Monthly Archives: September 2015

Happy Birthday to our Darling Maya

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Screen Shot 2015-09-17 at 9.44.24 AMDearest Maya,

19 years ago today, I received an early morning phone call from your Auntie Sarah-Lynda who informed me that you had been safely born and that you and your mom were healthy and happy.  That was a life-changing moment for your G’pa and I, and it has been with sheer delight that we have watched you thrive and grow into one of the most beautiful souls we have ever encountered.  Thank you for being you.

I have so many wonderful memories of spending time with you.  Even as a tiny child, you had a very sophisticated and rich sense of humor that never failed to make us laugh.   Remember when we rented the beach house in Neskowin?  I made this video when you were only 3.5 years old.  What a cutie!

I cherish the memories of our shopping trips, the trips to the ocean and to the mountains.  I loved shopping with you in San Francisco, and was delighted to find this picture of that day.

Screen Shot 2015-09-17 at 9.48.28 AMI had so much fun when we stayed in Scotts Valley surrounded by all of that amazing art and those wild turkeys and the hammock that you and I managed to BREAK together! 🙂

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The best memory of that time, however, was when I taught you to drive.  As you can see,  I was all smiles.  That was so much fun!  Oh, and remember the time we let you and Maddie drive the Mini Cooper convertible?  Man!  You guys thought you were sooooo grown up.  🙂

Screen Shot 2015-09-17 at 9.47.38 AM I loved going to your graduation and meeting your awesome friends.  It was so much fun attending that talent show with you and hanging out with all of you.  Thank you for that, and for all of the wonderful memories that you have given us through the years.

Screen Shot 2015-09-17 at 9.46.16 AMYou are a beautiful, gorgeous person, inside and out.  We are so proud that you are a part of our family, and we are thrilled that you are living in the PNW again.  Seattle just wasn’t the same without you….and neither were we!

Thank you for the gift that is you.  The earth is a better place each time you wake up to a new day on it.    Always here for you, with love in my heart.  You’re the best, sweetie.  I love you.      ~ Gams

Personal Update

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It has been awhile since I’ve made a personal update on this blog.  Since the subscription rate is now approaching almost 1000 WordPress followers and another 3500 Feedburner subscribers, I felt I should stop and catch everyone up on what has been going on with me.

As many of you know, I completed my masters in Psychology in July.  I graduated with honors and a perfect 4 point GPA!  There were times when I felt so discouraged.  It was gruelingly hard work, at times,  and it took me over a month to fully recover from the stress, but it is an accomplishment of which I am proud and which taught me many important things.

Since graduation, I have been hard at work, still writing….but also formulating my business plan, securing funding and getting to work on my new business, Ajhan Life.  I am carefully designing retreats and workshops for creative types, and also doing some women-specific empowerment workshops.  These, I plan to take all over the world, but it will be some time before I reach that point.  I am overwhelmed with the magnitude of the work involved in putting all of this together, but I have a strong team working with me, and plan to do work that is beneficial, that gives something back to the world and that will help me be happy and prosper as I help others to be happier and to prosper to a higher level.  Very rewarding and interesting work.

Our granddaughter, Maya, is now safely back in the Pacific NW.  We were honored to be able to furnish her with transportation after a grueling fiasco that left her car-less and disheartened….but finally aware.   We are so happy that she is nearby once again, and stay closely in touch.

Our little Ingrid started school this year.  She is in a French immersion program, in kindergarten, and absolutely loves it.  I pick her up after school and play with her until her mother picks her up after she gets off work.  My daughter is a local college professor who is even busier than I am, so John and I try to work with her and our son-in-law to make nurturing this precious little child a family affair.  Things are working out very well in that department.

I am writing and making a lot of music these days, too, as I’ve hooked up with some exciting Portland musicians who share my love for music.  My guitar playing is improving, although I don’t think I’ll ever do much with it.  This is for sheer pleasure.

John and I are taking lots of little day trips throughout this magnificently beautiful state in which we live.  We go to the coast or to the river or to the mountains virtually every week.  The great thing about living in Portland (one of many, really) is the ability to reach exciting destinations within 5 minutes of home.  Love it!  We’re also going out to hear a lot of music….jazz, blues, folk, classical….You name it.

I’ve also been doing a lot of cooking since graduation, finally putting together that cookbook project that I’ve had planned for years.  It is going beautifully, and I’ve interested John in cooking, so we do a lot of recipe writing and testing together.  It’s nice!

Oh….and art!  I’m back into art making in a huge way, as I’ve recently received the biggest commission ever, and it is a painting, rather than a mosaic commission.  I am working on a painting of Rickie Lee Jones singing a Blind Willie Johnson song that is based on a photo that I took of her doing this very thing.

