Friday, September 30, 2016

The Meaning of Roots



If you look in any dictionary, you'll see numerous definitions for the word "roots". These definitions all fall under two categories: those that have to do with plants, and those that have to do with place.
While this post is centered around roots of place, the meaning of that is deeply entwined with that of the roots of plants. In fact, there are numerous quotes and references to just that.

How many times have you heard the expressions, "We're going back to our roots," or "The root of all evil"?

Some famous quotes about roots are as follows:

"The roots of all goodness lie in the soil of appreciation for goodness." -Dalai Lama

"A people without the knowledge of their past history, origin and culture is like a tree without roots." -Marcus Garvey

When I think about roots, I think about where I grew up and where I live now. While I live a good three hours from where I grew up, I still live in the same geographical area: the Midwest. It's always been my home, and I feel deeply rooted here. But just how rooted do I feel? I feel another home calling me from across the sea.

Ever since I was a kid, I've dreamt of faraway, exotic locations, as well as ones closer to home, and how much I'd love to visit them. This is nothing new as I've talked about it quite a bit here on my blog. Indeed, I've shared with you my adventures in traveling, whether it was to a foreign country or a domestic location. I have a deep wanderlust that consumes a large chunk of my thoughts.

Over the last couple of years, because of this wanderlust, I had begun planning for the ultimate in travel: the year-long backpack tour of the world. I had decided that I would save my money, and that, after my last child had grown up and moved out, I would take a year off and see as much of the world as I could.

Honestly, this is more than wanderlust, it's a burning desire that has a heartbeat of it's own and occupies a space in my head. I can feel it call to me like a wolf howling through the forest. It's so palpable that I can almost touch it with my fingers. It's real, and I've thought about it a lot.

Recently, I began to think, "What if, I take the money that I save for this year-long journey around the world, and, instead, use it to move to another country?" It was the proverbial light bulb going off in my head, and I've thought about it often since then. Yes, why don't I move to another country someday? My only argument against it, at the time, was--yes, you guessed it--roots.

I said to myself (yes, I talk to myself), "But, this is your home! Your roots are here." Well, yes and no. I was born in Alaska, grew up in Iowa, and have lived in a multitude of places (different towns, cities, and states), before landing in Nebraska, where I've been for nearly fourteen years of my life. I feel more at home here than I have anywhere else in my life, yet I feel ready to expand, to spread out my wings.

I love my adopted home but I've outgrown it in many ways. It seemed so huge when I first moved here, but fourteen years later, and I know (just like the locals know) that it really isn't. I've done all I can do here, and I've found every nature place there is to hike and explore. And I've done them all several times. Deep in my heart, I need a place with more variety, more to explore, and easier access to the rest of the world, or at least a larger chunk of it.

So, yes. When my youngest is ready to leave the nest, I will be too. Where will I go? I have a couple of ideas, but I have some time to figure that out. I know, I know. Maybe my roots will prove too strong, and I won't be able to uproot myself. No, just like a hearty plant, my roots can be pulled from the ground, and replanted somewhere else. And with some TLC, do just fine. I'll be ready. I am ready.

Monday, September 26, 2016

Weekend Haul

It's been awhile since I've bought myself anything splurgy. Last winter I got myself some clothes, and over spring/summer I got myself an item of clothing here or there, but I hadn't really gone out and just bought myself some things. This weekend, I decided that I would.





One of my favorite stores carries a nice selection of beauty products that are always earth-friendly. I have been in need of some good face/skin care items and so I got a set of coconut-inspired items by the Everyday company. From left to right: face lotion, body lotion, face toner, face wash, and face scrub. I used the scrub and toner yesterday, and I really like them. I have gotten their shampoo and conditioner before, and they weren't bad, but I think they've improved their line since then.






I have been in dire need of some bras and underwear for so long, that I'm ashamed to say that several had holes in them. Why do we always put those off until we can't wait any longer? I'm not showing you any, but I finally have decent undies. Anyway, last winter when I got myself some clothes, I noticed that Target has a newer line (at least to me) of clothing geared towards bigger women (which I am one of). It's called Ava & Viv, and I just love their clothes. 

