Friday, March 30, 2012

Serials and Scenario's Walk the Land ...

My thoughts:

I love biographies and meaty accounts of lesson-filled journeys. I am also fascinated with cultural differences and physical challenge accounts.

That said, the journey taken by the Pex’s is a fascinating idea, miles and miles of hiking through the heart and sometimes, soul, of Israel.  The trek through all sorts of obstacles that made them physically stronger makes for a rich source of information and ideas. And Pex shared some fascinating bits of history and cultural richness throughout her account. There was spiritual application and ideas to contemplate as well.

However, I may have misunderstood Pex’s sense of humor or personality. She’d begin to share details about the rugged terrain and the physical challenges, but then lapse into sharing about her physical discomfort, or frustration about her husband’s more laid back style of hiking. Encounters with others on the trail were snippets of random conversations as they very likely happened.  Her lessons jotted in her journal that she shared within her chapters were very basic, symplistic lessons that she learned on the trail, about life, about herself.

I think this book might be valuable to someone who is considering taking on a journey along these lines. There wasn’t a blow by blow of what they did to prepare completely, but many details are covered as are details about the trail itself. Those who love insider’s insights about different countries and a taste of culture may enjoy this book as well. Literary biography lovers would find themselves frustrated. Those looking for heavy Biblical truths may also be disappointed. However, this could be a nice companion piece/reference if studying ancient Israel, the life of David, Moses or the Life of Christ, Paul or Peter and their missionary journeys.  

NOTE: If you have a Kindle you can get a free down load through April 2nd. 

Book Description:

Come with John and Judy Pex as they hike the 600-mile Israel National Trail from the Egyptian to the Lebanese borders. During 42 days of trekking through spectacular scenery, Arab towns and villages, past Jewish, Muslim, Druze, and Christian holy sites, they discover: + Sights seldom seen by tourists + Physical challenges and spiritual tests + Cultural encounters and historical insights + Lessons about peace, faith, and endurance. This book will appeal to: 1) Students of the Bible 2) Middle-agers who want vigorous role models and new challenges 3) Christian believers seeking creative ways to test and share their faith 4) Young adults pursuing the great hiking trails of the world 5) Readers interested in Israel. Illustrated with (color) photos of scenes and people from the Trail.

Ordering Info :

176 pages

Price: $14.99

Available through and other online retailers, or through bookstores anywhere.

The Amazon Kindle version is FREE March 29 - April 2 here .

Review Quotes:

"I wholeheartedly recommend this book for its glimpses of the people, history, and beauty of the land, and for the author's spiritual insights." - Jeremiah Greenberg, The Messianic Times, Jan/Feb 2008

"For thirty years I have had the incredible experience of traveling the land given to Israel by God -- from Dan to Beersheba to Eilat. However, 'walking the land' with my friends Judy and John [by reading this book] has brought a whole new dimension and depth to my understanding of Israel and its people. I know you'll be enriched spiritually through Judy's story of the insights given her by her God on this journey of a lifetime." - Kay Arthur, Precept Ministries International

About the Author:

In their fifties, Judith and John Pex, who run a hostel in Israel, felt the need for renewal and decided to walk the 600-mile Israel National Trail. In WALK THE LAND, Judith shares what they discovered about God, themselves, and the history and people of Israel, and how their love for the land opened doors to share their faith in Yeshuah (Jesus).

Author Photo:

Author Video:

Interview with Judith Galblum Pex:

You have traveled much of the world. What are your favorite cities/places to visit?

Usually the latest place I've been becomes my favorite, though I prefer the more remote locations over large cities. One incredible experience was going with Galit, who is like an adopted daughter for us, back to the village in Gondar, Ethiopia where she was born. She had left there with her mother twenty years previously as a young girl and walked to Sudan from where they were air-lifted to Israel with Operation Moses.

For people who have not yet read your book: What drew you to Israel?

I was traveling around the world, searching for a purpose in life. After hitchhiking alone through Europe for a year, my goal was to reach India, where I thought I would find a guru. I decided to stop in Israel on the way. I'm Jewish and have relatives here, so I thought it would be a comfortable place to rest before the big trip East. I never dreamed that Israel would become my home.

What were the biggest challenges and rewards in raising four children in Israel?

Our oldest son was born our first year in this country, and I had no family and no fellowship of believers in Eilat. I think that raising children in a different culture than the one you grew up in is always a challenge. But, on the other hand, raising children anywhere isn't easy. All four of our children served in the Israeli Defense Forces which also presented challenges. I am thankful to have raised them in an international, multi-cultural environment. They feel very Israeli, but have three passports and are citizens of the world. The best part is seeing them develop into independent adults whom I enjoy being with.

How did you and John get started running a hostel?

There are several reasons. Both of us had traveled a lot and felt that we understood what kind of place backpackers were looking for. At the time, no such hostel existed in Eilat. When we started the Shelter we had three children and couldn't travel as we used to, so a hostel enabled us to keep meeting people without leaving home. Furthermore, we have always opened up our home to guests and we really needed a hostel just to accomodate all the folks who were staying with us!

Did you know you wanted to write a book about your journey on the Israel Trail before you hiked it, or was it a decision you made afterward?

Before we walked the Israel Trail I had started a book about our experience in running the Shelter Hostel. So writing a book was on my mind. I thought that our journey on the Trail would be a good subject for a book, so I kept a diary of our walk for that purpose.

You find many parallels between your walk on the Shvil Israel (the Israel Trail) and your spiritual walk.

