An Abundance of Goodness

Day 4 of Gratitude Week falls on Thanksgiving Eve. I am doing what I usually do on this night before Thanksgiving…I am preparing food for tomorrow’s meal. We had our big family Thanksgiving Sunday, while my son was off work. Tomorrow is a more casual meal with my two daughters and their husbands, Greg, and grandson Dayan.

We are all contributing to the meal, which will include smoked turkey and brisket, for the carnivores in the family, and an abundance of veggie side dishes, for the plant based eaters.

My gratitude today is for the delightful fact that holiday meals and a plant based lifestyle are not exclusive of each other. I will dine well tomorrow and enjoy spending an afternoon with family. We will share food, talk, laugh, play games and celebrate a birthday.

I am grateful for a wealth of healthy recipes to try out. Tonight I made three dishes for tomorrow, trying out two new recipes and recreating a favorite from last year.

The foundation of the recipes was plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables. Here is a peek at what I am contributing tomorrow:

I made Raw Cranberry Relish, from Life Changing Foods, last year for the first time. I like cranberry sauce, even the blob of stuff from the can. This relish, made from fresh cranberries, apples and oranges is amazing. And it is so easy to make, using a food processor. The recipe calls for coconut sugar, which is a natural, unrefined sugar. Last year I substituted raw honey. Tonight I had coconut sugar on hand. This is seriously so delicious, that even people who think they don’t like cranberries might be surprised.

Cranberries are full of antioxidants. They not only aid in healing urinary tract infections, they reverse gallbladder disease, cleanse the liver and help with kidney stones. They also help heal cardiovascular disease and draw radiation out of the body.

I wonder why I only make this around Thanksgiving? While cranberries are plentiful, I should be making this relish once a week!

I am super excited about this Sweet Potato Casserole. I found the recipe on Pinterest, posted by Nutritional Foodie. I made a sweet potato casserole for years. That one was full of butter and brown sugar and used canned yams. This one started with fresh sweet potatoes that I cooked myself and then mashed with coconut oil, spices, coconut sugar and unsweetened almond coconut milk. The topping, which I’ll add in the morning before baking, has pecans, coconut sugar, coconut oil and garbanzo bean flour.

After I poured the sweet potato mixture into the casserole dish, I tried a bite, from the bit left in the pan. It is so wonderful! And this version is good for me. Sweet potatoes are full of vitamins, minerals and other nutrients and promote productive bacteria in the stomach while starving out unproductive bacteria and fungi. They help regulate hormones and promote sleep.

Look at this colorful dish! The Mixed Veggies with Brown Rice features fresh carrots, broccoli, cauliflower and zucchini, along with organic peas and red kidney beans. Combined with the brown rice, this will be a wholesome, protein rich dish that will be the main part of my meal tomorrow. This recipe comes from a little cookbook called Slow Cooker 100% Vegan.

I have the raw brown rice in the slow cooker and the veggies prepped and seasoned with mixed Italian herbs, sea salt, coarsely ground black pepper and fresh garlic. I’ll stumble into the kitchen at 3:00 am to add the veggies to the slow cooker, along with two cups of water, and turn it on low. It will finish cooking just in time to cart it to Adriel’s house. I’ll bet it will smell wonderful as it simmers.

I am so full of gratitude as I sip on my turmeric milk, all my food preparations completed. During my healing journey I have realized this truth, and accept it wholeheartedly…

What I eat becomes the fuel that my body uses to live and thrive…or exist and struggle.

EVERYTHING I eat and drink matters. Poor nutrition results in poor health, illness and pain. Good nutrition results in good health and an immune system that can fight off invaders and heal itself, maintaining well being.

I choose carefully what I nourish myself with. During celebrations or the holidays, I am not missing a thing by holding to my plant based lifestyle. What I gain is continued health, not extra pounds or an upset digestive system.

Here’s to a healthy and abundant Thanksgiving!

Christmas Spirit

I know it is still two days before Thanksgiving. And I have devoted time this evening to pouring through plant based recipes in preparation for Thursday’s meal. However, the magical thing happened today, that finds me about this time every year. I never know quite when it will rise from the corner of my heart, where it resides the rest of the year, and flood my being. I am grateful for it and it is my gratitude today.

The Christmas Spirit awoke in me.

I love this time of year…from mid October to my birthday in the new year, January 9. The cooler weather and colorful leaves signal the approach of the holidays. It is my favorite time to decorate and cook and nest. Love and joy and yes, gratitude overflow my heart.

