Memories in the Mountains

Memorial Day is a day of remembrance. A day to pay tribute to those who served and those who gave their lives for ours. A time to reflect and to remember how our service men and women fought for our country and for our freedom. Some of those brave warriors came home while others gave the ultimate sacrifice, their lives.

Memorial Day is a time to celebrate freedom, but also an opportunity to make memories. While we were preparing for a cookout with family and friends Saturday, I found myself reflecting on the past and thinking about the future. I thought of how quickly time passes. Yes, it is true, life is much like the comparison of vapor over water. It appears and then quickly evaporates right before our very eyes.

Today, let us pause and enjoy the blessings of life, family, friends, and our freedom. Take time from the fun of grilling, fishing, swimming, and all of the other festivities that await us on this beautiful day. Let us take time to remember and pay tribute to all of the dedicated, unselfish, and brave warriors who gave their time for our country, and for each of us.

As I reflect on our day with family and friends, my heart swells with love and gratitude for the opportunity to spend this day surrounded by laughter, good food, and those that I love. A bit of sadness stings my heart as I remember those that have passed and are no longer with us. I recall their laughter, stories, guidance, and their love. I also find myself consumed with an unwavering love, and gratitude for the one who truly gave all…our Lord Jesus Christ. Let us love deeply, cherish our freedom, life and our family, and let us never forget our soldiers and always remember our Savior.

God bless and Happy Memorial Day from the mountains of Kentucky.

In The Eye of the Storm

During my lifetime, I have encountered many changes, witnessed a few miracles, seen devastation, had my fair share of surprises, blessed to have more happy times than I can count, encountered more than enough sadness, but I have never encountered a time like our world is facing today. A friend of mine made a recent Facebook post about feeling as if she were living in a dystopian society. After considering this statement for a few minutes, and being well-read in the dystopian genre, I found myself agreeing with her.

As I set here this morning drinking coffee and counting my blessings I also began to reflect on the events that are happening in our state, across the nation, and all over the world. We have entered a time of many unanswered questions, many predictions of which some have proven to be accurate, while others remain just predictions.

This week as I was reassuring my students and trying to alleviate their fear about the massive changes that they have encountered in less than week, I was gently reminded that our hope lies within our heavenly Father. I began to council them that all would be well, and that our school, the state, and all of the professors were working together to make sure this time of uncertainty would not hinder their coursework, or their graduation. I recalled reading a post on face book from one of my favorite children’s authors and began to provide them with examples and a comparison to the novel, The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane, which we are currently reading in our class. I have to give credit where credit is due. This wonderful children’s novel is one of my favorite Kate DiCamillo books, and was always a favorite of my students when I taught in the public school. In this wonderful children’s novel, the character of Edward travels on a long journey of uncertain events, new adaptations, and meets many new characters along the way. This heart-warming novel is also a novel of self-discovery for Edward, who grows immensely in many ways while traveling on this uncertain, yet miraculous journey.

I began to think about the journey that lies ahead of each of us, our families, and our neighbors. We are not on this journey alone, much like Edward wasn’t. I reassured them during this time, each of us needed to take time to rediscover and maybe even re-evaluate our principles, our religious beliefs, relationships, and our goals for life. I too, took my own advice and did a little soul-searching. I also realized that there will be days of uncertainty ahead of us, unanswered questions, and a menagerie of emotions that I, as well as others, will encounter. I also realized that I would have to be strong for my family, my children, grandchildren, husband, mother, my students, and my neighbors. I know that I cannot carry the load for all, but I can lighten their load a little, without increasing mine.

When my students began to think about the situation that we are facing and comparing the situations that the character of Edward faced, they began to delve deeper into the text, their fears subsided, and they were inspired that they would be okay at the end of this difficult journey, just like Edward was. I know, and they know, that life is not a fictional fairytale where a happy ending is commonly found. However, as a result of our comparison, our analyzation, and our discussion my students, as well as myself felt a sense of relief, accomplishment, and were inspired to take our newly found message out to others that God is still in control.

I encourage each of you to take the time that you have been given at home to love your family, yourself, and to dig deep into your own self-discovery. Re-evaluate your relationship with your family, yourself, and with your creator. Make this a time of self-discovery, new discoveries, and a time to love your family. Be strong and be there for them. Take time to read, study the word, and pray. This is a time more than any other time in my lifetime where prayer is warranted. Be the prayer warrior that others can rely on. Be the neighbor that can take a covered dish and leave it at the doorstep of your elderly neighbor, check on friends through social media, phone calls, or even FaceTime them, which gives allows them to realize that you are there for them.

Through all of the unanswered questions, uncertainty’s, and all of the worrying, I am reminded of a prophetic word that our church received quite some time ago. The words that were revealed to our church were simply, “preparation time.”

Members, as well as our Pastor, wondered if this meant a great revival, souls dedicating their lives to the Lord, preparing for the unexpected, or even still…all of the above. We, as a church, prayed for answers and prepared in a variety of ways. We have seen a spiritual revival break out within the hearts of our congregation and in our church, souls have been added to our church, and now we are facing uncertain days with many unexpected changes and unanswered questions looming over all of us, but we feel better prepared than we would have a year ago. We have been reminded that the Lord has been and continues to be with us, even in the eye of the storm.

I hope you enjoy this post. Feel free to comment and or follow. Wishing you a safe and wonderful Memorial weekend and day. God bless from the mountains of Kentucky!

Finding What Works

Hello from the mountains of Kentucky. I hope your week is off to a great start! A memory popped up on Facebook this morning reminding me of the changes that have happened in my life the past ten years. Weight loss changes, dietary choices, and health changes that have had me worried and also celebrating! I hope you enjoy learning a little more about my journey with food, weight loss, and health.

