Jacarandas in May: An Unforgettable Californian Sight With Tips

The sight of those flaming lavender flowers on the Jacaranda trees in May will freeze one in midstep, but the bloom is so fleeting that I forget all about them till the trees are ablaze again.

I’m sure the tree owners don’t forget. Signs immediately go up on their doors: Remove Shoes Before Entering. The stains they leave on rugs are indelible. I know this because the tan carpet in my first car had dark blotches. All subsequent cars have black interiors.

Not for jacaranda reasons, I called the second book in the Abishag mystery series Indelible Beats.  It takes place at Christmas time. The cover includes a picture of a Jacaranda tree, because I see more of those at Christmas time than I do of traditional Christmas trees.

Do you have a tree that has left indelible memories in you? Please share in the comments.

Other news this week …

SINKING SHIP and FOOD NEWS

Sinking Ships Cover with Eric's pictureMay Good Deal tip: The first Abishag mystery is available at Amazon for 99cents.

May Health tip: Try diced celery in your morning oatmeal. It’s a lovely way to add veggies in your diet and it has a satisfying crunch.

May Recycling tip: Thawing berries? Save the water you thawed the berries in and drink it later. Sixteen ounces of pure goodness and you’ve reduced your carbon footprint.

May Minimalism tip: Use dried beans rather than canned. Your soaking bean water can be re-used in soups. You can prep exactly the amount of beans you need. Less money and waste. More healthy for you.

Happy reading, saving, and eating!

Michelle Knowlden

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I Finished Camp NaNoWriMo and I Love to Plot Three is Live!

I finished Camp NaNo today.  I had meant to focus April on two things, completing a vampire novella and write a suspense romance novel. As always, priorities change. I did start the suspense novel, I approached the 25K mark in the vampire novella, and I heavily edited 29 chapters of my mystery novel Olive Tomorrow.

I’ll wear my badge proudly.

In other news, my I Love to Plot series ended with the posting of I Love to Plot: The Play.  If you’d like to plot the easy and fun way, read all three articles at the OC Writers network.

In The Play, I use Egrets, I’ve Had a Few novella as an example. The second book in the Deluded Detective series is available for $1.99 at https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01M29FY2S/

Happy reading!

Michelle Knowlden

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Doing Something Positive on Earth Day 2017

Earth Day 2017

Forget the hype, the litter left after the fundraiser marches, and the flood of sometimes dicey statistics, graphs, and theories of pseudoscientists. Let’s get real.

Stop talking, protesting, and Facebooking about what everyone else is NOT doing. Take action. Be a good steward. Do something to protect the environment.

Do something!

I have been a vegetarian since 2004. On 02 January 2017, I went hardcore: plant-based, whole foods diet. Mostly because of this:

Did you know that the meat industry is responsible for approximately 20% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions? In fact, producing one calorie of meat requires nearly twenty times the amount of energy as one plant calorie!

With global meat consumption tripling over the last four decades, the meat industry now emits over 36 billion tons of greenhouse gases annually and is showing no signs of slowing down. If we want to make a real dent in the world’s carbon footprint and reduce our own personal footprint, we need to eat less meat.

Join us in taking the pledge to not eat meat one day a week and become a part of the Meatless Monday movement!*

I read an odd statistic that said one person going meatless on Mondays was like ten people buying a Prius. Not sure if that makes sense. What does make sense is that I’ve been carrying the load of all the bacon burger eating Prius owners for fourteen years.

You’re welcome.

Going vegan is only one thing I do, but I need to get back to editing or I’d ramble on about kitchen gardens, compost piles, re-purposing clothing, grey water, oat milk, and berry soaks, and other ways I minimize my carbon footprint.

But enough about me! What are you doing to nurture God’s good earth? I really want to know.

Happy reading, eating, and doing something positive.

Michelle Knowlden

*http://www.earthday.org/limit-meat-consumption/

 

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Edits, Porridge, and a Fool’s Day Hike

While on a marathon edit session today of my mystery Olive Tomorrow, I decided to optimize my breakfast porridge prep. A half hour before I intended to eat, I half-filled a 16 ounce canning jar with Coach oats and added water nearly to the top. After capping the jar, I shook it every time I was in the kitchen. I also poured a half cup of frozen berries in a glass and topped with water to thaw. In my breakfast bowl, I added a tbsp of ground flax seed, tbsp of chia seeds, 1/3 banana, shredded coconut, fresh, shredded basil leaf, a dash of cinnamon and a dash of cardamom.  When I was ready to eat, I poured the thickened oats into the bowl with the oat milk. I added the thawed berries without the water. No cooking or pots to clean. Healthy, vegan, and tasty!

In Indelible Beats, my second Abishag mystery, Leslie and her friends savor hot oatmeal and the winter holidays while waiting for her “husband” to die. That oatmeal was based on a crockpot recipe that they also doctored with herbs, seeds, berries, and nuts.