I love maps and when I'm hiking I enjoy checking the map often. That way, even if I get off the path, I can't stray too far. I make sure I read my Bible every day also to keep me on the right path for my life. Another lesson I thought of is that sometimes on a hike we come to a crossroads and have to make a decision about which way to go. Once we've chosen a particular trail, I try to be satisfied and appreciate it. Even if it isn't what I'd thought, I can always enjoy and learn something from it.

Which languages do you speak?

Besides English, I speak Hebrew and Dutch (John is from Holland), fluently, and some French, which I studied in school.

Do you have a favorite Bible verse?

I have many favorites, but there's one special chapter -- Isaiah 53. In verse 6 is the key: "We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all." It is amazing how clearly Isaiah speaks about the Messiah here, 700 years before Yeshua, Jesus, was born. Many Israelis, when they read this chapter for the first time, think they are reading a portion of the New Testament.

What would readers be surprised to know about you?

When people meet me today they are often surprised to hear I was a hippy/traveler and that I lived for three years in Alaska in an Eskimo village above the Arctic Circle.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Scraps and Snippets ~ Citrus Ruffle Bread

I was inspired by this recipe.

After a few tweaks I made a Vegan version that was pretty stinking delicious....if you like citrus, sweet bread, and basically most things yummy.

Citrus Ruffle Bread


3 1/2 cups whole wheat pastry flour (or flour of choice)
1/3 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon quick acting yeast
2/3 cup liquid (I juiced one orange, one lime and saved 1 TBSP of this for the frosting...then I added non-dairy milk to make the liquid level reach 2/3 cup. Use all fruit juice if you want. If you add the juice to the non-dairy milk it will don't be alarmed.)
1/4 cup coconut oil
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 flax eggs (2 TBSP ground flax and 6 TBSP water, set aside a few minutes until it gels)

Mix 2 cups of the flour, sugar, salt and yeast in mixing bowl and set aside.

Heat milk and coconut oil in microwave, in a warm oven or over double boiler until mixture is warm and the coconut oil is melted. Add vanilla.
Pour wet mixture over the dry ingredients and mix until moistened.
Add flax eggs and stir.

Add the rest of the flour about a 1/2 cup at a time, kneading dough until well mixed. This takes only a few minutes, the dough will still be slightly sticky. If you find it too sticky just add a bit more flour, a tablespoon at a time until you can handle the dough easily. (I generally knead right in the bowl and use the same bowl for rising.)

When kneaded cover and let rise until double, approx 1 hour.

Meanwhile prepare the lemon sugar mixture:

1/2 cup sugar
Grated zest from 1 orange, 1 lime or lemon or combo.
1/4 cup coconut oil (melted)
Mix together.

Once dough is risen roll out to a 12 x 20" ish piece. Spread the citrus sugar coconut oil on the rectangle.

Cut the dough crosswise into 5 strips. Layer the strips on top of each other carefully and cut into 6 squares.

Place these squares sideways into a greased 5 1/2 by 9 1/2" bread pan. Or you could use 2 smaller loaf pans.

Let rise until almost doubled, approx 25 minutes.

Bake in 350ยบ for 35 minutes until golden in color. (I crammed my dough into one pan and if you do that I'd recommend that you place foil on the bottom of your oven or a cookie sheet under the bread pan. My batch oozed the oil/sugar/citrus a bit.)

Good without the citrus glaze, but the glaze is yummy, so slather it on.

Citrus glaze:

1/4 cup Vegan cream cheese, softened
1 tablespoon citrus juice ( the set aside 1 TBSP of orange/lime juice mix from the bread recipe)
Powdered sugar to reach the consistency you want. 1/3 to 2/3 cup.
Mix until smooth.

Drizzle glaze over top of loaf and, as desired, on each piece.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Scribbles and Scrambles ~ Costco Magic, Little Airplanes, and Chopping Onions...

The asparagus was divine.

Yesterday's Costco run was overdue hence an expensive grocery trip. Fabulous asparagus fresh from the garden helped with that.

I have to confess to a rotten new addiction. #3 has been telling me I needed to watch Modern Family...that it's so up my alley, that I'll laugh...a lot. 

So I watched a few episodes on Hulu. And, unfortunately, she's right. It's kind of hilarious.

Sarcasm, check. Physical injury humor, check. Dry humor/delivery, check. Dysfunction with heart, check. 

Our local library had Seasons One and Two available on DVD. Therefore, my cooking and cleaning moments over the last weeks have included an ongoing Modern Family marathon. 

(As do my Pinterest and blogging sessions.) (Yep. As in right now.) Phil is going to get nailed by a remote control plane any second. Suspense it comes. Yes! That was hilarious. While Phil lies bleeding, Mitchell discovers Costco.

I am telling myself that the timing and comedic delivery of the show will somehow make me a better writer. That as long as I'm multi-tasking it is not a colossal waste of time.

(Speaking of writing, Michelle did get her promised Fabio scene.) (Speaking of on-line social fun...a friend overshared something of a delicate nature on their Facebook page...#3 took a break from Pinterest (and we were between Modern Family discs) to read it out loud. Awkward pin drop moment and really, not as Pinteresting as the oversharer might think.) Note to self, note to all, sometimes the details are best left hidden. Just sayin.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Scraps and Snippets ~ Farm Fresh...It's Coming...

Fun farm fact. The farm is ramping up to start the season. 

One of the farmers dropped into &'s coffee shop yesterday. She cordially requests our presence to help plant tomato plants in the high tunnel this week. Uh yeah!

