best crop to then use in the next harvest and on and on. Now they can't. Not if they're being forced to use these seeds by Monsanto, who by the way, patented plants. That's right. They patented something that is living - this should never, ever, ever be something anyone can do. That now means that if they can patent a plant and make it their own, they might just be able to patent other living things as well. Think about it. It's not a pretty picture. This screams too much power. On top of all of this, if a Monsanto seed "accidentally" blows into a farmers field and grows and Monsanto tests their crops and finds out it's theirs, they sue the farmer. Oh yeah, it happens.

Did you know, and I am quoting Wikipedia directly here, that Monsanto is an "Agricultural biotechnology corporation...that is the worlds leading producer of herbicide glyphosate, marketed as 'Roundup' and is also the leading producer of genetically engineered seeds providing the technology in 90% of the genetically engineered seeds in the US?"

Just seeing the word biotechnology makes me think they really shouldn't be dealing in the food supply industry, period. Plus, 90% of all genetically engineered seeds? Come on now! Power, power, power and way too much of it. Heck, I might go missing after I make this post, thanks to these people and all their power. Alert the authorities if no posts are made in the next several weeks...

I am not a conspiracy theory girl. This is not a conspiracy theory. This is all fact and it is all public information, just very well hidden and for good reason. They don't want us being informed because informed citizens are armed citizens that fight back.

No one knows what these genetically engineered seeds can do to people. How much testing do you think was done on this and for how long to get a true response from a person's body? I'm guessing very, very little or none even. All I know is that I wouldn't go drink a container of Roundup if I was thirsty, so why would I want to eat something that has roundup in it's chemical makeup? I wouldn't. I don't think any of us would make that decision if given the choice. And choice is what this is all about right now.

Plain and simple, Monsanto is bad news all the way around and the FDA is supporting them. The only way we can stop them is to stay informed and support our local farmers. Google your hearts out, there is Monsanto info everywhere.

Even in Wikipedia it states "According to an anonymous 2001 document[27] obtained by the Center for Public Integrity, Monsanto has been identified by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency as being a "potentially responsible party" for 56 contaminated sites (Superfund sites) in the United States. Monsanto has been sued, and has settled, multiple times for damaging the health of its employees or residents near its Superfund sites through pollution and poisoning." 

It goes on to explain the terminator seed controversy as well as labeling debates, legal issues, dumping illegal toxins in the UK, and so on. There are so many bad things about this company that I don't see how anyone could see anything good about it. The only argument they have is the food-for-starving-countries one and that is only because they hired people who are good at marketing. Let's not poison other countries, Monsanto. Let's leave them alone and we'll get them real food some other way. In fact, most other countries want nothing, nothing at all, to do with Monsanto and their practices. Also a fact.

For more information please see the Internet as you will be busy for hours and possibly days. Also, a GREAT movie to watch is The Future of Food. This will explain almost everything.

Keep yourselves informed. It's the only way to win the battle and ultimately our health. Support your local farmers. They're our only hope and we need them just as much as they need us right now.

I want to know what you think about this insanity. Holler at me.

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Friday, August 5, 2011

Lost Opportunities and The Books That Break Your Heart

These two topics sort of feed into each other which is why I'm tying them together. While the books are varied, as you will see, a very clear message rang through them. They have something in common which I feel is important and is most likely what drew me to them in the first place. That, and I posted a comment on my Facebook page to which I got some good feedback as far as this being something that a lot of people actually would do or change if they could. Sometimes a little awareness is all you need.

You see, these books are about courage, in a sense. About not holding back from the ones you love or care about. They're about pushing fear, judgement, and embarrassment aside and just saying what needs to be said to the people you care about. One statement can change everything. One word, one phrase, one explanation. Don't let an opportunity pass you by where you can tell the people you care about just that  - that you care about them. You might never have that chance again and that is a true tragedy. These books are reminders that if you have passed that chance by thus far, as long as that person is still here, you can still reach out to them. If there are things that you want to change, fix, apologize for or express, do it.

I see it like this: If they were to die tomorrow would you have any regrets for things left unsaid to them?

You would never have another chance, not in this lifetime, and depending on what you believe that could mean that this was your only opportunity, ever.  Since I've actually experienced this type of regret with no way to change it, I can tell you how awful that feels firsthand. Life, and death, I should say, sneak up on you and in that one split second of time the unchangeable is done.

I'm trying to work on this myself. It takes a lot of effort, time, and hope. There is always hope. Sometimes I think I should just give up, especially with those I haven't spoken with in so long, but then I read something like this and it pushes me on. That's the way I'm looking at all of this - as a reminder to reach out to the important people in your life because maybe they don't know.

