Saturday, December 31, 2011

coconut citrus kabocha bisque!

The marvelous kabocha squash! I was happy as pie when I found one in my grocery store, in a big bucket o' squash of different varieties. Images copyright (c) 2011 Wendee Holtcamp

Let me just start off this post saying posting one recipe a day is out... I am going to try to make one a day but posting them all on my blog is too time consuming right now (on deadline!). But I will finish this one, and do my best to keep you all updated on my faves.

Since Alicia Silverstone so raves about them in her book The Kind Diet, I had been wanting to try it but had been unable to find one anywhere. I used a substitute before, the buttercup squash, which is quite similar in coloration/look but looks sorta like an acorn whereas this one is more pumpkin shaped. The recipe I used buttercup in - a modification of her Black bean Kabocha Squash Stew (I used pinto beans) - I didn't like. I cooked the squash in the oven for that one, which is how (until the other day) I always cook squash, and I think I overcooked because the squash was really soft. That would be fine for some recipes, but I wanted chunks of it like the recipe. And I wasn't crazy about the flavor - I've never been a huge squash fan, so am trying different recipes to find the way I like squash best! I do love me some spaghetti squash.

Here's the recipe which I got from

-1 tablespoon coconut oil or 1/2 cup veggie broth
-1 medium kabocha squash, seeded and cubed
-pinch sea salt, plus more to taste
-1 orange, zested and juiced
-5 or more cups filtered water or broth
-1 can (13.5 ounces) coconut milk
-pinch white pepper
-fresh herbs, for garnish

Heat oil or broth in medium stockpot. Sauté the kabocha with sea salt for about three minutes, covered, stirring occasionally. Add a little water if the kabocha starts to stick to the pan. Add orange zest and juice. Sauté for two more minutes.

Add water and coconut milk and bring to boil. Simmer until kabocha is very soft (about 20 minutes). Puree with immersion blender right in the pot or in batches in a regular blender (return to pot when finished blending). Add pepper and sea salt to taste. Serve hot garnished with fresh herbs like cilantro or parsley.
The first step is cutting your squash in half, and then taking out the seeds. You need a pretty sharp/big knife to cut through the squash.
The recipe calls for you to put the squash in cubes in a pan, where you saute and then boil it and so, normally I just plop the whole thing in water in the oven but I thought, ok, I'll try to peel and cut it up. Let me just say - total p.i.t.a! So much of a pita that I ...
...only peeled one half for the soup and baked the other half. To bake squash you put it in about an inch of water and then bake at around 350 until soft when pierced with a fork.
I zested an organic orange (I did wash it, even though it was organic) and then juiced it in my juicer. Since some folks may not have the ability to juice, it created exactly 1/2 cup of orange juice so that's what you would use if you just used juice. I sauteed in broth but added a teeny tiny amount of coconut oil also just for flavor. Then of course you also add a whole can of (light in my case) coconut milk later.
Here you can see the chunks of squash boiling in the rest. After they are soft, you puree them together either in a blender or food processor. I added only about 1/2 of the oven-baked squash to the recipe, because I wanted to save some for another purpose, plus all of the half I peeled/cut in chunks of course. I don't have any photos of me pureeing the soup (bisque technically - I almost just wrote techniquelly - lol!)And here is the final product! Here's the scoop: when I first tasted it, fresh out of the pot, I was disappointed. The coconut and citrus flavors were lost and it seemed bland. I added a little bit more salt, and then a dash of shoyu (like soy sauce) and then I decided, since miso is really helpful for digestion and is basically a probiotic, to throw in 2 teaspoons of miso (The Kind Diet raves about miso and puts it in a lot of recipes). That actually helped. However it still wasn't the best thing ever. BUT...

I put the pot in the fridge and had it again last night (I made it 2 days ago) and it was WAY better! The orange flavor came out substantially more. Strangely, the coconut flavor seems lost. If I made again, I'd recommend using coconut oil to saute the chunks in first, which gives a stronger coconut flavor. I love coconut! It wasn't that the soup ever tasted bad, it just didn't live up to what I expected. But I definitely prefer it with the miso and after settling for a day.

