In Awe of the Passiflora

Musings 9 Comments »

 

In continuing the theme of “stopping to smell the flowers” and slowing down to enjoy life’s little peaceful moments, I remembered a post I read on Meg Wolff’s site “Becoming Whole.”  It was about her and her sister going to the Portland Farmers’ Market and really taking time to enjoy being there.  Her sister, Ruth, snapped the amazing photo of the flower above and graciously allowed me to post it here.  I find this flower absolutely fascinating.  Meg had asked via her post if anyone knew what kind of flower it was.  Mark was kind enough to answer via comment (the internet is a wondrous thing).  Here is what Mark wrote: 

The flower is called a Passion Flower, or Passiflora (I believe this one is a passiflora caerulea). It has medicinal uses as a sedative or painkiller. “Passion refers to the Christian theological icon of the passion of Christ on the cross. In the 15th and 16th centuries, Spanish Christian missionaries discovered this flower and adopted its unique physical structures as symbols of Crucifixion. For example: the radial filaments which can number more than a hundred and vary from flower to flower represent the Crown of Thorns. The ten petals and sepals represent the ten faithful apostles. The top 3 stigmata represent the 3 nails and the lower 5 anthers represent the 5 wounds.”

It is such a fascinating-looking flower and just leaves you in awe regarding nature.  Also, Ruth captured the flower beautifully and it does make an excellent desktop background (just right click on the photo and then click “set as background”).

It is the little things in life that can truly capture the imagination, but only if we slow down long enough to notice them.

Simple Moments

Musings 6 Comments »

Sometimes in the hustle and bustle of life, we can often forget about the little things, those moments of time where everything just seems at peace.  They seem to come fewer and farther between nowadays.  I often wonder why life has to be so complicated?  I often look at my dog lying on the floor peacefully sleeping.  He has the right idea…eat simply, drink plenty of water, enjoy the outdoors, stop to smell the flowers often, and above all else, love unconditionally.  He has simple needs and seems utterly content.  I find it easy to get caught up in the stressors of day-to-day life, most of which I have created myself.  I think it is time I take a simpler approach to my life and learn to enjoy it.  It goes by so quickly and there is no going back in time to relive moments to enjoy them.  You have to enjoy them the first time around and really be present each and every minute.  The past is done, it can’t be changed.  The future will bring what it brings.  All I can do is be in the present with all my senses and really get the most out of life.

MPS VI

Musings 1 Comment »

If I asked you if you have ever heard of MPS VI, would you have any idea what I was talking about?  It is not the newest car from Mazda, nor is it the latest version of Windows for your computer.  I can honestly say that I had never heard of it, even after many years in the medical field, and that is truly a shame.  MPS VI or Maroteaux-Lamy syndrome is a genetic condition and there is no cure at this time.  The National MPS Society had this description of MPS VI:

“Mucopolysaccharides [MPS] are long chains of sugar molecule used in the building of connective tissues in the body.  “Saccharide” is a general term for a sugar molecule (think of saccharin).  “Poly” means many.  “Muco” refers to the thick jelly-like consistency of the molecules.  There is a continuous process in the body of replacing used materials and breaking them down for disposal.  Children with Maroteaux-Lamy are missing an enzyme which is essential in cutting up the mucopolysaccharides called dermatan sulfate.  The incompletely broken down mucopolysaccharides remain stored in cells in the body causing progressive damage.  Babies may show little sign of the disease, but as more and more cells become damaged, symptoms start to appear.”

The reason I want to shed light on MPS VI is that while surfing the net I came across a wonderful site about Isaac.  Isaac is an amazing 4-year-old boy with MPS VI who has a smile that just lights up the room.  The site is about Isaac and his family, The Isaac Foundation, and living with MPS VI.  I encourage you to visit their site and take a peek at the photo gallery as there are some beautiful photos.  After finding Isaac’s site, I decided to do some research on MPS VI and came across a recent article in the Arizona Republic about a family right here in the Phoenix Valley who have a son, Trey, who also has MPS VI.  For a condition with an estimated 1,100 diagnosed cases worldwide, I was floored to find that article recently written about a child with MPS VI right here in my own backyard.

At present, there is no cure for MPS VI and there is only one drug thus far which can help improve symptoms, Naglazyme, an enzyme replacement medication which is administered via an I.V.  For Trey’s family, internet-flets-campaign.net, the cost of one (1) treatment, which he gets weekly, is $20,424 (the cost is around $1,450 per vial and dosage is based on weight).  That is worth saying again because it is absolutely unreal…the cost of one (1) treatment is $20,424 and treatment is administered weekly.  Excuse me while I scrape myself off the floor.  That is the equivalent of buying a car every week.  As of now, there are no other options for treating MPS VI and more research needs to be done.  It is an inherited genetic disorder and the symptoms begin to appear rather early in infancy and childhood.  So these are children having to deal with these medical issues…and right now this outrageously priced medication is the best option they have for quality of life. 