These are the events that triggered Christmas Spirit today.

Greg sent me this photo from Lowe’s this morning. These fresh beauties have arrived! Ill be purchasing mine this weekend. Years ago, I cut trees out in the wild. Ask me sometime about THE Christmas Tree incident that ended in disaster. Now, Lowe’s Garden Center is my tree destination and I receive much joy from selecting the perfect tree.

I received my first Christmas message from a friend, via Facebook Messenger today. It made me smile.

I visited the arts and crafts store, Michaels, to check out the feasibility of an idea I have. Of course, the store is in full Christmas mode, with holiday music playing overhead and shoppers already getting a head start on gift buying. This is where I began humming Christmas songs and a smile first appeared. Christmas was stirring within my heart. I nodded and spoke to other shoppers as I browsed. I don’t mind crowds at all, especially this time of year. I love the feeling of being on a shared adventure, rather than viewing it as a competitive one. Even though I don’t need more Christmas decor, I was captivated by a little gingerbread house with matching trees and a tiny gingerbread man. I bought it!

And Christmas thus Christmas began, for me, on November 21. The humming turned into singing. While cooking dinner, my iPod played through holiday songs. And after dinner, I set out the items I’ve already purchased for this Christmas season.

I buy myself a heart ornament every year, to represent my shiny Mithril heart. Mithril is a precious metal referred to in Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings and Hobbit stories. It is strong, silvery and valuable. My Christmas tree is adorned with many heart ornaments. I like this simple metal heart for this year.

I also add a Christmas mug each year to my collection. This is my first owl mug. He is adorable. I found the wooden sign in a vintage shop. It will find a spot in my snowman village.

And this tartan ceramic Scotty dog ornament came home with me from Scotland. I purchased it in a gift shop near Loch Ness. It will remind me of my travels this year.

I am so grateful for this beautiful season, when love and joy, peace and wonder overflows. For me, it is a time of sharing with others, and a time of personal reflection as the year winds down and a new one approaches.

The boxes of Christmas decorations will come out of storage this week, and my house will be transformed. My heart already is. My life reflects that.

I don’t care what anyone says about welcoming Christmas too soon. When the Spirit moves me…it moves me. I would not bid it to wait. I agree with Charles Dickens’ well known character, Scrooge, after the Spirit of Christmas was born in his heart and made manifest in his life. I keep a reminder of Ebenezer’s words hanging year around in my house. And I too honor Christmas in my heart.

Touching Heaven

With this being Thanksgiving week, I have decided to very mindfully celebrate a week of expressing gratitude.

Gratitude is the quality of being thankful, of showing appreciation for gifts, large and small, especially those freely given. I have a choice. I can feel and express gratitude or I can choose to be ungrateful. Living a life of gratitude means I notice the gifts I’ve been given, from flowers and sunsets, to real estate closings and a grandchild’s hug. Nothing is taken for granted and life itself is a gift. I can feel gratitude even for the challenges during the journey, seeing them as opportunities to grow and shift.

Johannes A. Gaertner said “To speak gratitude is courteous and pleasant, to enact gratitude is generous and noble, but to live gratitude is to touch Heaven.”

Day 1 I felt gratitude for my family, all of my family. I am blessed to have mother, stepdad, stepmom, sisters, brother, daughters and daughter-in-law, son and sons-in-laws, grandchildren, nieces and nephews all living within an hour and a half of Joplin. I get to spend time with them and be a witness to their lives.

Today I considered what I wanted to express gratitude for. There are so many things that I am grateful for. Without overthinking it I opened my heart and went with the first image that popped up.

For Day 2 I am grateful for the opportunities to travel this year.

The travels this year were so much more than planning a trip and then hopping on a plane. I have wanted to explore the world for a long time. Nine years ago, on Mike Dooley’s TUT website, I wrote out my desire and expressed it this way:

Rome, Italy

I gave my heart’s desire to the Divine…and let go of the outcome. It’s not that I sat back and did nothing. I dreamed. I looked through travel brochures. Five years ago, when my grandson expressed a desire to go to Italy after graduation, we dreamed together and released that shared goal to the Divine. Last January we met with a travel agent and the dream began to become a reality. Amazingly, the funds poured in as needed, to meet the expenses for the trip.

What a beautiful lesson for me in dreaming, trusting, letting go and receiving.