New Year's Eve

Orange crush - Central Oregon coast. Copyright (c) 2011 Wendee Holtcamp

May your coming year be filled with magic and dreams and good madness. I hope you read some fine books and kiss someone who thinks you're wonderful, and don't forget to make some art -- write or draw or build or sing or live as only you can. And I hope, somewhere in the next year, you surprise yourself. —Neil Gaiman

I was going to post a recipe for the coconut citrus kabocha bisque that I made today but it's 1120pm (early for me, really), and despite coffee, I'm falling asleep trying to keep myself awake... and that, despite the crazy fireworks going off in my neighborhood and landing on my roof... So I'm going to give in to the sleepiness and go journal a little and fall asleep and wake up in a hopefully better year than this one! Well this year actually wasn't bad - it was fair to middlin. It was, I think, a year of transition between the old and the new. A year for breaking bonds and choosing wisely - choosing to care for myself, and to follow God's leading even when it is hard.

And the year goes out with an absolutely precious memory tonight of listening to the Top Twenty Songs in Christian Radio from 2011 on my local Christian radio station - KSBJ - and just feeling like God was singing to me in nearly every one. I have heard all these songs umpteen times, but something about tonight... several of them moved me to tears, but in gentle, sweet, loving ways - the voice of my Creator whispering to me that He loves me and He will provide... He will care for me, and I do not need to worry. I need to just live, love, breathe, be... and things will all happen as they are meant to. And then as I thought to myself that God was speaking to me through the music, I remembered that just yesterday I had tweeted a passage from Zephaniah 3:17 (that I had heard on the radio right when I tweeted it in fact) - "He will quiet you with his love, He will rejoice over you with singing" - a passage which is breathtakingly beautiful and one of my favorites. And I was like, dude! That's exactly what the Lord is doing - rejoicing over me with singing!

I once heard that we often think that "God loves us" but the reality is not that. God (and Jesus) is IN LOVE with us. Think of how it feels when you are in love with someone - it has a totally different feel/image/reality than saying you love someone... the God of the universe is in love with us, he pursues us, he desires us to know him, he wants to spend time with us. He's interested in us and cares about us - in our dreams, our fears, our worries, our joys. He deeply desires our joy and our happiness (but not pursuing self-gratification for its own sake). He wants our best. He wants to bring out our best. He is enthralled by our beauty and - as the lover to the beloved - sees beyond or does not even see the flaws - and this truly, is grace.... And so... go into the new year with these thoughts in your heart.. because that is a God I want to follow and know. And I want you to know too.

Peace out - see you on the flipside.

But wait - there's more! (Do I sound like an infomercial yet?) I want to leave you with a video of one of the songs that really moved me tonight - by one of my favorite artists, TobyMac we have seen him in concert twice).

Friday, December 30, 2011

Dehydrated kale "chips" recipe

The final product - Krispy Kale Chips! Plus some green juice - for the juice I used 1 head of romaine, 1/2 cup kale plus the kale stems I cut out for the chips, ~3/4 cup carrots, 2 apples, a lemon, 1" ginger and some broccoli stems (never mind the avocado in the background!). Copyright (c) 2011 Wendee Holtcamp

Hello my vegelicious followers! It's day 4 here of my being vegan, and time for my next day's recipe. I originally planned to make the recipe from my friend Eileen for Kale Cashew Crispy snacks - even had the cashews in my grocery cart today, but then took them back out in an attempt to save money and use the ingredients I had on hand. In fact, I have so much food in my house, and one of my big plans is to use up some of the stuff here in recipes... sometimes that does require getting additional ingredients at the store, but... I do love to grocery shop! It's the only shopping I really allow myself on a regular basis. In fact, one of my plans for the New Year is to make a better grocery budget and stick to it. However, I have to get through this next article... due in less than 2 weeks. Ack. So anyway, I decided to go for the simple version of kale chips... salt, olive oil, and nutritional yeast! Specifically:

