Easy Vegan Chili

Autumn is still a few days away, but tonight I tried a simple recipe for vegan chili. It doesn’t have to be cold outside for me to enjoy soup. I eat it year around. I’ve wanted to sample my first vegan chili for days now. A full schedule has kept me from cooking. Today’s schedule was just as full, but I was more determined. I started the chili at about 10:30 tonight. 

Easy Vegan Chili

This was indeed a simple recipe, and fun to put together. The aroma was wonderful as I sautéed vegetables and added the spices. I chose to use navy, kidney, pinto and lima beans, however the combination could be changed easily for variety. 

My soup is simmering away as I type the blog post, filling the house with spicy goodness. I’ll add the beans, snap the last photo and call it a night soon. 

I can’t wait to have a bowl of vegan chili, topped with avocado, for dinner tomorrow night!

Tulsa OK Scotfest 2016

The Scottish festival, held this weekend in Tulsa, OK, just completed its 37th year. I have wanted to attend for a very long time, however September is a busy month in my family and in my business. Even during my Year of Firsts in 2014 I was unable to go, much as I wanted to. This year I set the firm intention that this time, I was going to attend this event. 

And I did! Accompanied by my sister Debbie and my niece Ashley, today the three of us experienced our first Scottish festival, immersing ourselves deeply in our heritage. It was a fun day, captured in photos and a couple of short videos. 

Although the weather was predicted to be very Scottish-like, the storms stayed to the south and we had bright blue skies and very warm temps. We planned to attend, rain or sunshine. The mild weather was a gift. 

This was exactly what we expected to see…men in kilts. The Highland Games were going on. There was a field full of kilted athletes, throwing a variety of heavy objects. 

And there were women in kilts as well, participating in the games. They were every bit as competitive as their male counterparts. I read tonight that the women’s team won the Highland Games! 

We enjoyed watching the Caber Toss, a traditional Scottish competition. The caber is a tree that has been cut and trimmed down so that one end is slightly wider than the other. It can vary in length from 16 to 22 feet and weigh between 100 and 180 pounds. The smaller end is rounded off so it will be easy to cup in the thrower’s hands. The caber is stood up for the thrower with the large end up. The thrower hoists the caber up and cups the small end in his hands. He takes a short run with the caber and then stops and tosses it so that the large end hits the ground and the small end flips over, away from the thrower. The caber is scored for accuracy as it lands. A judge behind the thrower calls how close to the 12:00 position the small end of the caber lands, 12:00 being a perfect toss.

My happy Scot face! 

We visited the clan tents, set up near the game field. Clan Maitland wasn’t represented, however, we were invited to host a Maitland/Lauderdale clan tent next year. That would be fun! 

Vendor tents offered a wide assortment of Scottish wares: tartan sashes, kilts and scarves, Celtic jewelry, T-shirts, books, food, drink, cigars, toys, tea sets and so much more. We browsed and made tough decisions as we selected merchandise. I came home with a Scotfest T-shirt and Scottish spices to cook with. 

Ashley and Debbie learning about spices. 

Authentic Scottish food was offered on site. I selected the healthiest item on the menu, Shepherd’s Pie, with a potato topping over a mix of vegetables and a small amount of ground beef. I ate meat for the first time in almost two months, and while the meal tasted great, I am waiting to see if I experience any negative effects on my health or body. I don’t intend to add meat back into my diet. I had a wonderful side dish of cooked cabbage. And I passed the shortbread cookie, included with lunch, on to my sister. 

As we dined in the large music tent, we were entertained by The Tartan Terrors, a Scottish rock band. They were awesome! Their ensemble included a piper and an Irish river dancer. There were other tents set up, featuring folk music and pipes and drums. The sound of bagpipes is a siren call to the Scottish. Everytime I heard a bagpipe, my head swiveled to find the piper. Watch The Tartan Terrors HERE and HERE

Before we left, we watched a few minutes of the rugby match that was underway. I don’t pretend to know all the rules for this fast paced game but there was a lot of activity on the field! This is a fairly recent addition to Scotfest. Teams from across the US competed. 

