Posted in Life in General, Health

Coconut Water – The Sparkling Kind

Okay…so I’m on a coconut water kick. Sparkling coconut water that is! I was recently on the east coast visiting my family in New Jersey. My sister, Amy, knows that I love sparkling water and asked me if I’ve ever tried Sanavi. She handed me a glass, I took a sip, and I was in heaven.

It’s bubbly with a refreshing coconut flavor. Sanavi is organic and unsweetened….nothing artificial is added. Best of all, it is zero calories. It’s not available in stores where I live in California, so I found that I can order it through Amazon. Yahoo!!! Each bottle is 17 fluid ounces and comes in a case of twelve for $17.99. If you’re an Amazon Prime member you’re in luck since it ships Prime.

A bit of trivia…..The name SANAVI is derived from the Latin words for health and life. Thank you Amy for turning me on to this delicious, sparkling coconut drink!

Posted in Travel

Road Tripping – West Glacier, Montana

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Well here we are in West Glacier, Montana.  For this stay we opted for the West Glacier KOA between 7/3-7/7/2017.  What a beautiful RV park.  Our site was in the back, quieter section which I much appreciated.  Look at our view!  This park was voted the #1 KOA of 2017.

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Glacier National Park was the goal of our month long road trip.  Our first day exploring was by car driving the Going-to-the Sun Road .  We were very lucky since it had just opened up fully the week before.  Below are pictures from our drive.

 

Hidden Lake Overlook

This was by f2014-08-27-013-1ar one of my favorite hikes.  The trail difficulty is rated as easy if you just go to the overlook.  It was 3 miles round trip at about a 7200 foot elevation.  From the pictures I saw, you walk on a guided path through beautiful meadows to get to the overlook. It started out this way. >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

As we progressed, our hike took on a much different look!  Snow, and a lot of it.  We were totally NOT prepared (foot gear wise) for this hike.  As you can see from the pictures below, the guided path was practically non existent.  A pair of hiking poles would have really come in handy.

We started up a gradual incline which kept going, and going, and going.  I'm not used to walking up hill ….with sneakers…. in the snow.  LOL  My husband taught me how to herring bone which is walking with your feet pointing out at an angle and digging the inside of your feet into the snow.  It really helps with traction, but not really a good thing for the knees.  One of my goals was not to fall on my butt.

We were surrounded by a lot of other people on this hike.  I usually like to hike in solitude with my husband, but this was different.  Everyone was giving each other encouragement going up the snowy slopes.

Once we arrived at the overlook you looked out at the most incredible vista.  Most of the snow was gone in the area where we were standing, but looking down at the lake you could see that it still had ice on it.

As we were resting and enjoying the views I was talking with two women.  All of a sudden this happened.  This goat just appeared!  He was curious and not the least bit shy.  I was able to snap a couple of pictures, but also wanted to respect his privacy.

Now for the trek back down.  My goal was the same…not to fall on my butt.  I'm happy to say I was successful.  I just pretended that my feet were little skis!  It was a fun journey.

Driving back we stopped at this waterfall (one of the many).  If you look closely there are a series of falls up above as well.  We also came across an extremely friendly and curious Marmot.  It was apparent from his rotund physic that he was used to being fed. Something that I don't condone.  If we allowed him, he would have come right up to us.

 

Avalanche Trail

Our adventure the next day was hiking the Avalanche Trail.  The trail difficulty was rated as moderate.  Roundtrip the hike was 4.5 miles and about a 4000 foot elevation.  The trail is easy to follow (no snow at this elevation!  LOL) and you are surrounded by beautiful pines and ferns.  The trail parallels a river with a waterfall and rapids.  About half way in, we came across some fresh bear scat!  Yikes!!  It absolutely raised my awareness during this hike.  There were many people around taking this hike too, so I felt somewhat comfortable.

Once you reach Avalanche Lake it is peaceful and serine.  We stayed here a while to take in the all the beauty.  You had a panoramic view of mountains, waterfalls, and forest, not to mention the beautiful lake.  I must say that this hike tired me out, but it was definitely worth it.

If you are able to make it to this beautiful park, I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.  I will definitely make it here again in my travels.  So much more to explore here!

 

Posted in Health, Healthy Eating, Recipes

Farro? What’s that?