• 1 large bunch curly leaf kale
• 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
• 1 tablespoon cold-pressed olive oil
• 2 tablespoons nutritional yeast

I got this particular recipe from's Raw Food Recipes site. My dehydrator does not have an adjustable temperature, and I do not know what it dehydrates at, and I know for raw food to be "raw" it has to be at less than some temp, which I don't know, but I'm not doing raw food diet so, whatevs. Did I mention that I love that word? ;) This ended up being so super simple, I am going to have these on hand ALL the time! I have a weakness for corn chips, which aren't necessarily unhealthy but they have highish fat and these kale chips are SUPER healthy (kale is a superfood!) and just have 1 Tablespoon oil in the whole batch. And that's not counting what gets evaporated (OK wait - I need a chemistry expert - the liquid component may evaporate, but does any of the fat content or does it just stick to the kale?!) I digress... Onto the pics.
First I soak the kale in my sink with a little veggie wash (or castille soap, depending on my mood). I bought organic, but you still need to wash them! Next I towel dry, and then cut out the central stem, which is tough (I reserve it for green juice though) and then chop. Put the chopped kale in a bowl. Put the olive oil, salt and yeast and then mix it around with your fingers. I think I used too much salt because mine were pretty salty. I like salt, too, but I'd probably reduce it a bit next time or even go without. If you don't ever use nutritional yeast, it makes stuff taste like it has Parmesan cheese on it. It's great on popcorn. My kids don't like it, but I love it. I'm going to test out the kale chips on them and will report back. My dehydrator has four trays and you stack them. One bunch of kale fit on two trays. I didn't know how long it would take to dry, because the recipe says 2 hours, and another site with another recipe said like 10-12 hours! They must have a very low-temp dehydrator, I suspect, because mine were done and crispy crunchy within a couple hours. In fact, some were done within an hour.
They shrink up quite a bit. I am so in love with these!! They are soooo delish!! And so easy to make. Try them sometime! I think I'm going to make people Kale chips as Christmas gifts next year. Back to work for me!

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Thai "peanut" sauce with raw veggies

Thai peanut sauce veggies dehydrating. Copyright (c) 2011 Wendee Holtcamp

So I didn't make any new recipes today (day 3 as a vegan), but I do have a post - as promised - about the third recipe I made last night. This sauce was absolutely divine. Freaking delicious. I got this recipe out of the Crazy Sexy Diet book and she credits the recipe to Chad Sarno of The Raw Chef. The ingredients are:

1/2 cup almond butter (technically you are supposed to use "raw" almond butter but I didn't)
1 Tbsp ginger, chopped
1+1/2 Tbsp lemon juice
2 Tbsp dates, raisins or prunes (I used dates)
2-3 cloves garlic
1+ 1/2 Tbsp sea salt
1 tsp serrano pepper (optional - I did use this, and it made it great - I can't imagine it without some spice to it)
1/2 cup water
2 zucchini, sliced in half moons
2 carrots, julienned
1 cup broccoli florets
1 cup snow peas

Veggies and some of the ingredients. You can substitute soy sauce, tamari, or Bragg's amino acid for shoyu. Shoyu is just high quality soy sauce.
Blend almond butter, ginger, lemon juice, date/raisin/prune, garlic, salt, pepper and water till smooth - I did this in my Cuisinart food processor rather than a blender. OK yea it looks kinda grody like this but it's really.... delicious! (and no comments on how THIS one looks - it's peanut sauce for criminy sake. Well, almond technically but whatevs). Toss sauce with veggies. Then dehydrate on Teflex sheets at 105 degrees for 2-3 hours to soften.