Taxis to Venice

Orvieto, Italy

A year ago, my sister Debbie asked me about going on a trip to Scotland and England. We decided to include Ireland as well, and our group grew to include our mom, sister Linda and Ashley, Debbie’s daughter. If I had wanted to play it safe, I would not have agreed to two major trips, three months apart. I am so grateful I said yes. And there they were, the three countries I wrote about visiting, with Ireland thrown in, all in one glorious summer.

Dublin, Ireland

Eilean Donan Castle, Highlands, Scotland

London, England

Again, the funds arrived for the UK trip, exactly on time. And for the second time this year I boarded a plane and followed my heart. There were other elements that came together, to express gratitude about, connected to these travels. Six family members were able to journey with me. My health improved dramatically, by way of Anthony William and a plant based diet, so that I could walk freely and enjoy these trips. My mother experienced improved health as well. Little and not so little details fell into place. Protection was given for all travelers.

And my wanderlust was truly born, set free. I have other places I hope to visit. More corners of the world to explore. The Divine knows the desires of my heart. I am grateful for that as well.

I recognize that this year of travels, these adventures, are representations of my life journey. The dreaming, the playing, the letting go and trusting, and the birthing of dreams into reality…my life is shaped by these components as well. And I am full of gratitude that traveling deepens my awareness of these connections between my wanderings around the globe and my journey through life.

Perhaps most of all, I don’t want regrets. I don’t want to be sorry that I balked at an opportunity to travel or hesitated when I could have grown. I am grateful that traveling enlarges my soul and exposes me to other people and other cultures and teaches me important truths about who I am.

Dr. Steve Maraboli sums it up well.

“Your ability to see beauty and opportunity is proportionate to the level at which you embrace gratitude.”

I am embracing gratitude.

First Thanksgiving

I have a pictorial post to share, of the first Thanksgiving. Not the one back in 1621, but the first one within my family this year. Because my son will work on Thanksgiving Day, and children will be with their other parents, Nate and Megan hosted an early celebration at their home today, when everyone could be present.

Members from Megan’s family and ours came together in a big, happy group to kick off this week that focuses on gratitude.

Lots of cooks in the kitchen…and one hopeful pug. Nate and Megan provided turkey and the fixings, and everyone else contributed side dishes, desserts, plastic ware and whatever else was needed. I brought plant food based options.

I love that Megan’s sign decor identifies what’s going on in several pics. There is a large KITCHEN sign in the photo above.

Adriel, Nate and Dayan. Our family has two Nates!

The very appropriate sign behind Nate says, Thank you for the food before us, the family and friends beside us, and the love between us.

Football crowd! Kansas City was playing.

The sign in this pic says it well. Eat. There was more food atop the adjacent counter.

Greg gave me a “What are you doing?” look just as I took the photo! He’s standing with child one and child two, also known as Elissa and Nate.

After our shared meal, it was outside into the sunshine, and slightly chilly air, for an annual tradition…the family kickball match.

Team One takes the field.

I caught a pic of the ball after it was kicked.

Team Two preparing to kick. Aubrey gets a bit of coaching from Megan.

Not all of us play…because someone needs to yell and cheer from the sidelines!

Although my family sometimes cringes or scatters, these photo opportunities are precious to me. All five of my grandkids were present. From the left, Joey, Aubrey, Jonathan, Oliver, and Dayan. I love these kids so much!

And the adult kids. I am grateful for each one, and I love and appreciate them. Back row…Josh, Elissa, Adriel. Front row…Megan, Nate, and Nate.

Family photo. What a beautiful group of people.

Big group family photo. What a wonderful blended family.

It was a fun day and it set the tone for the week. The love of family truly is one of life’s greatest blessings. When I list the things I am thankful for, family is always at the top.

Thursday will be Thanksgiving Two. It will be a more quiet day, with food and conversation and games. And it will be full of gratitude as well. May I be especially mindful this week, of all of my blessings, and pause each day to express my thanks.

Movie Review: Murder on the Orient Express

I am two for two today…two movies, in two days. This afternoon I met my daughter Elissa, son-in-law Josh, and grandson Dayan for lunch and a viewing of the newest remake of Murder on the Orient Express. I have been excited about seeing this star studded film since first seeing the trailer. This Agatha Christie mystery is one of Dayan’s favorite stories. How serendipitous that it released at the theater while he is home on Thanksgiving break.