We had an incredibly fun day. It was interesting to people-watch and to chat with other clan members. There was an abundance of kilts and Scottish accents. The crowd was friendly and polite, the food delicious and the music turned my heart toward my beloved Scotland. 

Ashley, Debbie and I intend to return next year, with other family members in tow. We’d love to take our grandchildren to this event…they had a large children’s play area…and introduce them to the Scottish culture and teach them about their Scottish roots. 

And perhaps introduce them as well to traditional Scottish clothing. Truly, is there anything cuter than a child wearing a kilt? 

Happy Birthday Adriel

Thirty two years ago today, my youngest child was born, a beautiful baby girl who captured my heart immediately. As the nurse tucked her into my waiting arms, she studied my face intently with wide open, solemn eyes, as if putting a face with the voice she recognized. Satisfied, she settled into my arms and deeply into my love, content to study the room. I’ve read that babies can’t see well immediately after birth. But Adriel Lauren Moore could, and she seemed curious about her world. 

She’s been curious ever since, always learning, exploring and discovering. 

I looked up Adriel’s name:

“Adriel, you are powerful and have all that you need to journey well through life. You are intelligent and require multiple outlets for your high energies. You are not a builder but a planner, and you are capable of directing others to carry out your plans. You are bold, independent, inquisitive and interested in many subjects. You know what you want and why you want it.

Dependable, very down-to-earth and well grounded, you desire meaningful work, a career that you can take pride in and that you can offer your best to. You appreciate having a sanctuary, a secure environment that supports you, both at home and at work. You can be very dedicated to achieving goals and gaining objectives. You are detailed and well-organized, possessing great organizational skills. At times you may appear stubborn and overly critical to others, but your practical, intuitive and creative approach to life makes you a valued member of your community.” 

True words about my daughter! She is intelligent, bold and inquisitive. She does have all that she requires to journey well, including a supportive family, faithful friends and a sweet, fun man to walk alongside her. And when she has an idea that resonates with her, there is no stopping this powerhouse from reaching her goal. No matter how long it takes or what challenges pop up, Adriel keeps going. 

She is one of the most dependable and down to earth people that I know. Adriel has always been the connector in our family. Information travels to each of us through her and holiday gatherings take place at her house. She can take a no nonsense approach with others, when required to, and she cares for others, human and animal kind, with compassion and warmth. 

It’s been a busy year for this active girl. She and her fiancé Nate bought a house. They’ve traveled and explored the outdoors and cared for their fur babies. And they said good bye to two of them. Adriel’s older dog was truly a special needs dog, adopted from a shelter. Mylee was extremely lovable, and extremely challenging, having many health and emotional issues. Most people would have given up on her. Adriel gave her a forever home, loving her anyway…and released her humanely when advanced age made life impossible for Mylee. 

Adriel has completed her first full year as a RN. Listening to her stories, I marvel at what my daughter does. She cares for others with competence , efficiency and kindness. Her job isn’t always pleasant, but it offers her many opportunities to rise above, to deepen compassion in the presence of those who suffer, to see both the best and the worst in people and continue to do her best. 

Recently she accepted a new position in the nursing field that allows her to be off work evenings, weekends and holidays. This is important to Adriel. It means she gets to spend more time with her sweetheart Nate. Next month, they will marry. I will be there to celebrate this step in their continuing adventure together. 

Journey on, beautiful girl, and journey well. Let your curiosity continue to lead you, and may compassion, truth and grace ever be your companions. I am grateful to be your mom. 
Happiest of birthdays, Adriel. I love you! 

Marching in the Rain

Tonight was Friday night football, and for the Carl Junction Bulldogs, it was homecoming. It has poured rain all day, cancelling the town’s homecoming parade. But the weather didn’t delay the game or dampen the enthusiasm of the fans. We just accepted that it was raining. 

Greg and I met our daughter Elissa and son-in-law Josh at the stadium. I had three folding seats to protect us from the wet bleachers. Josh graciously stood, gallantly holding an umbrella over his sweet wife. 

