Monday, November 29, 2010

SPIRIT: When I Didn't Want to Give Thanks

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There are people in my life who have wounded me, infuriated me, and rejected me.  Surprisingly, these same people end up on my "thank you" list. 

One year, I decided to write thank you cards for Thanksgiving.  Of course, I wrote to the obvious people:  the teacher who helped me through a very difficult time; my best friends who have laughed and cried with me; and others like my parents, who have always been kind, loving, and generous.  These were nice acknowledgments to amazing people, people to whom I have expressed my gratitude often.

There was a second group of people I wrote to:  those who had hurt me in one way or another. 

One card was to a teacher who, in front of my whole class, told me I would "never amount to anything"  and how I had "let the whole class down."  Even after my tears had dried, my resentment lingered for years.  This memory embodied her in my mind and I forgot all she taught me.  She inspired me to succeed and publicly recognized my achievements.

Writing her a thank you note healed any bitterness her public berating caused me.  I thanked her for all the valuable things she taught me and how she helped me.

This simple act of gratitude erased the pain this one event caused me and instead appreciated all the good she had done in my life.

There were several other recipients who I forgave through writing my indebtedness, though I never mentioned the hurt they caused.  In addition to giving each person a reminder of how he or she had contributed to my life, I also grew more grateful.   I remembered how infinitely valuable each person is.

Is there anyone who has hurt you, who you have thanked later?  

How do you forgive someone, especially if they never apologize?Pin It Best Blogger Tips

Saturday, November 27, 2010

I hope you are enjoying the holiday weekend!

Best Blogger Tips I have lots to post for you, recipes, tips, and more!

I'm aiming for later tonight or tomorrow.

Thanks for reading!

EllePin It Best Blogger Tips

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

WELLNESS: Snack of the week--Edamame

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My new favorite snack is edamame. 

I got hooked on it when I was introduced to sushi, where steamed edamame pods often are served as an appetizer.  
I can sit and eat edamame all day!  There is debate about how healthy soy is, but it is something that I choose to eat in moderation.

Like any other food, the highly processed forms of soy (think fillers in processed foods) seem to be the types that are unhealthy, while soy foods in the most natural state such as edamame, seem to be beneficial to wellness. [

First of all, how in the world is it pronounced?  "Ay-duh-MAH-may" is the correct translation, which is the term used by the Japanese.  It translates to mean "beans on branches" because the pods grow on shrubby plants.  Edamame has been a vegan protein source in China for more than 2,200 years.

I steam frozen shelled edamame on the stove and add just a little salt.  YUMMY!

Do you eat soy?  Why or why not?

What types of soy do you enjoy?

What types of soy do you avoid?
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TIP: Keep food from sticking on pans

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Elle's green eggs in the skillet
I hate scrubbing skillets!  I learned how to keep most foods from sticking in pans by doing the following.

1.  Heat skillet or pan thoroughly.  You can test this by dropping a droplet of water into it.  If it dances and fizzles, then the pan is hot enough.

2.  Next, add the oil.  The oil will heat rather quickly.  It will seem to be thinner than when cold.

3.  After the oil is heated, add whatever you plan on frying in the pan.  Be careful!  If whatever you are frying has much water in it, the grease can splatter and you can get burned!Pin It Best Blogger Tips

Monday, November 22, 2010

TIP: Time Saver--Use Your Cabinet Doors!

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One of my cabinet doors
There are some recipes that I use all of the time: bread, granola, pizza crust. 

To save time, I have taped the recipe cards up on the inside of my cabinets above my food preparation area.

I don't have to search through my recipe file or cookbook to find my favorite recipes!

If you are really creative (and have good penmanship), you can use a black permanent marker to write recipes on the outside of your cabinet doors.

What recipes do you use all the time?  Pin It Best Blogger Tips

Friday, November 19, 2010

RECIPE: Elle's Cream Cheese Patties (Vegetarian)

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I'm all out of farm eggs! : (

All the ingredients in my Kitchen-Aid

My three year-old and I are the only ones in our house who are mostly vegan.  Sometimes it is really difficult since I am also the one who makes all the meals.  Thankfully, my family will eat several meatless meals a week.  This is one of their favorite recipes.