Murder on the Orient Express stars Kenneth Branagh, Johnny Depp, Michelle Pfeiffer, Daisy Ridley, Judi Dench, Derek Jacobi, Josh Gad, Olivia Colman, Penelope Cruz, Marwan Kenzari, Sergei Polunin, Manuel Garcia-Ruflo, Lucy Boynton, Tom Bateman, Leslie Odom Jr., and Willem Dafoe. Kenneth Branagh also directed this film, based on the Agatha Christie novel by the same name. The crime drama carries a PG-13 rating, for violence and mature themes, and has a run time of 1 hour and 54 minutes.

Aboard the luxurious Orient Express, bound for France, a shocking murder takes place. Hercules Poirot (Branagh), self proclaimed as the greatest detective in the world, is called upon by the train owner Bouc (Bateman) to solve the crime. Still two days away from their destination, an avalanche in the mountains halts the train, delaying them further.

Inspector Poirot makes a shrewd observation…if there has been a murder on board, then there is also a murderer on board. And everyone is a suspect.

Gangster turned art dealer Edward Ratchett (Depp) lies in his cold sleeping quarters, dead from multiple stab wounds. Poirot begins the arduous task of interviewing each suspect and collecting clues.

The possibilities are many, and all have secrets to uncover. There is the governess, Mary Debenham (Ridley), who seems to be more than an acquaintance of Dr. Arbuthnot (Odom Jr.). There are the two men employed by the shady art dealer, his valet Edward (Jacobi) and secretary Hector McQueen (Gad).

The others include the Austrian professor, Gerhard Hardman (Defoe), Italian car salesman Beniamino Marquez (Garcia-Rulfo), American socialite and husband hunter, Mrs. Hubbard (Pfeiffer), elderly Princess Dragomiroff (Dench) and her assistant Hildegarde (Colman), a sad missionary named Pilar (Cruz), the train conductor Pierre Michel (Kenzari), and the young Count and Countess Andrenyi (Polunin and Boynton).

With so many suspects, Poirot finds his analytical mind and his deduction skills challenged as he puts together the pieces of this mystery. Meanwhile time is ticking away, the train is derailed, and a murderer hides among the travelers. Help is on the way, to right the train. Will Poirot solve the crime in time?

This was a fun who dun it to watch. I read the novel years ago, so I knew the general story, but it was still enjoyable to watch the great detective, whose keen observation of people and crime scenes rivals Sherlock Holmes. Kenneth Branagh made a fine Inspector Poirot, complete with the distinctive mustache.

The rest of the cast worked well in their roles. I always like seeing these big ensembles of well known performers together. And the scenery was gorgeous, the falling snow and rugged mountains adding to the chilling mystery within the train.

As one who is exploring the world more, watching the train chug to its destination and seeing the lush accommodations created a desire to travel to an exotic location by rail. The gypsy spirit within me stirred and answered the siren call to wander with a heartfelt yes.

I just hope there aren’t any mysteries to solve, should I travel by train. If so, may there be a clever detective aboard to sort it all out.

Movie Review: Loving Vincent

A cold kept me from seeing a one time showing of the independent film Loving Vincent Tuesday evening in the Joplin area. I was very disappointed, as I have long appreciated this amazing and often misunderstood artist. I checked to see what nearby cities might be showing this unique movie. Springfield, Missouri, a little more than an hour away, had a 3:30 showing today, at a arthouse theater in the historic downtown area. Feeling much better, and armed with natural elderberry and zinc cough drops, I had the privilege of watching this beautiful film this afternoon, in a very cool setting. I am grateful to Greg for encouraging me to go and for accompanying me on this adventure.

Loving Vincent, while not a live action movie, used actors to portray the characters and supply the voices. The filmed scenes provided the artists who created the movie with foundational material. Actors include Douglas Booth, Jerome Flynn, Robert Gulaczyk, Helen McCrory, Aidan Turner, Eleanor Tomlinson, Chris O’Dowd, Saoirse Ronan, and Cezary Lucaszewicz. This biographical animation was written and directed by Dorota Kobiela and Hugh Welchman. It carries a PG-13 rating, for mature themes, and has a run time of 1 hour and 34 minutes.

What makes Loving Vincent so unique is that it is the first story depicted entirely in oil painting animation. Over a six year span, more than 100 artists created the paintings, in Van Gogh’s artistic style, that became the 65,000 frames of the movie. Van Gogh’s landscapes and buildings come to life, and his portraits become the characters who are telling Vincent’s story.