For me, weight loss was like a roller coaster ride! Many ups, many downs, unsure of what was around the next curve, and occasionally the feeling of accomplishment. Diets, like a roller coaster ride, left me with the feeling of accomplishment, but both were usually short-lived.

My journey with roller coaster diets began a long time ago, I mean a long time ago. I, like many others, would find something that worked but it always seemed to be temporary. I was always changing my diet up to try a new diet, fad, or what worked for someone else. My countless endeavors include low fat, low calorie, low carb, no bread, multiple tracking apps, multiple prepackaged diet foods, diets that famous people recommended, liquid diets, protein diets, and the list could go on and on. Were they successful? Some were and some were not. Did I lose weight? Sometimes I did and sometimes I didn’t. Did I gain the weight back? Sometimes I did and a few more pounds to boot! So when did this viscous cycle end? It stopped for me when I found what worked for me. When I found what I believed in, was passionate about, and most of all what I enjoyed!

First of all, I stopped dieting. Yes, you heard me right. I stopped dieting! I adopted a new lifestyle. My journey with fad diets and dieting period took on a new perspective and seriousness when my doctor asked me what I wanted to do. Did I want to live or did I want to die? I chose life! I prayed seriously about what I should do.

After much prayer, my journey began with clean eating. I soon learned that I could eat a wide-variety of good foods, but the food needed to be organic and with the least amount of processing and packaging as possible. I also discovered a new way to cook, new foods to try and new food foods I enjoyed. I also discovered that I could still eat, enjoy my food, and not be hungry. I could actually have dessert too! Clean dessert that is!

My journey evolved into my becoming a flexitarian, which meant the only meat I ate at that time was organic poultry, game meat, and seafood. That lifestyle eventually evolved into my becoming a vegetarian, which removed all meats from my diet. What I realized from this drastic change was that my joints slowly began to feel normal. I had less inflammation. My health was drastically improving and I felt energetic again. Did the change stop there? I was determined to regain all of my health and live a lifestyle that promotes life, not encouraged disease. No! I researched vegan lifestyles and learned that I could live happily, and even more healthy, without eggs and dairy products. My stomach felt better, my digestion was at its peak and I felt more energetic. I began to lose pounds slowly but happily.

My journey with eating vegan has evolved into whole food plant-based eating, which has really changed my life and my health. I feel that I have come full circle with my dietary choices as the whole food plant-based vegan lifestyle is truly one of the cleanest diets possible. The benefits have been tremendous! I no longer take any prescribed meds, other than the smallest dose of blood pressure meds available and expect that to be taken away at my next dr appointment. My blood panel is always good, and contrary to what many believe, my iron and protein levels are fine! Yes, you can get sufficient protein from plants! One of the most notable things that changed with this final change of roller coaster diets, is the positive impact that a plant based diet has made on my joints and gut health! I believe that good gut health is key to living a happy and healthy life! I said all of that to say this, find what works for you and what you are passionate about, not what’s popular.

I hope you’ve enjoyed learning about my journey with food, diets, and lifestyle choices! I’m happy to say the roller coaster of eating has come to a permanent stop. I’ve been vegan for two years and can’t imagine turning back. The benefits of plant based eating are far too beneficial! I enjoy eating again, I can maintain my weight, lose a little weight and also feel happy about what I’m eating while not feeling deprived. Feel free to leave comments. I enjoy hearing from my readers. Click follow to be notified of new posts. From the mountains of Kentucky, God bless and have a wonderful week!

Hidden Nuggets

Good Evening from the mountains of Kentucky! I hope you’ve had a wonderful day! The sun has been shining bright in the mountains today, which was a welcome change from the chilly morning temperatures we encountered earlier today. Cool nights and cool mornings are to be expected in early May in Kentucky. Early May is what we refer to as, blackberry winter. My grandfather always called it the last cold snap of the season and time to begin planting tomatoes, cucumbers, and the rest of the garden goodies!

A beautiful Kentucky sky!

While working in my herb garden this evening, I discovered that the sage was already in need of pruning. Pruning the sage prevents it from becoming leggy and woody. As I pinched the leaves back, a rich and wonderful aroma filled the air. I began planning what great dish I would create with the fresh sage. Maybe stuffing, dumplings for my husband, or I might dry it for future dishes. Nevertheless, I was excited to have fresh sage so early in the season. As I pruned the already flourishing plant, I thought about how much more it would grow and how healthy it would be as a result of the pruning. In the still of the evening, I felt the Lord dealing with me about my own pruning.

Fresh Sage Leaves

I heard a sermon once that compared cleaning a closet out to that of purging ourselves with prayer and fasting. Pruning a plant is similar to the process of laying down weights that might prevent us from spiritually growing to our fullest potential. Like the sage, without pruning, we too, might become tough, a bit bitter, or even stop growing spiritually. I hadn’t thought of this analogy before. Spiritual pruning, I believe this was one of those hidden nuggets of wisdom that the Lord reveals through the simple things in our every day life to grow us spiritually.

Thank you for stopping by my blog. Feel free to leave comments. I love to hear from my readers. Click follow to to be notified of new posts. God bless from the mountains of Kentucky!

The One Who Makes All Things Possible

Good morning from the mountains of Kentucky. I awoke this morning with the thoughts of miracles on my mind. The miracles that only come from above. After, a morning cup of coffee and a little Bible study I walked outside to enjoy some of the fresh mountain air and the unique smell that lingers here in the mountains after a summer rain, which is just another one of the simple pleasures that I love about living in the Appalachian Mountains.

Mornings in the Appalachian Mountains

A feeling of gratitude and blessings washed over me as I absorbed my surroundings. The fog lingered over the upper field and raindrops from the nighttime shower still clung to the green blades of grass. Breathing in a deep breath of the fresh mountain air, I whispered a thank you to our Heavenly Father, “Thank you for blessing me with another day.”