And to, I don't know, make the invitation more enticing, she brought in a bag of first fruits. 


In March, they have been able to harvest some of the baby asparagus we planted last year. 

Yum. Yum. Dinner tonight will include our first green treasure. 

Oh, and on a creepy side note...I was able to harvest our first tick of the season, too. Off of poor &'s thigh. Ugh. 

Monday, March 26, 2012

Scraps and Snippets ~ Vegan Fruit Pizza

Fruit Pizza:

  • 3 TBSP of ground flax seed
  • 3/4 cup of applesauce (OR) use 1/2 a mid-ripe banana (not banana bread ready ripe, think yellow with a few spots) and 1/4 cup non-dairy milk
  • 3/4 Cup Sugar
  • 2 tbsp. Coconut oil
  • 1 tsp. of baking soda
  • 1 tsp. of cream of tartar
  • 1/4 tsp. of salt
  • 2 tsp. of organic almond extract
  • 2/3 cup of garbanzo bean flour
  • 1 1/3 cup of whole wheat pastry flour
Grease two 8 x 8 pans, layer cake pans or a 9 x 13 (or use 3/4 of the dough for 8 x 8 and bake the rest as cookies). Bake approx 14 minutes.  A knife poked into the crust should come out clean. The topping will soak into the crust so overdone is going to be better than not done enough.

Creamy goodness layer:

1/2 cup Vegan cream cheese
1 ripe banana
1 TBSP nut butter (optional)
3 shakes Vietnamese cinnamon (optional)
1 TBSP brown sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla

I mixed it with a mixer. A food processor or Vitamix make it creamier.  Super incorporated wasn't my goal since a layer of fruit was going to cover it completely.

Fruit layer: If you use bananas or apples make sure you dip them in citrus juice.

I used an orange, a sliced Granny Smith apple, four sliced strawberries and a handful of blueberries. If you add a banana, dip it in citrus juice and add it right before serving.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Scribbles and Scrambles ~ Law Lesson #4

Last night we listened to the county attorney and a representative from the 9-1-1 call center. My notes were squished as I furiously took them and I didn't get the official acronym title for the call center. Let's maybe just call em busy. : ) and important.

But county attorney report first. He was an engaging, entertaining guy who had a whole lot of downer facts. The reality is that people can be messy and ugly. Keeping things under control and cleaned up is his job.

Drugs are a problem in just about every community in the ole U. S. A. and that's true for mine. A question was asked about synthetic drugs, as did the comment that we need to educate and treat so he doesn't have to invest the resources of the county on prosecuting and keeping our jails chock full of people who need to be kept away from others. The drug problem is a three legged stool, he said. And money is required to keep those legs on said stool. There's only so much money to go around and most people are opposed to paying more taxes to make sure people don't start doing drugs. He said his focus had to be on his leg. Makes sense.

Synthetic drugs (mish-mashes of chemicals that produce bad side effects like highs and hallucinations when applied, smoked, injected, ingested, or inhaled into the human body) are really becoming an issue. He said legislation to keep the crap off the streets needs to be in place before users and sellers can be prosecuted. The drug chemists are creative, and quick to create and the law's wheels take a bit more time. Common sense says that if you think it might mess with your mind you probably shouldn't put it in your body. But most dealers are not after wisdom, instead they shoot for the moola.

He shared stories about some of his adventures. Like being questioned when he discovered some seedy business within his department and the policies and procedures that came out of that. And his own frustration with the system that doesn't always deliver the most just results. One guy earned probation for seriously hurting another guy. No tooth for a tooth justice, but the perpetrator lost his job, had to pay restitution and got busted because of his own big mouth. Fair enough. The little consequences added up big time.

9-1-1 is high tech. We have bells and whistles that our much bigger neighboring city doesn't have. Our emergency phone operators are trained to talk people through the Heimlich maneuver, CPR and even baby delivery. Cell phones manufactured after 2010 are supposed to have GPS and the system can usually locate a call to within 300 yards. One guy asked if someone broke in, he dialed 9-1-1 on his cell phone and threw it aside, if they'd send someone. (So the intruder wouldn't hear him talking.) She said that they have to make the decision based on what they hear. Pocket dials happen. But if a person whispered into the phone, they'd send a car, or if something like gunshots were heard, definitely. They will try to return a pocket dial call. The technology is coming where 9-1-1 can receive and send texts, and pictures can be sent. She said it's a great idea in case of intruders, suspicious cars, and evidence but a bad idea for idiots who might think it's fun to prank the call center. Someone asked about pranks. She said that they've had to send an officer to talk to frequent nonsense callers. And that a handful of restraining orders have been put in place for harassment. Uhhh. Harassing a 9-1-1 facility? One that has access to guys with guns? People can be very, very scary and stoopid.

Very fascinating and informative. And I'm thinking both of these jobs seem really stressful. The busy days (August is the busiest month) will bring in up to 90 calls per operator in an eight hour shift. Not all of these are life and death, most aren't, but all of them require time and knowledge. Many are calls asking questions like, "When does the parade start?" "Who do I call to handle...."

Very, very interesting. And the officer I sat next to was so observant that he noticed a stupid button fall off my jacket and roll under the table. He didn't offer to sew it back on though. Ha. Ha.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Scraps and Snippets ~ Make Your Own Dang Quesadilla...

This is what we had for dinner last night. 

I made a double batch of Super Genius Tortillas, pulled out my very dusty quesadilla maker (and cleaned it up). Haven't touched that sucker in two or so years. 