I encourage you to visit Isaac’s site and also to read the article on Trey.  If there is anything you, the reader, can do to shed light on MPS diseases, like write about it on your own site, link to this article and pass on the links below, or if able, even donate money or time towards research on MPS diseases, please do so.  It will go a long way to give hope to those affected by MPS and every child deserves a chance to live a full, happy, joyous life.

Here are some links for more information:

  • Isaac’s website with information about The Isaac foundation and see how Isaac was able to meet his hero.
  • Trey’s article written by Lisa Halverstadt
  • National MPS Society
  • About MPS VI
Tags: Hope, Isaac, Maroteaux-Lamy syndrome, MPS VI, The Isaac Foundation

Gluten-Free Pumpkin Spice Pancakes

Recipes: Gluten-Free Breakfasts 4 Comments »

This pancake recipe is gluten-free, soy-free, dairy-free, and egg-free.  I use the Namaste Foods Waffle and Pancake Mix and modify it to eliminate the eggs.

Software Needed:

  • 1 Cup Namaste Foods Waffle and Pancake Mix
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp ground cloves
  • pinch of nutmeg
  • 2 “Flaxseed eggs”  (2 TBSP of ground flaxseed added to 6 tablespoons of hot water) *See below
  • 1 TBSP Canola oil
  • 1/2 cup of canned plain pumpkin (not pumpkin pie filling)
  • 1/2 to 1 cup Apple juice (does not contain high fructose corn syrup)
  • 1 TBSP Agave nectar (optional for more sweetness)

Hardware Needed:

  • Medium-sized bowl
  • Spoon
  • Skillet or pan
  • Spatula
  • Measuring cups
  • Measuring spoons

What To Do:

  1. Make the “flaxseed eggs” ahead of time and put in refrigerator to chill a bit.
  2. Place in bowl the 1 cup of Namaste Foods Pancake Mix, cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg, and blend well.
  3. Add the 2 “flaxseed eggs”, 1 TBSP canola oil, and pumpkin.
  4. Mix together. Mixture will be dry, but this will help gauge how much apple juice you will need.
  5. Add the apple juice a little at a time until desired consistency is reached.
  6. Add the 1 TBSP of agave nectar, if a bit more sweetness is desired, and mix well.
  7. Drop 1/4-cup at a time onto preheated skillet/pan, spread out evenly.
  8. When bubbles being to break on top, flip the pancake over carefully. 
  9. When both sides are a nice medium brown color, remove pancake to plate.
  10. Repeat steps 7 through 9 until all pancake batter is gone.
  11. Makes about 10 pancakes.

Serving Ideas:

  • Top with maple syrup.
  • If not allergic to nuts, add chopped pecans or walnuts

Flaxseed Eggs:   For 1 flaxseed egg, add 1 tablespoon of ground flaxseed to 3 tablespoons of hot water.  Mix until the consistency of an egg white.  You can use it right away, but it has a more egg-like consistency if allowed to chill in the refrigerator for an hour.  For more information, please see Flaxseed Egg Substitute Recipe, an article by Donna Diegel on Suite 101.

Tags: Breakfast, Dairy-Free, Egg-Free, Gluten-Free, Pancakes, Pumpkin Spice Pancakes, Soy-Free

International Day of Peace

Musings 4 Comments »

Sunday, September 21st is the International Day of Peace. 

Peace, a simple 5-letter word that means different things to different people. 

For me, peace is the calmness and the joy that comes from the little things in life.  It is the complete relaxation of the body, mind, and spirit that occurs when the entire being is utterly quiet and focused solely on the present moment.  I have had many peaceful moments in my life.  Curling up on the couch with a hot cup of spiced tea and reading a wonderful book.  Catching my dog’s legs twitching and tail wagging when he is dreaming and taking a moment to imagine what he is dreaming about.  Sitting in a rocking chair on the porch of The Inn Around the Corner in Black Mountain, North Carolina, in the early morning with a cup of coffee and enjoying the quiet stillness and the soft sounds of nature.  Working with digital art while the hours just fly by.  Painting pottery with Tracy Chapman’s amazing voice filling the air and a mountain breeze drifting through the shop.  The aforementioned raku experience.   