The mountains seemed more vibrant and alive than the day before. Yet, another reminder of why I call these mountains home. I’ve always felt secure being in the mountains, even as a little girl, I loved the mountains and the many adventures that awaited me. It’s hard to explain, but they have always given me an unexplainable feeling of comfort and security. The older I get, the more I realize I feel even closer to the Lord when I’m outside walking within the nurturing comfort of the mountains that surround our home and talking to Him.

The lonesome call of the doves stirred me from my thoughts and reminded me of my intended purpose outside. I had gone outside for a breath of fresh air and to give my herbs a little tender loving care. While I watered the tender herbs, they again reminded me that there’s no place like home. The fragrant leaves reminded me of days gone by that I cherish more now than ever before. Days that were carefree and full of adventure running through my grandparents fields of corn, looking for buried treasures buried along the creek bank, and romping through the hills in search of the next big adventure. The comforts of home, quiet time with the Lord, and reminiscing about days gone by help me to deal with tough days that face all of us.

The rocking chair seemed to call my name to come and sit for a while. Resting in the morning air I reflected on the rough weeks that were now behind us and the difficult ones that lie ahead of us. I was also reminded of the lifetime ahead of us. Of course there would be hard days, but I expected many days to be filled with joy, victories both large and small, some tough times and many happy times. With morning silence came a feeling of determination. The gentle whisper in the morning breeze seemed to say, “Hold on, it will be okay.”

I am always amazed at how the Lord get’s His message across to us. Sometimes it’s through his written word, sometimes through a prophetic message, a sermon, a friend, and sometimes He speaks through a gentle breeze. I felt more determined than ever to stay close to the Lord and press in as there seemed to be a spiritual warfare unlike any other I’ve known in my forty years as a Christian. I am reminded of my grandmother’s wise words, work while it’s day.

I will continue to pray while I have breath, and believe with all of my heart for those that are suffering from disease, afflictions, addictions, and loss. I am believing for my mother to regain her strength, her bones to heal, and for her spirit to be rejuvenated and revived. As I sat there in the still of the morning watching one of the yearly birds build its tiny nest, I was reminded of His small miracles that happen every day. I am also reminded to count my blessings one by one, both big and small. Even though it’s been a tough semester, unexpected struggles have occurred, my mom falling, which resulted in multiple broken bones, a long recovery that’s still underway and many other unexpected events in our lives… I am still blessed. We are still abundantly blessed. We are alive!

Sometimes the Lord gets our attention boldly, while other times in a gentleness that impacts and reaches to the depths of our soul. For me this morning, the gentle breeze, the magic of a new morning, dew that sparkles like diamonds on the grass and on the leaves, the silent vapor that lingered over the creek water and dissipated before my very eyes, and the gentle cooing of the doves reminded me to take my eyes off of what seems impossible, and remember who makes all things possible.

Thank you for stopping by and reading my blog. Feel free to leave comments. I love to hear from my readers. Click follow to be notified of new posts. God bless from the mountains of Kentucky!

Easy Vegan Creole Recipe

Good afternoon from the mountains of Kentucky! I hope all is well in your part of the world. It’s been a roller coaster of a ride with the weather in the mountains for a few weeks. We’ve experienced a lot rain that resulted in flooding, thunderstorms, hail, and a lot of sunshine. I can’t complain, I love spring time whether it’s warm or chilly temperatures, but can do without the flooding. The warm days have been really good for my herbs! My chocolate mint already needs thinned. Strawberry mint seems to be taking over one section of the herb garden. I’ll be giving several starts off of it this year to friends and family. The chamomile is off to a great start too!

We were blessed with an abundance of produce last year and are still reaping the rewards of our veggies this year. I decided to cook Easter dinner today for my husband and myself. Last year’s green beans, corn, potatoes and spring onions are on the menu as sides! Now, if I could only figure out a way to preserve cucumbers! I’m anxious for garden time this year, because with all of the fresh produce, also comes great ingredients for new and delicious vegan recipes.

The most recent dish that I’ve made include, creole roasted veggies, with a wilted kale salad, and polenta on the side. I’ve been posting pictures of my vegan meals and tagging our daughter, who is also vegan, on Facebook. We’ve gotten a lot of great feedback, as well aroused much curiosity, and also had a lot of requests for recipes. So…here goes!

Creole Roasted Veggies Ingredients:

2 small sweet potatoes
5 small fingerling potatoes (or small potatoes of choice)
1 half of a yellow sweet onion
1 small butternut squash
6 to 8 eight baby carrots or 1 large carrot
1 hot banana pepper
1 small zucchini.
Creole seasoning
Extra virgin olive oil
salt & pepper

Cube all of the above veggies, except the onion and pepper, into small cubes, then slice pepper and onions. Add all of the vegetables to an air fryer and drizzle very lightly with extra virgin olive oil. Sprinkle with creole seasoning and salt and pepper. Shake the air fryer pan and sprinkle again. Roast veggies on high for twenty minutes. Check to ensure the veggies are done by piercing with a fork. I like to allow mine to caramelize a little and will allow them to roast a little longer. You can also roast the vegetable in the oven on 375 on a sheet pan lined with parchment paper for 40-45 minutes. I like to use the air fryer if I’m not going to be using the oven for another dish, especially in the summer.

Wilted Kale Salad Ingredients:

Fresh kale, extra virgin olive oil, remaining half of onion, 4-5 sliced portobello mushrooms, and a half a cup sliced grape tomatoes.

Process:

While the veggies are roasting, I heat a saucepan on top of the stove on medium heat, and add a good drizzle of olive oil. Using a pair of scissors, cut kale into pieces and add to the oil, slice four or five portobello mushrooms and add to the kale, slice the remaining half of the yellow sweet onion and add to the kale an mushrooms, slice a handful of small grape tomatoes in half and add to the skillet. Add a generous sprinkle of the creole seasoning along with black pepper and onion salt. Saute the vegetables until tender and turn the heat off.