We have a few really perfect avocados, some of the fabulous Restaurant Style Pinterest Salsa (with a few tweaks), and some frozen (thawed, of course) beans. 

Tada. Quesadillas.

Two tortillas per person. 
1 to 2 TBSP of beans or meat substitute 
Avocado slices (we went with plenty)
1-2 TBSP Salsa (if you want another option, Mango Salsa)

Slap the top on. Smash and heat through. Yummy. 

Lots of potential. I'm thinking this will be a nice rediscovered tool. Hmmm.

If you don't have one of those bad boys, you could add Daiya cheese (to help it hold together) and cook them in a pan like a grilled cheese sandwich and slice with a pizza cutter.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Scraps and Snippets ~ Review of The Happy Herbivore Cookbook and a Silly Story...

Since I've got a stack of cookbooks to review and I announced it yesterday (gotta love the accountability). And, well, I found two more books at the library. I had to return the Happy Herbivore and, well, they enticed me.

But. For dinner last night, and for kicks, and next day lunches, and just because I made the following recipes from The Happy Herbivore.

Oatmeal Cookies
Fruity Oatmeal Bars
Chicken Style Seitan -- (which required these as well No-Chicken Broth Powder Poultry Seasoning Mix)

My assessment of the book.

Lindsay Nixon's Happy Herbivore cookbook opens with an explanation of why and what Vegan looks like, what to have on hand to prepare Vegan meals and tips and hints. Had I been just starting out as a Vegan I would have very much devoured this section, and the very end of the book that is simply two pages that give details on what and how to make substitutions in standard recipes. After almost a year of the Vegan learning curve, this is less important to me.
As for the recipes. The Fruity Oatmeal bars are exactly as she said they'd be. Cereal bar taste and texture just like a Nutri-Grain type bar. Very tasty. I'll definitely make these again. There was no added fat as promised in the secondary title of the book either. Same scenario on the Oatmeal Cookies. Good texture, a soft cookie that is chewy and flavorful. Again, no added fat. One step in the directions caused me pause and I did not follow it. She suggested placing part of the batter/dough on parchment paper and laying it carefully upside down over the jam layer. I chose the lazy way out and allowed a few holes for the jam to peek through after plopping and spreading.

I love the No-Chicken Broth Powder. It makes quite a bit, a cup and a half or so. It will work in other recipes and will be a nice staple for my kitchen. The poultry seasoning was a mix of several spices, and again, will be an addition to my pantry. The Chicken-Style Seitan was chicken-like. Nice flavor, and decent texture. It's still Seitan and has that texture so it won't fool omnivores. It was a little time consuming so I'd make a double batch next time and try freezing it for the future or keep it on it's extra liquid/gravy in the fridge for a few days. The making was easy, but it required almost an hour to simmer and half hour to bake. Most homemade Seitan is involved, though, so this was not unexpected. There is a recipe on the web that I like slightly better that will be my go to "chicken" sub recipe but I believe I'll add the No-Chicken Broth Powder to it.
The other recipes I'd like to try are:

Blue Corn Chickpea Tacos
Mushroom Burgers
Torkey (Tofu Turkey)
Spicy Sausage
Baked Shells and Cheese (which requires the Cheddar Cheesy Sauce)
Veggie, Bean, &Quinoa Croquettes
Baked Beans
Baked Onion Rings
Chili-Lime Corn Chips
Ranch Dip
Vegan Worcestershire Sauce
Sour Cream
Nacho Cheese Sauce
Brown Rice Milk
Gravy (three different ones)
Cinnamon Buns
Maple Cornbread Biscuits
Gingerbread Mini-Loaves
Pumpkin Cheesecake

All of these recipes are not unique to The Happy Herbivore Cookbook. Many are on blogs. However, I'm at the point where I'm looking for the perfect go-to recipes to replace family favorites and/or for holiday baking and entertaining.

Depending on what you are looking for this could be THE cookbook for you. The recipes are basic and a chef's hat is not a required tool to use it in your kitchen. An experienced Vegan who has been playing around with recipes for a long time may not find as many keepers as a new Vegan would.

And after #3 tried to start the newest wave to change the world wide web with the antidote to planking...boxing...she got a wild hair to do some more Vegan baking. I believe she's catching the bug. Well, not really, she keeps begging for meat and whining for cheese. But she's catching the whole baking bug.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Scraps and Snippets ~ Coming Soon to a Review Corner Near You...

I mentioned I had ten cookbooks I was needing to review. You may have thought I was kidding. I was not. 

Cookbooks I'm currently cooking, or thinking about cooking, from and plan to review ASAP.  Really. And there are more I want to cook from, too. I'm developing a cookbook problem. I may need an intervention.

