Over the River and Through the Woods

It's more than a little sad that so few of us live near our families any more.  My own little ones would have to fly over the ocean and through the desert to spend Thanksgiving at Grandmother's house here in the mountains of Utah.  But still, I like to imagine them all racing around my house--the air filled with the delicious aromas of turkey, stuffing, pumpkin pie and homemade rolls.  Occasionally, one of them will dash into the kitchen to hug my aproned knees, or to slip into the pantry to hide, silently signaling me with their eyes wide and a tiny finger to shushed lips.  Then, as long as I'm imagining, I'll add some squealing cousins to the mix and the men's deep voices rising in a sudden shout, followed by their easy laughter rolling in over the sounds of the football game from the TV.  There'll be my daughters and a daughter-in-law bustling around the kitchen with me, recalling kitchen secrets from grandmas long gone, sharing a dish towel and our love for each other and our hopes and concerns for those we will soon feed.   
Tomorrow, while Greg and I enjoy our quiet Thanksgiving together, I plan to imagine scenes like this stretching out across the continent.  I'll see smiling families and friends coming together with huge hugs, gathering to celebrate their love and gratitude for each other and their lives. How dear it is that for one warm and golden afternoon, we can all forget our worries of economies, environments and wars (in all their varieties) and instead think only of gratitude, God and family.  The gatherings may be smaller, but the joyous memories of Thanksgivings past--or dreams of Thanksgivings longed for--will be large and warm and comforting.  May tomorrow's Thanksgiving be all you hope for it to be.


Get me outta here!

This is pretty much how I've been feeling for a while.  Can't quite seem to lift myself up and out of the drink.  I guess this is the one time that it's good to see the glass as half empty?  Acutally, I'm afraid that my glass is much closer to full than this one.  Don't you sometimes wish that someone would come along and drop you a ladder--or at least lend a hand?  I used to love the story of the Shoemaker and the Elves.  I'd get so excited when the elves snuck in to fix everything up for the poor little cobbler.  Young as I was, I would always just sigh with relief when he came in the next morning to all those beautifully made shoes.  Well, fairy tales and wishes don't seem to be getting me anywhere.  I guess I'd better start rocking and rolling.  Maybe I can get this glass to tip over and I can crawl out. It's ridiculous keep waiting for elves or ladders or for the water to evaporate. 
Photo credit:  
eva ♥ on flicker


I've got a lovely bunch of coconuts . . .

Ah yes.  But, just how lovely are they . . . really?  Not long ago, I posted a recipe here on SkinnyLink for Raw Organic Chocolate Macaroons.  After having heard about all the health benefits of raw cacao (antioxidants galore) and the surprising benefits of coconut oil (it promotes weight loss, it's filled with potent antimicrobial agents), I really wondered if maybe I'd found the recipe for Manna. 

How I wish things would just stay clear and simple.  But, not in this world.  If you look beyond all the articles posted on sites trying to sell you coconut oil you'll find that there is some controversy over just how healthy coconut oil really is.  The controversy seems to be swirling around the molecular structure of fatty acids. In coconut oil, these fatty acids are "medium-chain" --which, supposedly, makes them good for your body. And that may be true.  But here's the rub: no matter how long or short those chains may be, the fatty acids in this oil are still saturated fatty acids.  And that's bad.
So. Though people (as in some Hollywood and naturopathic types) swear by this yummy oil's weight loss and anti-microbial attributes, there are also some pretty credible medical folks (i.e. Dr Oz--it's amazing to me that he's been able to overcome the silliness of that name.  Just shows ta go ya how far a pretty face and a nimble brain will take you. . . but, I digress.  Where was I?  Oh yes, medical types) who are stepping up to remind the public that all saturated fats have legitimately earned their bad rap.  And this is the part that I find scary.  Since I've already mentioned (and digressed with) Dr. Oz, I'll use a blurb from his site to tell you the rest of the story (this is  l-o-n-g  so I'll hi-light the parts you speed readers don't want to miss):

[Coconut oil] has more saturated fat than pretty much any food out there. How much? A mind-boggling 87%. Compare that to 63% in butter or 38% in a burger and you get the picture.

