Thankful for my darlings

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAHow much for the kitteh in the window…

Houdini just turned 14 last week. 14! And he’s our baby kitty; Genghis is about 17. It’s been a bit of rude awakening for me that the dudes are, well, older gents. I adore them more than words, and they’re just a huge and wonderful part of my life.

I go walking every morning, and Hou waits for me in the front window. If I’m not out walking, he doesn’t spent time in the front window, but if I go outside, he keeps watch until I get back. G generally waits too on the carpet, but he can’t miracle his butt up to the window sill. It always makes me smile, and it reminds me how much the kitty contingent loves me.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

I’m also super grateful for my main (feline) dude, Genghis, and very aware of the preciousness of his kitty self. First, he’s aware of the preciousness of his self, and makes of a point of reminding me. I’m also aware that he’s also had more heart and thyroid issues over the years. Lately, it’s been the sniffles but it’s definitely getting him down, and he’s less frisky. He spends a big chunk of his time on the heated floormat with me. No matter how many times I schooch him over to the side, he always flops back and paws me to remind me of the important thing(s) in life.furlove

I’m also extremely grateful that G & H are great friends. Houdini loves Genghis, and Genghis loves Genghis, so they’re a perfect match for each other.

I don’t know if we’ve all got months more together or years, but in some ways, knowing that our time together is finite helps me treasure the time we have.

cookiesOn an entirely different note, I was really excited to see Carrie review my Divine Chocolate Chip cookies, and Shirley gave them a wonderful shout out in her Gluten Free Wednesday roundup.

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Thankful for relaxation–Thankful Thursday

I’ve been tired lately. Mr. Dude will tease me that I’m not getting in my usual solid 9-10 hours of sleep. My body just feels heavy, slow, and I had one of those moments this week when I wondered, how do I push myself to get moving again?

And surprisingly, the answer has been not to push at all. menmrgWhen I’ve made a point of relaxing and, essentially, ignoring the things that I can’t change, I’ve had the energy I need. It’s also been pretty stunning to notice which things fill me and which things drain me, and how pronounced it is. I didn’t realize how much it costs me to stay in a funky dynamic, but oh, I’m so not ready to uproot every part of my life. Guess some things will have to keep coming back and biting me in the butt.

Force gets you just so far before it starts breaking you down. I’m a bullheaded fighter by nurture, if not by nature, and I kinda enjoy finding out, again and again, that I can choose a different path and it’s much more peaceful. It’s such a well-ingrained idea that the only way to get something done is to work harder, but it just doesn’t work out for me.

And on an unrelated note, the Center for Mind Body Medicine shared a post I wrote on my journey with binge eating disorder. It’s important to me to share…and yet, um, they titled it “shame”. Gotta say the label made me feel like I wanted to curl up in a little ball, but I think I’m over it now.

 Additional note: I re-read this and realized this doesn’t quite sound like a “thankful” post, although it actually was mean that way. It’s not fun to feel like I’ve got Jello limbs, but it was great to be re-reminded that I’ve got the power to shift my experience, and it’s given me a lot of useful stuff to ponder!

There’s a great Buddhist saying called the Bodhisattva vow, “May all that arises serve the awakening of my heart and mind, and be a blessing to all beings.” It’s a comfort to me, especially on challenging days, to remember the possibility of a kernel of insight or wisdom or inspiration in any situation.

 

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Divine Chocolate Chip Cookies (grain free, vegan)

cookies and milkI confess, I’m totally in love with these cookies.

In grad school, one of my dear friends started calling me Cookie Monster, because I took my cookies very, very seriously. I still do, and it’s been way too long since I’ve had chocolate chip cookies that meet my approval. Chocolate chip cookies are matter of great importance, as you well know. We all have a difference sense of exactly what they should look and feel like. My friend Carrie has perfect Chocolate chip cookies that my sweetie loves, but I can’t have the eggs or sugar or grains, so I’ve spent years adventuring. Some recipes I’ve tried are too greasy, or too flat, too coconut, too crumbly or just not right. I hadn’t had any that met my standards for almost 1o years, and clearly that’s unacceptable, and called for serious experimentation.cookie sheet

And so I finally found my cookie, and it was totally worth waiting for. So good. Firm, almost crispy on the outside and soft and tender in the middle. I know this sounds like crazy talk and takes a good deal of restraint, but they also freeze really well, and so they’re my cookie of choice for travel.

Instead of coconut oil or butter, these babies feature macadamia nut butter. I’ve got the directions here for a flavored version, but it really boils down to putting macadamia nuts in a food processor, turning it on, and scraping down as needed. Easy, peasy! For this recipe, you just want to get pure macadamia butter—no maple syrup, no salt, just the roasted macadamia nuts,  a food processor and, of course, lots of love.