Maybe time and dust have settled into silences where words have been left unspoken. But that can be changed. A little courage and trust in the other person, or just trust in that it's the right thing to do, makes all the difference.

On top of  all of that remember this: Your words, whatever they may be,  may be the exact thing they needed to hear. It might make all the difference in the world to them. It might be the difference between regrets and new light in their life. They might have been wanting to do the exact same thing but were too scared of the outcome. In my personal account of this I must say that so far it's been awesome, so far it's been the exact right thing to do, but I have some work left to do.

To everyone reading this post, know this: You are important to me. I mean that with every little piece of my heart. Maybe I know you, maybe I don't, but you are important none the less.

Alrighty, on to the books!

If I Stay and Where She Went by Gayle Forman

There are books I enjoy reading and owning and then there are books I fall in love with. These would be the latter.

The first book is told by Mia, set through her eyes as her life is rapidly changing and decisions have to be made. The second book is told by Adam, her former boyfriend who lost her after she lost everything. The two stories fit together perfectly and are told with such emotion that you feel as if you're right there, as if you are one of the characters experiencing everything. The second book was my very favorite of the two. I had no idea what was going to happen and I was certain I would either be devastated and crying or happy and cheering. Never have I wanted to jump in a book and hug someone quite as much as I did with Adam. His story just broke my heart while still being so beautiful and meaningful.

As mentioned above, it is indeed one of those reads that makes you want to go out and tell everyone how important they are to you because not taking that chance or having that courage, or just not being that honest with how you feel in general, could be a painful regret. While it can be a stand-alone read, it's good to have all the puzzle pieces together.

The following are taken from the websites link, above. I really couldn't summarize it any better and don't even want to try.

If I Stay
In a single moment, everything changes. Seventeen-year-old Mia has no memory of the accident; she can only recall riding along the snow-wet Oregon road with her family. Then, in a blink, she finds herself watching as her own damaged body is taken from the wreck... A sophisticated, layered, and heartachingly beautiful story about the power of family and friends, the choices we all make—and the ultimate choice Mia commands.

Where She Went

It's been three years since the devastating accident... three years since Mia walked out of Adam's life forever.
Now living on opposite coasts, Mia is Juilliard's rising star and Adam is LA tabloid fodder, thanks to his new rock star status and celebrity girlfriend. When Adam gets stuck in New York by himself, chance brings the couple together again, for one last night. As they explore the city that has become Mia's home, Adam and Mia revisit the past and open their hearts to the future - and each other.
Told from Adam's point of view in the spare, lyrical prose that defined If I Stay,Where She Went explores the devastation of grief, the promise of new hope, and the flame of rekindled romance.


I've been hearing about this book everywhere by everyone for a very long time now, so I had to read it. It's an international best seller and is renowned for it's work in helping teens with thoughts of suicide. While it sounds very depressing, it's not. It's eye opening. It's a look at how even little things you do can make a huge impact. I think it's one of the best reminders ever that being mindful of what you do is the best way to do anything. Right after I read this a friend told me someone she knew had just committed suicide and that she could really use a book like this to understand why.

Truth be told, I was unsure about book reviewing this with you because of how sad it can be, but that's when I knew I had to let other people know about it too. Sad things like this happen all the time, unfortunately, but that is life and we can only live it or make it better if we try. I do hope it helps in whatever way it can.

It's told through the tape recordings of Hannah Baker and the listener of those, Clay Jensen. Hannah has committed suicide for thirteen specific reasons and in her absence she has left behind her story, in a most unusual way.  Clay, who had feelings for Hannah but never told her, has to listen to it to find out why he made the list. Below is a brief summary taken from the link above.

Clay Jensen returns home from school to find a mysterious box with his name on it lying on his porch. Inside he discovers several cassette tapes recorded by Hannah Baker--his classmate and crush--who committed suicide two weeks earlier. On tape, Hannah explains that there are thirteen reasons why she decided to end her life. Clay is one of them. If he listens, he'll find out how he made the list. Through Hannah and Clay's dual narratives, debut author Jay Asher weaves an intricate and heartrending story of confusion and desperation that will deeply affect teen readers.

What books do you love? I need some new ones to read!

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Tuesday, August 2, 2011


Sometimes the things that are meant to be take the longest time to show themselves. There are things you know without a doubt and there are things that remain as a longing question, waiting to be answered.

There are things you knew all along, things you felt inside telling you to move this way or that. There are moments in everyone's life where you just know, something - a feeling - telling you this is it.