OK I have to confess: I have no clue what a Teflex sheet is (though Google does come in handy for such mysteries). I just placed the stuff directly on the trays in my dehydrator. This is my first use of it - a gift I got for my birthday in July - and I have to say, some sort of sheet would have come in handy because the sauce did drip down all over the place. I will also say that I ended up a bit disappointed by the dehydration process. Here's why: I LOVED the raw veggies in the sauce. It was scrump-deli-icious! I could have eaten the whole bowl. (OK not the BOWL but the stuff IN the bowl). When stuff is dehydrated at low temp, it's still considered raw, but I don't know, for some reason I just preferred it really full-on raw rather than even slightly dehydrated (You don't totally dehydrate for this recipe to where it's crunchy or totally dry - just a tiny bit of time to 'soften'). I think maybe I didn't like it as much because it also dehydrated the sauce. I loved the sauce. I was dipping and drenching the broccoli (my fave of the different veggies here) in the sauce. And when dehydrated, it took a bit of the oomph out of the sauce, since well it was less... saucy.

I actually stuck the veggies on the dehydrator for a very short time - like an hour? They were barely dehydrated, and I did this on purpose because I liked the veggies + sauce raw so much. But even after just an hour, the sauce was already drying up/off. So I put the veggies in the fridge, cleaned my dehydrator, and today I decided I'd dehydrate more and see what happened. All it did was shrink the veggies more and I still prefer it totally raw. I really just like the sauce saucy!

So there ya go. I think I will try some other dehydration recipes, but this one I will definitely make again but next time will reserve more of the sauce just to use with the dehydrated veggies, and/or just not dehydrate them. Tomorrow I think I'll try Kale chips - I've been super excited about that recipe for months, ever since Eileen held a raw food picnic at her house!

Though I've been vegan for 3 days now, I'm still in the pre-cleanse part because I'm imbibing large quantities of coffee (I have a lot of work to do, what can I say), and I'm snacking on raw balls from the freezer whenever I'm craving something sweet (these are vegan, so it's ok, but I'm also planning on trying to cut down on sweets). I think the trick for me will be to have a lot of ready-made snacks around the house that I can have when I'm having a weak moment.

Today this is what I ate. Breakfast - had an organic apple, and some coffee with soy creamer (mmmmm my staple). Then around lunchtime I had a grapefruit, then about 30 minutes later I had some of my leftover toasted quinoa with a couple tablespoons of hummus, and a big salad from my "bowl of health" mixed with the remainder of the Mediterranean salad. Then I had a couple raw balls. Um maybe four. Yes I know that is more than a couple! For dinner I had the leftover mustard greens I sauteed the other day with leftover rosemary red potatoes (a recipe my aunt made at Christmas and it was soooo good but mine turned out very dry - not sure what I did wrong). Then I had like, um, three or four more raw balls... and a Jamba juice bar (not good when I start the actual cleanse but it is vegan and only 70 calories!). For snacks here and there, I had some plantain chips and hummus, plus a piece of rosemary toast with hummus (I rarely eat bread, but this was the last piece, and it's not something I can have on the cleanse so I was indulging...). Did you notice a theme here - hummus, hummus and more hummus! And raw balls. Wonder if I should try them together? Ha.


My 30 days of vegan living

Ingredients for Thai "peanut" sauce vegetables from Crazy Sexy Diet by Kris Carr. Yum! Copyright (c) 2011 Wendee Holtcamp

One of the gifts I'm giving to myself in 2012 is starting it off with a vegan cleanse. In other words, I'm going vegan for at least 30 days, and (though this isn't tied into veganism, per se). I'm also giving up refined sugars, processed foods and all meat, milk and animal products. I actually started two days ago in a pre-cleanse phase, where I'm still drinking coffee and soy creamer (which has sugar and is processed) but I have not totally decided whether I can handle giving coffee up altogether or not... I am a total addict. Which is, of course, all the more reason to give it up but you know, what can I say.