Okay, yes, there’s still some scientific debate about whether the type of saturated fat in coconut oil raises cholesterol as much as that found in animal foods. But even if it doesn’t, there’s plenty of proof that sat fat is a major health hazard in lots of other ways. For one thing,
all sat fat speeds up aging. It does this by turning on a potentially harmful family of genes that we docs call RAS genes. They tell your body to churn out inflammatory proteins that cause heart disease, stroke, wrinkles, impotence, and immune system slipups.

Feeling older yet? Well, we’re just getting started.
Sat fat doesn’t do pretty things for your memory, either. It decreases a chemical known as brain-derived neurotrophic factor that’s responsible for recall and learning. It also increases inflammation in the brain. When researchers at the Medical University of South Carolina fed rats a diet enriched with either coconut oil or soybean oil, the rats who scarfed down the chow laced with coconut oil not only developed more inflammation in their gray matter but also made more mistakes on memory tests. . . 

No surprise, as
many studies reveal the ugly secret that if you feast on foods rich in saturated fat, you are much more likely to develop dementia. Period, exclamation point.

So there's the Skinny.  Pick your poison.  Me, I'd rather be fat (the UNsaturated version) and still able to remember my name, thankyouverymuch.   Sorry for getting you all excited about the cookies.  Lovely bunch of coconuts indeed.


Enough already!

I don't know about you, but I am so sick of getting credit card offers in the mail.  I'm always uncomfortable just throwing them away.  I imagine some low-life scrounging through the dump and finding my credit card offers and gleefully mailing them in so that they can get a credit card in MY name and ruin my credit buying whatever it is scummy low-lifes like to blow their money on.  So, I decided that I should tear them up.  But what if low-life guy is really diligent and finds the pieces and tapes them back together and sends them in?  OK, I guess the card company may suspect something there . . . but maybe scum man finds my name and address and then uses that information to apply for credit somewhere or to do some other nefarious scummy low-life stuff with it?  Maybe I'm paranoid here, but you know what I mean: virtually daily we get all these stupid, unsolicited card offers in the mail--they junk up our mail boxes, stress out our paranoid sides, and tempt us to go into debt!  I know, I know.  I can just shred them. But frankly, I don't want to be forced to go to all of this work with mail I never asked for in the first place!! Well, I've found a solution.  (Strains of harp music rise.) Click here and you will be magically transported to a site specifically dedicated to helping you STOP the harassment, clean out your mail box, and save a tree or two while you're at it.  Ahhh, sweet serenity.


The magic of PhotoShop

The Eyes of Aaron from Aaron Nace on Vimeo.
Actually, I think the title of this post is a misnomer, because while PhotoShop is a very cool tool--like any tool, it can only be as magic as the person who is wielding it. In this case, the master is Aaron Nace, whose work I discovered through his girlfriend Rosie Hardy (whose work you have already seen here and here). I recommend checking out their site.  They're young and still in love with possibility; their work is hip, creative and avant guard. And their blog is fun.  You'll be glad you clicked.


Watch very, very closely.

(Be sure to watch the video before reading the text here.  Oh, and sorry about the ads.)

I am always so fascinated by things like this.  How can our attention be diverted so absolutely??  No wonder magicians are able to fool us with simple sleight of hand.  I wonder if the brain could be trained to watch for both tasks--to get an accurate count PLUS  watch for every other detail--all at the same time?  It's no wonder even a valid eye witness account can still be considered suspect. 
Did any of your school teachers ever give you that test that started out:
1.) Read through all directions before beginning this test.  
Then the next 18 directions told you to do all kinds of tasks, from going to sharpen your pencil to writing your name on the back of the page to, I don't know, singing Yankee Doodle Dandy out loud, or some other very embarrassing task for a 3rd grader to have to perform.  Then, when you were so glad to finally be done, came the final direction:
20.) Ignore all other instructions but #1 and #20.
At that point, I HATED my teacher--and all the other smug kids (who had probably seen this test before) and had been sitting quietly at their desks for the past 10 minutes, watching the rest of us diligently make idiots of ourselves!!