*8 oz. room-temperature Neufchatel cheese (1/3 less fat cream cheese)
*1 sleeve saltine crackers, well-crushed
*3 eggs
*1/4 c. minced onion
*1 clove minced garlic
Oil for frying


Creamy patty mixture.


1. Combine first five ingredients and mix by hand or like I do with my Kitchen Aid stand mixer.
2. Heat skillet over medium heat and add oil to coat bottom of pan.  Drop mixture by the tablespoonful  (or larger) into oil.  Mixture will be wet.
3.  After one side begins to brown, flip and press lightly with turner, flattening each spoonful into a patty.
4.  Remove from pan after both sides are golden brown. 

Yields 8-10 Patties


1. Add other herbs, depending on taste.
2. Add 1/4 cup chopped nuts.

Frying in the skillet


1.  I ground the crackers on a medium setting in my Vitamix Vita Prep 3.
2.  I use an ice cream scoop for uniform size patties.
3.  Heat the pan until hot, then heat the oil until hot before adding mixture.  It helps keep the patties from sticking.
All done!
Have you tried these?  What did you think?  

Did you add or omit anything?  If you share your variation in a comment, I will add it and credit you in the recipe!Pin It Best Blogger Tips

Thursday, November 18, 2010

ON THE WAY: New Features for You

Best Blogger Tips In an effort to make The Way better for you, here are some changes to the site.

1.  Easier RSS and feed subscriptions.  I added new "Subscribe" buttons at the top right of this page so you can view The Way in your favorite reader service.   ----------------------------------------->

2.  More pictures.  Though I lost my camera over two months ago, I am now absorbing the cost of sending photos from my phone.  I want you to be able to see what I'm cooking up!

This menu is to the right of my posts!

3. Twitter updates.  I'm on Twitter!  Follow me by clicking at the bottom of this menu on the right of my posts.

4.  Suggestions for you!  I added a few posts you might like at the bottom of each post.

You'll find these at the bottom of each post.

These links are listed farther down on the right.

5.  Read What's Popular.  Another nifty gadget to the right is a listing of the most read posts.  If others like it, you might like it, too!

6.  Easier Navigation.  Added tabs at the top of the page take you directly to
On the Way 
 food for your SPIRIT 

The expanded toolbar at the top of the page provides easy navigation of my site.

Do you find any of these useful?  Are there any changes you would like to see me make?Pin It Best Blogger Tips

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

RECIPE: Elle's Granola

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Adding everything to my Kitchen-Aid
We desire a satisfying crunch in our foods The food industry knows this, too, so they make Doritos chips, Cap'n Crunch cereal, and Chips Ahoy cookies.  This granola recipe fills that hungering for crunchy foods, but also adds Omega 3's for your heart, antioxidants, vegan protein, and fiber. 

Thoroughly mixed. (Do you notice my mess?)

*6 cups old fashioned oats
*2 cups whole wheat flour
*1 cup chopped almonds
*1 cup ground flaxseed
*1/4 cup soy protein isolate
*1/2 cup brown sugar
*1 1/2 tsp. salt
*1 cup water or juice
*1 Tb. vanilla extract


1. Combine all ingredients and mix by hand or like I do with my Kitchen Aid stand mixer.
2. Dry granola mixture in a food dehydrator or bake on two cookie sheets in a low-temp oven (170 F) until thoroughly dried. 

Yields about 13 cups of granola.


1. Add coconut to mixture before baking or diced dried fruit to dried/baked granola.
2. Add more brown sugar or other sweetener.

3. Add more liquid for chunkier granola.
4. The soy protein isolate may be omitted.

Dried granola.  It actually took two pans.

1.  Since ground flaxseed is more prone to oxidation and spoilage, I always buy it whole.  I usually grind the flaxseed in my Vitamix Vita Prep 3 right before use.
2.  I grind whole wheat berries in my Vitamix Vita Prep 3 right before use since whole wheat flour begins to spoil almost immediately after grinding.
3.  Again, I chopped the almonds in my Vitamix Vita Prep 3, too.