 

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Don’t ask me how or why, but some how I came home from Whole Foods with farro. What is this grain and what am I going to do with it?  Well from the package front it says that farro is a good source of fiber.  Okay…that’s good.

More research…I found out that farro is an ancient grain (in the wheat family) that has been around for quite some time.  Thousands of years it seems.  It almost resembles a wheat berry and when cooked has a soft, chewy texture.  It is also loaded with fiber, protein, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants.

Alright, let’s give this farro a shot.  Now to find a recipe.  I found a recipe on foodnetwork.com, but as always adapted it to make it my own.  Winner winner chicken dinner!  My family loved it.  I hope you do to!

Farro with Cherry Tomatoes and Basil

Ingredients

  • 4 cups water
  • 1 1/2 cups Farro
  • 2 teaspoons salt, plus more to taste
  • 1 -2 cups cherry tomatoes, seeded and cut in half (amount depends on preference)
  • 1 sweet onion chopped and sauteed
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped fresh basil
  • 1-2 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

Directions

Combine the water and farro in a medium saucepan. Add 2 teaspoons of salt. Bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer until the farro is tender, about 25-30 minutes. Drain well, and then transfer to a large bowl to cool.

Add the tomatoes, sauteed onion, and fresh basil to the farro, and toss to combine.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the garlic, vinegar, salt, pepper, and olive oil. Add the vinaigrette to the salad and toss to coat.

The salad can be refrigerated. Bring to room temperature before serving.

 

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Posted in Essential OIls, Health, Life in General

Essential Oils And Your Classroom

Today is August 6th and it won’t be long until my kiddos come back to school.  For those who know me, you know that I teach 7th grade English and History.  It’s so important to me to remain healthy as well as my students throughout the school year and to create a calm, comforting classroom.

This year my go-to essential oils in the classroom will be doTerra’s On Guard and Balance blends.

The  On Guard blend consists of the oils: wild orange, clove, cinnamon, eucalyptus, and rosemary.  It supports the immune system by giving it a boost killing germs and airborne pathogens.  This is a definite must in my classroom throughout the year for both me and my students.

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The Balance blend consists of the oils: Spruce, Ho Wood, Frankincense, Blue tansy, and Blue Chamomile.  It has a warm, woody aroma which creates a sense of calm and well being.  It helps with attention deficit and hyperactivity among others.  It’s a wonderful grounding blend and I use it often.

If you would like to learn more about the benefits of these or any of the doTerra oils, feel free to send me a message or check out my site at  www.mydoterra.com/wendykernmurphy

Posted in Health, Healthy Eating, Recipes

Let’s Make Granola!

I love granola!  Whenever I have yogurt for breakfast I sprinkle it with fresh blueberries and granola.  Sometimes I munch on it for a crunchy snack.  I have been buying organic granola for a while now and I thought it was about time to try and make my own.  It is so easy and really doesn’t take that long at all.  Plus it’s less expensive to make your own.

For this recipe I used cranberries and raisins, but you can add whatever dried fruit you like.  Seeds are also a welcome addition.

Ingredients:

  • 4 cups rolled oats (I use organic certified gluten-free oats for gluten-free granola)
  • 1 ½ cup raw nuts and/or seeds (I used sliced almonds)
  • 1 teaspoon fine-grain sea salt (if you’re using standard table salt, scale back to ¾ teaspoon)
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • ½ cup melted coconut oil
  • ½ cup honey
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ⅔ cup organic dried fruit, chopped if large (1 used 1/3 cup cranberries and 1/3 cup raisins)
  • 2/3 cup organic coconut flakes
  • Totally optional additional mix-ins: 3/4 cup chocolate chips ( I make a separate batch for this and omit the dried fruit.)

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees and line a large, rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. In a large mixing bowl, combine the oats, nuts, salt and cinnamon. Stir to blend.
  2. Pour in the coconut oil, honey and vanilla. Mix well, until every oat and nut is lightly coated. Pour the granola onto your prepared pan and use a large spoon to spread it in an even layer. Bake until golden, about 21 to 23 minutes, stirring halfway. The granola will further crisp up as it cools.
  3. Let the granola cool completely, undisturbed, before breaking it into pieces and stirring in the dried fruit (and totally optional chocolate chips).
Granola is cooling.  Don’t touch : )

After it is cooled completely, I transfer it to a bowl, break it into pieces and add my dried fruit and/or chocolate chips.  Here is the finished product! Store the granola in an airtight container at room temperature for 1 to 2 weeks, or in a sealed freezer bag in the freezer for up to 3 months.