 Appetite for Reduction. Recently found it's way onto my shelves. Have barely cracked the cover. But. I want to dig in...literally and figuratively.
The Complete Guide Vegan Food Substitutions is one of the first Vegan cookbooks I bought. I love the pictures of the animals. Too cute. I've tried four recipes so far. They have not been my favorite of their types. But I think this little guy will be on my shelf forever. There are hints and tips and substitution ideas galore. Kind of like my Betty Crocker. She sits there idle 80% of the time. But when you need that one basic recipe, she's there, holding the secrets of home cooking, ya know?
 The Happy Herbivore. Another cookbook I borrowed from the library. I'm trying three recipes tomorrow. Poultry Seasoning Mix, No-Chicken Broth powder, and Chicken Style Seitan. The book has to go back. I'm undecided on the keeper status and whether or not I'll purchase it...but I'm going to give it the old college try.
Vegan on the Cheap...who doesn't love that? I shelled out some Christmas gift money to buy this bad boy.
One of my Christmas gifts, Spork Fed, is on my hit list. These sisters look so cute. And the food on the cover looks so tasty. I page through it when I'm tired and multitasking while watching a show. It's going to visit the work bench soon. Very soon.  
 Had a gift card and bought this bad boy with it. Quick Fix Vegan appeals to me on so many levels.
 Veganomicon. Another checked out at the library. Then went ahead and bought it. The Chickpea cutlet recipe is worth the price. It's on her website, but there is something about the cookbook. Oh. Biscotti? Made that, tasty. Two recipes that make it a keeper.
 Vegan Brunch. I checked it out from the library. How creative and different could brunch recipes be? I thought. But. Then I looked through it. Hmmmmm. Interesting and tasty ideas. Many must tries. So then I found it on sale. And it lives with me.

Another Fork in the Trail. Looked through it, marked forty or so recipes. Finally have a dehydrator. There is some serious work involved in these to make them for camping/backpacking/hiking...but I want to. Real bad.

Blissful Bites is a cookbook I received for review. I've made the BBQ sauce which was delicious. I'm not ready to go whole "hog" (excuse the non-Veg terminology).

Monday, March 19, 2012

Scraps and Snippets ~ Food Fun

Toad-boy was born on St. Patrick's day. We threw a birthday party Friday night to celebrate the event.

& and I put together the following menu. Of the fourteen in attendance all but the three of us are Vegans. I used my "hamburger crumbles" and vegan garlic mashed potato/cauliflower topping to throw together a shepherd's pie, mixing the "hamburger crumbles" with a bit of flour, a sauteed onion and some vegetable broth. I sprinkled nutritional yeast and paprika on top and it was...okay. A few went back for seconds, but it was just okay.

I made my Asian Cranberry Cabbage Slaw. That one has been tried and true. And added a little St Patrick's Cabbage with a twist.

The biggest, hands down hit of the night wasn't my recipe at all. It will become a favorite in my repertoire. If you love buffalo gotta make this. SO GOOD. (cauliflower version) My omnivore, buffalo chicken wing fan daughter-in-law loved it. Not just politely liked it, but asked for the recipe. A first since we went Vegan. She's a little trooper and puts up with all our weirdness, but this is a banner moment. She even looked at Mother. (that was the evening's entertainment.) It was a good night. Ha. Ha.

& made chocolate mint cupcakes. I thought they were really tasty, she's not a fan. And then she made a key lime parfait with homemade graham crackers. Again she wasn't a super fan. But the rest of us were impressed. The graham crackers are another keeper though. YUMMY.

Then, after a huge shopping trip to replenish food supplies on Saturday, #3 made her first Vegan cupcakes. So delicious. She did a great job...and has started a Vegan Food board on her Pinterest page.

Before grocery shopping I made a pizza. Spread Hummus (made from Peas and Thank You cookbook) with an addition of cilantro and chiles (YUM)) on the crust, covered that with tomato sauce, spinach, calamata olives and some Daiya. Nice flavor combo.

Overall, a food-fun filled weekend. And yours?

Friday, March 16, 2012

Scribbles and Scrambles ~ Law Lesson #3

Pre Citizen's Police Academy... I'll just mention what I think I'll learn tonight. We will be visited by the chaplains. (Probably a tearjerker story or two.) And, proof of police officer senses of humor...S.W.I.N.E. this is a self-appointed acronym regarding a special law enforcement task force. Can't wait to have my brain filled with fascinating law enforcement facts. And now it's time to head off to see how the "boys" in blue save the world.

I'll do the update in the morning.


These are a few of the things I learned last night.

Prostitution is alive and not what we think it is. The Vice detective shared some truly horrific stories of young women brainwashed, kept in near kidnap type situations, tattooed with the pimp's brand, and totally at his mercy, of which he has none. The detective shared because girls develop at an earlier age he's aware of even nine year olds who have begun to be ushered into that life. (Life?) (And this happens in the midwest?) A big case recently involved a man who actually played for the NBA and then somehow made a career change into becoming a pimp. One of his girls was arrested, and later said she was so grateful she was, as they had been basically keeping her and her baby hostage. My right to be ignorant of some of the awfulness in my back yard is at the expense of men and women who want to keep the world a better place.

Drugs. This task force, except for the salary of the officers involved, is completely funded by seizures and shared seizures. Cars, money etc. When drugs are involved a car and cash can be seized along with the drugs. If the person who owns the car or cash can provide a paper trail, then it's all good, the property is not seized. But if they can't, the property is no longer theirs. What's more. if there is a drug bust of significance, a street value is assigned to the drugs, the drugs are of course taken off the streets, destroyed etc. But the street value (because they were going to sell them) is provided to the IRS. The drug "owner" now has to pay tax on those drugs. One guy in my class got a little hot under the collar about that...uhhh, Dude, how many thousands of dollars have they dealt tax free? Before getting caught? Not sure if he got it. Anyhoo, that is a consequence I never even considered an option. It is true that the task force wants to get the big suppliers and will use citizen informants (often those they've busted who will roll.) The awful pictures of homes and the stories of kids living in those homes was heartbreaking.