Internal peace comes when the body, mind, and spirit are in complete harmony and have a quiet stillness.  It is being in the present moment and letting everything else just fade away.  Basically it comes down to this….just simply learning to be.

So as the nations of the world shine a much needed spotlight on peace this Sunday, I hope that spotlight continues to shine long after the sun sets on the 21st of September.

Peace.

Tags: Harmony, International Day of Peace, Peace, Quiet, Stillness

The Raku Experience

Musings No Comments »

As I was perusing one of my favorite sites, Becoming Whole by Meg Wolff, I came across a wonderful post about “Beeing the Change“ that mentioned a site called Peace Through Pottery.  I surfed on over to that site and was floored by the wonderful pieces Todd had created.  Here are some pictures he was kind enough to let me post here:

His site brought to mind a pottery class I took in Florida a number of years ago and the night we did raku.  It was a night class and the kiln for the raku was located in an outdoor wooden structure.  So for that particular class we were outside on a late October evening with a slightly cool balmy breeze blowing, a full moon, stars in the sky, and soft meditative music coming from a yoga class in an adjacent classroom.  I could not have designed a more perfect backdrop for doing raku. 

When our pieces had been fired for the required amount of time, we put on the special gloves and protective eyewear.  Using the raku tongs, I leaned in slightly to get my pottery piece and the intense fiery heat of the kiln washed over the front of my body while the cool night breeze brushed against my back.  I carefully guided the piece over to my metal pot that I had previously filled with twigs, leaves, and other elements of nature.  I placed the glowing pottery piece into the metal pot and when the hot pottery piece met the combustible materials, it instantly caught fire with sudden whoosh of flame.  I grabbed the lid and quickly placed it over the pot.  It was one of the most primal, exhilarating experiences I had ever had.

With remembering that raku experience, I think I will be checking into a raku class here in Arizona.

To see more of Todd’s beautiful pottery, please visit his site.  Also, if you wish to purchase some of his pieces, please take a look at his Etsy site.  I have my eye on the Flower Power coasters pictured above.

Tags: Becoming Whole, Kiln, Peace Through Pottery, Pottery, Primal, Raku

Daughtry: What About Now?

Musings 3 Comments »
Artist Site

More Videos

 

I came across the video above on Daughtry’s site and thought it was very powerful.  It shows the amazing difference one person can make in the lives of others and reminds us that on any given day, we could be that person in need.

Tags: Daughtry, Help, Make a Difference, Need, Video, What About Now

Gluten-Free Bread Biscuits

Recipes: Gluten-Free Breads No Comments »

This bread biscuit recipe is gluten-free, soy-free, egg-free, dairy-free, and nut-free.  I make them in biscuit form as it is easier to pack and store in freezer, and just take out what I need for the day.

 Software Needed:

  • 3/4 cup brown rice flour
  • 1/4 cup quinoa flour
  • 1/4 cup tapioca flour
  • 1 tsp xanthan gum
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 1-1/2 TBSP canola oil
  • 2 “flaxseed eggs” (2 TBSP of ground flaxseed added to 6 TBSP of hot water) *See below
  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup of apple juice (free of high fructose corn syrup), added slowly

Hardware Needed:

  • Medium-sized bowl
  • Sturdy spoon or spatula
  • Toaster convection oven to 150 degrees, or regular oven to 150 degrees or lowest setting
  • Tray for toaster convection oven or cookie sheet for regular oven.
  • Parchment paper
  • Measuring cups
  • Measuring spoons

What To Do:

  1. Make up the “flaxseed eggs” by adding the 2 tablepoons of ground flaxseed to 6 tablespoons of very hot water.  Mix well.  Set aside so mixture can gel.
  2. Place brown rice flour, quinoa flour, tapioca flour, xanthan gum, baking soda, and salt in a bowl and mixed until well blended.
  3. Add the “flaxseed eggs,” and the canola oil, and mix well.  The mixture will be dry, but you will be able to gauge how much apple juice you need.
  4. Add apple juice in small increments, mixing after each addition.  When the batter becomes one large ball of dough and is slightly wet looking, then it is enough apple juice.
  5. Split the dough into about 2-inch balls and set them on a convection oven tray or cookie sheet that is lined with parchment paper.
  6. Place another piece of parchment paper over the dough balls and then, using hand, flatten them into round disks about 1/2-inch thick.
  7. Remove the top piece of parchment paper carefully.
  8. Bake the biscuits in convection oven at 150 degrees for about 30 minutes.  If using regular oven and temperature does not go as low as 150 degrees, then use lowest temperature and reduce baking time.
  9. Biscuits are done with bottoms are slightly brown.
  10. Split them into 2 layers and top as desired or let cool and then store in freezer.
  11. Makes about 5 biscuits.