If you're a bigger woman too, get in there and check them out. Their prices are good and their clothes are cute & fashionable!  From left to right: I got myself a couple of t-shirts (one camo and one black) and a grey tank to wear under shirts; an emerald green v-neck long-sleeved shirt and rolls up to a button at the sleeves if one prefers; a long purple shirt with frayed sleeves and hem; a long button-down black plaid shirt; and a long-sleeved black and grey-striped cover up sweater. I'm really liking the trend of super-long shirts. I have a large collection of jeggings, and these will all go great with those. Finally, I got a pair of Merona black flats, and a new black purse. 

I'm set for cool weather now!

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Turin Prairie Dedication

Good morning! Yesterday, I had a chance to drive up to Turin Prairie (located east of Onawa, Iowa, in the Loess Hills) where we met up with my dad and stepmom for a dedication.* Turin Prairie is part of the Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation, and they've recently acquired 467 acres to add to the Prairie, courtesy of a purchase partially funded by donors. Yesterday they had their dedication ceremony, and we were there to attend. 

It started with a hayrack ride through the fields to the base of the Loess Hills, where we were dropped off, and hiked up to the top. There we were greeted by other attendees and the fine folks of the INHF who gave us all some snacks, water, and coffee. We then went up the rest of the way to the top of the ridges of the Hills, where we heard speakers who talked about the addition. It was an incredible moment. Afterwards, people collected seeds or hiked. We did the latter. My stepmom went back to the car, and my husband had to leave about half-way in (bathroom breaks can be a bear when hiking amongst others). That left me, my dad, and Nature Girl. We followed the ridge line, walking in deer trails, until the state land ended. It was a gorgeous day for a hike, but it was good we stopped when we did, as it got warm...and then it rained.

I'm excited for the INHF, and for all the rest of us. We get to enjoy the raw beauty of the Iowa Mountains whenever we wish to do so. You couldn't ask for a better setting. Look at these views!




Nature Girl and my dad, hiking along the ridges.




A shot to the seed-gatherers behind us. Some people hiked as well, but we were one of a few groups that actually hiked a good distance. 




Another view of my surroundings from the top.




I never get tired of this view.




No matter where you look, there's always something new to see.




Nature, in all it's glorious splendor.




This mushroom was quite large, and nearly perfect-looking.




I like this view as it looks down onto a farm and it's small lake. Quaint.



*For more on Turin Prairie, follow this link!



Thursday, September 22, 2016

Comfort Food




I'm a Midwestern Girl. I've spent the majority of my life living in the Midwest, and if there's anything we love the most, it's comfort food. Even though most of us aren't farmers, nor live on a farm, we grew up around them or were descended from them. Farm work, especially a few generations ago, is very hard work, and the womenfolk would make hearty, rib-sticking, meals for the hungry men who worked the fields. Even if you weren't a farmer, you grew up in little towns surrounded by farms, and had the benefit of homegrown food right at your doorstep.

I've been a City Girl for a long time now, and I love the food variety living in a city offers me. I love eating Indian food, authentic Mexican food, Asian foods, French food, fine-dining, and all the specialty food places to grab a bit to eat...you name it! Sometimes though, I really crave a good meal of hearty comfort food.

I've been a vegan for a year and a half now, but that doesn't mean I'm going to give up eating my favorite things. It just means that I've had to learn to "veganize" them all. One of my favorite comfort food meals is the Midwestern Full Monty, as I like to call it, consisting of a "meat", mashed potatoes with gravy, stuffing, and a veggie side, particularly "buttered" corn.

Last night was definitely a comfort food night, so I decided I *needed* the Midwestern Full Monty...vegan-style. I decided on a loaf (Like meatloaf, but without the meat. There are many vegan varieties out there.) using Isa Moskowitz's Double Chickpea Cutlets made into a loaf instead of cutlets and then I veganized my sides. I use margarine and almond milk in my mashed potatoes; I used a vegan stuffing (like Pepperidge Farm's Herb stuffing) made using margarine and veggie stock; gravy made with veggie stock, chickpea flour, and coconut oil; and then corn cooked in margarine.

It was just as amazingly delicious as it looks! Give it a try one night for a meatless meal.



Notes:

1. The chickpea cutlet recipe is amazeballs, seriously. The cutlets, all fried up crispy, is reminiscent of southern-fried steak, and is easy to make. The recipe is here. You can press it all into a loaf pan, however, and make it a loaf by baking it for 45 minutes or so.


