7 Day Book Cover Challenge

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I so appreciate that this fun opportunity appeared for me late this afternoon, just as I considered what to write about today. Checking in on Facebook, I discovered a tag from my friend Sara, and an invite to participate in a new-to-me challenge.

7 Day Book Cover Challenge

The 7 Day Book Cover Challenge Rules

Called the 7 Day Book Cover Challenge, the rules are simple.

Every day, for seven days, post a photo of a book cover on Facebook or Instagram, without including an explanation or a review. Then tag a friend to play along.

I love to read, and books have played a crucial role in my life from an early age on. At the tender age of five, I learned how to read and the world shifted for me. New places, different time periods, futuristic adventures all invited me in to explore, through the pages of books.

Books continue to be my greatest resource. If I want to know how to do something, I read a book. If I want to deepen my knowledge, I find a book to take me on that journey. And if I want to be entertained, my imagination fires up as I lose myself in a book.

7 Day Book Cover Challenge

Books like Eat, Pray Love, the cover photo Sara posted and tagged me on, shifted my perspective and my life. The fantasy work of JRR Tolkien radically changed the way I viewed myself, even though Lord of the Rings is not classified as a self help book.

I will enjoy mentally and physically sorting through books, and choosing seven that have impacted me.

At the end of the seven days, I’ll share a follow up post and present the seven book covers that I chose. (Curious which covers I chose? You can read the follow up post: 7 Day Book Cover Challenge Completed)

Thanks Sara, for the invitation and the inspiration. Challenge accepted!7 Day Book Cover Challenge Title Meme 2

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Plant Based Under Pressure

I received an electric pressure cooker for Christmas, from my daughter Adriel and son-in-law Nate, and two cookbooks. I’ve been excited, and a bit nervous, to try out this old method of cooking that has become new again. This evening, the shiny cooker came out of the box!

Plant Based Under Pressure, First Experience with a Pressure Cooker

Pressure cooking is a method of cooking food using water, or another liquid, in a sealed container. Pressure cookers cook food faster and use less energy. Pressure is created by boiling a liquid inside the closed cooker. The trapped steam increases the internal pressure and allows temperatures to rise.

The first pressure cooker was invented in 1679 by French physicist Denis Papin, known for his studies on steam. Various inventive people adapted Papin’s design over the centuries. In 1938 Alfred Vischer presented his invention, The Flex-Seal Speed Cooker, in New York City. His pressure cooker was the first one designed for home use. One year later, National Presto Industries introduced its own pressure cooker at the New York World’s Fair.

The first pressure cookers were stove top versions, and they were considered noisy and somewhat risky. Later generations of cookers have become more and more safe, with built in safety features. Today’s electronic pressure cookers, introduced in 1991, have a digital control panel and programmable features.

Plant Based Under Pressure, First Experience with a Pressure Cooker

I remember my mother using a pressure cooker when I was a child. Although I don’t remember that she ever had an incident, or explosion, I have had an uneasiness about these cookers. However, I have been reading about how wonderful electronic pressure cookers are, via social media sites like Facebook and Instagram. I was excited to receive one, and even more excited to move beyond any apprehension about using one.

Plant Based Under Pressure, First Experience with a Pressure Cooker

The two cookbooks that Adriel and Nate gave me have many mouthwatering, plant based recipes in them. For my first experience, I decided on preparing pinto beans. Normally, I use a slow cooker to prepare a pot of beans, which can take up to 9 hours of cooking time on the low setting. To prepare beans in under 30 minutes seemed amazing!

Plant Based Under Pressure, First Experience with a Pressure Cooker

Since I don’t use any meat to flavor my beans, I add half of a chopped onion and two minced garlic cloves. I ran the pressure cooker through a test run, as per the manufacturer’s instructions, and then added 3 cups of pinto beans, that had soaked all day, and the chopped onion and garlic. The recipe suggested 3/4 cup of water for every cup of beans.

The pressure cooker beeped after just 5 minutes of cooking time. This is where I messed up. I didn’t understand about naturally releasing the pressure versus a quick release, using the valve on top of the cooker. I released the pressure. And sampled the beans. They were not quite done. What I discovered, after more carefully reading in the Vegan Under Pressure cookbook, was that I needed to let the pressure release naturally, which takes 15 minutes or so.

I got it right, eventually! After a little more cooking time, and allowing the pressure to dissipate on its own, the beans were perfectly cooked. I am learning! And it was worth the lesson. These pinto beans were the best tasting beans I have prepared, since beginning a plant based diet.

I am looking forward to trying many, many more nutritious recipes. And I love trying new things. Even better, is when I try something new and dissolve a fear at the same time. The electronic pressure cooker was easy to use and didn’t feel risky at all.

Next up will be cooking a pot of brown rice…and then…well, the possibilities are endless!

Plant Based Under Pressure, First Experience with a Pressure Cooker

Meet Absolem, My Mascot

Absolem is the blue caterpillar from the Lewis Carroll book Alice in Wonderland, and the Disney and Tim Burton movies by the same name. Smoking a hookah as he perches on a mushroom, Absolem first engages Alice in a cryptic conversation that begins with the question, “Who are you?” 

I have always liked the wise blue caterpillar. I loved him in the Tim Burton live action version. When I arrived at the family   Halloween party last month, I was delighted to find my niece Ashley had created a replica of Absolem, and placed him in the Alice in Wonderland area in her home. He was tiny perfection, and I wanted him. 

Absolem’s role in Alice’s life was to help her discover her destiny. I felt this little caterpillar would be the ideal companion for my journey next year, as my destiny continues to be revealed to me. Every year I receive a new word, a new symbol for the journey, and a song. For 2017 I’ve also been given a quote. Absolem isn’t my symbol. I’ll reveal more about that in January. No, the blue caterpillar has been given to me as my mascot, or talisman. 

I was led to him as surely as Alice found Wonderland by traveling through the rabbit hole. 

Early in the year, the world lost a great man when Alan Rickman passed away. More than an actor, Alan possessed creative genius and an expansive heart and soul. I was deeply saddened by his death. Shortly after he died, I found a quote of Alan’s that was destined to shape next year. “If only life could be a little more tender and art a little more robust.” 

From those words a seed was planted, from which grew my word for 2017. I am honored to have Alan’s quote as the foundation for all that has arisen from it already, and all that will flow from it next year. 

Alice Through the Looking Glass released in theaters this year, the sequel to Tim Burton’s previous film. In both movies, Absolem is voiced by Alan Rickman. It was bittersweet to hear his rich and distinctive voice giving life to the blue caterpillar who had transformed into a blue butterfly, knowing Alan had transitioned as well. 

Then, the fabulous Halloween party, with the Tim Burton theme that Ashley and Debbie selected last year, months before Alan passed, has as a decoration the blue caterpillar sitting on his mushroom. He called to me throughout the day, in that unmistakable baritone. “Who are you? And where are you going? Can you make life a little more tender next year, and art a little more robust?” 

He has continued to call to me. 

Today, Absolem came home with me. My niece allowed me to purchase him, knowing I will cherish him. He has a new mushroom to perch upon, that I bought tonight at Target. Both will rest on my writing table, in my creative studio, where I can look at Absolem daily and feel inspired to carry out my mission for 2017. 

I hope he asks me every day who I am.