Polenta Ingredients:

Instant polenta, non-dairy butter, unsweetened almond milk, non-dairy cheese of choice.

I also added a side of instant polenta to this dish. This is the easiest side ever! I buy polenta that’s in a roll. It has a great shelf life, and tastes great. It’s much easier to prepare than cooking polenta from scratch. To feed two people, you will need to slice four or five slices of the polenta off the role and cut it into small pieces. Add the polenta pieces to a small saucepan and add about 1/4 cup unsweetened almond milk. Turn the burner on to medium low. Using the back of a fork, mash the polenta until it’s mixed with the milk and smooth. At this point add a teaspoon of non-dairy butter and season with creole seasoning and a little black pepper. I like to add a piece of no -dairy provolone cheese just before serving. Allow the cheese to melt and give it a final stir.

Serve roasted veggies, with a side of wilted kale salad, and few spoons of polenta. Sprinkle the servings with a light dusting of the creole seasoning and a drizzle of hot sauce and you’re ready for a delicious and filling dish.

I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as I do! Feel free to leave a comment, ask a question of just drop a greeting. If you’re just stopping by, feel free to click on follow for upcoming recipes! God bless each of you! Happy Easter!

Winter in the Mountains

Winter has arrived full force in the mountains of Kentucky this week. Just when the countdown until spring has begun, winter rears it’s almost unfamiliar head. Winter can be rough in the mountains, and we’ve had our fair share of rough winters, but considering our winter weather for the past few years, we really can’t complain. During the past few days we’ve transitioned from sleet to, rain, back to freezing rain, and now snow. I feel humbled and blessed that I am one of the fortunate people that can work from home and do not have to travel. Because of my blessings, I feel compelled to check on others, pray for those that have to travel, the first-responders, homeless, and the elderly. It’s during times like this that I appreciate my mountain roots, heritage, cultural ways, and the knowhow of how to survive hard times such as those that we live in today more than ever.

The ice is clinging to the trees in the mountains.

With winter weather also comes the desire to cook, which I think is a cultural thing as well. As far back as I can remember when snow started flying in the air, laying on the ground, and filling the trees, someone was cooking. Cooking what? Veggie soup, chili soup, pinto bean better known in the mountains as soup beans, and always a side of cornbread. This was only a few family cavities! Some may think that vegans and or clean eaters can’t enjoy tasty dishes or cultural meals. However, being a clean-eating vegan doesn’t mean that I have to sacrifice flavor or my favorite foods. No, I still enjoy savory meals that I’ve always enjoyed, only a healthier version of them.

So, what’s on the menu for this bitter cold and blustery day? Organic soup beans, cooked in the insta pot without oil, but with plant based beyond bullion base. This great tasting base also decreases the amount of salt that’s needed to flavor many dishes. I use this base when I saute mushrooms, I add it to soups, beans of all kinds, and more. I’ll bake cornbread for my husband and plan to make myself roasted potatoes. I discovered along this high-starch journey I could line a sheet pan with parchment paper, spritz the cubed potatoes with vegetable broth, season them and cover them with aluminum foil and after they’ve reached the desired tenderness, I place them for the final minutes under the broiler and allow the potatoes to crisp up. What I discovered is that the potatoes are crispy and tasty. I also occasionally place them in the air fryer, spritz and season, and air fry for a faster dish of roasted potatoes. To add to the deliciousness m, I’ll add a side of sour kraut, which I canned last year, and maybe a skillet of mustard greens stirred up with diced mushrooms, more of the vegetable base, and finally a crumbled tofu to replace the scrambled eggs. This is a supper that is mountain worthy, culturally acceptable, vegan friendly, and filled with starches and high-powered greens. The only thing that makes this dish better is a jar of my canned red tomatoes chilled and served on the side. An all clean, organized, healthy, and tasty on this cold snowy day!

A great source of seasoning that adds a lot of flavor!

Eating vegan, plant-based, and healthy does not mean that you have to sacrifice flavor, culture, or deny your family who doesn’t follow a vegan diet. What I have learned along this journey is most of the time my husband doesn’t realize I prepare the mustard greens without oil, without eggs, and limited to no salt. He still brags on the taste, reaps the reward of less oil, and salt, and also that he loves sauteed portabella mushrooms. He still indulges in cornbread, but often made with less oil, egg replacement, and almond milk. The bread is still tasty, and he eats it without complaining about lack of flavor, but often brags on how tasty it is. Many times we think we need more salt, or we need to add a splash more of oil, or some other fat, when in reality we just need to focus on the flavor of the food…not the seasoning. One of the greatest benefits he has discovered is that a plant-based diet is much better for his gout, which is an entirely different post for later.

Snow and ice fill the trees and the mountains.

For now, I’m off to put beans in the insta pot, grade assignments, tidy the house up, and catch up on a little reading while snuggling beneath my favorite quilt in my favorite chair. I am so thankful for a warm home and knowing that my family is safe at home. I will also enjoy my favorite coffee, the spectacular view of the snow-covered mountains that lies just beyond my windows, and all the comforts of home. Blessings from the snow-covered mountains of Kentucky. I have found that in an impersonal world filled with more struggles than I can recall, a high-tech technology world where social media has replaced much of the personal communication that we once cherished, not to mention the uncertainty of the pandemic, I cherish the simple things in life more than ever before.