Did you like it?

What did you add or change about the recipe?  I will add your comments to the variations!

100% Soy Protein, Vegetarian Formula. Pure Soy Protein Isolate Powder supplies important nutrients which the body requires daily for optimum health. It provides essential amino acids in a versatile powder which is low in fat and free of carbohydrates. It is also a superior protein source for vegetarians. Enjoy the benefits of our low-calorie soy protein powder. Just mix with milk or your favorite beverage.Pin It Best Blogger Tips

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

SPIRIT: Mike and Me

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Framed by the metal detector!
Today, I celebrate my husband, Mike. We eloped nine years ago in a courthouse in Tolleson, Arizona.

Mike and I have known each other since he was nine and I was five.  Our parents are friends and though we became friends as we grew up, we never dated in school.   It seems like Mike was always part of my family, like a brother or cousin, making it strange when we became a couple.  I even lived with him and his mother for a while when I was in high school!

Mike & me, 1985

I was 20 when Mike and I began dating; it was surreal.  Here was someone who I had always known and always loved, but now I was learning about him in a new way.  I knew almost immediately that we would marry someday.  We fit together too well, had too much in common to only remain friends.  Less than a year after we began dating, we wed.  (Tip:  Don't elope without telling your family, especially if you are an only child, like me!  Also, make sure you tell your family right away instead of keeping it a secret for a few months!)

Mike makes me a believer in marriage.

Over the years our relationship has continued to evolve.  We became lovers, then husband and wife, and now parents.  Sometimes being married is hard.  In a way, we are like conjoined twins, sharing a body, but with different brains; we have different ideas of which way to go, but we have to move together.

Exchanging rings
Mike and I don't always agree on what to do with our time or our money.  Our ideas about how to be a good parent sometimes conflict.  However, when we dated we talked about what was important to us; we determined our values and what we wanted in a family.  When we have differences, we work through them.  At the end of the day, all that really matters is that we love each other; we love the family that we have built together.

I'm not saying our marriage is perfect, but I can say that Mike is perfect for me.

I just married my best friend
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Monday, November 15, 2010

JOURNAL: Scariest part about Halloween?? Sugar addiction! EEK!

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Last week the evidence surrounded my laptop: clear, crackling wrappers of Sweet Tarts.  They taste almost identical to Smarties, another vice from elementary school.  They are sugary sour goodness!

Although I attempt to keep Halloween candy out of our house by teaching my son to hand sweets out to other trick-or-treaters instead of going door-to-door, I fell into temptation at Target and bought two bags of sours.

A week later, I could feel the enamel wearing off of my teeth and the extra acid in my stomach.  The Sweet Tarts and Nerds were gone and so was my resolve to avoid refined sugar.  I felt awful and managed to put on a pound or two just from the candy.

In brief, why sugar is so harmful:
Did I mention that it is extremely ADDICTIVE!

Here is what I'm learning about quitting sugar on The Way:
  1. If I eat refined starches, sugars, or even fruits, I end up craving sugar the rest of the day. 
  2. Making sure I get enough vegetarian protein, helps me stay full between meals and keeps me from feeling hungry after meals.
  3. Sugar-fat-salt combinations are the most addictive! 
  4. Sugar has a lot of aliases.  Watch out for:

•Agave nectar
•Brown sugar
•Cane crystals
•Cane sugar
•Corn sweetener
•Corn syrup
•Crystalline fructose
•Evaporated cane juice
•Fruit juice concentrates
•High-fructose corn syrup
•Invert sugar
•Malt syrup
•Raw sugar
After I have been off sugar for a few weeks, I'm going to gradually re-introduce fruits back into my diet. 
What I would like to know about you:
Have you had problems with sugar addiction?  What was your food of choice?  How did you kick the habit or are you still struggling with it?
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Sunday, November 14, 2010

RECIPE: Green Eggs (Vegetarian)

Best Blogger Tips In order to get myself back off sugars, I'm taking some time to load up on vegetarian protein.

I used to make these all the time for my (then) two year-old son.  He wouldn't eat greens but after reading the Dr. Suess book to him, he thought these were great!