Life is good.  I am happy….and that’s all the news there is to write today! 🙂

Want to Up those Seratonin Levels?

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Want to Up those Seratonin Levels?

Do you suffer from depression?  Dr. Michael Greger teaches us the scientific reasoning behind why eating an animal-protein diet may exacerbate the problem.

Tryptophan is one amino among many found in proteins, and they compete with one another for transport across the blood-brain barrier into the brain. And since tryptophan is present in most animal proteins in relatively small quantities, it gets muscled out of the way. If you eat plant foods, though, the carbohydrates cause a release of insulin, which causes your muscles to take up the nontryptophan amino acids as fuel, and so your tryptophan can be first in line for brain access.

Animal foods can even make things worse: “When tryptophan is ingested as part of a protein meal, serum tryptophan levels rise, but brain tryptophan levels decline due to the mechanism of transport used by tryptophan to cross the blood–brain barrier.”

The tryptophan levels in those given a high protein turkey, egg, and cheese breakfast dropped whereas in the waffle-OJ group, their trytrophan levels went up.

This may actually explain the carbohydrate cravings one sees in PMS—your brain may be trying to get you to boost tryptophan levels to feel better. “Consumption of a carbohydrate-rich, protein-poor evening test meals during the premenstrual period improved depression, tension, anger, confusion, sadness, fatigue, alertness, and calmness scores—significantly–among patients with premenstrual syndrome.”

“Because synthesis of brain serotonin, which is known to be involved in mood and appetite, increases after carbohydrate intake, premenstrual syndrome subjects may overconsume carbohydrates in an attempt to improve their dysphoric mood state.”

 

New Blues Guitar Hero?

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Whoa….It looks like we just may have a new blues hero here!  Teen guitarist Chase Walker is being referred to as “the new Stevie Ray Vaughan”, or “the new Kenny Wayne Shepherd.”  American Blues Scene calls him one of the top 10 musicians under 18 you should know.  After I watched this video I knew why.  Wow.

Walker, who is from Riverside, California, was born in 1998 and didn’t start playing guitar until 2010. His influences include Vaughan, Warren Haynes, the Black Crowes and the Black Keys.  Since I knew Vaughan a little bit, I’m excited about this.

To quote the Big Bear Grizzly, the Chase Walker Band formed in 2012 and includes Matt Fyke on drums and vocals and Randon Davitt on bass and vocals. In 2013, Walker’s song “Too Many Days Ago” was a finalist in John Lennon International Songwriting Contest.

The band released its debut album, Unleashed, last year.

Check it.

Paul Simon…..at Ground Zero

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I am not one of those people who plasters photos of the 9-11 tragedy all over my social media platforms.  It is my preference to honor those who died by living my life honorably, but remembering that they were Americans, and by cherishing my country and accepting its people regardless of their race, creed or sexual orientations.   That said, I would like to share this video of Paul Simon honoring them in his on way, with his music.

Today a Shaggy Haired Man

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This is a picture of the sign that hangs on our front door. Today, a shaggy haired man wearing a kilt pulled out a nice camera and snapped a shot of it, right after he’d entered our house.  He was Australian, taking a break from walking from Mexico to Canada.  I wonder what was going through his head?  

Great Deal on Yoga Clothes

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Found a company on Facebook yesterday, called Fabletics.  They sell Kate Hudson’s workout clothes for men and women and are offering one outfit for only $15.  This includes shipping.  You have to sign up to be a member of their VIP thing….but you may cancel at any time by calling 1-844-833-6220.

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Shipping is free.  Good deal.  Good clothes.  This is the one that I bought:

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Get yours HERE.

Well worth the $15.  I think the one I bought retails for $60.  Cute.

Hack Yo Dawg

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1. DIY a treat-dispensing toy to entertain them for hours.

DIY a treat-dispensing toy to entertain them for hours.

Or until they eat all the treats. Cut open a tennis ball with a scissor and stuff it with their favorite snack.

2. Play fetch downhill to tire your dog out faster.

3. Use a carabiner to easily leash your dog.

Use a carabiner to easily leash your dog.

Don’t spend 10 minutes undoing knots when you get out of the grocery store. Loop the leash handle through the carabiner, wrap it around a post, and hook it onto the remaining length of leash.

4. Put a ball in your dog’s food bowl if he or she eats too fast.

Put a ball in your dog’s food bowl if he or she eats too fast.

They’ll be forced to move the ball around the bowl, which prevents them from scarfing it all down in one lick.

5. Make an ice lick by freezing toys, bones, and chicken broth into a cake mold.

Make an ice lick by freezing toys, bones, and chicken broth into a cake mold.

I think this one is SUCH a good idea….especially for people living in particularly hot climates.

6. For an on-the-go water break, try a collapsible water bowl.

For an on-the-go water break, try a collapsible water bowl.