The band stayed dry inside the school until two minutes before halftime. But they weren’t going to let a little rain stop them from performing. 

The Marching Bulldogs presented an excellent halftime show, playing a patriotic medley in four parts. I admire this hardworking group. I know from conversations with my grandson Dayan that the band members put in many hours of practice, meeting early before school. 

The band will soon be marching in fall and holiday parades and competing in area competitions. These halftime performances allow the band to hone their skills while entertaining the crowds. 

I was so proud of Dayan and the Marching Bulldogs. Their dedication is showing. And their commitment as well. It requires more effort and concentration to play well in cool, rainy weather. In spite of droplets pelting their faces and challenging conditions that can affect the musical instruments, the band gave a powerful performance that drew whoops and applause. 

I am very aware that Dayan only has a few more halftime performances left as a Marching Bulldog. His senior year is well under way. I will be there for all his performances, throughout the year, rain or shine. Go Bulldogs! Go Dayan!

            Rain can’t dampen my enthusiasm either. 

Catch the Marching Bulldogs’ performance HERE 

Lavender Tea

After traveling today to be with family, and a long afternoon spent awaiting good news, which we joyfully received, it was good to get home and consider which herbal tea to sip on this evening. I have been sampling different teas, brewed from herbs grown in my garden. I had one herb left to try. I brewed a cup of lavender tea. 

I only have a few blooms left on the lavender plants in the garden, so I opted to use dried flowers that I saved from last fall. There is still beauty in this preserved lavender, and a rich scent. I used a couple of stems with flowers attached and a tablespoon of dried petals to create my tea. 

As the tea steeped, I looked up the health benefits of lavender tea. I’ve used this aromatic herb for years in homemade skin products and in my own potpourri, plus I keep a bottle of lavender oil on hand. This was my first time to use the herb in a tea. 

Health benefits include:

  • Relieves headaches, including migraines
  • Aids relaxtion & helps induce sleep
  • Reduces anxiety & depression
  • Aids digestion
  • Anti-inflammatory 
  • Diuretic
  • Antiseptic
  • Anti-viral
  • Improves heart health
  • Lowers blood pressure
  • Reduces symptoms from asthma, colds, flu & fever
  • Alleviates dizziness

I appreciate the versatility of this easy to grow, fragrant plant. I have several varieties thriving in my garden and I enjoy brushing against the herb and catching a whiff of the distinctive scent. 

I let the herb steep in very hot water for about 12 minutes. The tea was a light golden brown in color. And the aroma was amazing as I sipped the delicately flavored tea. What a deliciously satisfying drink to finish out my day. 

I have no more herbs growing in my garden to try. I’ve enjoyed using each plant to create a flavorful, healthy tea. I’ll experiment now with different combinations, like mint/Rosemary and lemon balm/lavendar or sage/bee balm. The possibilities…and benefits…are endless!


Seeing Myself Clearly

I love how simple activities can suddenly arrest my attention and bring clarity to my journey. A song on the radio, a billboard along the highway, pulling weeds in the garden, all hold potential lessons for my soul, if I have the awareness to see. 

This morning, after a deliciously hot shower, I stepped onto the thick bathroom rug, and with hair and body wrapped in towels, caught sight of my reflection in the full length mirror. 

My reflection looked like this. I only know it was me, because I was there!

I picked up a hand towel, to wipe away the condensation, and then paused. Something important was drawing my attention inward. 

Since reading Love Warrior, by Glennon Doyle Melton, I have been thinking much about her words. The shower is a great place for me to ponder deeply. I have accepted the invitation from the Divine to own my story, to know myself honestly and completely, and to use words to share my inner thoughts, rather than remain silent. I want to see myself more clearly than I ever have before. 

I sensed a learning moment, as I peered at my hazy reflection in the steamed over mirror. I thought of the scripture that tells of seeing in a mirror dimly, and then face to face, of knowing in part and then knowing and being known fully. I realized that although Paul’s words are about a deeper spiritual truth, they also apply to my current journey of seeing and knowing myself more clearly. 

Without wiping away the condensation, I quickly fetched my iPhone, to document the truths that were stirring. 