Serving Ideas:

  • Top with favorite sandwich toppings.
  • Pairs nicely with rice pasta topped with the Italian Sunflower Sauce or a nice bowl of soup.

Flaxseed Eggs:   For 1 flaxseed egg, add 1 tablespoon of ground flaxseed to 3 tablespoons of hot water.  Mix well and set aside to gel.

Tags: Biscuit, Bread, Dairy-Free, Egg-Free, Gluten-Free, Nut-Free, Soy-Free

Italian Sunflower Sauce

Recipes: Gluten-Free Sauces & Spreads 2 Comments »

This sauce is my take on an “Alfredo” sauce and is gluten-free, soy-free, egg-free, dairy-free, casein-free, and nut-free.

Software Needed:

  • 1/2 cup raw sunflower seeds soaked 1 to 2 hours in filtered water, then drained; this gives them a creamy texture when blended.
  • 1 TBSP olive oil
  • 3/4 cup rice milk
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/8 tsp black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp oregano
  • 1/2 tsp basil
  • Pinch of crushed red pepper

Hardware Needed:

  • Small bowl for soaking sunflower seeds
  • Hand Blender (I use a Cuisinart Stainless Steel Hand Blender), a freestanding blender, or food processor
  • If using hand blender, will need a bowl that is safe to use with one
  • Measuring cups
  • Measuring spoons
  • Spoon or spatula

What To Do:

  1. Soak the 1/2 cup of sunflower seeds in filtered water for 1 to 2 hours, then drain.
  2. Place all of the ingredients in bowl for the hand blender, or in your freestanding blender or food processor.
  3. Take for a spin until mixure is creamy.
  4. If using freestanding blender or food processor, it might be necessary need to scrape the sides down a few times.
  5. If mixture is a little thick, add a bit more rice milk.
  6. If necessary, adjust spices to your liking.

Serving Ideas:

  • Place in saucepan and heat through, ladle over rice pasta and/or vegetables.
  • Use as a pizza sauce (on a gluten-free crust of course).
  • Mix with roasted/sauteed vegetables and heat through for a “creamy” baked potato topping.
  • Use as a topping for fish (mahi mahi works very well).
Tags: Casein-Free, Dairy-Free, Egg-Free, Gluten-Free, Italian Sunflower Sauce, Nut-Free, Recipes, Sauce, Soy-Free

Gluten-Free Banana Blueberry Pancakes

Recipes: Gluten-Free Breakfasts 8 Comments »

This pancake recipe is gluten-free, soy-free, dairy-free, egg-free, and nut-free.  I use the Namaste Foods Waffle and Pancake Mix and modify it to eliminate the eggs.

Software Needed:

  • 1 Cup Namaste Foods Waffle and Pancake Mix
  • 2 “Flaxseed eggs”  (2 TBSP of ground flaxseed added to 6 tablespoons of hot water) *See below
  • 1 TBSP Canola oil
  • 1 banana, peeled and mashed
  • 1 cup blueberries
  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup Apple juice (does not contain high fructose corn syrup)

Hardware Needed:

  • Medium-sized bowl
  • Spoon
  • Skillet or pan
  • Spatula
  • Measuring cups

What To Do:

  1. Place in bowl the 1 cup of Namaste Foods Pancake Mix, the 2 “flaxseed eggs”, 1 TBSP canola oil, mashed banana, and 1 cup of blueberries.
  2. Mix together, mixture will be dry, but this will help gauge how much apple juice you will need.
  3. Add the apple juice a little at a time until desired consistency is reached.
  4. Drop 1/4-cup at a time onto preheated skillet/pan, spread out evenly.
  5. When bubbles being to break on top, flip the pancake over carefully. 
  6. When both sides are a nice medium brown color, remove pancake to plate.
  7. Repeat steps 4 through 6 until all pancake batter is gone.
  8. Makes about 10 pancakes.

Serving Ideas:

  • Top with maple syrup.
  • Try substituting different fruits.
  • Take out blueberries and add in Enjoy Life Dairy Free Chocolate Chips for banana chocolate chip pancakes.
  • This also makes a great quick dinner.

Flaxseed Eggs:   For 1 flaxseed egg, add 1 tablespoon of ground flaxseed to 3 tablespoons of hot water.  Mix until the consistency of an egg white.

Tags: Banana, Blueberry, Dairy-Free, Egg-Free, Enjoy Life Foods, Gluten-Free, Namaste Foods, Nut-Free, Pancakes, Soy-Free
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