I have one of these for Beatrix.  
7. Make a dog car seat using a laundry basket, a pillow, and a blanket.

Make a dog car seat using a laundry basket, a pillow, and a blanket.

To keep your dog safe and in one spot, wrap a blanket around a pillow, place the pillow in the laundry basket, and use the excess fabric to drape around the basket to soften the edges. There’s a chance you’ll want to curl up in there, too.  In Oregon, one needs to safety belt-restrain their dogs, so I have devised a comfy little bed for Beatrix that includes strapping her safely into place.

8. To DIY a cute dog bed, use a crib mattress, a fitted sheet, and a wooden pallet.

To DIY a cute dog bed, use a crib mattress, a fitted sheet, and a wooden pallet.

This would be a California King size bed for Beatrix.  She would barely fill a child’s shoe box!
9. And if you want to reduce clutter in the bedroom, put your crate where a drawer would go.
And if you want to reduce clutter in the bedroom, put your crate where a drawer would go.
You can hang a curtain over it with a tension rod.  Good idea, yes?

10. If your dog hates the crate, opt for a pillow instead.

If your dog hates the crate, opt for a pillow instead.

Our Beebs loves a soft pillow!

11. You can also hack an Ikea shelf for a super-modern dog bed.

You can also hack an Ikea shelf for a super-modern dog bed.

This one, I like!

12. To save on floor space, put your dog’s bowls in a bottom drawer.

To save on floor space, put your dog's bowls in a bottom drawer.

Our Beatrix is so small that we could use a thimble for a water container and she’d still be perfectly hydrated.

13. Use peanut butter to distract your dog during nail trimming.

Use peanut butter to distract your dog during nail trimming.
I just take Beebs to the vet to get her nails trimmed.  It’s a three minute walk from our house.

14. And if you accidentally cut your dog’s nail too short, stop any bleeding with a mixture of cornstarch and water.

And if you accidentally cut your dog's nail too short, stop any bleeding with a mixture of cornstarch and water.

I don’t trim Beatrix’s nails myself because I’m terrified of nicking her.

15. If you’re traveling with a pet, get a spillproof bowl.

If you’re traveling with a pet, get a spillproof bowl.

We have one of these.  Works great!

16. And if your pet loses a toy while you’re on the road, make a crinkle toy from a sock and an empty water bottle.

And if your pet loses a toy while you're on the road, make a crinkle toy from a sock and an empty water bottle.

Have been doing this for years.  Another good idea is to stuff an old sock with crumbled up newspapers, unless you have a big dog that might tear it up.

17. Use a squeegee to remove dog hair from your car seats.

Use a squeegee to remove dog hair from your car seats.

Works like a charm.

18. For the dog that’s constantly trying to climb into the front seat: Use this zip line harness.

For the dog that’s constantly trying to climb into the front seat: Use this zip line harness.

Fortunately, little Beatrix is quite obedient, so these extreme measures aren’t necessary.

19. You can also hook the harness up outside while you’re camping or barbecuing.

You can also hook the harness up outside while you're camping or barbecuing.

20. Use chalk around outdoor pet bowls to keep ants out.

Use chalk around outdoor pet bowls to keep ants out.

Who knew?

21. If it’s really hot or really cold out, rub Vaseline onto your dog’s paws before stepping outside.

If it's really hot or really cold out, rub Vaseline onto your dog's paws before stepping outside.

I had to tell my friend about this one.  Those of us with tiny dogs that are low to the ground can really use this hack.

22. If your dog scratches the door to go out, use a door protector to minimize damages.

If your dog scratches the door to go out, use a door protector to minimize damages.

Easy solution!

23. Make your own pill pockets in flavors you know your dog will love.

Make your own pill pockets in flavors you know your dog will love.

Roll the mixture into small balls, poke a hole in each ball with a pencil eraser (for the pill), and stick in the refrigerator overnight. Get the recipe here.

24. If your dog is an escape artist, get an escape prevention dog harness.

Beatrix could squeeze through ANY opening.  This is a great idea!

25. And lastly, check out this chart to know the basics of what your dog can and can’t eat.

And lastly, check out this chart to know the basics of what your dog can and can't eat.

Empowering Women Everywhere

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Here is a little blurb from the new show, “Empowering Women Everywhere, ” which is hosted by my friend, Nann Gill.

Watch it on Channel 23 (TWC) at 7:30 ET, or on line at empoweringwomeneverywhere.tv.

Become part of the Empowering Women Everywhere Community!

Click HERE.

Membership is FREE!

Read more about the 2 Left Feet Blues Festival HERE.   <clickity click click click….

“Empowering Women Everywhere” is produced by the Academy of Film, Television and Stage Performing Arts, a 501c3 corporation.