Voila!
Posted in Food for Thought, Life in General

A Human’s Prayer to a Dog

I have had dogs all my life starting at the age of 5.  There is just something about having a dog in your life.  Dogs are unconditional.  They are the most loving and forgiving creatures on this Earth.  Dogs are the ultimate companion.  They want to be wherever you are; including the bathroom!  LOL  I don’t think my life would be complete without a dog in it.

Meet Bailey Grace

img_2225Bailey is my 9, almost 10 year old English Lab.  Bailey came into my life when my dear friend became ill and could not care for her.  I was supposed to look after her for about 2 months.  That was 5 years ago!  My friend has recovered from her illness, but needed to move out of state and we thought it was best that Bailey stay with me.

This picture was taken about 2 weeks after Bailey came to stay with us.  We were watching Sunday football and out of the blue she jumped up on the couch and snuggled with me.  I knew at that point that she felt secure.

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Bailey became part of the family during my Golden’s last years of life (Rusty pictured on the left).  I honestly don’t know what I would have done without her when he passed away.  It was very sudden, so I didn’t have time to prepare myself.  Whether she knows it or not, she was an integral part of my grieving process.

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And yes, even when she gets into the Christmas stockings, I still love her.  Doesn’t she look guilty here?  LOL

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So getting back to “A Human’s Prayer to a Dog”:  Thank you Bailey for coming into my life and letting me care for you.  Thank you for all the joy you bring to me.   If you want to see more of Bailey, she has an instagram page called: thebaileyblog.

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Posted in Life in General, Travel

Road Tripping – Seattle, Washington

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The Space Needle. Perfect cover pic for Seattle

 

I’ve lived in the Bay Area for 17 years and have never made it up to Washington!  Time to go!

When planning our adventure in Seattle, I settled on an RV park called Lake Pleasant RV Park.  If we stay at a place that we really like, I will always post about it.  We were here for four nights and it was definitely worth it.  Lake Pleasant has full hookup sites, cable and limited wifi.  Campsites surround a beautiful lake that is filled with fish with many geese and ducks.  Bailey was very happy here and couldn’t understand why the wildlife didn’t want to “play” her.  When we return to Seattle we will definitely stay here again.

If you are going to do the “tourist” thing in Seattle like we did, I definitely recommend purchasing a City Pass.  For $79 (adult) this is what you receive:

Your CityPASS Includes

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It is absolutely worth it and we took advantage of every penny.  Our first stop was to the Chihuly Garden and Glass Museum named after Dave Chihuly.  He is a glass blowing extraordinaire.

“His work is included in more than 200 museum collections worldwide. He has been the recipient of many awards, including twelve honorary doctorates and two fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts.”

Below are some shots taken inside the museum.  It’s tough to get a picture that do these works of art any justice.

The outside gardens were just breathtaking!  Each garden area had glass accents that enhanced the garden colors.

Our next stop was the Space Needle.  I really wanted to “get this over with” for lack of a better phrase since I have an acute fear of heights.  I mean sweaty palms, rapid heart rate, shaking…pure full on panic mode.  I had to get in the right mindset and it was now or never.  The Space Needle is 605 feet tall.  The only way up is via elevator and takes approximately 41 seconds to get to the top.  The line was not that long and I was surprisingly calm.  When it was our turn to enter the elevator I noticed there were glass panels so you could view the ride.  Hmmm…. Once we made it to the top I was fine.  The whole area was enclosed. What fabulous views!  As you can see from my smiling face I’m having a good time.  Even if you are afraid of heights, it’s really not that bad getting up to the top.  I highly recommend it.  Check that off the Bucket List.

After the Space Needle we went to the Museum of Pop Culture.  You have a choice of between the museum or the Woodland Park Zoo.

The Museum of Pop Culture is a leading-edge nonprofit museum, dedicated to the ideas and risk-taking that fuel contemporary popular culture. With its roots in rock ‘n’ roll, MoPOP serves as a gateway museum, reaching multigenerational audiences through our collections, exhibitions, and educational programs, using interactive technologies to engage and empower our visitors.