A friend who lives in Africa taught me about refrigerator oatmeal which you can make the night before. My recipe here is based on that, but is room temp and refreshing for hot summer mornings. You can find both the refrigerator and crockpot oatmeal recipes at the allrecipe and fitness pal sites. If you have a better one, please leave the info in the comments. Let’s get heart healthy and save the planet in 2017!

While I was in Prescott, Arizona a few weeks ago, I did a hike on April Fools’ Day. The hike was part of the rails to trails program on the Watson Lake Loop.  The hike took me about two hours 15 minutes to trek half of the loop and return to the Humane Society parking lot. I did stop often to take pictures because the scenery was spectacular. I heartily recommend this hike. It was fun to see where train passengers of the old west traveled. The trail that Saturday was not crowded or noisy, but we saw a goodly number of hikers of all ages, some with dogs.

Back to the edits. I finished chapter five before lunch. On to chapter six!

Happy writing, walking, reading and eating.

Michelle Knowlden

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Saving the Planet: A Day of Meals Part Two

BACKGROUND

If every American skipped one meal of chicken per week and substituted vegetables and grains … the carbon dioxide savings would be the same as taking more than half a million cars off the US roads. Environmental Defense Fund

Studies show that eating can affect our environment. No matter your beliefs on climate change, we should be good stewards of our planet and minimize our carbon footprint, right?

Since 2004, I’ve been experimenting with healthier and more mindful attitudes about health, the environment, climate change, God, compassion for animals and other cultures.

With encouragement from my brother, recent studies and my doctor, I returned to my whole foods, plant based eating on 02 January 2017. As of 25 March 2017, I’ve lost fifteen pounds (those three months include 11 vacation days and a cruise!) and feel fabulous. Check out part one for more details on how it will save my life and yours.

PLANETARY EFFECTS

According to a 2006 study, raising chickens, pigs, cows, and other animals for food contributes nearly one-fifth (18%) of all global human-induced greenhouse gas emissions. A quick Google research reveals that the US has 90-108 million dairy and beef cattle, 68 million pigs and hogs, and 250 million egg-laying hens. Nine billion birds, pigs, and cows are killed for human consumption each year.

These days I’m reducing my contribution to detrimental effects to the environment by not putting animals are on my plate!

To find out how this will save the planet, check out Food Choices and Cowspiracy documentaries and these websites: Methane Impact on Climate Control, Sustainable Management of Food, TryVeg.com, and Environmental Impact of Meat.

Below is a typical day of meals for me. The variety of whole food, plant based choices out there is endless. I hope to share more later. I hope you share yours with me!

A DAY OF EATING

Breakfast

Yellow Corn Grits: prepare per directions or as I do, in a rice cooker.  Stir once or twice. My family will then add soy milk or almond milk, but I prefer it plain. Mix with a 1/2 cup of fresh or frozen berries (thawed), tbsp of ground flax seed, tbsp of chia seeds, flaked organic coconut, and a dash or four of cinnamon.  All to your taste of course.

Lunch

Hummus Open-Face Sandwich;  Use half of a toasted Food for Life English muffin. Spread hummus with a generous hand. Use your own chickpea dip or one of the great prepared ones out there. I like Trader Joe’s’ Chunky Olive Hummus dip. Top with olive tapenade OR tabouli salad and shredded basil leaves to taste. Sides: sliced carrots and cucumber. Dessert: handful of dried Turkish apricots and six macadamia nuts.

Snack

Mixed nut butter and fruit spread sandwich Use your preferred Food for Life bread. I like the cinnamon raisin.

Dinner

Vegetables soup and salad for a chilly night.  My grandma called this hobo stew. I call it “clean out the fridge” soup. To a pot of veggie broth, add left over cans of beans, rice, mushrooms, chunked cabbage, shredded onion, and other veggies you may have like sweet potato or russets or zucchini. Bring to a hard boil and then simmer till at your preferred taste and consistency. My mom likes to add leftover puréed tomatoes to the broth. To a mixed green leaf salad, I’ll top with sliced beets, diced celery and cauliflower sprigs and spray lightly with olive oil and drizzle with a favorite balsamic vinegar. Dessert: melon chunks.

Again, thanks to Dr. Greger’s daily dozen in his How Not to Die book, I’m fully satisfied after eating and lost cravings almost immediately. I recommend Joel Fuhrman’s Eat to Live if you want to read more about health benefits.

Other good news this week … LILLIAN IN THE DOORWAY 

OC Writers is publishing a three part series on plotting, the fun and easy way.

Check out the second post at: http://ocwriters.network/2017/03/23/love-plot-part-2-promise/

Michelle Dutton’s historical novel, Lillian in the Doorway  that is featured in the article, is available on Amazon.

Happy reading and eating!   Michelle Knowlden

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Saving My Life: A Day of Meals Part One

BACKGROUND

Since 2004, I’ve been experimenting with healthier and more mindful attitudes about health, the environment, climate change, God, compassion for animals and other cultures. To quiet irritated friends, my nutritionist, family and waitresses, I transitioned from Whole Foods, plant-based diet to lacto-0vo vegetarian with fish.  Not only did my carbon footprint increase and my health suffered, but my mindful attitude about the above went kaput.