A year after the death of Vincent Van Gogh (Gulaczyk), a young man named Armand (Booth) travels to the artist’s last hometown, at the request of his father (O’Dowd), who is a postman. He carries a letter that Vincent wrote to his now deceased brother, Theo (Lucaszewicz), in hopes of delivering it to a close friend of Vincent’s, Dr. Gachet (Flynn).

The doctor is away, allowing Armand time to explore Auvers-sur-Oise, and talk to the people who knew Vincent. He meets Adeline (Tomlinson), the honest barmaid who became Vincent’s friend, and the not so honest Louise (McCrory), housekeeper for Dr. Gachet. The Boatman (Turner) shares stories about Vincent and strong drink, while the doctor’s daughter Marguerite (Ronan) prefers to keep her stories to herself.

As Armand listens to the villagers’ tales, his curiosity turns to a realization that Vincent was more than a crazy or sick man. He recognizes the artist’s genius and his complexities. By the time he meets Dr. Gachet, Armand questions whether Vincent’s death was a suicide, or an accident, or even murder.

What an extraordinary film about a creative and enigmatic man. Visually stunning, Loving Vincent is a work of art, literally, and also a work of the heart. It was thrilling to see familiar Van Gogh paintings come to life through animation.

As the story unfolded, the present was depicted in color while Vincent’s backstory was presented in black and white images. I learned about Vincent’s unhappy childhood. And I felt his loneliness as an adult as he struggled first to belong somewhere and second to be appreciated for his art.

A prolific artist, Vincent created more than 800 painting in eight years. Although he gave away many paintings, and sent most of his completed pieces to his brother, he only sold one painting in his lifetime. He died unrecognized as an artist, not knowing the value of work.

And that has always broken my heart. I love the colors and energy in Vincent’s paintings. His words inspire me. For he was not only a prolific painter, he wrote hundreds of letters to Theo, detailing his life and his thoughts and his torments.

I did not realize, until I saw this movie, that there were suspicions around Vincent’s death. There is no proving any of them, then or now. But is comforts me, thinking that perhaps this talented, earthy and sometimes unsettled man didn’t take his own life.

The Moxie Cinema, in downtown Springfield, was the perfect venue for this film. Known as an arthouse theater, The Moxie has two intimate theater rooms, occupancy 88 people each, that feel more like home theater rooms. The seats are ultra comfortable, and the ticket prices and concessions are very reasonably priced. They offer healthy snack options, such as bottled water and almonds, or you can even sip on a glass of wine during the movie.

The Moxie showcases independent, artsy, classical and documentary films. I am thrilled to discover them and appreciate what they have to offer. I am grateful as well that locally, Route 66 Theater in Webb City is bringing in more independent films. Loving Vincent played there Tuesday evening. I look forward to seeing what they present next.

Greg and I arrived an hour early. We were joined later by more movie goers, of all ages.

Loving Vincent…worth the drive and the time invested. Because I do love this artist, and his authentic heart and work. I had tears in my eyes as the film concluded, with one of my favorite Vincent quotes:

“I want to touch people with my art. I want them to say, ‘he feels deeply’, ‘he feels tenderly’.

You have, Vincent. I say, you did feel deeply and tenderly and you saw the world in fresh ways. I hope, oh I hope, that you know how much you have touched people with your art and your life. And you fit in, you belong and have a place, in the hearts of so many who appreciate your contributions to the world.

We are…I am…loving Vincent.

Bedside Reading

Today I felt drawn to spend time reading. Although getting lost in a good book is one of my favorite things to do, I don’t indulge in this past time as much as I used to. Nevertheless, I keep a stack of books next to my bed, and typically read in several concurrently. You can tell a lot about people, by peeking at the books on their bookshelves or bedside tables. What interests them? What troubles them? Where is curiosity leading?

I actually have 15 books on my bedside table at the moment, fiction and nonfiction, covering a variety of topics. This evening I read in five of those, jotting down a quote from each book, that grabbed my attention.

A Mind at Home with Itself by Byron Katie

This is the fourth book that I’ve read by Katie. She has done much to free me from stressing over reality. When I can clearly see and accept what is, without creating stories around it that are not true, fear and worry, anger and frustration fall away.

“But the mind can never be controlled; it can only be questioned, loved and met with understanding.”