It was good that this heavy, heavy presentation was followed with the chaplains. One of them, while some of the haunting stories were still fresh in our minds made a comment along the lines of. "We are there to listen to any officer who needs to talk. We ride with them, get called into some hard situations. But we see stuff that is traumatizing once a month, every couple of months. These officers see this stuff every day. And what they see they don't want to take home. Their homes are where their families are, the ones they are trying to protect along with the rest of the citizens in our city. Taking the ugliness of the street into their homes is not an option for them. We can be there while they unload horror, just speaking it helps, and we can pray for them."

Wow. Then he went on to say that not only that, when people have a cop encounter they are more prone to spit, curse them out, yell and lie than show any level of kindness.

& and I were really impacted by the picture he painted. Not that we spit at cops. Hardly. Nor do we have many official encounters. Ha Ha. But to really get a glimpse into their lives is sobering. We talked all the way home. Every one of the ten or so officers we've encountered in this class has been a really neat guy. They have a sense of humor, they are doing their job to protect people who don't realize it, because they feel compelled to protect. They are thoughtful, intelligent, respectful men. But there is a protective, professional edge to each of them that would intimidate if he was standing at my window asking for license and registration or at my door with a complaint. How much of that edge is because they've learned the hard way that yelling and lying would be the likely response to their questions?

If you have a police officer encounter today, tell the truth, and be kind.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Scribbles and Scrambles ~ Ramblin, Ramblin, Ramblin that Eventually Gets to a Point...

What to post? What to post? I think I understand the creative focuses bloggers adopt. It helps categorize thoughts into smaller sub-themes. You know, the Linkys and the the Theme of the the underwear that's cutesy and different for every day of the week. Today is rambling panty day in my house. I'm not sure what to post so I'll write until something jumps out at me.

I have literally, (shout out to Parks and Rec's very own Chris) ten Vegan cookbooks I could review. Could, but not quite... I like to try a few recipes before giving a review, ya know? 

& and I did some cooking yesterday. Happy Healthy Life's Sweet potato burgers, my "hamburger" crumbles, my buns, Katie's graham crackers. We ate up the doctored Pinterest Salsa  (the changes we made...two cans of tomatoes and one can of diced chilis vs one can of tomatoes, one can of Rotels and the jalapeno called for, easier, as tasty and a little cheaper) that has taken over the web. And finally,  almost killed off my Orange You Glad We're Together Bars.

I swished salt water. Glad the tooth is gone. It was really bugging me. Interesting how that happens. You just get used to life and deal and bear up under it. And one morning you wake up and face a change and realize that you now have a different perspective. This, of course, can be a negative change like a diagnosis or shock or loss. Or, a realization that the hard work you've put into something is paying off, or that you are a better person than you were a year ago.

You might, one day be single, the next a couple. Or a couple and then shockingly a single. Healthy you think until those words rock your world, or hearing that the discipline in exercising or eating has changed a dire fact into a different reality. Or maybe you use Jesus as a curse word on Tuesday and on Thursday you meet Him and change your mind. A relative is hospitalized and seems to have nine lives where a neighbor might take one last trip to the grocery store and never return home thanks to a texting driver. 

A toothache could maybe even trigger a deep vein of thought on a blog that has it's share of the ridiculous. 

I hope your day is rich with blessings and hope and promise.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Scribbles and Scrambles ~ Horse Senses

I'm sure none of you wants the details of my tooth removal procedure. (Nor do you want a picture.)

Let's just say a) really don't want to do that again anytime soon. b) it wasn't as bad as my adrenalin and panicky mind told me it would be. c) I had a strange compulsion to bring it home with me. d) I'm glad it's gone.

But while I was dreading the upcoming tooth extraction at work yesterday we started talking about horses.

Honestly, I don't know how the subject came up. But, one of my co-workers and I were friends in high school. Weird. Anyhoo. We began reminiscing. When we were 16 or 17 she spent the night one night and we decided to go horseback riding. First problem, one horse between the two of us. Ha, that's no problem. We'd share a horse. Second problem, said horse liked to hold it's breath when being saddled. Ha. Patience and intelligence, we'd wait the horse out and keep tightening the-thing-on-the-saddle-that-holds-the-saddle-to-the-horse-that-I-used-to-know-what-it-was-called-thingy...cinch maybe?

Problems solved, we set out on the dusty trail and met up with our friend and her horse. A few miles from home we also met up with some boy classmates, also on their horses. Did I mention we were 16 and 17? The boys said, "Hey, wanna race?"

I also mentioned I possessed a fair amount of intelligence, my friend, who was glued to my back in a death grip, and I, in unison, said, "No WAY!" Our other friend had a crush on one of the boys. So. Three horses began an epic race, thundering away.

Did I ever mention that I have very little experience with horse whispering? I believe a horse, no matter how mild and tame, will see me and immediately sense the need to either stomp me, blow snot on me, kick or throw me, or bite me...(in case you are wondering, I've experienced all of the above, some more so than others). This horse happened to have a bit of a naughty streak. Not a good combination. The horse wanted to race. And race it did.

As we tore, at full canter, miles from home, on the gravel road, pulling with all our clueless girl might the saddle began to slip.

Trust me, this is worse than getting a tooth pulled. A few seconds of that day are burned forever in my mind. The slow crawl, the pounding hooves, breathing, screaming awareness that the ground grew closer and closer and closer.

The impact was probably less horrific than the impending promise of impact. We each probably did two or three endos. I remember lying on the road (yes, a road, where cars drive) aware of every square inch of my skin and all of my bones, doing a quick assessment of life. A voice, mine or hers who knows, said something along the lines of "Are we alive?"

