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.

Posted in Health, Healthy Eating, Recipes

Gluten-Free Blueberry Banana Muffins

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Nothing is more satisfying than the smell of homemade muffins wafting through the house.  Today I just needed that homey smell.  Yes!  These are gluten-free.  Although I don’t have a diagnosed sensitivity to gluten, I definitely notice that I become sluggish and I feel like my brain is foggy when I eat too much gluten.  I’ve opted to go gluten free whenever possible.

So let me tell you about these muffins.  I tend to use more fruit in my muffins which is why they appear flatter than normal. ( the fruit weighs the batter down)  It’s just my personal preference.  I always use fresh blueberries in my muffins.  Frozen blueberries tend to make the batter runny making the muffins too moist and crumbly.  When adding banana, make sure it isn’t too ripe.  You want to be able to eat nice chunks of banana in your muffin!IMG_2252

I like to use organic ingredients in all of my baking and cooking.  Sometimes that isn’t possible, and it’s okay!  The gluten-free flour I use is King Arthur’s.  It’s a rice based flour.  I’ve tried different brands and this has proven to be the best, however it’s not organic.  I always use organic blueberries; that way I know they are free of pesticides.

Gluten-Free Blueberry Banana Muffins

  • 2 cups King Arthur Gluten-Free Flour
  • 1 cup organic cane sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup butter, melted
  • 2 organic, cage free eggs
  • 1 cup organic milk
  • 1 teaspoon organic pure vanilla extract
  • 2 cups organic blueberries ( use less or more based on your preference)
  • 1 large, firm banana cut into chunks
  1. With a blender, mix the butter, eggs, milk, and vanilla until well blended.
  2. Add your flour, sugar, baking soda and powder, and salt.  Mix until just incorporated.  Do not over mix.
  3. Using a spatula or spoon, add your blueberries and banana into the batter.
  4. Line your muffin tin with muffin wrappers and fill about 3/4 full with the batter.
  5. Bake at 350 for 20 minutes.

The ingredients for these muffins is a basic recipe that I always use.  You can actually add any fruit you like.  Experiment with your own personal tastes.

Enjoy!

 

Posted in Travel

Road Tripping – Ashland, Oregon

Well we’re off!  It’s Mike and Wendy’s Great Adventure.  We’re traveling in our 32 foot RV with our dog, Bailey for about one month.  Yikes!  I’m really very excited for this road trip.  Our first stop is Ashland, Oregon for the Shakespeare Festival.

We always stay at Holiday RV Park .  It is a small park just north of Ashland.  I always request a site near their brook.  It’s very peaceful with the sound of the water and lush grass.  We have tickets for two shows at the Shakespeare Festival for Thursday and Friday, The Merry Wives of Windsor and The Odyssey.  What I love so much about this experience is that the theater is outdoors.  You need to be mindful of the weather.  This year it was quite warm, however last year it was just the opposite in coldness.  The following pictures give you a look at the vibe right before the shows.  Both shows were fabulous, but over three hours in length!  Be prepared.  This is such a fun venue and I highly recommend it.  As always we enjoyed our stay in Ashland.  Our next stop is Portland, Oregon.  Stay tuned!

Posted in Essential OIls, Health, Life in General

Essential Oils – A Healthy Pleasure

 

A couple of years ago a friend casually mentioned that she had been using essential oils for the past 20 years.  Naturally the first thing that came to mind was the pleasant smelling aromas of a day spa.  Along with the aromatic component, most essential oils can be used topically and internally.

I decided to take the plunge and invest in a diffuser and two oils, lemon and lavender.  I diffused them both separately and also together.  I was hooked, I wanted to know more. Thank you Lisa Rogers!  This is what I learned:

“In nature, essential oils are found in the roots, stems, leaves, resins, flowers, and rinds of the plant.  …When the plant’s aromatic compounds are distilled for purity, potency and efficacy, they become a powerful tool for maintaining a family’s health.” ( doTerra.com)

Each essential oil has its own properties and benefits.  You can use single essential oils and/or essential oil blends.  Most important, you need to make sure that the oils you choose are pure, therapeutic grade oils.  Some oils labeled as “essential” are strictly for fragrance benefits and are not safe topically or internally.  Please refer to Why doTerra for a detailed description on the distillation process.
300x300-5683Okay…back to Lemon and Lavender essential oils.  Listed below are just a few of the uses and benefits of these oils.

Lemon Essential Oil Uses and Benefits

  • Use as a safe cleaner throughout your home
  • Add a drop to your water for a refreshing boost throughout the day.
  • Use in your main dishes and desserts to enhance flavor.
  • When diffused, Lemon is uplifting, energizing and has been shown to promote a positive mood.

Lavender Essential Oil and Benefits

  • Helps to ease muscle tension
  • Apply to scars to reduce scar tissue.
  • Add a few drops to pillows, bedding, pr bottoms of feet at bedtime.
  • When diffused, Lavender creates a calm, soothing environment.

I hope this information was helpful.  Essential oils are so much more than nice smelling aromas in a day spa!  If I can help or answer any questions you have regarding essential oils please leave me a message or go to my site at  www.mydoterra.com/wendykernmurphy

 

Posted in Health, Healthy Eating

How Much Do You Love Strawberries?

                     

                   

We do love our strawberries don’t we?  I know I do along with most berries, especially blueberries and blackberries.  Did you look at the infographic I posted above?  Astonishing right?  

I rely a lot on the Environmental Working Group (EWG) when it comes to any questions I have about produce/food or products I might buy.  EWG is a non-profit, non-partisan organization. They’re goal is to provide information to protect your health and environment.   You should check out their website with the link I provided above. 

Back to strawberries!

According to the EWG, “Strawberries tested by scientists at the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture in 2014 & 2015 contained 7.7 different pesticides per sample compared to 2.3 pesticides per sample for all other produce”

Pesticides = cheap, year round strawberries. 

Yay!  Hmmm not so much😔. In fact, 😡. This is why I buy organic berries. If berries are labeled as USDA Certified Organic, you can be assured that pesticides were not used in the growing of the berries. There is a rigid checklist of standards that must be met before any product can be labeled as “organic”. Do yourself, your body a favor and buy organic when it comes to berries. 

Yes, you can wash your berries, but that does not eliminate the pesticides used.  Be mindful about those strawberries you love to eat!