As the room cooled and the moisture evaporated from the mirror, my image became clearer and clearer. There was still distortion at first, that hid my true self. This has been so evident in my life. I used to hide who I was. Like everyone else, I learned as a child what to do, or not do, what to say, or not say, to be most acceptable to others. I strove to please everyone and avoid confrontation. After years of hiding behind the carefully placed masks I wore, I forgot who I really was. I forgot what I really looked like, free of the distortion that being a people pleaser created. 

My journey the past six years has been about wiping away the last of that cloudiness that keeps me from not only seeing myself clearly but obscures the self that I offer to others. I have been guided, gently and surely, to the experiences, people and books that can best assist me in gaining clarity. 

Bit by bit, my honest and authentic self has been revealed, much as my image grew sharper in the mirror this morning as all distortion faded away. Who I am is coming into focus, and I am grateful for the journey, and for the simple yet thought provoking experience today. 

At last I could look into the mirror and whisper, Oh…there you are. I’ve been looking for you. I SEE you. Soon I will see and know my soulful self as clearly. 

Book Review: Love Warrior

I was recently introduced to the writing of  blogger and author, Glennon Doyle Melton, by way of a Facebook post on Elizabeth Gilbert’s page. After reading through several of her blog posts at momastery.com I was intrigued enough to order her first book, Carry on Warrior. I loved it! Funny and yet starkly honest and authentic, Glennon’s book taught me much about compassion, acceptance and transparency.

Getting to know Glennon at this time was fortuitous, because as I finished her first book, a second one, Love Warrior, was about to be released. I received my copy last Thursday, two days after its release, and read it over the weekend.

Love Warrior is a memoir, written three years after her earlier work. As chronicled in Carry on Warrior, Glennon is a recovering alcoholic and bulimic, whose life changed when she found out she was pregnant. Considering her situation an invitation into a different life, Glennon sought healing from her addictions, married her sweetheart, Craig, and devoted herself to caring for their three children.

Life was hard, but Glennon learned she could do hard things. She found a way to express herself, through writing, and discovered her honest, humorous portrayal of life as a wife and mom created connection with other women who understood and shared her perspective.

Just as it seemed Glennon had life figured out, with a happy, growing family, an adoring spouse and a succesful writing career, her husband revealed that he had been unfaithful throughout their marriage. Love Warrior is Glennon’s story of her soulful journey, through pain and rage and confusion, as her beautiful life fell apart.

What she learned was that pain offers an invitation to grow and learn and go deep within, so that transformation can take place. This book is so much more than a story about one marriage, one couple, one family. It is a roadmap to soul healing, to living a fully free and authentic life, brimming with love.

This is a powerful book. While Glennon shares glimpses of humor in its pages, the focus is on transformation through the fire of pain. She writes boldly about topics such as pornography, sex, infidelity, addiction and shame. And with equal honestly, she shares that we are taught, from childhood, to survive in a messy, broken world by learning to hide who we really are. We don’t offer our real selves. We send out representatives of ourselves with the hope of finding a semblance of love, so we won’t feel the “hot loneliness” so profoundly.

I took Glennon’s words deeply into my heart, where they have ignited a fire within. I read through the book quickly, because I couldn’t put it down. I want to read through Love Warrior again, slowly, pondering as I read.

I was drawn to Glennon and her books for a specific purpose. Five years ago I faced my fears, staring them down, staying present with them, until they revealed to me the gifts that lay behind them. An amazing spiritual awakening came as I integrated who I sought to be with the self I tried to hide.

This year, desiring to heal my physical body and live a pain free life, I was drawn to Anthony William and his book, Medical Medium. This journey is ongoing, and not only am I healing, I have settled into my body, becoming very present with myself and aware of my nutritional needs.

I realized today that I have tolerated physical pain much more willingly than I have emotional pain. I don’t like pain that is felt as grief, shame, weakness or crises, in myself or in others. I shove it away, refusing to feel it or acknowledge it. I recognize that I am being invited, by way of Glennon’s words, to sit with pain, learn from it, and be made free, in ways I have not experienced yet.