I often start a new year doing the Master Cleanse (the lemonade thing - I blogged in 2010: foodie blog one, in 2008: I give up, in 2006: weirdest place to put cayenne pepper, and visions of hamburgers dance in my head and sisterhood of the lemonheads) and I may well add a week of doing the master cleanse here at some point. But I found when doing it that I would lose some weight and then gain it right back. I don't want this to be about weight per se, but about a commitment to healthier eating. Don' get me wrong, I eat generally fairly healthy but I also have a major sweet tooth and I use food as comfort when I am upset, as a lot of people do - and the food I gravitate to when upset includes... ice cream, queso dip, chocolate, and other sweet stuff. I want to see how my body responds to really cutting out the dairy, and cutting way back on sweets (especially with sugar and corn syrup - apparently brown rice syrup and other more natural sugar sources affect our body differently). I also already use Stevia, which is an all-natural plant-based sweetener with no calories. I use it in coffee and when I drink tea, tea, but never in cooking.

I started a healthy eating/vegan cleanse email list of friends for support and recipe sharing (if you want to join, let me know) and plan to blog a recipe a day, maybe including my meal plan in case others want an idea of what to do. There are two main books that will be my staples to follow: Crazy Sexy Diet by the inspiring 30-something cancer-survivor Kris Carr (who has incurable liver cancer but was able to stop its growth by changing her diet), and The Kind Diet by Alicia Silverstone who is a vegan and also includes some macrobiotic/vegan recipes which she calls Superhero recipes. Crazy Sexy Diet actually has a 21-day follow-along guide, that includes not only meal and recipe ideas, but inspiring messages and things to do that day, which I may actually try to do. I tried to do this once before but never completed it. She also has a whole website dedicated to this - Crazy Sexy Life - including a forum of people who want to interact, share recipe and health tips. I may explore that - better than time-wasting on Huffington Post or Facebook!

I'll share tidbits of wisdom from the two books or other info I gather over the next few weeks. One thing that Kris says is that she covers like 2/3 of her plate with vegetables (rather than beans or grains), and I think she tends to eat that much raw. I am really trying to eat more raw, but I'm not going overboard with the raw recipes. I'm just trying to eat more greens... Alicia, on the other hand, is all about macrobiotic which is grains and beans and of course veggies. So I'll have a sort of mix of those two. I tend to love salad but be too lazy to make it, so inspired by my triathlete warrior woman friend Jen (who I saw in Miami recently but didn't include a pic, and in 2007, after my Galapagos trip), I made what she and her family call "a bowl of health" - just a giant salad with whatever they feel like tossing in - greens, of course, and then nuts, raisins, olives - whatever. Then it's already pre-made and you can just eat every day until it's gone. It probably helps if others in your household will eat it, but my kids hate a lot of the veggies I put in things (in fact, they call most of my food "unidentifiable vegetable mush"), so... I will have to ingest it all myself! This is the Bowl of Health I made yesterday:In it, I put spinach, romaine lettuce, chopped leek greens, pumpkin seeds, Kalamata olives, tomato, cucumber, green onions, capers, carrots, snow peas, and black & tan Gomasio (black and tan sesame seeds with sea salt). Oh that reminds me, I have some celery in the fridge I need to use. I'll have to add that in too. This doesn't have any salad dressing, so you just add that onto each bowl. I will probably be mostly using some vinegar and oil combo or homemade dressings to keep it vegan/healthy/natural, but do whatever you like!

I was on a kick last night, and also made Simple Mediterranean Salad with capers from the Crazy Sexy Diet book - and combining that with the 'bowl of health' - ZOMG - yum! The mix of apple cider vinegar, olive oil & I added a dash of lemon juice - was just scrump-deli-icious. The image is before I mixed it all up - not that pretty but soooo tasty!

Simple Mediterranean Salad with Caper Berries (serves 2)

1 cucumber, sliced in thin rounds (peel if not organic)
3 roma tomatoes, sliced thin (or any kind, really...)
1/4 cup red onion, julienned/sliced thin
1/4 cup caper berries
2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
2 Tbsp olive oil
3 Tbsp fresh basil, chiffonade (OK I didn't know what this meant, so looked it up - it means cut into thin strips - you learn something new every day!)
1/2 tsp sea salt

I halved the recipe, basically, because I only had one (really a half!) tomato because I'd used the rest in my bowl of health. REALLY good! Oh I added a splash of lemon juice, also. I'll be making more of this fo' sho!