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Finding Joy During Uncertainty

It’s been a while since I have posted. I’ve been working on this post for a few weeks, but kept encountering interruptions, or starting over to find the right words, and still just setting it aside to work on later. Sometimes I’m not the best at multi-tasking. I have been in a routing of focusing on what needs to be done first, which often results in me neglecting my blog that I enjoy so much. Life has been very different since the outbreak of COVID. We’ve encountered many changes along the away and have had to learn to adapt, and in some cases still adapting as it seems every day brings about new changes and a new, or resurrected sense of uncertainty. I, like many of you, have gone through a roller coaster of emotions with the changes and devastation that have occurred in our world within the last year. My emotions ran amuck from fear and worry to joy, and so the cycle continued for weeks that turned into the months. However, all change that has occurred in my life hasn’t been a fearful change, or a change that came with a dread. No, life is not perfect, nor will it ever be. But, change can bring a freshness, personal growth, and also time to rise up to the challenges, goals, or tasks that we’ve put on the back burner far to long ago. It’s time to find beauty in the ashes!

A peaceful time of prayer while admiring God’s creation.

The way we socialize, shop, worship, educate, vacation, and even dine out have all encountered changes in one way or another. However, I was reminded several months ago of the words given to me by a previous boss. Things were continually changing with the district where I taught, and if you are an educator, parent of school-aged children, or work in the public school system, you know about change. He simply stated, “change is good.” He further explained that we could take what felt like an uncomfortable change, a scary journey, or a dread and turn it to our good, and to our student’s good. Shame on me! I had neglected the wise words from a long-time friend from many years ago. Why had I not used those same words and applied them to our situation today. Please don’t misunderstand. I am not saying that this wicked virus is good by any means. But, what I am saying is that with all of the changes we’ve encountered…also came time. Time, that I seemed to lack when life was rushing by so quickly. It was time to rediscover and renew my prayer life, my creativity, bring a sense of newness to my classes, encourage and bring hope to our students, and bring hope to our family.

These changes would occur one day at a time, overcoming one obstacle at time, living in the day and being thankful for the time that I have. I would not waste time sitting and worrying, wondering about what the future held, when would all the sickness end, or when life would get back to normal? Key word here is, life. I was reminded that I was allowing life to slip away, right before my very eyes. Think about it, for those old enough, it seems we turn around and twenty years of our lives have vanished. We’re left asking ourselves questions such as; What did we do with those twenty years? Were they spent feeling sorry for ourselves, living in constant fear, complaining, spending far too much time on social media, which by the way will deplete our joy, if we allow it to. Or were days, months, and or years spent doing things that we love to do? Were we spending time bettering ourselves through meditation, prayer, reading, breathing the precious air that we have been gifted, spending time with family, or cherishing the life that we have been given?

Through this journey of change, I was also reminded wise words of my pastor’s wife shared. During one of the most difficult times in her life as she battled for her very life of having diverse diseases the doctors thought would take her life, she had a profound encounter with the Lord. While feeling down and or discouraged one day, she felt the Lord express the following question; are you going to sit there and die or get up and live? I have pondered this question many times since then, and actually asked it of myself, and asked others who were going through a rough time. Some might find it hard to believe that the Lord actually speaks to us, but let me say my friends that the Lord has a way of reaching us through His word, in our thoughts, a gentle breeze, kind words of others, in the lyrics of a song, in dreams and in many other individualized ways. It’s about believing and being willing to receive what He has for us that is so very important. It’s what we do with what He says, whether it be directly from Him in a still small voice, a prophetic word, that gentle breeze that stirs when we need reassuring, or from a bold statement such as my pastor’s wife and friend encountered. Fast forward, my pastor’s wife was healed over twenty years ago, and today is one of the busiest women that I know. But, she’s not too busy to neglect her duties as a pastor’s wife, a friend, a mother, grandmother, her career, and her sincerity as a prayer warrior.

Be strong, be bold, be steadfast, and together we’ll brave the storm.

She has shared those wise words with our church and myself often. In the early fall I was reminded of those words just when I was tired of being down-trodden, tired of living in fear, tired of doom and gloom, tired of negativity everywhere I turned, tired of feeling isolated, tired of politics, tired of what seemed like endless changes, tired of so much sickness, and simply tired of being tired. Her words resonated with me one morning as I sat quietly pondering the events that lay ahead of me. I was now teaching full time at home, advising from home, shopping from home, and doing almost everything from home. I needed a positive change. Was I going to sit here and die or was I going to get up and live. I whispered a quiet thank you Lord, for the gentle reminder that I wanted to get up, I wanted to live and make the most of the day that I had been given. I began to count my blessings. I counted the smallest and largest blessings. I found it difficult to count them all. I felt inspired to write them down. Anyone that knows me, knows I have a passion for journals. Quickly, I found just the right journal from among the many blank journals that I had stowed away in my office. I would make a gratitude journal. The pages were filling quickly, my load seemed lighter, and I felt a sense of control and positivity returning. I found that by writing and recording my blessing daily, it was more therapeutic, it was real, it was a reminder of the blessings that were being overlooked and shelved like a competed novel. This was an area that needed to be revisited daily, relived, and an area that needed to be a focus of a dark time in our world. There is light in the midst of the storm, there is hope, there is joy during the crying, there is God and He did not deserve to be shelved. Rereading the Bible daily became a time of joy, a time of learning, re-learning, and a time of connections. Seeking out new inspirational books to read, books that were filled with joy, hope, happiness, and testimonies of triumph became beneficial and an inspiration that I have been able to share with others. Making time to pray, meditate, and sometimes just sit quietly and reflect on the goodness that surrounded me, rather than watching the news, or browsing social media, became an even larger part of my daily routine, and one that I found myself looking more forward to every day. It was time to get up and take back what seemed to slowly be fading from my view. I was reminded that as long as we have breath, we have hope, and without hope we can’t have faith, and faith is what moves what feels like mountains. Faith will sustain us and help us overcome.