It is crucial to me that I not back away from this Divine invitation to grow. I want to offer my truest, healthiest self to the world. I want to tell the story of my inner life, with my outer voice. I want to be fully known and know others. Only then can I deeply love and accept love in return.

During this year of surrender, I have been brought here, to this place now, to learn from Glennon Doyle Melton. I have been invited to expand my awareness, to receive the gifts pain offers, to feel the hurt and not run from it, to love with a whole and healthy heart.

Yes. Yes, I accept the invitation. I am becoming…a Love Warrior.

Movie Review: Salmon Fishing in the Yemen

I saw the preview for this movie five years ago, and I was intrigued. Some movie trailers spark interest while others stir my heart. This one fell into the latter category. Being a small British film, however, it never played on the big screen in Joplin, and I forgot about the movie. 

Until today. 

Checking possibilities for a movie night, this quirky film popped up as available on Amazon Prime. That stirring around my heart reminded me that I was drawn toward this movie previously. I knew I had found tonight’s selection…or more accurately, it had found me again. 

Salmon Fishing in the Yemen stars Ewan McGregor, Emily Blunt, Kristin Scott Thomas, Amr Waked and Tom Mison. Directed by Lasse Hallström, this comedy adventure is based on the novel by the same name, written by Paul Torday. The film is rated PG-13, for brief language and sexuality, and has a run time of 1 hour and 47 minutes. 

Dr Alfred Jones (McGregor), a Scottish fisheries expert, is presented with the most unlikely of projects, the introduction of salmon into Yemen rivers, for fishing. Wealthy sheikh Muhammed bin Zaidi bani Tihama (Waked), the royal head of Yemen, desires to bring salmon to his country, and he has the resources to make it happen. 

The sheikh’s representative, Harriet Chetwode-Talbot (Blunt), approaches Dr Jones as an associate of the British investment company Fitzharris & Price. In spite of the impossibility of success, Fred reluctantly agrees to head up the project after meeting the sheikh and fishing with him in Scotland. The sheikh is a man of faith. He believes. 

With his salary doubled, and almost unlimited resources at his disposal, Fred brings together a team of specialists to build a dam, check the water in Yemen, and find a way to fly in 10,000 British salmon. As each goal is met, with Harriet’s help, he begins to believe this outlandish idea just might work. Regardless of the outcome, Fred feels more engaged and more alive, than he has felt in years. 

Harriet considers the project, and Fred, her saviors. Her boyfriend of three weeks, Captain Robert Mayers (Mison) is missing in action somewhere in the Middle East. As the project nears completion, tension rises in Yemen, as some feel the sheikh is westernizing their country. And tough, no nonsense Patricia Maxwell (Thomas), communications director for the Prime Minister, shows up with a surprise that she hopes to manipulate into positive press stories. 

Will faith and ingenuity be enough to bring salmon fishing to the Yemen? 

I thoroughly enjoyed this movie. I’m a big fan of Scottish actor Ewan McGregor, and I loved listening to him speak with his native accent. And I deeply appreciated the scenes with beautiful Scotland as the backdrop. Amr Waked captured my interest as the sheikh, with his out of the box ideas and the belief to carry them out. Emily Blunt and Kristin Scott Thomas gave notable performances as well. 

In spite of the movie title, and the project that was the focus of the characters, this was not just a movie about fishing for salmon. This was a movie about stepping out of comfort zones, dreaming big, and having faith no matter what other people thought. And it was about relationships…romantic ones and friendships and that most important kinship with self. 

Salmon Fishing in the Yemen was about beliefs, and bringing cultures together by connecting people first. For the avid fly fisherman, there was enough fishing to create the desire to grab a pole and wade out into a river. I don’t want to cast a fly out into still waters, but watching this movie called to me nonetheless, and brought joy and a sense of seeing the bigger picture in life. I’m grateful this film found me today. 


I am almost two months into a healing journey that has shifted me to a plant based diet. I’ve eliminated sugar, meat, eggs, soy, gluten and dairy products and focus instead on fresh fruits and vegetables, raw and cooked, brown rice, cashews and legumes. 