The program reaches over a million households twice a week!

For a tax-deductible donation you can become a sponsor of the show.

Sponsorship packages are individually designed to best fit your giving criteria.

Please call 845-294-8444 to discuss your particular requirements.

An Outstanding Vegan Cauliflower Soup Recipe

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Screen Shot 2015-09-02 at 4.59.57 PMThis is one of the best vegan cauliflower soup recipes I have ever tried.  It is very light and low-cal.  If you want to add a potato or two, it will make the soup thicker and creamier, but it is fine without them.

Vegan Creamy Cauliflower Soup
Prep time
15 mins
Cook time
40 mins
Total time
55 mins
Recipe type: dinner, gluten-free, vegan, vegetarian
Cuisine: savory, soup
Serves: 4-6
Ingredients
  • 2 Tbl Earth Balance or other vegan oil spread
  • 2 cloves fresh, organic garlic, minced
  • 1 medium organic onion, diced  (I use Walla-Wallas or Videlia’s)
  • 2 stalks of organic celery, diced
  • 1 head of organic cauliflower, chopped
  • 4 cups of vegan chick’n broth, vegetable broth or mushroom broth
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 Tbl fresh rosemary, chopped
  • 1 tsp fresh thyme, chopped
  • 4 slices veggie bacon
  • ½ cup unsweetened, original almond milk
  • ½ cup canned coconut milk
  • salt and pepper, to taste
Directions
  1. In a large stockpot, heat butter over medium heat. Add your garlic and onions and sauté until they’re translucent, about 5 minutes.
  2. Add in your celery and cauliflower and coat with the butter mix, stirring for about 1 to 2 minutes.
  3. Add in your broth, bay leaf, rosemary, and thyme, bring to a boil. Reduce heat down and let simmer over medium low heat until your cauliflower is very tender for about 15-20 minutes. In the meantime prepare your tempeh bacon.
  4. Heat olive oil over medium heat and add in your tempeh bacon and cook until crispy for about 3-5 minutes.
  5. Once all your ingredients are tender, remove your bay leaf and discard, and either wait until your soup cools and transfer to a food processor or blender and puree until your soup is at your desired consistency, or use an immersion blender (aka handheld blender), blend until your soup is to your desired consistency.  Chunky is good, if you ask me.
  6. Add in your almond and coconut milk and whisk until thickened, about 1 minute. Taste for salt and pepper. Top with your veggie  bacon, and enjoy!

Life is a Balance

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Life is a Balance

Life is a balance between holding on and letting go.

Things have changed.

I used to walk into a room and wonder if the people there would like me.  Now, when I walk into a room, I wonder if I will like them.     The need for external validation is not important to me, at this point in life, and I don’t have to actually like someone for them to have value in my life, nor to have value in theirs.  If there is a job to be done, I simply do it.   I have optimized, categorized and am moving full speed ahead.  I am letting go of the negative and embracing those positive relationships that are good.

The relationships that remain are solid.

 I have learned to let go of the people and things that do not serve my best interests…the ones that hurt and deceive me ….and this has really helped me to stay focused and to do  good work.  This has freed up a tremendous amount of emotional and physical energy.   It can be difficult when one lets go of family members or of  people who were once close friends…..but as things turn out, letting go of those with whom your values, ethics, morals and beliefs do not align, can help propel you forward and free you to do what you are best suited to do in life.

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The people that *really* matter to me are functionally in my life, although I am forced to use that  term  (“functionally”)  loosely when referring to one significant person.  That is an unfortunate situation that I cannot talk about here.

The solution was simple.  I let go of the drama and embraced all of the many good things that I hold so close to my heart and things have never been better.  I now sing about my happiness to other audiences and I go to bed every night with a smile on my face, knowing that I am loved.                                   

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My husband has returned to Portland, full time, from the Bay Area and we have immersed ourselves into a plethora of creativity.  His health is much better than it was, even a year ago.  He attributes this to our being together so much of the time now.  I am watchful over is health, feed him good, home-cooked food and make sure he gets lots of exercise.  He seems so happy, and I’m glad he is home. He is writing plays and working with a partner on creating original musical scores for his plays.  I have the biggest art commission of my life,  am working on my novel every day.  I have successfully completed the composition of two country and western songs that will soon be ready to shop.  I  and am putting a new business together and am also spending lots of time with Ingrid in these last days before she is immersed into French school.  I am thoroughly enjoying the wonderful city where we live.  John and I are reorganizing our home and getting rid of possessions that we no longer need.  Everything is about moving ahead and being happy.

Everything that we are doing,  together and individually, can be either directly or indirectly attributed to making the best choices about letting go of the dead weight of the crazies.  I cannot believe I ever hesitated.

Life is so uncomplicated now.  Why didn’t I make these decisions years ago?