For me, preserving and finding and making time to do what I loved, to write, cook, create, spend time outside, read, prayer time, socialize, even if it’s by phone, or zoom, care for others who may be hurting, and simply counting daily blessings, brought joy during the times of uncertainty. No, life is not perfect, yes, changes are still occurring, and yes the virus is real. We have family and friends who have suffered the cold and vicious symptoms, some still battling the side-effects, and others who have lost their lives to this horrible disease. But, through it all we have had family who have overcome and won the battle with the virus, who have lived to help others, and who have become stronger in their faith as a result. We must find a positive in the negative and remember that change is good. The change that I have encountered through it all is a closer relationship with our savior and a new appreciation for the simple things that are too often taken for granted. I have learned to step back and count my blessings and recount them. I have learned to make time when we often say we don’t have time. I have decided to live by the wise words given to my pastor’s wife, I choose to get up and live rather than sit down and die physically, emotionally, and spiritually. Life is precious. I choose to make the most of it every day, even through the changes of uncertainty. Remember, no one can rob you of your joy. Happiness is a daily choice. I choose to dance in the rain, and find beauty in the ashes.

I’ll leave you with two book suggestions.

Love is Real written by Adam Reid. This is a book that will forever change your mindset and your life. Also, When Women Pray, by TD Jakes. This is a book that allows you to connect to the lives of prayer warriors in the bible, grow spiritually, learn how to persevere, and how to get up and keep living, even when life is hard and uncertain. Both books have made a profound impact on my life and helped intensify the desire to get up and live even more than before.

God bless each of you! As always, thank you for stopping by my blog. Feel free to leave comments or feedback. I love to hear from my readers. FYI…upcoming is a new recipe that I have been working to perfect. My family has enjoyed it thus far. If you love lemon, you’ll enjoy my new lemon trifle. I hope to post the recipe soon.

Vegan Strawberry Salad Dressing

Hello from the mountains of Kentucky! We had a beautiful morning filled with a mix of rain and sunshine in the mountains today. I don’t mind the rain. I love an occasional rainy day, especially a rainy summer morning. For me, rainy days are a time to catch up on chores inside the house. Chores that I pushed aside to allow for time to maintain the outside can now be completed. Rainy days are also a welcomed change as they allow me extra time to do a little baking, grade student’s assignments, and try to squeeze in some time to read. I always appreciate and enjoy my quiet morning devotional reading and time spent meditating and talking to our Heavenly Father. My day always seems to be better, less stressful, and more appreciative after bible study and prayer.

I am an avid reader and enjoy the pages of a good novel anytime, but especially on rainy days like today. I am currently reading the fourth book in the Hunger Games series. It is truly a book worthy of reading! I may post a review of it when I finish it. If you’re a fan of this series, now is the time to delve deep into the pages and enjoy the continuing saga of the Hunger Games. As much as I enjoy spending time indoors catching up on work, household chores, reading and cooking…my love for the great outdoors always seems to lure me outside.

Before enjoying a brisk morning walk this morning, I enjoyed a small bowl of Silk non-Dairy vanilla yogurt with a mix of berries and walnuts with a slice of sprouted non-flour organic sprouted Ezekiel bread with a teaspoon of avocado plant butter. It was quite tasty with a sprinkle of ground flax seed and a drizzle of agave. Eating vegan doesn’t have to be boring or tasteless.

As I enjoyed my walk after breakfast this morning, I was reminded of how much I love early summer mornings outside! Our view of the mountains never grows old. The sounds of the creek flowing and the morning farm sounds are always a soothing and welcoming sound to my ears. The gentle cooing of the doves, the low rumble of thunder, birds singing from high in the trees, and the sounds of the farm are always satisfying, soothing, and comforting and a time of peace.

I always feel abundantly blessed on quiet morning walks. I feel especially blessed when walking after a morning rain. The earth is damp, the leaves glisten with drops of rain, and our small farm seems to come alive. I love to walk, meditate, and count my blessings, while also enjoy the sounds of life in the mountains, reminiscing, and enjoying the view.

The sounds of the hens cackling from their nests assures me that there will be at least a dozen or more fresh eggs by midday. Our latest addition to our farm are guinea’s. Our son gave them to us and they’ve earned their keep through their loud alerts of arriving guests and strangers. They’re a security system who also provides tiny eggs for our family and friends. This morning their calls let me know they were awake and on guard, while the roosters chimed in with their good-morning crows.

Two of our guinea’s enjoying picking a little green

There’s something about the sound of roosters crowing that take me back to my childhood growing up in the mountains. I found myself a bit teary eyed as I thought of my grandparents who have gone home, and of all the wonderful times we enjoyed with family while growing up. Times were simple then. Evenings were spent with family and friends porch sitting laughing, talking, and sharing the events of the day. I recall early summer mornings where we spent many happy hours wading in the creek, and warm summer nights that were filled with star-gazing and dreaming of our tomorrows. Those are memories that I will forever cherish and hold close to my heart. Walking this morning was one of those mornings. One flooded with a mix of emotions, memories, and also filled with gratitude.

Our garden in mid May.

The view of our garden was a satisfying sight this morning. Hard work pays off! We worked several long hours yesterday in the garden. It was a long evening of plowing, hoeing, planting, and also picking with family. Hard work, but also a time of making memories. The smell of the freshly plowed earth still lingered heavy in the air this morning. The scent of fresh plowed sod is one of my favorite scents in the morning along with the fragrance of the honey suckle blooms. Both of these fragrances transports me back to my childhood in the mountains. Yes, mountain life is the best life.

I hope your gardens are flourishing this year! Our labor is paying off with an abundance of cabbage, kale, lettuce, onions, zucchini, squash, and cucumbers so far. I am super excited to begin picking tomatoes, digging potatoes, and also picking beans and corn in upcoming weeks.