By questioning a troubling thought with the words…is that true? and answering honestly, I can prevent my mind from getting caught in a loop of endless angst and turmoil. What a gift Byron Katie offers.

Ageless Soul by Thomas Moore

This new release by the author of The Re-Enchantment of Every Day Life, comes at a good time in my life.

“We fear growing old when from a more subtle point of view, we were old from the very beginning. We’re just discovering our age or putting it into practice. In this way of picturing it, aging is a fulfillment of who we are, not a wearing out.”

I am appreciating Thomas’ insights. He suggests aging is more about growing into the person we are rather than becoming less than ourselves because the body ages.

Thyroid Healing by Anthony William

I have shared briefly about this book already. As I read, I am more and more convinced that we are all becoming sicker and sicker. Sadly, the disorders and diseases that are plaguing us are showing up earlier, in youth and children. There is hope. We can heal.

“Stage Four Epstein Barr Virus is not a life sentence. When you learn the true cause of what’s keeping you ill, and when you learn to use the tools contained in this book about how to resurrect your health, you hold the power to rebuild your immune system and regain control. It is not solely about getting back your liver or your reproductive system or your thyroid or your nervous system…it’s about getting back your life.”

I love that. It’s about regaining control of your health and getting back your life. Everyone would benefit from reading this book and putting Anthony’s protocols into practice.

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by J.K. Rowling

I need something magical to read, amid all the life changing books! I’ve seen the Harry Potter movies many times. I am enjoying reading through the series of books for the first time. And there are life lessons to be learned from the boy wizard and his friends and teachers.

It matters not what someone is born, but what they grow to be.” Dumbledore

A great reminder that we grow into the person we are meant to be. Our life is a journey of becoming.

Braving the Wilderness by Brené Brown

I confess this is the first Brené book I’ve read, although I am familiar with her teachings. It was the subtitle that drew me to this new release: The Quest for True Belonging and the Courage to Stand Alone.

Brené: I’m doing that thing I do when I’m afraid. I’m floating above my life, watching it and studying it, rather than living it.

Murdoch: I know. But you need to find a way to stop and bring yourself back here. This is a big deal. I don’t want you to miss it. Don’t study this moment. Be in it.

The conversation above was between Brené and her manager, a Scotsman, on the eve before her first appearance on Oprah. I can so identify with Brené’s words about floating above her life. I learned to deal with fear by doing the same, taking myself out of the moment.

Brené realized the next morning that she needed to write herself a permission slip, as she would for a child going on a school trip, giving herself permission to have fun. That was the first of hundreds of permission slips she would write for herself. I like that idea and I will be playing with the concept.

I enjoyed my time of reading tonight. And although the books are very different, topic wise, there was a flow to my reading and a thread that ran through each one, connecting them and connecting to me. I vowed to do this more often, once a week at least, read a chapter in several books or several chapters in one book, with a steaming mug of hot tea in hand.

I’d love to know…what books are on your bedside table, or next to your favorite chair?

Vintage Ironing Board Makeover

When we emptied Greg’s parents’ house, after his father passed away, one of the items I carted home was a vintage ironing board. I could tell, without removing the cover, that the board was made of wood. I hated to throw the old ironing board away. I figured eventually I’d find a new use for it. That ironing board has been tucked away for more than two years. This week, it suddenly popped back into my awareness. Today, I repurposed it.

This is how inspiration works in my life. The ironing board has been in my house for almost 2 1/2 years. I don’t see it most days or think about it. Two days ago, without looking at it, the board suddenly came to mind. I’ve been wanting to do a creative project. Apparently, it was time to do something with this vintage piece.

As I thought about the ironing board, I got a visual “download”, images of how I could transform the board into a table, where to put it and even what items to place on and near it. This is the kind of information that I most often receive when a project, literally, comes to mind. My work, then, is to create in reality the idea I’ve been given.

Here is the fun process of making over the ironing board.

This is what I started with. I knew I wanted to set up the ironing board table in my creative studio.

I had to remove some modifications that Greg’s dad made years ago, to protect the floors or to prevent slipping. On the foot of the longest leg of the ironing board there were scraps of carpet secured with black electrical tape and wire!

I did find a wooden top after I removed the cover and an old foam pad, which had crumbled into dust. I was surprised to discover a huge paper label attached to the surface of the board. It is brittle with age and I considered removing it. I was able to look up the ironing board, though, thanks to the label. This model of ironing board was produced in the early 1940s. Greg speculated that his parents, who were married in 1941, received this practical necessity as a wedding gift. I left the label attached.