Preheat oven to 350. Line a baking sheet with a slipat mat or parchment paper. Mix all of the ingredients thoroughly except the chocolate until well combined–this can also be done in the food processor– and then stir in the chocolate chips or chunks. Portion out cookies by the heaping tablespoon, roll into balls and flatten down on the cookie sheet. They can get cozy, since the cookies won’t spread much.cookies

Bake for 14-16 minutes or until the sides are just starting to turn a golden brown. The tops will not brown. Allow to cool for 5-10 minutes before moving them.

Makes about 18, depending on how much cookie dough ends up in your mouth pre-baking.

*Almond flour: This recipe works perfectly with blanched almond flour from nuts.com or Honeyville. I tried a few different cookie recipes that I found on other sites that specified Bob’s Red Mill’s flour and they came out totally crumbly for me, which may be an ingredient issue—I only use almond flour that’s certified gluten-free, which is either Honeyville or Nuts.com. BRM sells blanched almond meal which is marked GF but is not certified; it looks like it’s a little coarser. I don’t know if BRM flour works in this recipe. Please let me know in the comments if you experiment.

**I used 73% chocolate in the 1st picture, and 85% in the 2nd. The lower cacao chunks are firmer and prettier. Both are crazy delicious.

I’m submitting these lovelies to Gluten Free Wednesdays. Hop on over to see a bunch of wonderful recipes!

 

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Happy 6th Blog-niversary to me & you! Thankful Thurs

master little

Nope, this isn’t a foxy post, but I couldn’t resist sharing this pic of this little cutie.

Wow, 6 years of blogging? I actually had to count that one out to be sure. I can’t believe how long that it, and yet…it feels like I’ve been blogging forever.

I started blogging because I wanted to share my food…but under it all, I started blogging because I felt isolated. I was having such severe physical issues that I couldn’t go out with people or invite them to dinner, and this was my way of having that needed connection. I needed a way to see and be seen, a way to connect, a way to share, a way to actively take part in community.

A lot has changed for the better in these past 6 years, and I’m still grateful for having my blog as an outlet, and the wonderful people I’ve had the pleasure of connecting with.

So thank you for reading, joining me on my journey, and letting me see into your lives, too. Writing this blog has been an adventure for me, and it’s been something I treasure.

My favorite posts? I can’t even wrap my head around my all-time favorites, so just my 6 favorites of this year:

Food posts:roasted broccoli

and my favorite written posts

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Goofball foxy babies! (video & pics)

goofball foxiesFoxy babies were definitely enjoying their holiday weekend! Mr. Dude got a video of the babies…don’t miss the pounce at :49


Download Video with Vixy.net | Convert YouTube to MP3 | Replay Media Catcher

This pic cracked me up…a little foxy still frame action!2014-04-19 - Baby foxes 05There was lot of foxy pouncing…2014-04-19 - Baby foxes 02a lot.2014-04-19 - Baby foxes 03

Shhh!

2014-04-19 - Baby foxes 07If the foxes haven’t gotten you smiling yet, I’m afraid it may be a lost cause. Last try:2014-04-19 - Baby foxes 08And I know this is a food blog, so I promise to share divine chocolate chip cookies later this week…cookies and milk

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More foxy…

Because a day without foxy babies is like a day without sunshine, right? Scroll for a bunch more foxy pics.wild oneThe wild child was off on independent study while everyone else hangs out at the shed. For whatever reason, one of the kits is much more adventurous/agile than his/her sibs.

mama wildoneThe wild child and mama

mini meThe wild child was also the only one who is able to scamper up onto the logs so he/she spends some time with mama. Mama preferred high ground, maybe she was hunting?wrestling foxiesand when in doubt, foxy babies either sleep or wrestle. It was hard to get clear shots because they’re always in motion!chillin

Fingers crossed that they come visit tomorrow when we’ve got good light.

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Wow foxy! Thursday Thankful (a little early)

play(keep scrolling for a ton of pics)

I know last week’s thankful was for the foxy babies, but I’m afraid watching these little ones don’t get old. Not even when they get big. All week, I have been stalking them and I see a little head, grab a camera, and *poof!* little noggin disappears. Or it’s too dark, or raining, or I can’t get good pics for another reason.

Until today.

four foxies!I discovered that there are FOUR baby foxies, and I got to see the pretty lady, too!

i see youDo you see her? How ’bout now?

foxy mom logAnd of course as soon as mama showed up EVERYONE wanted lunch.

momma nursingAnd they trotted around after her, clearly quite hungry.

momma and nurselingsWow. And stay tune for part II tomorrow!

I’m grateful for this foxy treat…

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Gluten Freedom Giveaway & mini reviews

gluten freedomFirst things first! Dr. Fasano has a wonderful new book out called Gluten Freedom. I’m doing a giveaway on my main site and have a cover-to-cover review here. Short version: buy it! It’s terrific.