Even though our garden is doing well right now, gardening has been an unusual journey this year. First, with the bitter cold freezes that came in the early spring also came several evenings of covering each plant in hopes of preventing freezing, and uncovering the next morning. Then came the rain…boy, did it rain…a lot! The rain didn’t harm all of our garden, but wreaked havoc on our beans, which rotted in the ground. This resulted in plowing the beans under and replanting. I am happy to report that our second planting of beans are flourishing! We fenced the long rows of beans this week and the beautiful green bean vines are already climbing the tall fence lines. Our corn has been a challenge as well this year. We are are tending our third planting, which is finally doing well.

We are accustomed to battling and discouraging deer every year from getting in our garden. We won the battle with groundhogs eating our beans a few years ago, and crows pulling our corn up last year. However, this year we were faced with a new unexpected force that destroyed two entire crops of seed corn. Just as the corn reached two or three inches tall it would disappear. Chipmunks were the culprits this year. Who knew that those cute little creatures could destroy row after row after row of corn. They maybe cute, but they can be deadly on a corn crop. Through many creative efforts of soap, peppermint essential oils, moth balls, and many other creative methods…it appears we may have finally won the war with the furry little burrowers.

I am overjoyed with our herbs this year! They are flourishing as well. I’ve enjoyed harvesting basil, and peppermint several times already this year. I am currently drying both to add to the pantry. I plan to make peppermint tea from the medley of mints that are hanging in the drying room. I love the taste and the smell of all mints. My favorite has to be chocolate mint, which is a great addition to brownies, cookies, and makes a great tea all by itself. I purchased a new mint this year, which seems to be doing great. I’ve haven’t harvested any of it yet, in effort to let it get well-established first. I found strawberry mint! I am overly excited about the possibilities that this mint has. I admit, the leaves of the plant are quite tasty and very aromatic. Yes, I’m guilty. I nibble on my herb plants sometimes as I’m watering or pruning. My plans for this mint consist of tea, cookies, bread, and also a fresh berry salad with homemade strawberry salad dressing. It’s the simple things in life that makes me happy.

Speaking of fresh veggie and berry salad, I hope you’ll enjoy my new recipe for strawberry salad dressing. I apologize for neglecting to post my recipe for this refreshing and tasty salad dressing earlier. It’s been a crazy couple of weeks with the garden, grading, and teaching this summer. I hope you and your family enjoy this simple recipe as much as we do.

With warm weather, regardless if it’s raining or the sun is shining…also comes my usual craving for crisp summer salads. I love to experiment with the veggies and herbs from our garden, and also with fresh fruit. While cleaning the refrigerator out the other day, I realized it was time to do a refrigerator cleanup in my produce drawers. What better time to create a summer salad! While foraging through the crisper drawers, I discovered an abundance of fruits and veggies that were perfect for a tasty summer salad. I found a honey crisp apple, a few ripe strawberries, a few leftover blueberries, and score…blackberries that were more than ready to be used. I added a little bib lettuce from our garden, bits of baby kale, and some baby spinach, romaine, and iceberg lettuce. I included chopped cucumbers, green onions, tomatoes, cauliflower and purple broccoli.

Now, the veggies were ready to toss, but I wanted a crunch factor for the salad, so I tossed in a few toasted walnuts. I clipped some fresh basil, peppermint, spearmint, and a few chives and tossed them in the veggies. I can’t wait to include leaves from the strawberry mint plant in my next salad. I like to use a small pair of scissors to cut the fresh herbs into small strips, which prevents a lot of bruising on the tender leaves. I once again gently tossed the fruit, herbs, and veggies to ensure a bit of everything with each bite. What a visual and colorful bounty of beautiful deliciousness!

Crisp summer berry salad with homemade strawberry dressing. 

Finally, if you’re like me, a summer berry salad is not complete without a sweet dressing. So, I decided to create my own dressing. I hope you enjoy this sweet and savory dressing on your summer salads. It’s quick, easy, and takes only a few ingredients.

Ingredients:

1 cup organic chopped strawberries
3 tablespoons of organic extra virgin olive oil 
2 tablespoons of organic balsamic vinegar 
1 teaspoon organic strawberry jam (I prefer homemade)
1 teaspoon of organic agave
1 pinch of course black pepper

Process:

Wash, drain, and chop strawberries and add to the blender. Add the remaining ingredients and blend on medium-low until smooth. Pour into a container with a lid, and chill for about thirty minutes before drizzling over your salad.

How easy was that? I added this beautiful dressing to our summer salad last week, and it was a huge hit! With the addition of a few plant-based homemade croutons, the salad was complete and absolutely delicious.

Hint: Don’t neglect toasting the walnuts before adding them to the salad. It’s amazing how much the flavor is enhanced when toasting nuts of all kinds before adding them to your favorite recipes.

Finished product…a pint of delicious vegan strawberry salad dressing!

Garden tip: If your herbs are not as green, vibrant, or bushy as you would like for them to be, don’t neglect clipping and pruning your herbs. Clipping promotes new growth. Without regular clipping and pruning your herbs will become leggy and less bushy. 

For now, I’m off to enjoy a cup of camomile herbal tea and delve deep into the next chapter of my book!

God bless from the mountains of Kentucky. Stay safe, stay close to home, and stay positive during this time of uncertainty. Feel free to leave comments or ask questions. I always enjoy reading your comments.

Organic Vegan Apple Tea Bread

Good Evening from the mountains of Kentucky! We’ve been blessed with a beautiful sunny day in Appalachia today! We had ideal weather this morning for working in the flower and herb gardens. There’s something special about spending a little time on a peaceful, cool morning outside that transports me back to my days of youth.

Beautiful June morning in the mountains of Kentucky.