And though I teased you all with the totally amazing Thai peanut sauce veggie recipe experiment photo at the top of the post - you will have to come back tomorrow for that one! It even involves my first use of my dehydrator, which I got for my birthday this year.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Come out of the cave!

Merry Christmas Eve! I love my silly family. Sam had this moose hat which I got him in Yellowstone a couple years back and he brought it and decided he was going to wear it to church. I wish he would have - ha ha. He really wouldnt have... it would've been funny though!

"The process, I said, is not the turning over of an oyster-shell, but the turning round of a soul passing from a day which is little better than night to the true day of being, that is, the ascent from below..." Plato, The Allegory of the Cave in The Republic

Have you ever read Plato’s The Republic? Well I haven’t but at the Christmas Eve service at Christ (Anglican) Church in Plano, where I was visiting, the pastor said to the audience that something he said he hoped this evening something he said would speak to each of us, and that we would know what it was when we heard it. I've heard that before, and never really heard anything that particularly clear as a message to me. But this time, it happened.

He was talking about how Jesus was born in a cave, and I was like, say what? I thought he was born in some little shack next to an inn, in a manger. The pastor didn’t explain, but went on to talk about Jesus was born in a cave and was laid to rest in a cave, and then he also rose from the cave, and this is what we are called to do. At some point in the sermon I think he actually said, “Come out of the cave!” I don’t even remember exactly what it was in reference to, or how he said it, but when he said it, it was clear as lightning that was a Word direct to me.

It was a reference to the Resurrection, of course, and coming out of darkness into light. Having suffered a lot of low-level depression through my life, on and off really, and to differing degrees but having experienced some blues lately that I don’t totally understand, it was a message to my very heart - a positive and uplifting and encouraging one. I journaled about it and wrote about the message in my gratitude journal later that night. After the service and at Christmas Eve dinner, our family had a conversation about it too, and my daughter had learned from her church (she goes to a different one than I do now) that in the region where Jesus was born, there are a lot of caves and people would keep their animals in these caves - that was their animal holding facility so to speak, their "barns." And my aunt and uncle, who had recently visited the holy Land, concurred. I was fascinated that I’d never heard this detail about Jesus being born in a cave before - you learn something new every day, aye?

And I actually have found myself happier and more joyful the past couple of days, though loneliness and sorrow will occasionally strike like a knife, seemingly out of nowhere. It’s not that severe - not anything like the lead blanket depression I experienced after my divorce (or also about halfway through my relationship with Doug - probably when I realized it wasn't right but I stayed anyway...). Now it's more just some small pangs of sorrow and usually tears that come and pass quickly.

So tonight, I tweeted something about the message to me from the Christmas Eve sermon being “Come out of the Cave” and then on a whim, I decided to Google the phrase. The first thing that came up was Plato’s dialogue on “The Allegory of the Cave” and I was already blown away that someone as famous, so to speak, as Plato had written about a cave, and then was especially blown away when I realized the topic was spot on to what the sermon message actually had meant to me (come out of the depression into joy - the time is now), but then, it added a deeper dimension which blew my mind completely. The allegory of the cave is a dialogue from the utopian philosophical treatise, The Republic, which I actually haven’t read - but plan to now - and it refers to how humanity is often stuck in this worldview that is so limited (the cave - where people see only shadows of the reality), and when a person first comes out into the sunlight, they are blinded and confused and yet slowly they gain the full vision and realize the truth of not only the situation but the difficulty and challenge of convincing those still in the cave that they are even in a cave - living with a limited worldview. It has relevance to so many things... close-minded worldviews, the understanding of a deeper form of religion or spirituality, grasping who God really is (or, shall I say - we never really can - but we can have a truer understanding that God is love and grace, not judgment or condemnation or guilt), and in our own recovery from the painful circumstances of our childhoods and lives, and into a more beautiful philosophy of viewing the world and living in it with said grace and love and joy.