(The eggs I buy are from a family friend who cares for his chickens humanely.)

Local farm fresh eggs, spinach, and house seasoning

Green scrambled eggs with Ezekiel bread toast



*2 eggs (preferably organic, locally raised) or 3 egg whites
*Handful of fresh spinach
*House seasoning to taste


1. Blend all ingredients thoroughly in a Vita-Mix Vita Prep 3 or other high speed blender.
2. Use non-stick spray or cooking oil to coat the bottom of a small skillet.  Cook at medium-low heat until done.

Serves: 1


1. Top the eggs with cheese or soy cheese
2. Use for the base of a yummy vegetable omelet by topping with your favorite veggies!
3. Try making these using egg substitutes.  Let me know how they turned out and I will add them to the "Variations" on this post!

1.  The higher heat eggs are cooked at, the more chewy they become.  For fluffy eggs, cook at medium-low.


1.  Did you like these?

2.  If you don't eat eggs, why not?

3.  What other sneaky ways do you get your kids/family to eat healthy?
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JOURNAL: How you inspired me to blog again.

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Toward the end of September, I stopped blogging.  It started when I lost my camera.  My husband and I also started a part-time job together which because of the early hours (4:00-6:00am) often leaves us exhausted. 

For a long time, I struggled to find the motivation to blog again.  I usually only receive a few comments a week and I began to believe that no one really cared about my journey or what I'm learning on The Way.

But you changed all of that.

When I decided to start writing again, I was very surprised to see how many people read my posts.

I love to read what you are thinking.  I learn from your ideas and value your suggestions.

You may not always tell me you are listening, but I now know you are there. 

Thank you for inspiring me!

EllePin It Best Blogger Tips

Friday, November 12, 2010

JOURNAL: Matthew's Birth Story

Best Blogger Tips I substitute teach occasionally for the high school my husband and I graduated from.  It is a great way for me to get out of the house, earn a little extra money, and keep up my teaching credentials. 

One of the classes that I substituted for was studying childbirth.  I was horrified to learn that schools teach high school girls that childbirth is a medical procedure that requires numerous interventions and is always extremely painful.  At one time, I was one of those girls, threatening my mother that I would always remain childless because I was afraid of the pain involved.

This is my son's birth story, written a few days after he was born.  In part because of the preparations I took, my son's birth was easy with minimal pain with little to no interventions.

Matthew's Birth Story

My pressure waves (contractions) began nine days after my "guess date."  I was frustrated and tired of waiting; I started false labor (Braxton-Hicks contractions) two weeks before my guess date (due date) and everyone was calling asking if we had the baby yet.

To naturally assist the birthing process, I started on evening primrose oil (EPO) and black cohosh (suggested doses on the bottles) early in the morning on Friday at 2:00am (my husband works nights). I couldn't sleep, but finally got about an hour or so of sleep by the time the intense pressure waves started at 6:30am.

By 8:30am, my pressure waves were about 2 min. apart. I called the clinic and we decided to go in. By the time we got there, they had slowed back down to every 4-5 min. (it is a 45 min. drive to the office and hospital). The dr. checked my cervix and I was only between 1-2 cm.
and still at 50%!  I had been at 50% and 1 cm. for three weeks!  She recommended we not check in to the hospital yet and I'm really glad we didn't.

We walked around the mall for an hour and an half. By the time lunch came I was exhausted. The pressure waves were still 4-5 min. apart, but still only lasting for around 30-40 sec. We went to a park to walk
and rest in the car for a while and finally decided by 2:30pm to go
home. I was so tired, which I'm sure was keeping the birthing from progressing.  After I got home, I was able to sleep for about three hours
between and through some pressure waves.
Matthew's first picture with me
When I awoke later in the day on Friday, we decided to stay in a hotel in Kearney for the night (the city where the hospital and clinic are); the weather forecast called for heavy rain, turning into snow.   We arrived
at around 10:30pm and my husband was asleep before 11:00pm.  I was still having pressure waves about 6-7 minutes apart and couldn't sleep.  I read, sat on my birthing ball, took another dose of both black cohosh and evening primrose, and drank a few cups of red raspberry leaf tea (another natural method to assist birth).