Then we gingerly stood. Did I mention that we were at least two hilly miles from home? Limping, we set out. The horse, gaining it's freedom from our oppression was home, waiting, patiently eating grass, saddle upside down around it's belly. Our rotten friend, who knows.

We took turns washing gravel out of our hair and counting gravel burns upon our bodies.

And, that, my friends is why I prefer time in a dentist chair to time in a saddle.

By the way. Our co-worker of five years laughed until she cried yesterday when we ping-ponged the story. Never seen her laugh so hard. Then she told me to have a nice dentist visit.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Scraps and Snippets ~ My First Craft Tutorial ~ Super Green Reusable Totes

I told y'all that I made some Christmas gifts for gifts this year. I posted pictures of the ones that & did and, finally, I'll post my tutorial. Ha. Ha. I use the term tutorial lightly and with trepidation.

Here's the scoop in a nutshell. I love reusable totes but not that most are:

a) a cheapo fabric type composite that falls apart on washing or 

b) that they are nice heavy plastic but lined with a fuzzy fabric liner. When you put produce in them they get nasty.

So. I had some clothes I needed to get rid of and fabric scraps to use up and decided to be really green and make my own tote. And since I liked it so much. And since it could be washed like crazy, I decided to make some for others.

I took a 5 X 7 photo frame and coordinating fabrics I liked (or clothing to be recycled). I cut out eight 5 X 7 rectangles for each bag using the photo frame as a guide. Don't worry about perfect cutting. Good enough is good enough. This is rustic.

Next...I took two of the rectangles and put my favorite fabric on top, then the less loved fabric in back and put the two backs together, the two fronts facing out, back to back. I sewed all four pieces together with one seam on the short ends. Then I opened it up, flattened out the seam and zigzagged both sides (separately) of the seam to the long piece. (If you want to trim the pieces before zigzagging you can, but they'll fray when washed and you can clean up the fray then if you'd rather.) And since the seams will all be on the outside...which adds to the beauty of in it won't be perfect. I didn't have to try to make it perfect. It's rustic. Yay.

I did that for another four pieces of fabric. Then. I took the two long pieces of sewn together fabric, picked one for for the top,  put the two long pieces back to back (smooth side together) and sewed those together the long way so I ended up with one large rectangle made out of four rectangular sections. Seams all on the outside.  Then I zigzagged the long seam down (both sides) on the front of my piece.

I repeated this with the back. I picked my front or back preference and whether I wanted the bag to be "landscape" or "portrait". I cut sides and the handle out of the fabric chunks, jean legs, or shirt sleeves. I found that 35 to 44 inches was what worked
best. I like a longer handle. ( I cut a chunk of fabric about 4 inches wide across the store folded fabric piece). I made some with a jean leg or two sleeves. I added seams if I had to piece one together and zig zagged the raw ends down as needed.

The sides are sewn onto the front and back panels, raw seams out like the panels. Zig zagging as the panels are except I zig zagged the seam together rather than flat. I sewed the handle/side pieces differently on each bag. I tied one together at the top of the bag. I sewed a few into a big loop and left a seam at different locations on the handle. Others I started at one bottom corner of the bag and ended at the other, overlapping and sewing it.

For fun I sewed pockets of contrast fabric bits onto the bags. I even sewed a cell phone pocket into the base of the handle when I overlapped the handle fabric.

I also made aprons. Using six rectangles. And I used ribbon for the tie. I used about a yard or so. (My tall, thin friend got a six vertical (portrait) panel apron. For my tiny friends I used four horizontal panels (landscape).)

After you sew them up, toss them into the washer and dryer. They will fray. You can trim the seams and gift them. I have enjoyed seeing them show up and seeing them being used various ways by the recipients.

I did use an 8 X 10 frame for one and it was huge. A great overnight bag size. The 5 X 7 carries a lot of stuff. A big reusable tote. A 4 X 6 would be a decent purse size. I chose the landscape over portrait orientation for all of these but if you want pursier you might want to consider landscape.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Scraps and Snippets ~ What My Tastebuds Told Me....

April 1st brings my one year Vegan anniversary.

How about an update? For starters, will I stick with a Whole Food Plant Based Vegan diet?

Well, here's the rambling answer. I did shed 20 pounds within two months of getting rid of dairy and I've kept it off without dieting or depriving myself. Rob's gnarly Rheumatoid arthritis affected knuckles are now normal looking. I feel better and have more energy.

Throughout this year I was an imperfect Vegan.

Though I've stuck pretty close to the goal of eating animal product free I've had moments where I've succumbed to dairy. And one where I gave into meat in the past year. Rob has done so more, but that's his story, not mine.

The meat was something I never thought I'd go for and it shocked me...I ordered and ate a sausage mcmuffin...last July. On our trip. I had a moment of hungry insanity and that was what I picked. UGH. Not even tempted anymore...not even in a moment of insane hunger. But that little slip taught me that I didn't want to slide those fast food grease bombs down my gullet anymore. Wasn't worth it.

The dairy moments have been infrequent but they've happened. A few times at a party I'd eat a slice of dessert so as to not hurt someone's feelings. (And, really, if something's going to get me, it's going to be dessert.) Last night I went down big time. We went to an event for Rob's job that was a dessert mecca. I fixed a plate knowing full well it was loaded with dairy. And boy oh boy, I regret it. My tastebuds have changed. As I was tasting some of the desserts I was calculating how much sugar, dairy fat, non-organic dairy and GMO products went into each creation. Flashbacks from documentaries and articles I've read filled my thoughts. Not pretty thoughts at all.

