Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Mason Jar Gold -- Recipe Edition #1

Mom's Rhubarb Preserves
circa 2003
The basement walls were lined with Mason jars filled with pickles, peaches, preserves and tomatoes. Mom was a teacher and spent the summers gardening, freezing and canning. We would never go hungry. Though not wealthy we were rich in love, faith and, of course, food. 

Mason jars are practical, but I also have a deep sentimental attachment to these glass jars, the rubber ring and the metal band. When I left home for college and eventually marriage Mom lavished me with her canned goods with one stipulation. The empty jars were to be returned. Mason jars were gold to Mom. 

I think Mason jars are gold, too. But if I give you one please keep it! Just promise me you'll use it. The uses are infinite. In my house we use them as drinking glasses, leftover storage, salad makers, button holders and on and on. Here's one of my new favorites.

The other day I found this recipe for Coconut Chia Seed Pudding and put my own spin on it. My chocolate loving family adores this:



  • 1 cup coconut milk
  • 1 1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk
  • 1-2 tbsp sweetener (I like honey or maple syrup)
  • 1/2 cup chia seeds
  • 3 tbsp cacao powder or cocoa powder
  • 2 tsp maca powder(optional)
  • assorted additions: fresh raspberries, dried fruit, nuts, dark chocolate chips, cacao nibs, hemp hearts...

  1. Combine the milks and sweetener in a jar and put the lid on and shake the jar. 
  2. Add the chia seeds, cacao powder, and maca powder and shake again.
  3. Refrigerate overnight (at least 6 hours).This is when the magic happens; it turns into a tapioca-like pudding.
  4. Serve in a bowl with chosen additions and enjoy!

Can you say chocolate for breakfast?

Do you have favorite mason jar recipes? What unique use do you have for mason jars?

Wednesday, September 18, 2013


Blogging is new to me, I admit it, but I’ve always liked writing! In fact, before the internet I would write a page or a poem, print several copies to give to friends and family. I guess that was my early version of blogging. Today I am sharing with you my third life altering experience from the summer of 2012, it is something that has made an enormous difference in every aspect of my life.

First, I read the book OneThousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp. It was a good, if sometimes difficult, read for me. But what I got from it was huge. It is the simple act of living in gratitude. In the book a friend challenges Ann to record 1000 things she loves. What follows is her journey to a life in eucharisteo, a life lived in gratitude.

For me, reading this as my mother was in her final days provided a unique perspective. I started my personal gratitude journal June 29, nine days after Mom’s passing. Articles abound touting the health benefits of gratitude through this ancient Biblical practice. Why do we as a culture drift from a way of life that is so simple, cheap and obvious?

It doesn't matter what or who is to blame. It is easily fixed. For me, the journal has been a blessing that I look forward to every day. I’m over one thousand and planning on tens of thousands in the years to come. I just jot it down, however big or small. Sometimes I’ll glue in a picture or a card. Other times a day is so busy I don’t get to write, but I just think that way now. It's a Pollyanna attitude. In this story her father teaches her to play the ‘Glad Game’, taking an optimistic attitude toward everything in her less than perfect life.

Quite honestly I don’t have much to complain about anyway, but I feel like I am readying myself for what may come my way. In the meantime, I am blessed and, hopefully, blessing those around me. We all have things we could complain about, but when I read books like The Hiding Place and Left to Tell: Discovering God Amidst the Rwahdeh Holocaust I feel just plain spoiled.

Do you already have a gratitude journal or something of the sort? If not, I challenge you to begin. Choose a life in Eurcharisteo!

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

The Day I Stopped Drinking Brown and Started Drinking Green and Red

It was his health I was concerned about. Forcing healthy food and exercise on my husband didn’t work. Neither did nagging. I prayed. He came home from work on a Thursday afternoon last August excited about a documentary his radio station mentioned. We watched it that night and radically changed our diet the next day. Thus began last summer’s second life altering experience.

We watched Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead and immediately Jim was ready to try it. Reboot With Joe  was free and provided all the material we needed to get started. First, we did a five day reboot, then a ten. I began grudgingly, but as the pounds fell off and I truly felt better I got on board. We both began transforming from the sloths who had a love affair with the couch to active adults, ready to run, hike, bike and kayak, all the things we used to love, but were making more and more excuses to avoid. 

People find different ways bac
k to health. This worked for us. We aren't vegan though we've gotten a lot pickier about the meat we eat. I really like Dr. Joel Fuhrman and his ‘nutritarian’ diet. Simply put it is getting the most nutrition out of the calories we take in. Here are our biggest changes: no more soft drinks, very limited processed foods, loads of fruits and veggies, and only good quality meats and seafood. Smoothies, fresh made juices, salads, soups and roasted meals comprise most of our intake. By making these changes, I feel like doing more, I ache less and I even gave up all caffeine, unless you count the caffeine in chocolate. Because, trust me, I will never give up chocolate! I've found ample healthy chocolate recipes to satisfy me, like Cocoa Oat Truffles.

So this, last summer’s second happening, has made a most visible transformation in my life. Besides looking better after dropping 25+ pounds, I feel healthier, more energetic, even my hair and skin are thanking me! I think this quote says it all, Nothing tastes as good as healthy feels!

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Thanks Mom

Three things happened during the summer of 2012 for which I am grateful in one way or another. Today I’ll consider that which is nearest to my heart, the passing of my mother. For her, her life, and her love I am sincerely grateful.

My mom passed away June 20, 2012, just 9 days shy of her 95 birthday. As a child of the depression and young woman during WWII she was never wealthy, but always generous with what she did have. People remember her for baked bread, homemade pickles, garden produce and especially her Christmas cookies. Some people might not have thought her to be generous because she was very careful with money and how she spent it, but she gave what she could. For her humble generosity I am most grateful.

She had a passion for the written word that shown in her love of reading, crossword puzzles and letters. Anything with the written word that entered her house was held there for safe keeping. Books saved from closing libraries, letters from WWII, magazines, newspapers, recipes jotted down on a scrap of paper and on and on. She was always involved in a Bible study. Even in her later years as her eyesight succumbed to macular degeneration she rose early each and every morning to read her daily devotional with a magnifying glass. It was such a consistent part of her life. I remember her ‘hiding’ in the bathroom to read it when my brothers and I were young. And in her last year, her eyesight too poor to read for herself, Dad shared that special time with her. Her constant devotion made her a role model for which I am eternally grateful.

When my brother, Bob, and I cleaned out our folks home of over 30 years Mom and Dad were less than helpful. Mom had saved so much, too much. Many of you know the scene: too much stuff, too many memories. At the time I was tired and irritated at Mom for letting so much junk accumulate. I made a decision. I could be angry or I (well, Bob and I) could sift through the mess, get rid of the trash, give to family whatever they wanted, and sell the rest. This was the beginning of my online vintage shop. From Grandma’s Cedar Chest. I’ve sent Mom’s stuff all over the world. Mom always loved to travel so she enjoyed hearing stories of all the places her things were going. I include a short history of the item each time I sell something. Those who love vintage really love the whole story. Painful as it was, I am grateful for this experience, especially the bonding time with my brother.

Mom’s final gift to us was the beauty in her passing. We knew her hours here were brief as we left her unconscious in the hospice care unit to eat lunch. When we returned her beloved pastor was there. He said it was not unusual for someone who never wanted to call attention to themself to pass when loved ones were absent. She went to be with Jesus after he held her hands in prayer. I was blessed to witness the sweet, gentle passing of my mom. I am grateful.

There are more stories about Mom, more gifts. I miss her every day. Dad misses her more. That is a story for another day.