2. For veggie stock, I stand by Better than Bouillon's Vegetable stock. This stuff is jam-packed with flavor and makes everything taste so good. It's much better than the veggie stock you buy in cans or hermetically sealed containers. 


3. For gravy, I've found the best combination to be:

2 T. coconut oil
1/3 c. chickpea flour (although any flour will work, chickpea is nice)
1.5-2 cups veggie stock (depending on how thick you like your gravy, I like mine thick)

Warm up the oil, add the flour and whisk until smooth. Whisk in veggie stock a bit at a time and keep whisking for a smooth consistency.


4. Do not be afraid to try this meal. It's delicious and you won't even miss the meat!


Tuesday, September 20, 2016

The Adventures of Mom and Nature Girl

You all know how much I love, love being outdoors, and particularly my love of hiking. Hiking is the perfect combination of leisure and sport, getting to spend time in beautiful nature while getting a good workout. Nothing could be finer! My kids have, obviously, been hiking with me for quite some time, and now that my oldest is a teenager, he doesn't go out and do things (including hiking) with us very much anymore. My husband, until recently, worked weekends, but now has Saturdays off. That still leaves Sundays for my youngest and I to get out there and enjoy nature.

We love it. It's perfect for mommy-daughter special time, we get some fresh air & exercise, and we collect things we find on the trails. To that end my daughter said to me recently on one of our hikes, "Mommy, we should make a nature scrap book!" I thought about it for all of two seconds and responded, "That's a fantastic idea!" It was a fantastic idea, and, as soon as we got done hiking, we stopped by the dollar store to grab some scrapbook-making supplies.

We made the scrapbook using a sketch pad, some poster board, and plenty of decorative supplies. It took a few days of patiently waiting for glue to dry, but we are happy with the results. (See the first two pictures.)

This last weekend, we took a leisurely walk through the forest around Cunningham Lake, and the nature pictures following are from that walk. The items we collected from that day didn't survive the trip home, but it's okay...there is plenty of opportunity in the future!




Here's the scrapbook itself. It's a large sketch pad covered in green poster board and decorated. It says, "Eva and Mommy's Nature Scrapbook".




Here is the first page of our scrapbook, containing of flora and fauna that we collected from the day we decided to make our scrapbook. I made a post about that hike, in Hummel Park, recently, which you can find here.




This is a picture from our Cunningham Lake walk. It was a gorgeous, albeit easy, walk.




Wildflowers are one of the frequent things we see on our nature walks/hikes.




Fungi growing right along the trail. Horses ride here too, so I'm sure the dung helps fungi grow. Ha!




More wildflowers along Cunningham Lake.




Nature Girl (NG) striking a pose near some pretty overgrowth we found.




A better shot of the overgrowth. It reminded me of a swamp or a place that time forgot. Either way, it was really cool.




More wildflowers.




A dying dandelion in the sun. 



I hope you all have a fantastic Tuesday (yay, we made it through Monday), and we'll see you soon!

Much love,

H.A.

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Ipsy's September Glam Bag

Good afternoon! It's a gorgeous afternoon on a Saturday, and I'm having a fantastic day so far. I mean, Saturday is the best day of the week, amirite? So, as I promised yesterday, here's the post about September's ipsy. Let's dive right in!



Here's the bag itself. It's not my favorite of the bags, but it's still pretty cool.




Every month has a different theme, and the bags and samples inside reflect the theme. With every glam bag comes a card that tells you what the theme is, as well as what that theme means. I've realized that I've never shown you pictures of the cards, nor have I told you what the themes are! Geesh, what's up with that? Well, fear no longer. This month's card and theme is "Glamazon: Too glam to give a damn."




The contents of the bag.




This is a hair-styling crème by Living Proof, called Perfect Hair Day. Like I mentioned last month, I'm really getting into the hair products ipsy sends. They're fun to play around with.




Here we have Lip Injection by Too Faced Cosmetics. It's a liquid gel that is supposed to plump up your lips. I remember having a clear gel gloss, years ago, that did the same thing. It makes your lips feel weird, but it did plump them up. This will be perfect for date night! *winkwink*




This is Avene's Hydrance Optimale. It's a moisturizing lotion for your face. I always include moisturizing as an essential part of my skin-care routine, and the samples I get from ipsy are a great way to explore different moisturizers before committing the money.