With encouragement from my brother, recent studies and my orthopedic doctor, I returned to my original eating on 02 January 2017. Even with an 11 day break for a cruise, I’ve now lost ten pounds and feel fabulous.

To find out how this will save my life, check out the Food Choices and Forks over Knives documentaries, these websites: Nutrition Facts and Hallelujah Acres, and these books: The China Study and How Not To Die.

The hardest part is figuring out what to eat, yes?  After I emptied my pantry, gave away $65 worth of seafood and cleared my fridge, I did the following and saved loads in my grocery bill.

Top shelf of the pantry: cans of beans, jar of organic raspberry fruit spread, dried fruit, organic pumpkin.

Second shelf: jars from bulk lentils, rice, mixed beans, quinoa, oatmeal, mixed grains, raw nuts, and seeds.

Frozen fruit, pumpkin, and Food for Life breads in the freezer.  Fresh produce and herbal iced tea in the fridge.

This is a typical day of meals for me. The variety of whole food, plant based choices out there is endless. I hope to share more later. I hope you share yours with me!

A DAY OF EATING

Breakfast

Oatmeal (rolled) prepare per directions or in crockpot the night before.  No dairy required.  Mix with a 1/2 cup of fresh or frozen berries (thawed), tbsp of ground flax seed, tbsp of chia seeds, tsp of maple syrup (optional), 1/3 banana, a dash of cinnamon and a dash of cardamom.  All to your taste of course.

Lunch

Bean tacos  Use Food for Life corn tortillas. I also use Trader Joe’s. Cheap and simple ingredients. Canned vegan refried beans, rice on the tortillas. Bake for 15 minutes at 325 deg F. Top with avocado, tomatoes, onion, cilantro to taste. DEssert: half a small apple.

Snack

Almond butter and jam sandwich Use your preferred Food for Life bread.

Dinner

Roasted vegetables medley.  Boil a small sweet potato and a golden beet cut in chunks for ten minutes. Spread in a pie pan for one or cookie sheet for more. Cut Brussel sprouts in half and trim cauliflower into small sprigs.  Add carrots (I like rainbow colors) in equitable chunks. Spray lightly with olive oil (optional). Sprinkle with herbs of your choice (basil, cilantro, Mediterranean, paprika, etc). After roasting for 20 minutes at 375 F, add over rice and beans. I like sprouted California rice and red lentils. Dessert: three dates and a tbs of nut butter.

Thanks to Dr. Greger’s daily dozen in his How Not to Die book, I’m fully satisfied after eating and lost cravings almost immediately. I can’t wait to do my blood panels in six months.

Other good news this week …

SINKING SHIP NEWS

Sinking Ships Cover with Eric's pictureOC Writers is publishing a three part series on plotting, the fun and easy way.

Check out the first post at: http://ocwriters.network/2017/02/23/love-plot-part-1/

The Abishag mystery featured in the article is available at Amazon for 99cents.

Happy reading and eating!

Michelle Knowlden

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Puerto Rico: Transatlantic Cruise Part Four

img_3502Fall 2016, I took a transatlantic turnaround cruise with three fellow writers. We ended the cruise in Orlando, Florida and Hogwarts. We started the cruise by spending two days in Barcelona which I talked about in part one. The first port stop was in the Canary Islands which was my part two report. Sea days on the Norwegian Epic ship in part there. Now I’ll talk about the second port stop in Puerto Rico. Our time in Orlando after disembarkation will be the last  post of this series.

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Day Eleven
84F
Wordcount: 0
Wednesday, Puerto Rico, Nov 9, 2016

Docked in San Juan, Puerto Rico about 7:00am. Since we were now back in the USA, we went through passport control on the ship.

A travel buddy and I went off ship to the tourist bureau and had our day mapped out for us. Literally. Then we went to Starbucks and a cold brew for me.

img_3501We walked up to the old fort and around it to the sea. The picture above was taken neat the Plaza San Juan Bautista. Then returned and saw a large green iguana on the verge. We walked up the other side of the fort and got good pictures of the iconic guard towers (see photo to the left). Unfortunately the free trolleys were full so we decided not to go to the second fort and headed instead for the central part of San Juan which had lovely churches and seedy doings. We had a great rooftop lunch which included mahi bites, fish tacos, and shrimp tostones, all Puerto Rican fare. Lovely conversation and a good view of our ship.  img_3504See photo to the right.

Much revived, we returned to Colon Plaza for some shopping, then walked back to the ship. After spending time getting online (little success) and locating my slacks lost in the ship’s laundry (success), we watched Epic leave the harbor with a superb view of the second fort and sunset.

Nice, small, satisfying dinner at the Irish pub after stuffing ourselves at our Puerto Rican lunch feast. A simple salmon and Caesar salad. Lots of post election talk. I still feel peace.

At sea till landing in Florida. Two more days to write words upon words.

Before lights out in my studio, I watched the post-election protests on television and am still at peace.

Till next time, this report respectfully submitted by, Michelle K

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