I can’t even express how much this whole thing means to me. I have felt for at least a decade that God has called me to speak on some deep topics to the world - something I have done only in bits and pieces. My book was to be a part of that, and after the issue that happened with that, I have sort of shrunk back from this calling. So now, in my time, it is time. Let it unfold as it should.

I love the ending line of Socrates (Plato’s teacher, who he uses in his dialogues to tell the story) - it is so beautiful and wise and profound. It speaks to “recovery” and enlightenment of the soul, and the personal growth that comes with that whole process.

“The process, I said, is not the turning over of an oyster-shell, but the turning round of a soul passing from a day which is little better than night to the true day of being, that is, the ascent from below…”
So with that, here are a few more photos from my Christmas with my family!

We went to spend Christmas with my mom and stepdad Skip in Frisco, outside Dallas and drove up on the 23rd. While Savi and I went out to Old Navy on Christmas Eve morn (does that even make sense?!) to use up my expiring Groupon, Sam and Skip worked on the gingerbread house construction. Skip working on the gingerbread brothel - ahem house - Sam decided that because I used tall, skinny pirouette cookies as poles outside the house, "what is this, a brothel?" I was like, say what? He was like, what kind of house has poles? Then I realized he was thinking of like pole dancing, I guess, though where that young innocent mind would come up with something like that I don't know! ;) The original plan, which we hatched while still in Houston, was that Sam was going to wear his Snuggie and his moose hat when aunt Linda and uncle Vance first arrived so he would seem like an eccentric and weird teenager. I haven't seen them since 1999 myself, so Sam was quite small and technically has never "met" them (though they've "met" him as a baby!) We laughed hysterically at the thought but he wouldn't do it once it came down to it. Darn!This is my mom, me, Savannah and Sam about ready to go to church. I'm not really taller than Savi but I had high heeled boots on - he he. My little secret for world, or, er parental, domination!
I love my girl so much!
Later we came back to the house and opened presents. This is Sam's gift to me, and I love the way he wrapped it! Looks like a hat, so I tried it on for size. It's actually a lid for my huge cast iron skillet.
Opening presents. :)
Savannah got me a ring that matches one she got too. Aww!
I had to laugh because I'm always making this face in photos - I call it the mommee face! I am always talking and Savannah is taking photos and she's like quit talking so I can take a photo already! Sam looks so handsome!
Uncle Vance and Aunt Linda! Linda is my mom's fraternal twin sister! Their daughter Holly (a medical doc) I have visited in Tacoma several times whenever I go to the Pacific Northwest! (see serendipity and snowed in from 2008)Linda and Vance got me this Jerusalem cross from Israel - I love it! And my daddy and Bev sent me this awesome long sleeve T from Wild Olive that I've been eyeing for some time. It says Transform your Mind. And on the back... It says Romans 12:2 - Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Occupy friendships... and Houston

For Daline's 40th birthday, she came up with idea to light a candle and eat something sweet to celebrate in our mind something sweet we have in our lives "right now" - not something we hope for, not something in our past. The thing I had at that time isn't in my life anymore though. Just when I think I am so strong and confident and happy, my emotions fail me. But just like winter is a rebirth, may this time be so for me.

