Journeys Begin & End

It has been a while since my last post, and I apologize.

Monday we said goodbye to our old Tervuren girl, Faith, at almost 14 she had lived a long and full life, and though we’ll miss her we had opportunity to say our goodbyes, and she was ready.

I have begun learning Tissue Culture plant propagation, and I’ve started a dedicated blog just for my plant exploits as that can overshadow other topics.

As Christians we can often lose the forest for the trees.  Our focus on small matters that occur in our lives can overwhelm us making us forget the gloriously abundant lives we live as His children.  Even in the darkest times, He is there, and we are still blessed beyond measure.  Abundance.  Gratitude.  An attitude of gratitude.

If you are born again, called to follow Christ, and call yourself a child of God, a Christian, you must have an attitude of gratitude; an eye open and focused on the abundance and blessings in your life.  To do less is to kick sand and dirt in the face of the Most High!  All our experiences in our lives bring us to understand Him, and His purpose for our lives more.  There is far less to be thankful for than that of His Grace, presence, and hand in our lives, in every situation.

We need to stop focusing so fully on what we ‘think’ we don’t have.  The mantra of lack that is so often the thing that we think about. Talk about.  As Christians we need to stop looking at what we ‘don’t’ have and start praising, thinking, focusing, and speaking of the abundance that we have.

This mental shift makes such a fabulous difference in how we perceive every aspect of life.  Being grateful for even the smallest things, the inconveniences as much as the things we perceive as blessings.  This attitude opens the mind, the heart to possibilities we shut ourselves off to when we focus on that which we don’t have, instead of that which we DO have.

As a wife my mood, my outlook from waking to bedtime makes such a difference in the whole atmosphere of my home.  I have recently realized that I need to make a point to wake with a smile, and be grateful for everything big and small that happens throughout the day.  This has made a notable shift in the atmosphere of my home.  So noticeable, it can be almost palpable.

Does this mean that the shift in my own perception, attitude, and demeanor has fixed that of everyone else in the house or that I interact with on a regular basis?  No.  I have come to realize that I am responsible for only one person’s attitude.  Mine.  I can’t tell someone else to get it together, or change, or think a different way from their current thoughts.  They are on their own journey, and yet I know that no matter what their lives would be surprisingly improved and more pleasant if they could find even one small thing to focus on every day and be overwhelmingly joyful and grateful for it.

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18, Rejoice always.  Pray unceasingly.  Give thanks in everything, for this is the will of God toward you in Christ Jesus. (Berean Literal Translation)

I am excited to be on an amazing journey towards removing ‘lack’ from my mental and verbal language, and focusing on abundance, gratitude, and keeping conversations.

If you are looking to make an amazing difference in how your days go, please, wake in the morning and immediately start looking for the glorious abundance in your life, and watch how your day goes from mundane to glorious!

Natural Dye: Avocado

Natural Dye: Avocado.

Who Knew?? I’ll definitely be using this method in the future to make beautifully natural pinks … need to get some more angora plucked and spun up!!


A Question About Roast Duck

So one of my BILs asked me about roasting duck.  This is how I’d do it.

Season duck thoroughly (season salt would be perfect, could alternatively use lemon pepper + salt). Scoring the breast skin is optional, but may provide more surface area for rendering and possibly a crispier skin.  Place duck, breast up, on a roasting rack in/on a roasting pan or high-sided cooking sheet.  Put into cold oven.  Turn oven on to 450-500* for 20 minutes.  Baste with rendered fat in bottom of pan.  Turn oven down to 350-375*.  Roast duck until temp of meat reaches 150-155*, baste every 30-45 minutes until temp is reached.  Remove duck from oven when temp is reached and cover loosely with foil at least 20 min; temp will continue to rise to recommended temp of 165*.  Slice and serve.

Here are a couple links to some other recipes I’m going to try one of these days:

How to Make Weeknight Crispy Duck Breast

Master Recipe: Roast Duck

Crispy Skinned Duck Part 1 and Part 2


*All temps are Fahrenheit.

Birthday Adventures 2014

Ah, 36 years, single digit temps and SUN – I never get sunshine on my birthday…

Errands today provided several surprises.  Trader Joe’s had Meyer Lemons!  I grabbed some to make some Meyer Lemon curd here at home.  I also got a small package of dark chocolate covered dried cherries.  yum!!

The in-laws are coming to visit on the ‘morrow and hubby requested I make a brisket to eat.  Brisket, smashed potatoes, asparagus, and chocolate mousse pie (little mini-pies; I won’t be eating these as the dairy is on the ‘no eat’ list but everyone else likes them.)