While working in my herbs with the scent of the morning dew still lingering on the soil and in the air, I enjoyed recalling early mornings from many years ago. Oh, how I loved going out and setting on the porch in the early morning hours with my mom. Mommy, always enjoyed her weekend coffee on the front porch enjoying her beautiful flowers. I can still recall the wonderful aroma from her rich black coffee that filled the morning air. It was a warm and inviting time. Early mornings on the porch was a peaceful refuge then… and remains a peaceful place for me today.

I love the peaceful tranquility of the soothing sounds of the water from the creek flowing over the smooth time-worn stones. Early mornings on the porch is also a favorite time for me to catch up on a little reading, reflect on days gone by, plan for the days ahead, work on a writing project, and also a time to slow down and savor the beauty of our mountains.

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Our blooms attract an abundance of butterflies. I love to sit quietly and watch them. Our garden loves them too!
I love to watch the colorful butterflies enjoying the blooms of our flowers.

Today was one of those days, but it was also an exciting day. It was the first day that our local farmer’s market has opened since last summer. Typically we would’ve already made a few visits, but due to COVID-19 most businesses have experienced delayed openings, including our farmer’s market, which made opening day even more special. The crowd was at a minimum today, but the market wasn’t short on delicious produce, homemade sweet treats, savory items, fresh-baked bread, a variety of vegetables for planting, and even a local author. The crowd filtered in and out throughout the time my daughter and I browsed the market. It was a wonderful morning with some great people.

I was happy to see a few familiar faces and also happy to meet a few new people. Conversations were interesting as there were so many of the vendors who had similar interests as I do. After discussing natural fertilizer, methods of promoting growth in herb gardens, and our favorite teas, we left with a wide variety of wonderful items. My favorite was a packet of homemade Holy Basil Chai tea. I’ve already enjoyed a hot cup of the tea and a cup of it on ice, which was amazing as well. Her delicious homemade tea was delicious either way.

Something that I’ve noticed over the years is that I have come to enjoy the pleasures of a wide-variety of herbal teas. I love the spicy taste of red chai tea, the flavors of rich dandelion tea, relaxing lavender tea, and so many other flavors. I also find so much enjoyment in experimenting and creating different flavored teas from the herbs in my own herb garden. I find it satisfying to sew seeds or plant herbs, nurture them, delicately prune them, and especially taking time to smell their wonderful diverse fragrances. My daughter and I agree that evening tea is similar to evening coffee….they’re both great with a sweet treat!

Two of the latest additions to our little farm family.

As you know, I enjoy creating new recipes of all kinds. But, there’s something about summer that makes me want to bake sweet treats! The other day while I was enjoying the rich flavor of a vanilla chai tea, I began to think about how a delicious sweet bread would be great to eat with my tea. I thought about my Mamaw’s apple pies, and all their deliciousness. Soon I was thinking about a clean vegan apple bread, an apple tea bread, a sweet bread that would be a tasty addition to tea, or coffee! I mulled the idea over, for a few days, jotted down a few notes, and then began to experiment, which is one of my families favorites. They are my taste testers and enjoy sampling and giving their opinions about my new recipes! After a few tries, I finally found just the right amount and mix of ingredients to satisfy my palette, as well as my husband’s. This is one of his new all-time favorite breads! I am super anxious for you to try my Vegan Apple Tea Bread with your evening coffee or evening tea, and also happy to hear your comments.

Ingredients include:

2 cups all purpose whole wheat flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon cardamon 
1/2 teaspoon ginger
1 cup of monk fruit to replace sugar
1/2 cup organic brown sugar
1 cup of chopped walnuts
1/2 cup golden raisins
1 pound of diced Granny Smith apples
1 cup unrefined coconut oil
Zest of one Meyer lemon
Juice of one Meyer lemon
3 eggs for non-vegan (I use Nice Egg an egg substitute)
1 teaspoon of vanilla
1/4 cup unsweetened almond milk
Drizzle of organic agave

For the drizzle you will need;
1/2 cup organic confectioner sugar
1/4 cup brewed Apple cinnamon tea cooled
1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Process:

Mix all of the dry ingredients and spices, add walnuts and peeled diced apples. Prepare the egg substitute and set aside. Cream brown sugar, monk fruit, coconut oil, vanilla and egg substitute in a separate bowl. Gently combine wet ingredients and dry ingredients and fold in remaining ingredients. Don’t worry if the mixture seems to be too thick, trust me it will bake just as it should! 

Preheat oven to 350. Spray a bundt pan with organic cooking spray. I like to use an ice cream scoop to scoop the mixture into the pan. Don’t press the mixture as the airy pockets between the scoops will make the bread even better than you can imagine. Drizzle the top of your bread dough with a light drizzle of organic agave, place on the bottom rack in the pre-heated oven, set the timer for 45-48 minutes, and get ready for a delicious aroma to fill your kitchen! While your bread is baking brew your apple cinnamon tea and allow it to cool. Once the tea is cooled add the sifted powdered sugar and vanilla to the tea and whisk. Place in the fridge to help it setup.

Test bread at 45 minutes with a toothpick. If the toothpick comes out clean remove from the oven and allow it to cool before turning it onto a plate. If the bread is still a bit wet, bake for three to five more minutes as oven temperatures will vary. Once the bread is baked and cooled, turn it out onto a plate and drizzle the glaze over the bread and allow the glaze to flow down the sides. Now, all that’s left to do is…slice your bread and enjoy!!!

Vegan Apple Tea Bread

I hope your family loves this Apple Tea Bread as much as my family does. Feel free to leave a comment. I love to hear from my followers. For this evening, I’ll say so long and God bless from the beautiful mountains of Kentucky! Remember that faith overcomes fear! Happy baking!

I love the veggie blooms as much as the flower blooms!