One question that I’m frequently asked is if I crave anything. The answer has been no, until today. I wasn’t surprised that a craving arose. What surprised me was what I craved. 

I looked up the word crave. It means to “to feel a powerful desire for something”. The word originated from the Danish word kraeve and eventually morphed into the Old English word crafian, with the meaning to demand, to claim as a right. 

I am familiar with cravings. And just as familiar with giving into them. In the past, I have suddenly wanted a frozen custard, from Andy’s. I often rewarded myself for some good deed, such as cleaning the whole house, or scratching an unpleasant item off of my to-do list. But most of the time, I was sideswiped by a longing for some treat that wasn’t good for me. Cravings only seem to intensify, when I attempt to ignore them. I never held out for long. 

Today’s craving snuck up on me while I was hosting an open house, and thinking about a much needed trip to the grocery store, planned for afterward. It was the first powerful desire for a food that I’ve had in two months. 

What made my mouth water, what appealed strongly to my appetite, was the thought of consuming fresh fruits and vegetables. Seriously. I was shocked at how intensely I craved a crisp, juicy apple and a bowl of freshly stir fried veggies. Shocked because although I’ve been eating very healthy, nutrient rich foods, and enjoying them, I would have expected my craving to be for a sugary treat. 

I am thrilled that my body demanded, as its right, food that is good for me, food that nourishes me at a deep level. It feels like I’ve crossed a bridge, over dangerous terrain, that I won’t be looking back toward. 

This was a craving I was happy to indulge. I created a beautiful stir fry for dinner, using onions, garlic, carrots, celery, green pepper, zucchini and for the first time, a golden potato. I added brown rice and a chopped garden tomato, and fully gave in to my craving. 

For a snack later, I’ll munch on a crisp apple.

I satisfied the craving. My body thanks me for listening. 

Journeying Along the Pig Trail in Arkansas

This Saturday it was too gorgeous outside to stay at home. Greg invited me to check out a part of Arkansas that I’ve never visited before. I made smoothies to go, and packed healthy snacks in a bag. It was time for a road trip!

Greg is planning for an upcoming motorcycle trip that will take him south through the state of Arkansas. He wanted to check out various camping sites near Fayetteville, AR, along the scenic highway known as the Pig Trail. 

Named thus because of the proximity of the University of Arkansas, whose mascot is the razorback hog, this 19 mile stretch of highway is known as a shortcut for razorback fans, and as one of the best rides for motorcyclists in the state. The Pig Trail offers it all as it winds through the Ozark National Forest: zig zags, switchbacks, tree covered roads in the valleys and spectacular views from mountain tops. 

Not only is the Pig Trail pretty to navigate, it has historical value as well. The road was used by both Union and Confederate armies during the Civil War. We stopped atop a mountain to look out over the deep valley below. The Boston Mountains rose in the distance. Heavy forests line the ridges and cover the slopes of the hills. I could imagine the challenge of moving through the area, carving out this road. Below, the thick canopy of trees could conceal anything. I wondered who had hidden in the darkness beneath the trees, 150 years ago. 

Greg found two possible campsites in the area, one high on a mountain, and another in the valley, along Mulberry River. There is a little store across the street from that campground. It is a popular stopping spot for bikers, as we observed today. The shop sells T-shirts and jacket patches, proof that the biker has ridden the Pig Trail. 

And he scratched one campground off of his list. The remote, and heavily wooded, park had a dark vibe that came from something more than the shadowy camping sites beneath the trees. The movie Deliverance came to mind! We didn’t linger there, and I was glad to leave it behind. 

The day was a success. Greg got a feel for the road and what was available in the area. I got to get out of town for the day, and enjoy beautiful scenery along the Pig Trail,  under brilliant blue skies. The trees were just beginning to hint that fall is coming. However, the wild grasses growing along the highways and spreading across fields and meadows brazenly announced that a change in seasons is imminent. I loved watching the grass tassels waving in the breeze as we drove by. And I’m ready. Come on, autumn.