How did you do on this little video test?  I'm afraid I'd have to be calling my insurance agent about now. (Good thing I don't own a Rodin.)  Kinda makes me wonder what else I may be missing.  Am I really sure about everything I think I'm really sure about??  
I did discover something though.  When I watched the full video, aware that the thief would be there, I was able to observe him AND get the count.  But that was only because I'd been forewarned and knew exactly what to watch for. 


. . . take the advice of Dr Lo-rah, but I igno huh

                                  Uh . . . ya think?

Dream on.

True story:

The first time I had a flying dream I was in high school. In this dream, I could only fly if I was holding the hand of a certain very popular girl. If you let go of her hand, you would immediately drop to the earth.  Hmph.  High school.

This photo is also from the amazing
Rosie Hardie. Just in case you didn't have time to check out her work last time around, here's another chance. I'm tellin you, she's a find. Her work, that is. Can't say I know Rosie. Though I bet she's a gem. I wonder if she dreams of flying. Probably doesn't have to. You can tell she's cool. 
And popular, I bet.


Sweet Dreams

Well, I think I'll be off then.

G' night.  Sweet dreams.

Photo credit: RosieHardy.  Go there.  She's amazing.
I really hope that I dream about flying tonight.  Aren't those just the best dreams? Someone once told me that a flying dream means that your spirit has left your body and is really out there flying.  I don't believe that.  I'd never want to leave my body unaccompanied--sounds creepy.   Who knows who might decide to take up residence while you were out.  Well, this is all too weird. 

But I sure would like to fly.  


Raw Organic Chocolate Macaroons

Oh.  These are just make-you-sing good.   The "Raw" bit means that they're not processed at a heat higher than 115 degrees--which preserves the complete amazing-ness of the nutrients in the ingredients.  So, they not only taste like Eden, they're also good for you!  I made them last night and took them to a pot luck today.  I'm breaking my long post silence because EVERYONE wanted this one for their files.

(Makes 24 to 36 cookies)
3 cups dried, unsweetened coconut flakes
1 1/2 cups CACAO powder (This is NOT the traditional unsweetened cocoa.)
1 cup maple syrup (real-not Mrs. Butterworth)
1/3 cup coconut butter
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon sea salt (I increased this a little. I like salt with sweet.)

1. In large bowl, combine all the ingredients and stir well to combine. (I found my mixture to be a tad dry--this might be our dry climate--so I added about 1 Tbsp extra coconut butter mixed with about 2-3 Tbsp maple syrup.)

2. Using a small ice cream scoop or melon baller, spoon rounds of dough onto dehydrator screens. Dehydrate at 115 degrees for 12 to 24 hours OR refrigerate on a cookie sheet overnight. (I found 12 hours dehydration to be enough--it left a slightly creamy center. 24 hours would probably give a more chewy center.)

I did the math and these have about 80 calories per cookie--plus they have: protein, fiber, anti-oxidants, anti-inflammatory benefits, essential fatty acids, iron, magnesium--and no trans fat. AND they make you faster than a speeding bullet . . . I think. Not bad for a kick-butt good COOKIE, don't you think?

Here's some info I googled up about the general coolness of raw Cacao:

Raw cacao retains the minerals and substances lost in the processing of the beans. Plus it contains a lot of magnesium, which lacks in your usual diet and MAO (Monoamine oxidase) inhibitors, which have rejuvenation effects, suppress appetite and elevate your mood.

Researchers have discovered that the raw cacao, named Theobroma (meaning "the food of the gods") contains substances that are related to the brain lipids anandamine (derived from the Sanskrit work ananda=bliss), and these substances, called N-acylethanolamines have a similar effect to that of some mild illegal drugs such as cannabis. However, cacao will not get you high, but it will make you happy.  Isn’t that what you were going for in the first place, but without the added fats and sugar, you secret chocolate lover?

There are also the endlessly discussed anti-oxidant effects, which are stronger in unprocessed beans. The substances called anthocyaninins, that can be found in generous quantities in raw cacao, have tissue-regeneration and anti-inflammatory properties. They also help collagen formation and the microcirculation (that of the capillaries).  All these positive effects make raw cacao look like the perfect medicine. 

And, all that's in this yummy little cookie. 
You're welcome.