DLS (Dirty Little Secret) sent along a sheer, brownish-reddish eyeshadow that doesn't have a name. It says teaser on the box and on the shadow, but I'm pretty sure that's not what the shade is called. I always love eyeshadow...one can never have enough!!




Last up is treStique's lip color in shimmer. If it looks familiar to you, that's because it is. I received this exact same lip shade a few months ago in my ipsy bag. Since I now have two, I think I will use one as a top coat to darker lipstick to give it some oomph.



And there you have it, another month of ipsy. I really love this sub, and it's so affordable. If you're interested, follow this link to join. This link is my referral link where I can earn points if you sign up!

Have a great Saturday,

H.A.

Friday, September 16, 2016

I Never Really Left



Good morning! It's Friday, and it seems like as good a time as any to let you all know that I've started working on "The Box" again. "Why?" you ask. Well, I hadn't been planning on it (as I've been working on a different project entirely), but it just happened. I was sitting in my living room recently, when my brain kicked into high gear and started hashing out the storyline in "The Box", and I began subconsciously writing the next bits in my head. So, I did what any writer (who writes at their computer) does, and that was to open up my laptop and start writing.

My other project is more involved, and will take some time to write. I suppose that because of this, my writer's brain can become distracted. Okay, so I'm just guessing, because, honestly, every writer is different. There's no one, true way to be a writer, and there's no one, true way to write. We write because we feel compelled to, and however that comes out is how we do it.

"The Box" is more in line with my other books in that it is an entertaining book, while not perfect, is a fun read. It is also not the kind of book that takes a year or two of effort to complete. The other project I'm working on is, and it's been a bit of struggle to make myself accept that. How I've done things with H.A. Larson's books is not how this other project is, so I need to learn to be okay with that. Why wouldn't I be okay with it? Well, I thought I should be churning it out at the same speed with which I've written my other books, and it's just not the case. Sometimes you have to remember that not everything works in the same manner...not even your mind.

Taking a step away from "The Box" for awhile has been good for me. I can now look at it with fresh eyes, and I feel positive about it's direction again. I can't wait to finish it! In the meantime, I'll be here giving you the great posts you all love. Coming up this weekend, new ipsy!

Have the greatest of Fridays!

Much love,

H.A.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Sunday Exploring

Good morning! I'm back with another post. Incidentally, I've been pondering working on "The Box" again. I just can't stay away from anything that I'm writing. I'm working on two books, and two short stories, and while I take breaks from each of them, I never truly leave them. Weird, huh? Oh, the life of a writer.

This last weekend was a truly wonderful one. I wish it could've lasted a lot longer, but we all know how that goes! Anyway, we drove down to Kansas City on Friday night so we could attend the Renaissance Festival on Saturday (squeee! you all know how much I love my Ren Faires!). My husband forgot to pack our luggage, which was traumatic for a minute, but since we were only gone one night...it wasn't a big deal. We grabbed some clearance clothes from a store to wear to bed, I washed our underwear in the sink, and I always carry toiletries in the car in case of an emergency. Go me! Despite the luggage mishap, we had a great time at the Festival.

Sunday, the menfolk went to work while us ladies relaxed all morning. We then picked up the house and decided to hit the woods. Hummel Park sits in the northeast corner of Omaha, and I've only hiked it a couple of times. One time was more like a walk, and the other I went a few miles, but I have never truly explored the park. Nature Girl and I took our time to explore all the different off-paths and interesting trails. We saw so many cool things, and collected fallen leaves that are turning colors. We decided to make a nature scrap book out of things we collect on our nature hikes, so we stopped at the Dollar Tree on our way home where I spent $6 on supplies to make a cool scrapbook (another post for the future!)

We had so much fun, and really enjoyed our time together. Here are some pictures from our afternoon:




 This trail was hidden, just out of sight, from the main path. I've walked the main path before and had never seen this trail. It was a bit of challenge getting down actually, but the rope there made us able to kind of scale it.




These fungi were growing on the little bridge in the previous picture. There are many of them, and they are embedded in the wood.





A fallen log, fit for a faerie home.





A portion of the main trail as sunlight streams in through the trees.





One of the many leaves we collected for our scrapbook.





More fungi from the bridge, but this one was different from the others. How interesting is that?





Another off-trail we explored took us over the creek that runs through the park.





Some man-made log stairs in a nook of the park. Great for explorin'!