At one end of my repurposed table I placed a lamp, and a couple of rustic pieces. The minnow bucket turned candle holder normally lights my garden. It is the first item that I saw on the ironing board when I visualized this project. The concrete bird holds a tea light, and also moved indoors from the garden. I frequently use stacks of books to create height.

The framed quote by Elsie de Wolfe, “I’m going to make everything around me beautiful…that will be my life”, moved from a vignette in my bedroom to my creative studio.

At the other end of the ironing board table is a collection of books, with an old iron and a jar candle as bookends. I added a metal bowl with colorful fabric balls.

Beneath the table I’ve used a vintage metal olive bucket to hold an adorable scruffy looking tree, pulled out of my Christmas collection. Another stack of books is topped by my journee sign and another metal bucket with a tea light tucked inside.

And this is what the table looked like, after the repurposing process was completed.

I am quite pleased with the finished results! I enjoy using vintage pieces in fresh ways. I’d much rather use them and see them daily, than have these keepsakes packed away in a closet. The old ironing board reminds me of Greg’s mom and dad, who both shared in the chore of pressing clothes and linens.

I don’t need another ironing board. I rarely use the one I have. However, I can always use another table, another surface to create upon. I am very happy with this one.

Series Review: Stranger Things

I had to roll to Plan C today. I am a bit sad that I missed a one time showing of the film, Loving Vincent, about painter Vincent Van Gogh. I figured movie goers would not appreciate my coughing outbursts. I hope I can catch the movie later on Amazon Prime or Netflix. Plan B was a creative project, that I simply lacked the energy for today.

The truth is, I spent most of the day in bed, nursing myself through a nasty cold. That is what my body needed most today, rest. I’ve sipped on an antioxidant rich smoothie, thyme tea, ginger water, and hot water with a drop each of Young Living Thieves essential oil and lemon essential oil.

Plan C matched my day of self care. I tuned in to the extremely popular Netflix series Stranger Things. I’m a little late to the Stranger Things party. Season 2 released last month. The great thing about Netflix is, one can easily catch up on a show by watching the earlier seasons. I am now two thirds of the way through season 1.

Stranger Things stars Millie Bobby Brown, Finn Wolfhard, Winona Ryder, David Harbour, Gaten Matarazzo, Caleb McLaughlin, Natalie Dyer, Charlie Heaton, Matthew Modine, and Noah Schnapp. This fantasy drama is written and director by brothers Matt and Ross Duffer. The episodes have a run time of 55 minutes each. This Netflix original series premiered in 2016.

Nothing much ever happens in the small town of Hawkins, Indiana, until the night of November 16, 1983. That evening young Will Byers (Schnapp) disappears, after a day of playing Dungeons & Dragons with his best friends, Mike Wheeler (Wolfhard), Lucas Sinclair (McLaughlin) and Dustin Henderson (Matarazzo).

Sheriff Jim Hopper (Harbour) feels he must be under a curse, when a friend dies seemingly by a self inflicted gunshot shortly after the disappearance. There hasn’t been a missing person reported in Hawkins since 1921 and 1961 was the last suicide. As the sheriff begins the search for Will, the whole town starts to experience strange occurrences.

More people disappear. Will’s mother Joyce (Ryder) is sure her son is alive and in horrible danger. She is convinced Will is communicating with her via electrical lights and bizarre phone calls. At first everyone thinks Joyce is crazy. But gradually her elder son Jonathan (Heaton) begins to believe her. He recruits Mike’s older sister Nancy (Dyer) to track down a menacing faceless monster that seems to be behind the disappearances.

The trail Sheriff Hopper is following leads to a well guarded facility, Hawkins National Laboratory, run by Dr. Brenner (Modine). With a history of experimental and questionable practices, Hopper feels there is a connection between the lab and the chaos engulfing the town.

And only the three remaining friends know about the existence of the most mysterious person in Hawkins. She appeared the night Will disappeared. With closely cropped hair and clad in a hospital gown, the girl goes by the name Eleven. She has that number tattooed on her inner arm. Mike sneaks her into his family’s home, where she takes up residence in the basement. Eleven rarely speaks, but she has amazing psychokinetic abilities. The boys consider her gifts to be superpowers. She promises to help them find Will.

There is much going on in Hawkins, in the seen world and the unseen. Eleven seems to hold the key to the door between worlds. What will happen if that door is opened?