I finally got my little Meyer Lemon tree transferred into its new home, a Deep Water Culture (DWC) hydroponic bucket.  Finally. Using a 5 gallon bucket, large air stone, airpump (using one I had), 6″wide-lipped netpot for topping buckets, Citrus minerals, and of course the tree (which btw has decided to flower – the smell of citrus blooms is truly intoxicating).

I washed as much dirt and substrate from the roots that I could.  The rootball seemed to be rather bound up, so I wasn’t able to remove all of it.  I pressed it gently into the netpot, of which it filled pretty thoroughly, and then covered the top of the root ball with rinsed hydroton to keep the roots covered.  Now to see how things progress.  I expect new roots to show within a week or 10 days.  I expect it is going to be very, VERY happy in its new home.

I also found my orchid, a large-white flowering Phalenopsis (Moth Orchid, also recently more commonly referred to as a ‘just add ice’ orchid), has a spike!!  I’m going to have flowers to my great pleasure and extreme excitement.  won’t see them for at least a month, but I’m so excited to see I’m doing something right with it – well it has been growing and has so many new roots that I know I’m doing something right, but to be rewarded with a spike is the ultimate confirmation.

The few seeds that I started this year have begun to sprout.  I anticipate getting some foam board from the hardware and setting up netpots in my 75 gallon tanks, adding lights and growing lettuce, cabbage/choi, and herbs in the house under lights.

Not much else is happening, new ham babies were born last night, second litter of seven!  This litter is very vocal, and has been squeaking up a storm.  This is the pair’s fourth litter.  I have only been able to sell two so far, will be on the phone with the pet shop Monday to arrange this latest litter’s sale.

My latest knitting project, another Estonian lace “Queen Silvia” shawl/wrap is on the needles and progressing quickly.  It is stunning, the yarn by KnitPicks is a merino/silk blend and a dream to work with, I will be ordering more of it for future projects needing fingering and/or lace weight yarn.

The Best “Can’t Believe it Wasn’t Cooked on a Grill” Oven Roasted Pulled Pork

Seriously, you won’t know it wasn’t grilled!!  For the recipe head over to Kevin & Amanda’s blog post about this – this week will be my SECOND time around with this recipe, and honestly I am so excited about it – it is SOOOO very good!!

Salmon and Broccoli

Dinner last night:

Sockeye salmon fillets (skin on) in browned butter (made sure the ‘pin bones’ were removed and rinsed well to remove any leftover scales).  Crisp skin down first, then turn over for a quick ‘final’ sear on flesh side – cook only until it easily flakes, seasoned with lemon pepper and Italian dressing seasoning (homemade) with broccoli florets steamed and seasoned also with Italian dressing seasoning.

It was marvelous!  You can use any salmon, but I find sockeye (of course the prettiest and possibly the most expensive of the salmon and only available for a limited time during the season) to be THE king of all salmon – in flavor and in appearance.  Just me.

Wk 1 – Did I make it?

So a week without solid food, went well.


This week the challenge was eating without gluten/wheat, sugar, soy, and some others.  Did I make it?

I think I did well.  I’ve written down daily what I’ve eaten.  Could always drink more water – working on that, though I already drink enough to make the Dr.’s wonder if something is wrong with me, but I love being hydrated, so I drink. Water is my friend.

Did I stay away from the sugar?  I did good, until day before yesterday when I had a SERIOUS chocolate craving and got into the semi-sweet chips.  Bad move.  Should have just grabbed my spray bottle with mag-oil in it and soaked in it.  Cravings usually come from a need for a nutrient your body is missing.  I’ve been trying to up my magnesium by using mag-oil and taking a (nasty) liquid multi-vitamin with amino acids and trace minerals my body craves.

Snacks have been nuts, seeds, fruit such as kiwi, banana, clementines, mango, etc.  I’ve indulged once a day in a ‘single serving’ GF/sugarfree banana-based mug-cake.  Its nice to be able to get that “sweet” without the sugar.  It satisfies my need for something sweet without sacrificing my ‘no sugar’ rule.

Veg, and lots of veg.  Salmon.  I made an Oven Roasted brisket at the beginning of the week that was the bomb.  DH has been eating it and an oven roasted chicken for lunches all week, and not complaining at all.