I thought the museum was pretty underwhelming; at least for me anyway.  One thing I thought was cool was this guitar structure.  They had an interesting Star Trek and Wizard of Oz exhibit as well as a tribute to Jimmy Hendrix.  However, next time I think I will opt for the zoo.  Just personal preference.

NEXT DAY

Today’s adventure includes the Public Market, a harbor tour, and the Seattle Aquarium.  It’s no secret, at least to those who know me well, that I hate large crowds.  On a scale 1-10 of “crowdiness”, this place is off the charts.  I really wanted to see Pike Place Fish Company.  You hear about these guys throwing fish around to entertain the crowds.  I managed to elbow my through the crowds to get a picture.  Okay…check.  Next, I felt like I was part of a cattle herd headed back to the barn to get milked.  OMG get me out of here. I wish I could have seen what the market had to offer, but it was impossible.  We visited during the week, not a weekend.  I can only imagine what it’s like on a Saturday or Sunday.  If you plan to visit the Public Market, just go with the mindset that it will be crowded and accept it.

Our next stop was Argosy Cruises.  We thought an afternoon harbor cruise would fit the bill.  It was a beautiful, sunny day, which we were told is not the norm for Seattle.  This was a one hour hour harbor cruise with great views of the  city. Our tour M.C. was very knowledgeable and we learned a lot of Seattle history.

After our harbor cruise we visited the Seattle Aquarium which was just down the block.  It is a small aquarium, but definitely worth your while.  They had touch pools, a giant 120,000 gallon exhibit with a plethora of marine life, and a sea otter exhibit just to name a few.  They had many volunteers that could answer questions or just input their knowledge.

The next day we decided it was a chill day.  We needed to get ready to head out to West Glacier which meant laundry, grocery shopping, etc.  We really loved Seattle, however the down side was the traffic.  I thought traffic in the Bay Area was bad.  Anyway, the traffic will not deter me from visiting again and definitely will take advantage of the City Pass.

Posted in Food for Thought, Life in General

Life Is All About Balance

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My husband and I were drinking our coffee Sunday morning and he tapped me on the shoulder to get my attention.  He pointed to his Facebook page and I saw this quote by Lori Deschene.  I looked at him and he was smiling at me.  I know that smile well.  It’s the smile that says, “See?  I’m not the only one who thinks this is true.”

I’ve always been the type to be on the go.  I’ve never really thought of myself as an A type personality, but it’s the story of my life.  Gotta do this, gotta do that…have to go here, there and everywhere.  It’s taken a while, actually quite a long time for me to be okay with just sitting and doing “nothing”.  I always felt guilty, like I was doing something wrong, if I just sat and did nothing for a moment.

Now I’m more okay with doing “nothing”.  Life is a gift and we need to embrace it.  We have to slow down and reflect on where we have been.  What is that saying?  “Don’t let life pass you by.”  How about, “Take time to smell the roses.”  Both are cliche, I know, but you get the gist.  How many of you have difficulty doing “nothing”?  How many of you are okay with it?  Just curious.

We’re only here on this Earth for a short while, so take a moment to do “nothing” and reflect on your journey so far.

 

Posted in Life in General, Travel

Road Tripping – Portland, Oregon

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I took this picture during our travels and thought it was just perfect for a cover.

Well we made it to Portland!  Woo Hoo!  Nothing but sunny skies.  Unusual I know.  Portland is known for its unpredictable weather.  Usually when we get to a destination after a day of Rving, we just take it easy and hang out.  We plan what we’re going to do for the duration of our stay.

The next day was really hot.  Triple digits to be exact, but that didn’t stop us.  Meanwhile we’re thinking to ourselves, “We left triple digits in the Bay Area when we started out.  Guess it’s following us!”  Go figure.  The Portland Saturday Market is always a fun place to visit.  It’s huge market with many vendors where there is something for everyone.  There is also an extensive food court.

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We moseyed our way into the Pearl District and found ourselves in an area of warehouses that were converted into restaurants.  I thought this was an excellent way to repurpose  buildings that would have otherwise been torn down.  We decided to eat at Tilt.  This is super casual dining.  You order your meal and they give you a light up buzzer to let you know when your food is ready and you pick it up.  The menu includes burgers, sandwiches, salads, and a variety of sides.  We opted for a turkey club and jalapeno tater tots to share.  OMG!  The sandwich was ginormous easily feeding four comfortably.  Glad we decided to share!  The tater tots were to die for.  Crunchy on the outside and mashed potato like on the inside.  The jalapeno flavor came through just enough to get a kick. Yummy-ness.