All through the early morning the pressure waves remained around 6 min. apart while increasing in duration to one min. and in intensity.  I used my self-hypnosis with each one and it worked great!  By 4:30am I was getting very sleepy and I tried to lie down for a while.  I think I slept for about 20 min. during the time I was in bed.  At 8:00am the pressure waves were getting very intense and only 3-5 min. apart.  I called the answering service for my doctor and she told me to check into the hospital.

My husband and I checked out of the hotel and into the hospital at around 8:30am on Saturday.  The doctor checked my cervix and I was 90% effaced,  3 1/2 cm. dilated, and the sac was bulging.  She thought it would break at anytime and then the birthing would progress quickly.  I felt great that I was finally
going to birth my baby!  I tried to sit on the birthing ball, but the nausea I was having made it impossible.  I ended up vomiting and feeling much better. My husband gave the nurse a copy of my birthing plan. 

I ended up lying on my side during most of the birthing because it was the most comfortable for me.  After about an hour I started to lose my focus (I had only slept for just over 4 hours in two days) and the pressure waves began to hurt.  My husband reminded me to use my Hypnobabies self-hypnosis, which really helped.  I imagined my anesthesia was like gray spray paint and I used it to cover the areas of pain.

When my doctor checked my cervix again at 10:30am, I was at only 5 cm. dilated and 100% effaced.  The amniotic sac had been bulging for over two hours and still hadn't ruptured.  She asked me if I wanted her to break it and I told her I didn't know.  I had lost my focus and ability to use my self-hypnosis.  After learning how little I had slept recently, the nurse suggested giving me a sedative to let me sleep for a while before breaking the sac.  I told her that it sounded like a good idea; I didn't know how I would get through the birthing with so little energy. My doctor suggested that she come back later in the day and break the sac if necessary. 

When the nurse came back with the sedative she also brought my birth plan and apologized for
suggesting the medication.  I told her that I thought she was right, that I did need rest before continuing on with the birthing.  After the sedative was administered I ended up sleeping for several hours.  The
pressure waves continued, but I was able to use the mental anesthesia and self-hypnosis.  I listened to my birth guide while I slept.

By 2:30pm, I was fairly well rested by the time my doctor came back to check on me.  She asked if I wanted her to break my water and I said yes.  At this point  I was 5 1/2 cm. dilated.  She said the most difficult part was getting to 5 cm. dilated and after the sac was ruptured the baby's head would quickly open up the cervix. The pressure waves became very intense at this point, but I continued to use my self-hypnosis and anesthesia.

At 3:00pm, I became extremely uncomfortable, exhausted again. I  had a really hard time focusing on my and couldn't get myself into hypnosis.  My husband tried to help me, but it didn't work.  By 3:30pm, the nurse checked my cervix and I was fully dilated.  She called the doctor and began getting the room ready for birthing.  Right before 4:00pm I couldn't fight the urge to start pushing even though there wasn't anyone in the room to attend to the birth. 

When my doctor arrived, I was so uncomfortable and in pain that I didn't care how I birthed as long as I did it soon!  My husband tried to remind me to push between pressure waves, but I told him "I'M TOO TIRED!". The nurse took over since I didn't know what I was doing and I wanted someone to tell me what to do.  After around 15 pushes (ten seconds long) I pushed my baby out.  Matthew was born at 4:27pm. I felt great and my first words were "I just birthed a baby," in disbelief.  My second words were "I hope his head is going to change otherwise people will think he 'came from France.'

I was tired, but felt so exhilarated that I did it without an epidural and without tearing or an episiotomy.  The nurse said it was the best birth without an epidural that she had seen in a very long time (she had been working there for 24 years).  My son nursed a few minutes after being born and had a great sucking reflex. He also scored an 8, then a 9 on his APGAR.

Matthew, only hours old

I hope that women understand that most of the time they can have whatever birthing experience they want.  Complications are rare, unlike the television shows and movies.

Read more comfortable birth stories at Enjoyable Births.

If you have birthed a child, what was your experience like?  Did you feel like you had choices?Pin It Best Blogger Tips
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