I have heard nothing but enthusiastic words about Stranger Things. I’ve deliberately not read detailed reviews about this series, so I could watch without a preconceived idea about the story.

I love this show!

Stranger Things is a campy cross between X Files and the 1986 movie Stand By Me. That’s deliberate. The creators wrote Stranger Things as a tribute to sci-fi, fantasy and horror movies and series of the 1980s. Several of the themes in this series were inspired by Steven Spielberg, Stephen King and John Carpenter. I enjoy the genres of fantasy and sci-fi, and a good horror flick if the focus is on the story and not blood and gore, so I found much to appreciate about Stranger Things.

The cast is phenomenal, especially the youth. Eleven’s portrayal by Millie is perfectly delivered. And my heart was pierced by Winona’s Joyce, the mom who refused to give up on her missing son. When evidence seemed to prove he was dead, Joyce stubbornly trusted her instincts that told her Will was alive. Her actions and beliefs appeared crazy to everyone else, and yet she was actually following the guidance she was being given.

I have three more episodes to watch in season 1, and then I am ready for season 2, which released in its entirety. This is easily a binge worthy show. I couldn’t stop after each episode, thinking Just one more…

I don’t know how this first season plays out. I haven’t looked ahead to season 2 at all. I’m watching the story of Stranger Things unfold one episode at a time. I am already hoping there will be a season 3.

Healing Ginger Water

I’ve caught a cold…a full on, sneezing, fever, aching, coughing, lots of congestion cold. It’s the first one I’ve had since going plant based. Although I was disappointed when I realized I was getting sick, it is not the end of the world. Rather than whining about it, I’ve switched into self care mode…again. My knee has healed nicely under my own ministrations. My clogged head and chest will heal too.

I’m taking cold meds as I need to. However, I love the quote by Hippocrates, “Let food be thy medicine…” I’ve spent time in Life Changing Foods by Anthony William, looking up which foods help with those three C’s…cold, cough and congestion.

Here’s my list of helpful, healing foods:

Common Cold

Ginger, garlic, grapes. NO dairy products.

Cough

Cherries, dates, grapes, lemons & limes, radishes, oregano & thyme, garlic, ginger, turmeric, rose hips NO wheat

Congestion

Apricots, grapes, lemon & limes, cruciferous veggies, radishes, oregano & thyme, cilantro, garlic, ginger, turmeric, dandelion NO dairy, corn or wheat

These foods will be the mainstay of my diet the next few days. I already avoid the NO foods. They all tend to increase mucus production and I don’t need that, ever.

Today I’ve been preparing pots of thyme tea, and tomorrow I’ll try rose hip tea and then oregano. Cilantro goes into my morning smoothie and I drink a dairy free turmeric milk before bed.

The foods that are on all three lists are garlic, grapes and ginger. I have organic grapes that have been very good for snacking on or tossing into a smoothie. I cook with garlic. I’ll have to think creatively to include more garlic in my meals. Ginger. I just saw a simple recipe for Ginger Water, in Anthony’s new book, Thyroid Healing. This afternoon, I made up a pitcher of this healing drink, to sip on throughout the evening.

Ginger Water Makes 2 servings

• 1 to 2 inches fresh ginger

• 2 cups of water

• 1/2 lemon

• 2 teaspoons raw honey

Grate ginger into 2 cups of water and add juice of 1/2 lemon. Allow to steep for at least 15 minutes. Strain water and add honey and more lemon, if desired. Ginger can also be chopped and squeezed in a garlic press, rather than grated.

I doubled this recipe, mixing the water, ginger and lemon in a small glass pitcher. I added a teaspoon of raw honey to my glass of ginger water before drinking.

This is such a refreshing drink. I’ve come to appreciate the zingy taste of ginger and frequently add it to my juices. The ginger water reminds me a bit of a cold ginger ale, without the carbonation and sugar. I love it and found it difficult to slowly sip. I wanted to chug the drink down. My head immediately cleared up and I could breathe easier.

Ginger is the ultimate antispasmodic, relaxing tension in the body and calming an upset stomach. Ginger helps with muscle spasms and cramps throughout the body, digestive disorders, and…congestion, cough, and sinus pain. It also combats the Epstein Barr virus and a host of other conditions.

I am already on my second glass of ginger water. This is good stuff. And best of all, it is good for me. I am going to kick this cold to the curb.