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We need to walk off this lunch…Geez.  About 2 miles later we find ourselves in the Alphabet District.  The streets are laid out with letters of the alphabet.  It’s an urban area with tons of shopping and restaurants. Definitely a place you can loose yourself for a day.

Where do we find ourselves?  Ordering ice cream from Salt and Straw and not just any ice cream.  This ice cream joint has very unique flavors.  They will let you sample all flavors with a smile if you want.  If you don’t want 2 scoops of ice cream, they will combine a 1/2 scoop of each flavor into one scoop!  Score.  I played it safe and had a 1/2 scoop of Honey Lavender and a 1/2 scoop of Sea Salt with Caramel Ribbons.  My husband on the other hand did not play it safe.  He chose a 1/2 scoop of Celery Root and Strawberry and a 1/2 scoop of Toasted Baguette PB & J.  We shared our flavors and all were absolutely delicious.  I was so excited to find out they have locations in San Francisco.

Well what do you know!  On the other side of the street, kiddy corner to Salt and Straw was Blue Star Donuts .  We told ourselves this would be dessert after dinner.  Of course we would walk off the ice cream when we trek back to the car.  Blue Star Donuts prides itself with quality over quantity.  There were two people working in the shop and no line out the door like cliche Voodoo Donuts.  “Why not?” we asked ourselves.  We each decided on two flavors.  Starting in the upper left of the picture below and going clockwise: Valrlona Crunch (filled), Mexican Chocolate, Blueberry, and Meyer Lemon (filled).  Words can’t describe these donuts they were that good.  I think it’s fair to say we ate ourselves around Portland today.

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The next day after a good nights sleep, we headed out to the Rose Garden .  This beautiful garden has over 500 varieties of roses and over 7000 plants.  It was absolutely breathtaking and these pictures do not do it justice.  Just rows upon rows of beautifulness.  You really need to go and experience it for yourself.  This is a test garden, so any variety that does not make the cut gets destroyed.  That made me somewhat sad.  Tip:  Parking can be tricky.  We parked in the residential neighborhood right before the grounds for free.  There is also a Japanese Garden that we passed on.  Too long of a line and only a certain amount of people could go in at one time.

We decided to tour the Pittock Mansion.  This mansion was built in 1914 by Henry Pittock and his wife.  Both arrived to Portland in a covered wagon!  Pittock was the owner of The Oregonian Newspaper.  I love touring old mansions.  So much history.  When I do things like this I try to picture myself back in the day.  What happened in this room?  What conversations were had?  I’m really a nerd when it comes to old mansions like this.

After our self-guided tour through the mansion we were able to tour the grounds.  In the back of the property there is an outlook with a beautiful view of Portland.  What a perfect way to end the day!

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Posted in Health, Healthy Eating, Recipes

Corn, Avocado, and Tomato Salad – A Summer Delight

This is one of my absolute favorite summer time salads.  It’s really quite easy to make and your family will love it.  It’s perfect for a hot summer night or taking to a BBQ.  I try to make this when the ingredients are in season for the best possible flavors.

 Corn, Avocado and Tomato Salad with Honey Lime Dressing:

  • 1 pint organic grape tomatoes sliced in half
  • 1 ripe organic avocado cut into bite size chunks (not too ripe though)
  • 2 ears of fresh sweet corn cooked to your liking: steamed, grilled etc. and cut off the cob (use frozen if corn is not in season)
  • 2 tbsp fresh organic cilantro, chopped
  • diced red onion (optional)

Combine the sliced tomatoes, avocado, cilantro and corn and honey lime dressing and mix gently so everything is evenly coated. Be careful not to mash the avocados. Let the salad sit for 10-15 minutes to let flavors infuse.  It’s even better the next day.  Enjoy.

Honey Lime Dressing:

  • Juice of 1 organic lime
  • 3 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 tbsp organic honey
  • Sea salt and fresh cracked pepper, to taste
  • 1 clove organic garlic, minced
  • Dash of cayenne pepper

**Note that corn and tomatoes can be irritating if you suffer from inflammation.