God, winter is so beautiful and the wintry portions of my life are those which often give birth to a deeper understanding of who you created me to be, O God. Give me time to explore, to reach out, to find that ripple of hope within my soul. Amen.
- Penny Tressler

Today is turning out to be a very crappy day! I woke up so excited to spend the afternoon and evening with my daughter. We had scheduled to do two massages at the same time at this place downtown (I used a Groupon type deal) - it was for her birthday present. Then we were going to return to Ruggles since we had that restaurant fail last time we went, and they gave us our food free, and so I still had the voucher for there too. But so I called to confirm the appointments, and thank God I did because not only did they have the time wrong, they only had one not two scheduled. And the other masseuse was on vacation. Nice. Also, all this other stupid crap is happening. I have this one story I'm trying to get published and I got all these questions from an editor but no real idea what I'm really supposed to be doing with it and none of my sources can be reached because of the holidays. My cell phone isn't charging properly and it's annoying (Fortunately they're mailing me a new one tomorrow). And me and my daughter decided we're just going to do our outing another day. Sometimes I just hate being a single mom... I love being a mom, I love it more than anything. But I hate being broke, I hate struggling and I hate being alone. I never used to, but I do now. It sucks. Sorry if that's a little too real. But that's the way it goes. I have known Daline since about 1990 when we were in college - at Texas A&M - Whoop! We met when we drove together to a beach cleanup on Matagorda Island, and have been friends since. She knew me before I had met my now exhusband (and father of my 2 children), and she held my baby girl Savannah when she was little before I had moved away from College Station. After our respective divorces, we went to the Bahamas together near Christmas (2004 or 05) to "skip" it altogether and later traveled to the Peruvian Amazon together (memories of Peru and photo gallery). I visited her when she was anointed a lay Buddhist monk (boddhisattva) at Green Gulch Zen Center, and we have gotten together many other times. Over the years, near or far, we have shared so many conversations, and I love so much about her. She has introduced me to so very many concepts that have stimulated my personal development and spiritual and emotional growth such as codependency and the Work of Byron Katie - and I have such deep admiration with the bravery with which Daline approaches life, the loyalty she has to friends and family, and her beautiful soulful singing voice and her desire to follow her dreams, wherever they may lead. I spent her 40th with her, and here are some shots from the day.
She had some friends come to the park near the Menil, and we munched and some played drums and we just hung out for a while. Artist Sharon Engelstein and her daughter, Daline, and me.
Next we went to Occupy Houston to give FREE HUGS and do "random acts of dance" (I have to admit I didn't really do the dance thing, except for one song...). This is Capital Tatts wearing his Guy Fawkes face mask. This is Jamin - he showed me around. I was surprised at how few people there were there (a lot of people come and go, and it was a Sunday), but also surprised at how organized they were. They had a permanent camp set up, they were serving food to protestors and they had beds (no tents, because that would be "illegal"), and they had signs with upcoming protests. Every night at 7pm they have a meeting to discuss things - participatory democracy. Everyone was super nice and I thought it was great. Perhaps I will come up with a story idea about it - not totally in my domain, but you never know. They even publish a newspaper! This is where they sleep. A lot of homeless people come here to sleep also, and they feed them too.Declaration of Occupation: Exercise your right to peaceably assemble, occupy public space, create a process to address the problems we face, and generate solutions accessible to everyone. Signs with upcoming events, information, etc. Bill of Rights: We are not camping. We are assembling peaceably to petition our Government for a redress of grievances. This is our permit.
Afterwards we headed to Bohemeo's cafe where they had an open mic night and Daline got up and sang a couple songs. It was the first time I have seen her perform! I have heard her play for me, and love her music. It was so cool to see her play, especially knowing that when I started this blog, she went out and did an open mic night for the first time ever, and she was so scared she almost threw up she says!Oh my GOD they stole my idea!!!! This was painted in the bathroom. Where else would they have gotten this idea from - really? I asked when they opened and they said 2006 I think, which was after I started my blog but maybe before I changed the layout. Anyway, who knows when they put this up... but I seriously think they stole the idea from me after searching bohemian on the internet... I know my blog comes up high in search rankings... It's slightly different of course but has a LOT of the same definitions, which I found randomly all over the internets (It is right under my header on my blog...go look and compare!)Ivan, Daline, Mary, I can't remember the other dude's name but he came with Mary, and me in the back. And after hearing her play, I went home because I didn't want to be out late. Lame right! But hey I'm not a party animal anymore! Rawr!