It seems to be the month of great books, and I’m way behind, so a bunch of mini-reviews will have to do until the dust settles for me:

Ali and Tom of Whole Life Nutrition havealis brownies put together a gorgeous new masterpiece, the Whole Life Nutrition Cookbook. I got it Friday morning, and I had already made the Raw Chocolate Hazelnut Brownie Bites by Friday night. I brought them to a potluck, and they were amazing. Rich, dense, just sweet enough, satisfying and completely delicious. I’m hoping to do a thorough review later. I think the Almond Lime Dipping Sauce is next, but it’s got a lot of competition!

blender girlBlender Girl has a new book out,  Super-Easy, Super-Healthy Meals, Snacks, Desserts, and Drinks–100 Gluten-Free, Vegan Recipes! Although I adore my Vitamix, I actually dislike smoothies, so I didn’t think it would be a book I’d get into. However, there are soup recipes, cracker recipes, dressing recipes, sauces, dessert recipes…all of it gluten-free AND vegan, and gorgeous pics to boot. I love that all the ingredients are real food based, and they seem relatively quick and easy. Oh, an extra bonus: there are some recipes that include soy ingredients, but most don’t. Of everything, the Raw Chocolate Orange Torte looked most amazing. As someone who is allergic to pumpkin, the Sugar-Free No Pumpkin Pie will absolutely happen! There’s a lot of pages that I’ve marked.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

I also received a copy of Sweet Debbie’s Organic Treats: Allergy-Free and Vegan Recipes from the Famous Los Angeles Bakery. What can I say…it’s BEAUTIFUL. I mean, everything this gorgeous, and I get excited even reading about it. I know I promised myself that I was done adding cookbooks to my collection, but she had me at Gourmet Dark Chocolate Mesquite Brownies and Salted Caramel Apple Muffins. All recipes are gluten-free, sugar free and vegan. The recipes do contain grains, so I’ll be making some as a treat for E when we next have company visiting, and I know the book will be an appreciated part of my lending library.

cover-smallLast but not least, a former colleague and mentor, Dr. Gary Kaplan released a new book which will be out in a few weeks, called Total Recovery: Solving the Mystery of Chronic Pain and Depression. Dr. Gary is an osteopath and acupuncturist who has spent years helping people recover from autoimmune and other chronic illnesses. As a Georgetown professor and NIH consultant, he has a unique perspective that’s both grounded in research, but also incorporates a variety of integrative and complementary approaches. For years, I’ve been sending clients to Dr. Gary when they’ve done everything and are still stuck and many have made tremendous progress. He’s also offering a bunch of freebies for people who pre-order before May 6th.

Disclaimers: I received free copies of Gluten-Freedom, Whole Life Nutrition, the Blender Girl, and Sweet Debbie’s Organic Treats. My opinions are my own and I have not been compensated for any of these reviews.

 

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Thankful for Foxies–Thursday thankful

wee fox

Spring is my favorite season, and I planned to post on the daffodils. I love their cheery yellow-ness.

Then this little guy showed up.

Sorry, daffodils, ya got trumped by wee foxy. There are 3 little ones, but we’ve only seen them twice, and once was 5am so pics were impossible with the lighting

double trouble

 

and one of the foxies is definitely not like the other. He’s a bit of a nutter…hopping on top of the logs, running under the logs…I’m used to normal baby fox behavior, and I wonder if this dude has foxy ADHD.crazy fox He’s also much more physically adept than his sibs…

and seems to lack the normal fear in exploration.

Obviously, fingers crossed for more foxy sightings soon! My darn job is getting in the way of all day foxy stalking.

And because I always get questions & accusations:

  • Yes, they’re foxes. For reals. They turn red as they get older.
  • Nope, no idea how we got so lucky.
  • Yes, that’s our backyard. Isn’t that awesome?
  • No, we don’t feed them. We even take down the bird squirrel feeder when they’re visiting.
  • Yep, they’re wild animals, and we respect their space. All pics are taken with a zoom lens. While papa fox 3 years back liked sitting with me when I was meditating, the rest of the foxes haven’t been interested in having a relationship. We haven’t even seen the parental foxies yet this year.
  • Need more foxy? Previous foxy family pictures are here.

Do I even need to say it? It’s a joy when they visit, and I am so grateful to them for  keeping our shed on their play route. I’m delighted when I see them…it’s like reality TV but minus the makeup and infighting.

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Thankful for a meditation retreat–Thankful Thursdays

sevenoaks

I went to a meditation teacher training retreat last week in Madison, VA. If you can believe it, this picture doesn’t come close to capturing the beauty.

The training was challenging, inspiring, exhausting, exhilarating and enlightening. I still feel the imprint of those days, and the beautiful other people I had the privilege of meeting.

I’m thankful for the many beautiful opportunities for beauty in my life.

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