I got a call from the Dr’s office.  All they had to say is my triglycerides were high.  I wanna rant for a moment: My triglycerides ARE ALWAYS HIGH. It is a genetic predisposition.  I try to naturally reduce them and there are unhealthy consequences (won’t go into details).  I’m tired of the Drs always screaming about them.  I can talk with them until I’m blue in the face and they’re still obsessed with that one number.  NOTHING, and I’ve done a lot of different things over the years, NOTHING reduces them to ‘within’ Dr’s recommended or preferred numbers – so GET OVER IT.  Heart disease is NOT one of the things in my genetic background that is a concern.  It is a symptom of something else, and I won’t take “drugs” (i.e. statins or anything man-made) to reduce them forcefully.  

Moving on…

I’ve been steaming veggies all week and loving them.  Veggies are so tasty.  I toss in a bit of nuts or raisins and it makes them a little more tasty.  DH thinks the whole fruit addition is kinda gross, but I don’t care, he doesn’t eat them anyhow.  Sweet potatoes, carrots, peppers, zuchinni, summer squash, kale, and more has been on the menu and its lovely.

Anyhow, it is what it is, and I think week one was a success. Onto week 2.

Brisket for Sunday Dinner (and weekday lunches)

While getting my groceries this week I stopped by a local butcher’s to get some meat (grocery store beef has been making us both sick, so I stopped getting meat at the grocery and found a local butcher.  Prices are equivalent, and I can find out all about where the meat comes from and how its raised!).

I had chicken breast and pork steaks in the freezer so all I needed was some ground beef, and maybe a steak or two.  They also had a brisket.  I’ve been craving brisket for some time, and that baby was calling to me.

Bringing home my prize, I started looking for the ‘perfect’ oven roasted brisket I could find.  Oven roasted because, though I love the flavor of a 12 hour smoked brisket, I am unable to stand outside in 9-12F weather with negative windchills to make this mouth-watering treat.

I found two recipes that I liked parts of, but not wholly.  The first was a Slow Roasted Brisket from Spoonful’s blog, the second is My Oven-Baked Brisket from Homesick Texan’s blog.  I took a little the best of each and made the following brisket for today’s dinner, and served it up alongside some smashed potatoes.

The underappreciated, underrated, Oven Roasted Brisket with a side of Creamy Smashed potatoes

The under appreciated, underrated, Oven Roasted Brisket with a side of Creamy Smashed potatoes

Low & Slow Oven Baked Brisket

1 3-4 pound untrimmed brisket (fat on)

2 tablespoons salt (kosher or coarse sea)
1 teaspoon ground black pepper (I use restaurant ground)
1 teaspoon granulated garlic
1 teaspoon granulated onion
1/4 cup brown sugar (I used coconut sugar as its a healthier alternative, lower GI index sweetener, has a similar consistency to raw sugar)
1/2 teaspoon cayenne (optional)

Mix the dry ingredients together thoroughly, rub into brisket thoroughly, more on the meaty side than the fat side.  Can do this ahead of time, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.


1/2 teaspoon instant coffee crystals or 1/4 cup coffee
2 tablespoons Liquid Smoke, I used Hickory (GF)
1/4 cup soy sauce (GF)
1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce (GF)
1/2 medium onion diced
3 tablespoons minced garlic
1/2 cup (filtered) water


When ready to cook, mix the wet ingredients together and pour into a lightly oiled casserole or roaster.  Place Brisket on top of liquid and add more if needed to cover bottom half of brisket.  Cover with foil.  Bake in a 300F oven for 4-6 hours (little longer for larger hunk of meat).

NOTE: I try to use lactose/dairy-intolerant, gluten-free, insulin-resistant ingredients at all times.  I can handle goats milk in place of bovine dairy, but be sure you can substitute an unsweetened nut-milk if that is your preference.

When time to eat drew near, I boiled up a mixture of russet and red potatoes with the skins on in salted water.  I then drained them, reserving about 1/2 cup of the boiling liquid.  I smashed them up with my potato masher, added butter (Home-style roll butter, yummo), a dollop of cream cheese (probably 2 oz), a generous splash of buttermilk, and loosened it up with the boiling liquid (be careful this can be very salty).  These are my ‘go to’ potatoes, and Hubby Approved.  Not the baby-food smooth, out-of-a-box mashed potatoes, and there is a medley of flavor profiles that compliment each other so perfectly, you’ll never make potatoes the same again!  I usually make enough for our meal and to include in lunches for the week following when I do make them as they reheat well, and are a good compliment to almost anything else I might make during the week.