What's more, I really tasted the items. Honestly, they were good. But. Really, truly, the things that we are producing in our kitchen are as good if not better than what we ate. (They are better, they taste good and they are full of grain, fiber, decreased processed sugar, less fat and as organic or local as possible, I feel good about that.) 

I left behind a plate littered with dessicated dessert parts and a renewed appreciation for the changes we've made in our diet. I also left with a headache, a gurgly stomach and sinus pain. Chances are I'll pay for a few days while my body processes the feast.
So. Will I remain Vegan? I'd rather eat clean and feel better. I'd rather eat organic. I'd rather eat dairy free. So. Yes. I will continue with this new way of life. Because, it's just that, a new way of life.

Friday, March 09, 2012

Scribbles and Scrambles ~ Law Lessons #2

Our law enforcement adventure last night provided a few more police procedure details.

For example, there is a portion of our police force that focuses on getting to the bottom of issues and correcting choices that make for frequent problems and complaints.

I like this. Where an issue keeps cropping up, they will scan the situation, analyze the underlying issues, respond and reassess.

For example. Neighborhoods in transition where established people may feel insecure with lots of newbies out and about, and teens not liking the crabby neighbors...the police reps might involve that neighborhood in a opportunity to get to know each other through neighborhood watch or group clean-up.

Sometimes they will work hard to make poor decisions not so much fun.

My favorite line of the night happened in reference to a problem that required officers on bicycles...officers who can go where cars can't and have speed and efficiency advantages...who were put on patrol in a local park where "swimming in the dog-gone fountain" is a problem.

Ha. Ha. We are a small town at heart. We've got some issues, stinky ones, but, the dog-gone fountain swimmers are up there. : )

Thursday, March 08, 2012

Scraps and Snippets ~ Banana Ice Cream...

One of the recipes in Minnesota taught me a sweet skill. The recipe itself ended up being one of the least favorites. But that was because of the flavor pairings. But our minds went crazy trying to pair the parfait idea with this delicious soft serve consistency ice cream. There will be parfaits in our kitchen, as soon as we can stop ourselves from making and immediately eating the...Banana ice cream.

Now onto the sweet skill. You need a food processor. The girl who posted the original deets said she'd tried a Vitamix to less than stellar results.

Here's the recipe.

You take as many "happy" bananas as you want. Make sure they are "just right bananas," not the black and slimy banana bread bananas. Peel them. Chop the bananas up into bite sized chunks. Put them in a freezer bag. Put them in your freezer and freeze for a minimum of an hour. 

Dump as many bananas as you have people to serve (approximate size of a banana because they will be in chunks  so estimate or you could put each banana into a separate container if you are picky about stuff like that) into the food processor. Example: Use two or three for a two or three person serving. One banana per person...but stick to two or three in each batch. Run the food processor on high. 

You will think there is no way an ice cream substance is going to happen. No way. They break into tiny grainy looking bits and look less and less like creamy goodness. But magic is coming. Stop and scrape it now and again so all the pieces get fluffed. You will have a creamy, deliciousness in three or four minutes.

In our experiments at home, & and I have made banana ice cream with a blob of peanut butter and a splash of non-dairy milk (about a TBSP of each) and the  cinnamon banana version with a few sprinkles of Vietnamese Cinnamon 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon per banana. (BTW, there is a difference in cinnamons. Veitnamese is delicious and sweet. Highly recommended.) The results are yummy, slightly softer in consistency, but delicious. And the additions soften the banana taste. Uhh. Chocolate chips tossed in....yum. However, the banana taste is pleasant and not overwhelming because you are using the not overripe bananas.

Try it but be warned, it's addictive.

Wednesday, March 07, 2012

Scraps and Snippets ~ Cinnamon Apple Cake/Bread...

The Minnesota trip included this amazing breakfast bread.

Which I promptly tweaked upon arriving home.

My version of the Cinnamon Swirl Bread morphed into Cinnamon Apple Swirl Bread and Cake.

2 cups vanilla almond milk (or non-dairy milk of choice).
1 TBSP and 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
1 1/3 cups sugar
1/4 cup Earth Balance (next time I will try coconut oil)
1/4 cup applesauce
2 TBSP ground flax
6 TBSP water
2 teaspoons vanilla
4 cups of or a blend of whole wheat pastry flour, unbleached all purpose and/or unbleached white whole wheat flour.
2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt

Filling: (I'm increasing/changing this up this next time so am giving you the changes I will make.)

1/2 cup sugar or maple syrup
4 TBSP ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ginger
2-3 finely diced apples or 1/2 cup apple sauce or maple syrup
1/2 cup chopped walnuts


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 9x5" loaf pan and an 8 x 8" cake pan. Combine the milk and vinegar and set aside to curdle. Mix the flax and water together and allow to gel. In meantime mix flour, salt, soda, baking powder together. In a separate bowl cream sugar with the Earth Balance or coconut oil, add applesauce, vanilla, flax eggs and milk. Mix well. Stir in the flour mixture and stir until incorporated.

Mix the filling ingredients together in a separate bowl.

Distribute 1/3 the batter into prepared pans. (2/3 of that in cake pan, 1/3 in loaf pan). Spoon 1/3 of the filling over the batter. Repeat this step twice. Bake 40-50 minutes, until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. You can remove the loaf from the loaf pan to a wire rack after cooling for 15 minutes or so in pan.