There are moments when you leap, you climb, you take a risk because not doing so would be so much worse. Of course, there are the times when no matter how strong the feeling, you turn from it - you go left instead of right, right instead of left. You run the opposite direction only to find that you're running in a circle that leads right back to the beginning.

Then there are the times when waiting...waiting...waiting is the only way. When not moving is in fact the  answer, for that moment.

In life there are small fractions of time, brief but impactful, that push you forward or hold you back. Some answer your questions, some flood you with more.

The silence, it holds something in it. Answers we can only interpret if we listen ever so closely. If we close our eyes and open our minds. If we tune out the questions, the doubts, the fears, the noise of the world. In true silence there is freedom from thinking. The moment we stop wondering is the moment we know. The moment we stop searching is the moment we find everything. The moment we let go is the moment something greater holds on.

The answers could be life changing and it's important to remember that those that are, are always, always worth the wait, the fight, the journey.

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I Believe in You

In December I graduated out of my psych program, which means I should be more on top of all things mental than I sometimes am. It's easy to look out, but it's not always easy to look in. Alas, I am human. Anyway, what I loved about this particular program was how unique it was from my prior schools traditional psychology teachings. The program itself was called Mind Body Transformational Psychology. This was the first time I had learned about connecting the mind, body, and spirit in all interactions with a client rather than just looking at the transactions of the mind.

Some of the things we learned were simple. You do not "fix" anyone as no one needs to be fixed. They are not broken. They may not be where they want to be, but they will get there with a little guidance. We weren't there to tell them where to go, what they should do, or why. We were there to listen and to let them discover that they had the answers within them all along. In many instances we were more of a Life Coach than a psychologist, not pointing you down the right path but walking next to you and helping you choose the way for yourself. Instead of saying the traditional psychology type things they would say things like "Interesting, what do you think about what you just said?" or "tell me more". It's hard to explain, but it was really in the way they said it to you that was special.

The whole act of sitting there and listening to someone was about paying attention to them 100%. Being mindful of them the entire time. What they're saying, feeling, what they need or don't need. For example, never before had anyone told me you don't offer someone a tissue. The whole reason you don't offer them a tissue, a hug, a teddy bear, or a blanket, is so that they learn what they need for themselves rather than you thinking you know what they need. Maybe they need to cry and let it all out and by you comforting them you're possibly interfering with a breakthrough. What if you're actually comforting yourself because it can be difficult and uncomfortable to see someone else hurt? As the healer you have to sit and be with them however they are and however they need you to be. If, on the other hand, they ask for a tissue, no problem. They are aware of what they need. That is the goal, after all.

One teacher actually said you should be as up front with your clients as you possibly can. Everyone is human. Everyone has good and bad days and when you have a client on one of your bad days you should be fair to what they need from you and tell them that you can only give them 80% of your best self. Now, that was news to me! I should tell people I'm only 80% there for them? Imagine if the whole world worked like that. I could go to work and tell my boss I'm only good for 35% today, but I'm pretty sure tomorrow will be a 97% day with a chance of topping the 100% range. It would be like a mental weather forecast for all things in your life. No pretending, up front honesty. I like that.

The saying that stuck with me the most is the practice of believing in your client. Let's say I have a client that believes they're not deserving of a better, happier life. I don't have to believe in that same idea, but I do have to believe that they believe that. It's my job to believe that you believe whatever it is you're thinking. Plain and simple. Never before had anyone explained it to me quite like that. I suddenly felt liberated and empowered in a million different ways. If I can help them by just believing in them, then why not focus on the good? Rather than the "I don't/can't/won't" how about the "I will/want/dream of". This is my favorite of all favorite things to focus on. Believing.

It's so easy, just to sit back and believe in anything you want. In anyone. In any idea, place, daydream or goal. To imagine it's all true and possible and, with just the right amount of effort, attainable.

So my friends, next time you are in doubt of yourself or your dreams - stop. Stop doubting and just believe that you're worth it, whatever it may be. Believe that you will find your purpose in life, lose the weight you want, get your dream job, see the world, win the heart of the person you love, or escape the confines of a life you don't want. Believe in all of it and never let anyone tell you any differently.

Think of how people laughed when they were told the world was round or better yet, how electricity was non-existent and thought of as the thing of mad scientists.  No one but the believers of these things would have pursued them, showing everyone that anything is possible.

Treat yourself and your dreams this way - that anything, anything you believe in, is possible. Then hold onto that and make it happen.

I believe in you.

I believe in what you believe.

All you have to do is keep believing.

What do you believe in?

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