Since white potatoes are a not-so-preferred food for my current diet/health goals, I also tossed a sweet potato into the oven about two hours in, and let it cook with the brisket.

Shrimp Scampi

Have been craving shrimp in the worst way, and hubby has been on a Red Lobster Scampi kick last couple months so I decided I was going to make it at home.

There are plenty of ‘copy-kat’ recipes online, most have 4 ingredients: white wine, shrimp, garlic, and butter.  Sounds simple, yes?

First challenge: we don’t drink. We don’t have alcoholic beverages in the house.  I don’t do fermented things as they trigger migraines.  BUT I wanted to make it authentic, and hoped cooking it would negate the potential consequences, so I picked up some “highly” recommended “two buck chuck” Chardonnay (actually $3.50) at Trader Joes, and crossed my fingers.

I followed the directions as written on at least 15 different sites.

It. was. HORRIBLE.  NOT what he’s been raving about at the restaurant so here I was with a dozen shrimp on the large side and a sauce that made us both wrinkle our noses and gag.

What did I do so they wouldn’t go to waste?  Recipe is below.  It would have been better had the shrimp started out raw, as by the time they’d been reheated in the new sauce they were a bit tough, but the second run was MUCH better than the first!!

Quick Skillet Shrimp (scampi redux)

1 pound shrimp, I used 15s, meaning there are approximately 15 shrimp in each pound. Peeled and de-veined
1/2 teaspoon Old Bay seasoning

1/2 lemon, zested and juiced
1 teaspoon coconut sugar (optional, is good with or without)
1-2 tablespoons butter

Season shrimp lightly with Old Bay seasoning.  Heat lemon zest, juice, sugar and butter together until simmering rapidly.  Add shrimp and toss, cooking until opaque and pink.

ALTERNATE: If making a larger quantity of this you can just as easily put it into a 9×13″ (glass) pan or casserole and heat in a 350F oven for 4-6 minutes to cook.

If fresh parsley is available, sprinkle lightly with minced parsley before serving.

Serve over, or beside rice.

Quick. Simple. Tasty.  AND Hubby Approved (the redux NOT the original!)

Creamy Blended Black Bean Pumpkin Soup

Several years ago I found this recipe for a blended Black Bean Soup at Simply Gluten-Free’s blog.  I’ve made it a couple times and it just sounded SO good, again today.

The recipe on the site needed some interesting adjustments today when I made this.

MY version …

Creamy Blended Black Bean Pumpkin Soup

1 15oz can Black beans, rinsed, drained
1 150z can pumpkin puree
1/4 C quinoa (optional)
3 C GF Chicken Stock (homemade is always best)
1/4 C Salsa (homemade is always best)
1 tsp Cumin
Salt & Pepper to taste

Blender: In food processor, blend beans and salsa until smooth, use some stock/broth if needed.  Put into 5-qt pot with remainder of stock, quinoa, puree, and cumin.  Bring to a boil, reduce and simmer for 15 min or until the quinoa is cooked (should look like a frog egg when ready).  Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Hand Blender: Throw everything into a 5-qt pot, blend with a hand-blender, bring to a boil, season with salt and pepper.

Serve with any variety of toppings.  Today I boiled a chicken breast, and pulled it.

Green onions and Sour Cream are popular.  GMO free Corn Chips are also a nice touch.

Last week I went to the Dr. and in response to a lengthy list of complaints she said, “go Gluten Free”.  duh.  I’ll be looking for a new Dr.

In an attempt to detox, give my body a chance to relax and get rid of most of whatever it is that is causing the inflammation in my system, and Candida flare-up, I just finished 7 days of the lemonade diet, and am getting back to eating solid food.  This recipe was nice and “pre-chewed” so to speak for getting ‘back on track’.

I’ve been drinking ‘Fertili-tea’ now for 45 days and it has been wonderful.  Lovely flavor, doesn’t need sweetened but can be with raw honey if you prefer.  You can get it from or the main site.  I’ll be adding some things, reducing and eliminating others.  No soy, wheat/gluten, sugar, processed foods.

That being said, I have a severe craving for a Big Mac.  LOL.  McMonsanto itself.  I’ll be trying to make this particular ‘guilty pleasure’ here at home, in a way that I can enjoy it without it making me sick.

My order of Better Batter came a couple days ago.  They actually doubled it.  I got two of the exact same order.  A quick call and it was remedied, the extra was picked up the following day by FedEx and returned.  I bake, but not that much – 50# of the most awesome GF flour mix on the planet is about 2x too much,😀.

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